29 Mar In the great outdoors: family adventures
In a world that lives on screens and curricular learning in schools. There is nothing like an outdoor adventure to reinvigorate family vacations. From epic desert tours to mysterious caves and gentle oceans, nature is like a great playground for all ages; and the fresh air helps to disconnect everyone.
The key to the ideal getaway is choosing the most suitable trip for each family. Despite what circulates on Instagram, to consider yourself an ‘adventurous family’ you don’t have to bathe in crocodile-infested rivers with your two-year-old; If you want to be surrounded by nature and look for exciting activities, this article dedicated to outdoor activities will be a good help. And, above all, whatever activity is chosen, it must be enjoyed in the style of each family.
Easier than it looks
For many children, nature is ‘destiny’, and the taste of salt water or the first ascent of a huge rock is the most intense experience. Getting off the beaten track is a matter of pace (slow!), Practicality (is it accessible?) And moving freely (climbing, discovering, touching, and enjoying nature without gridded plans). Neither the location nor the itinerary matters so much. The beauty is that you can always discover interesting things. Be it rocks, logs, or mud to play with. In other words, all that is needed for a good excursion is a little time.
Discovering tide pools after visiting modern aquariums on Ireland’s west coast, or getting your feet wet in small streams on the way to Iceland’s iconic waterfalls are two great options, but even the most intense cities have greenways, gardens, and parks around. the ones to run around and play with. Take advantage of it! Strolling away from the strict routes allows young hikers to freely enjoy themselves. And experience natural spaces, and that teaches them to appreciate them.
On a recent trip to Yellowstone, the meadow where we camped and where the little ones let their imaginations run wild left an indelible memory; the wait for the Old Faithful geyser to erupt, not so much. Camping when visiting a national or regional park is a very good idea because it reduces the travel time to points of interest and leaves room for personal interaction with the environment.
Stay in the middle of nature
If sleeping on a thin foam mattress on the ground is not the plan, it is good to know that there are endless offers of accommodation with the spirit of camping but designed for greater comfort. The idea of the ‘tree house’ evokes the charm of our childhood hideouts; And depending on the preferences for luxury and local, the family can stay among the treetops in Africa. With views of the fauna, between snowy mountains or under the starry sky of Australia.
The extra comforts of the Mongolian-style yurts have turned more than one camping fan into a glamping fan. From the simplest to the most luxurious options, and from the most remote to the most practical. Yurts offer a direct link to the environment. For an experience rich in history, culture, and nature, imaginative options abound: Hungarian gypsy wagons, hand-painted teepees in North America, a portable surfer hotel in Portugal, and ice-carved hotels in Sweden are some of the friendliest offerings.
Let’s be practical
Given the risk of arriving with nothing or double-loaded, it is advisable to make the trip list well and check it a couple of times. After a snowshoe excursion through the snowy countryside, we were really grateful for packing the headlamps and flashlights, because the solar-powered light went out. Of course, we could also have put an extra soft toilet paper, because the one that was there … Anyway!
Exploration outright – on foot, by bicycle, or by other means – is always very satisfying. Using your muscles pays more attention to the road than to the destination. Let the traveler imagine biking through the cliff-top ports of Newfoundland, kayaking around karst monoliths in Southeast Asia, or cross- country skiing in the national parks of Norway . A minimum of good physical shape combined with good weather and culture allows you to enjoy a vibrant experience, at the desired pace and in freedom, with a lot of new things to see, smell and hear. And the reward for the effort is a very living connection; great views from soaring ridges or almost deserted idyllic beaches and a much deeper appreciation of the surroundings.
The relationship is mutually beneficial, also for parents: sometimes adults reduce all physical activity upon arrival, but with children involved, who slow down and ask to stop at regular intervals, the challenge it becomes a more leisurely exploration process. And the great thing about going out with kids is that they’ll get in on the action if you start small and pay off big. Children love to do things, right?
And when they get tired of walking, what?
Some reward may be offered to them. In the long run, the little ones will learn to value the satisfaction that comes from meeting a goal. But sometimes it is good to have external help: the temptation bundling or ‘packaging of temptations’. For example, let them wear the superhero outfit or costume they want to go on a field trip; stop (as many times as necessary) to satisfy your curiosity; let them eat more sweets than usual, or reward them with a souvenir of the route. It is not a matter of bribery, it is adding incentives by taking advantage of the things they like, and it works with adults too!
Enjoy the elements
Luckily, entertaining kids doesn’t require luck-defying feats, and nature offers plenty of attractions for both the wildest and the tamest. If they are adventurous, they will enjoy a hot air balloon ride through the Appalachians; a route between Mayan ruins in Guatemala, or a zip-line descent in Costa Rica. And speed freaks can try downhill skiing in New Zealand, sledding down sand dunes in a Peruvian desert. Or whitewater rafting through the American ‘Wild West’.
Little water lovers will have a good time snorkeling, diving, stand-up paddling, or surfing in paradisiacal destinations such as Fiji, Australia, or Thailand, whose landscapes are as fascinating as the activity itself. It is even possible to find introductory courses in the aquatic areas that are closer to home. And animal lovers will also be able to learn valuable lessons about confidence and driving on the back of a camel, a horse, or after a reindeer or a group of dogs pulling a sled.
Being well informed helps you choose a safe and appropriate frame for children. We were lucky that our guide ‘towed’ our six-year-old daughter’s horse up the steepest slopes. But he also listened with all his attention. Not all operators know how to treat children; To choose well, you have to take into account the age, size, dexterity, and temperament of the little ones.
Holidays and disconnection
‘Disconnecting’ can be the result of an adventurous journey to a remote place or simply a conscious decision to turn off any electronic device. Be that as it may if the disconnection is combined with the power of nature. The senses of perception are enlivened. The initial ‘boredom’ leaves room for curiosity and, suddenly, the colors of the horizon. Or the scent of exotic flowers acquires an almost magical potential.
Deep down, even if one disconnects in the cerulean waters of the Croatian coast or in the bracing Scottish highlands, what matters is the magic that comes from removing the artificial barriers that separate us from time, people and place. Young and old will discover that it is surprisingly easy to feel satisfied in nature and that it is exciting.