In these COVID times, more families are heading out the door for new adventures. We’ve been sharing lots of local hikes and outdoor areas that you can enjoy with your kids.
Get kids excited about venturing outdoors with an adventure backpack. As well as having useful supplies for a family hike, this backpack includes some extras to engage kids with appreciating and learning about nature while they’re outdoors.
You don’t have to buy an adventure backpack. It’s easy to make your own and customise it to your own family. Use a dedicated backpack so you don’t have to pack and unpack it every time you go out.
Here are some items you might want to use to make your own adventure backpack:
Choose a backpack that’s comfortable and large enough to carry all of your supplies. If kids want their own backpack on the walk, let them fill it with their water bottle and other supplies.
Fill up refillable water containers before you leave home.
In case of hunger, pack some snacks in a reusable container to eat along the way or while having a break. You can pack fruit, veggie sticks, crackers, muffins, nuts, granola bars or some trail mix.
Hats are a must-have. Keep your head warm in winter and the sun off your face in summer.
Make sure you pack mozzie spray during the summer to avoid being swarmed by mosquitoes or other bugs. If you’re a mozzie target, consider Borne Clothing. Local Newcastle start-up Borne Clothing makes ethical, sustainable, mosquito-repellent clothing, and uses the profits to fund the fight against mosquito-borne diseases. There are t-shirts for both adults and kids so you can clothe the whole family in stylish mosquito-repellant apparel.
This is a must-have on sunny days to prevent sunburn. Pack one that’s easy to apply while you’re out on a walk.
Change of clothes
For kids prone to getting wet or dirty, pack some extra clothes like pants, shorts, t-shirt, socks.
Bring a sealable waterproof bag that you can put wet or dirty clothes in.
A small microfibre towel can come in handy especially if your walk takes you near a beach or creek. If yuo get your feet wet, you can dry them off.
Small disposal rain ponchos don’t take up too much room in your bag but are super useful if it starts to rain on your walk.
Give your hands a good clean before you eat some snacks or use public amenities.
Bring the baby wipes along to clean faces, hands and anyone else that needs a quick wipe.
Bring some clear plastic bags of different sizes in case kids want to take a leaf, rock, flowers or shells home with them. Please note that in NSW national parks, it is illegal to pick flowers. Please follow the guidelines specified in the area that you’re walking in.
Brown paper bags
Great reader suggestion from Kathryn D. “We pack brown paper bags to collect shells, gumnuts etc. Sometimes I write and draw pictures on the bag of bush treasures and the kids go on a scavenger hunt finding them.”
Bring a spare bag with you to take home any rubbish you create e.g. food scraps or light litter that you can pick up along the way.
First aid kit
A small first aid kit is handy to have in case of scrapes, cuts and other mishaps you might encounter on a family hike.
Depending on whether your family is interested in birds or wildflowers or fungi, pack a field guide and get investigating. If you want to identify birds, here are some recommended field guides: The Australian Bird Guide by Peter Menkhorst, Danny Rogers and Rohan Clarke, Field Guide to Australian Birds by Michael Morcombe and Birds of Australia by Graham Pizzey and Frank Knight.
Pack a small hardcover notebook that your child can write or draw in.
Pencils & crayons
Pack pencils so kids can write observations or sketch what they see. Bring crayons so they can make rubbings of leaves or bark.
If you want to spot things along your walk like birds, dolphins or whales, pack some binoculars. You can find smaller sized kids binoculars at adventure supply stores.
If your kids want to take photos along the way, give them a camera. That way, you don’t have to worry about them dropping your phone. Either find an old one that they can use or buy a new one – they’re pretty inexpensive these days. Choose a rugged one that will still work after being dropped on the ground or in water.
Let kids get up close and see bugs and leaves in more detail. Pack a magnifying glass. You can find plastic magnifying glasses for kids ages 3+.
For kids fascinated with bugs, pack a container or two so they can observe bugs up close. You can bring along some small plastic containers (puncture some small holes in the lid) or buy a magnifying bug box.
Now a torch might seem an odd inclusion for a family hike, but trust us, they are handy to have. We’ve been out on a few walks and noticed holes in trees or gaping fissures in rocks that we would like to explore more. Choose a lightweight pencil torch you can throw in the backpack for this occasion.
These days with GPS and Google Maps, most times we don’t really need a compass. But using a compass is a skill worth knowing (especially with a flat phone battery). Take a compass on your walks and show kids how it works and use it to navigate in a particular direction.
God forbid, your family gets lost or if a family member gets lost, have a whistle in your pack to attract attention. You can even give kids their own whistle to blow in case they wander off.
Small toys / implements
Great reader suggestion from Lauren H. “We pack some small cars/trowels/dump trucks so kids can play in the dirt. They love it.”
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Started in late 2012 by a local mum, Newy with Kids has grown into a thriving go-to family guide for the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie & Hunter region. Parents visit the Newy with Kids website to find things to do with babies, kids and teens. Whether it’s local attractions, upcoming events, kids eat free, school holiday activities or birthday party ideas, Newy with Kids is the best website for local parents to find local kid-friendly activities and information 24/7.