When Jacob and I were expecting our daughter, we had a resolution to continue our adventurous lifestyle after her birth. We wanted our daughter to benefit from being outside in nature and continue to experience beautiful places together as a family. It was a lofty goal because many of our family and friends had not been able to do so after childbirth. Naturally, they asked, “How do you plan to travel and adventure with a toddler?” And we still get asked this question a lot throughout our travels all around the world.
Initially, we began with small outings and simple trips. Our first overnight camping trip was when our daughter was three weeks old, and we traveled only a couple hours away from home because we wanted to be close since we were still figuring out how it would all work out. On that first trip we packed everything but what felt like the kitchen sink, and quickly learned we didn’t need all that stuff. From there we gradually increased distances for our road trips and for our hikes. We have grown together with our daughter as every milestone of hers presents new learning curves for us. Here are a few things we’ve learned from all our adventures so far.
5 Tips For Adventuring with a Toddler
Start early and just do it. If I could give you only one piece of advice, it would be to start traveling and adventuring at an early age, because it lays the foundation for future travels. I believe that our daughter handles long drives, hikes, and adventures so well because it was a part of her life from a very young age. But, even if you didn’t start traveling when your child was a newborn, it doesn’t mean you can’t start now. Every child is different and the only true way to learn is by doing.
Do your research. It doesn’t matter if it’s a road trip, hike, or a backpacking adventure, you have to do your homework and know what you are going to face and what your adventure is going to entail. I say it from personal experience, because there have been a couple of times we’ve found ourselves in stressful situations that involve more risk than we wanted to take as a family. Even if you plan, there is always plenty of room for spontaneity and improvisation to spice things up if you would like to.
Fuel up for your adventures. Over time we figured out easy and simple recipes and foods that we like to bring and cook on the road. Having a nutritious breakfast in the morning saves the day when adventuring with a toddler. We always make sure to fill her belly up with goodness to prevent crankiness. We love Kodiak Cakes flapjacks and oatmeal because they’re convenient and filling. Snacks are also a must for long drives or hikes. They help us every time we need to motivate and push our toddler a little further.
Have the right expectations. We knew that traveling with our little girl wouldn’t always be easy, pretty, or perfect, but that’s just parenting in a nutshell no matter where you are. Of course, traveling and hiking with a toddler will present its own set of challenges, but it’s something that everyone can figure out and find best fitting solutions with time. Don’t get discouraged if things don’t go as expected at first. And remember to not compare your experience with others because your child and your family dynamics might be different.
Go with a flow. Even with a plan, you’ll find that things often don’t go as planned — especially with little kids. One day our daughter is doing great, and another day it’s a completely different day and mood, and that’s totally okay. Take a long breath and remind yourself that it’s all about the journey and not the destination. Don’t compare today with yesterday, just try to be present, adjust, and do your best with what you have today. There’ve been many times we didn’t make it to our destination, but we still created some of our favorite memories together.
About the Author
Natasha Moon is a blogger, storyteller and adventurer. Together with her husband Jake and three year old daughter Zoey, she’s been traveling, hiking and backpacking around United States and abroad. She wrote and self-published a children’s book, Adventure to the Top of the Mountain, inspired by adventures with her daughter. She hopes that others can find inspiration from her book and stories she shares on social media to spend more time in the outdoors with their kids.