At the heart of PROJECT BACKPACKING (Learn more about the birth of PROJECT BACKPACKING) was the question:
CAN I SUCCESSFULLY GO BACKPACKING WITH MY 6 YEAR-OLD TWINS?
The short answer is YES! I just have to do things a little differently than when I go with my husband or friends.
The long answer would be the subject of another blog posting. But read on for the lessons learned backpacking to Mystic Beach with my 6 year-old twins.
WHAT EXACTLY DID WE DO?
At the beginning of the summer, my twins and I embarked on our inaugural backpacking trip. The three of us spent two nights on Mystic Beach (Learn more about Mystic Beach in the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park) living only out of our backpacks. (Learn more about our Mystic Beach Adventure.)
I’ve done a lot of camping with my twins before – and sometimes we bring Dad along too – including to remote sites with no facilities that we canoed into, but this was the first time we were going to carry everything on our backs.
In short, I had a wonderful time – I’m pretty sure the twins did too – and we made endless memories. But, I did learn a few things along the way – some practical and some more philosophical. Some might seem fairly common-sense, but sometimes even the common-sense things need to be said before they become common-sense – did that make any sense?
My experience was with my twin boys, but the TIPS will apply equally to all types of young kids – singletons, sibling, triplets (gasp).Getting out in the backwoods with young kids can be fun and enjoyable - here's what you need to know! Click To Tweet
12 LESSONS LEARNED BACKPACKING WITH YOUNG TWINS
Lists are lifesavers
- There’s a lot to keep track of – write everything down.
- If you forget something you won’t be able to just dash back and get it.
Try your gear before you leave the house
- I had some issues with our new stove not lighting – luckily I tried it at home first.
- I borrowed my husband’s backpack without trying it out first – it was only 2 km to the beach, but they were the LONGEST 2 km of my life.
Don’t change gear at the last minute
- You’ve put thought into what gear you’re going to use – TRUST in your decisions.
- Last minute changes can result in mistakes.
- I changed packs at the last minute and suffered for it.
- I changed the tea making method and forgot the strainer – no hot tea!
Go at their pace
- Just resign yourself to settling in to their pace because no amount of cajoling is going to get them to walk faster – trust me, I tried.
- Besides, they have little legs, so they can’t walk your pace anyway – I have the same issue when hiking with my husband and his giant legs.
Take lots of breaks
- Every time they ask, STOP. Even if it’s just for 30 seconds. Otherwise you’ll end up in a power struggle.
- I think this is where I’m supposed to say something cliché about it being about the journey and not the destination…
Know THEIR limits
- Do practice hikes to see how far they can travel easily. And remember, the distance they are comfortable with doesn’t include those last few kilometers where you had to cajole them to keep moving – just because they walked it, doesn’t mean it wasn’t too far.
- Keep in mind that you have to do the hike TWICE.
- Do practice hikes with weighted packs, so that their packs aren’t a surprise.
Recognize YOUR limits
- You WILL be carrying a lot of gear!
- My pack was really HEAVY – I was ultimately the limiting factor.
You’ll have zero solitude. Engage! Engage! Engage!
- You might find serenity, but you won’t find any solitude – probably not even in the pit toilet.
- You’ll get tired but fight the urge to tune them out and read your book. Get in there and get dirty and make memories.
Pack two pairs of long pants – no matter how hot the weather is supposed to be
- I know space is at a premium, but you don’t want to end up having to keep repeating over and over again, “Don’t get your pants wet.” – because it WILL be chilly at night and in the morning, and they WILL get their pants wet. In fact, they’ll probably get your pants wet too.
Fresh air makes them eat more! Bring backup snacks
- Bringing extra food is just good sense any time you’re in the backcountry, whether or not you’ve got hungry kids with you.
Choose a site near the toileting area – not TOO CLOSE though
- Trekking to the pit toilets gets tiring. If you pick a spot close enough, they might be able to zip over and take care of their business without you.
- We were by the water, so every time I had to take one of them to the pit toilets, they both had to go.
- Just make sure that you’re far enough away that your serenity doesn’t get invaded by nasty smells when the wind shifts.
Setup will take longer than you think
- Actually, everything takes longer than you think it will. Make sure to leave yourself lots of time to get things done before dark.
ONE LAST WORD – or maybe a bunch…Backpacking with kids just might be more about your limitations than theirs. Click To Tweet
Backpacking to Mystic Beach took a lot of planning, but we had a lot of fun, and it was well worth it. Before we’d even finished, we were already talking about making a second trip – only this time we were going to bring my husband to be our pack horse (we aren’t going to tell him that part).
I learned a few things on our inaugural trip. Interestingly, most of the lessons learned backpacking were more about me than my kids.
Do you have any lessons learned backpacking that you’d like to share? What about for camping? Or hiking? Please share them in the comments below 🙂
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