I recently shared 10 tips for hiking with toddlers and young children, and since getting out on the trail whether here in Western Washington or in our travels around the country is our favorite outdoor activity to do as a family, I wanted to dive into each tip even deeper. Over the course of the year, I will dedicate one post for each of the 10 tips to give you more depth and detail into how we put the advice into practice and what it looks like for our family.
Tip #5: Ration Snacks and Use Treats for Motivation.
There’s no denying that my son loves to hike. As I’ve mentioned before, these days, anytime he sees any kind of natural area, mountain, forest, tree, or patch of grass, he asks if we are going to go on a hike. Lucky for us at this point, he’s not picky. Even the little sections of trees around the campsite during our recent trip to the Oregon coast could be considered “hikeable” in his eyes, and he loved exploring under the guidance of his older cousin.
Even with such a great interest though, he still needs motivation, and little energy boosts here and there to keep him moving along. That motivation can come in many forms (extra verbal encouragement, playing a game, shifting his focus to something ahead), but the easiest and probably one of the most successful ways is to offer a treat.
Incidentally, in addition to moving kids along the trail and providing a necessary snack, I’ve also found treats to be a way to prevent the “turn-around meltdown”. You see, Bergen (2.5 years old) loves hiking so much that he never wants to turn around and go back. Loops are great, but not always available, so I’ve finally learned to anticipate the turn-around point, and provide the snack then!
10 Favorite Treats for the Trail
1. Trail Mix
Whether you call it “GORP” or trail mix or some other fun name (I hear that are some great variations in Europe), the basics of this combination of treats is perfect for hiking. Personally, I love a simple mix with raisins, peanuts, and some sort of chocolate. Add in other nuts like cashews, walnuts, almonds, and that’s great too! Other dried fruit (cranberries, pineapple, cherries, etc.) gives some variety, along with add-ons like granola, seeds (sunflower, pumpkin), and pretzels.