As any parent knows, just getting everyone dressed and out the door is often an “adventure” all in itself. And, when it comes to outdoor adventures with kids, it can feel overwhelming.

Besides all the work you have to do ahead of time, it can feel like it was a waste of time when you show up to that hike or adventure and everyone is a whiny, cranky mess.

But, what if you could be just a little less stressed when it comes to getting out the door and actually enjoying those outdoor family adventures?

I mean, there’s more to it than the obvious challenge of getting everyone out the door with both – or any – shoes. Yup, that’s happened. Twice.

We all know it’s a LOT of work getting everything ready for an adventure with kids. It’s taken us a while to get right. But, in fact, this is exactly what we do to keep our family adventures low stress and fun for everyone.

Okay, fine. I’m not gonna lie. These things work like 90% of the time.

And, sometimes they don’t.

Because that’s life and parenting. It’s not perfect, y’all.

But, the best news? It’s actually not that difficult, and we can show you how to get your kids – and you – excited about (almost) all your outdoor adventures.

father and son carrying the hiking essentials to bring on a hike

Making the Most of Outdoor Adventures with Kids

Include the Kids in Planning

We find getting our kids excited about adventure is easiest when they get to help with the planning. Even if it’s just a little bit.

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And, before you decide I’m crazy, hear me out. I’m not saying you have to give them full reign of the planning process. But, if you’re eyeing two different waterfall hikes, let them choose which one you visit first. If you’ve been trying to decide between heading to the river or the beach, ask them what they’d prefer.

It goes a LONG way when you get them involved in the process sometimes. You don’t have to do it every single time, but test it out and see how it goes.

Have the Right Gear (and Organize It)

Having the right gear for your adventures is also huge. I’m not saying that you have to buy the newest and best gear to go adventuring. In fact, you probably have most of what you need already.

But, it is incredibly important to have gear that fits the activity and the weather. For instance, if you’re heading out on a day of skiing or snowboarding in the PNW, you need to have a jacket with excellent waterproofing. Otherwise, it’s gonna be a rough day.

Psst…if this has been an issue for you, check out our buying guides for winter jackets and snow pants . We share all the nitty-gritty of what to look for in quality gear.

Not to mention, if you want to get your kiddo stoked on hiking, get them a kids’ backpack, headlamp, and compass. They’ll feel official and like a “real” hiker. Plus, it’s never too early to start learning how to use the proper tools.

Once you have the right gear for your family adventures, take a little bit of time to organize it. Make it easily accessible, organized, and quick to grab. That way you won’t end up with a story like this.

A few years ago, we headed up to our local mountain to snowboard. When we arrived, I was helping everyone get dressed and couldn’t find our youngest’s snowsuit. I looked and looked to no avail. Finally, I begrudgingly headed into the lodge to see if I could find one to purchase. Luckily, they had a great option that saved the day.

At the end of the day, as we all climbed back in the car, I saw something peeking out from under one of the car seats. Yup. You guessed it. It was the “missing” pants – an expensive mistake on my part. 🤦‍♀️

Needless to say, we realized that we had to have a better system than just tossing it all in the car. We now all have our own Dakine snowboard bags, but even a duffle bag would work!

Taking a few minutes ahead of time to make sure that the gear for your adventures is ready to go is priceless. It saves so much time getting out the door (and money when you realize you “forgot” something essential).

father and son riding up chairlift with snowboard gear on
Riding up the chairlift for another run!

Let the Kids Take the Lead

Once you’re out the door on your family adventure, consider letting them take the lead. Our kids love to take turns being the “leader”, choosing which snowboard run we should ride, or even creating games on the fly.

Whether they lead the family on the trail, the slopes, or whether they’re the ones coming up with fun ideas to play (like a seaweed and bull kelp restaurant at the beach), it always works out better when they are included. We find if they’ve invested in the activities, they have so much more fun.

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Keep Your Expectations in Check

I have to admit. I’m the WORST at this.

I’m usually the one who is like…we can TOTALLY do 10 miles in an afternoon with two kids, right?! 😅

And, the reality is that maybe we could, but chances are everyone is gonna hate each other. So, I’ve learned to realize that it’s not always worth it.

Sometimes we need to build in extra time and take a full day instead of half. 😉

Sometimes we don’t even need to finish the hike (I know, I know…it kills me too…)😬

But, when I can relax and keep those expectations in check, we’ve made some of the best memories ever. And, then there are the days they surprise me and want to do MORE than I thought they would. 🤷‍♀️

Two boys at waterfall in silver falls state park
The first of waterfall we saw on the Trail of Ten Falls.

Encourage Kids to Carry Their Own Adventure Gear

Yes, even when they are little.

Our kids started carrying a (small) backpack on hikes when they were only toddlers. Of course, it typically just contained a small snack and stuffed animal at that point. They couldn’t carry much weight, at the time. But they LOVED having their own pack. Now, they are used to carrying a pack on every hike.

It’s amazing how much our kids love being in control of their own snacks and choosing when to eat it. It took some learning early on, but now they are really good at thinking ahead and planning their snack breaks.

Make it Fun!

Last, but definitely not least, is have fun together!

Be silly, have pun wars, laugh together, take the time to stop at the river to play…it’ll go a long way towards keeping them excited about your next family adventure.


two boys hanging out in hammocks in the woods

Final Thoughts on Adventuring with Kids

I know that even with all these tips, your outdoor adventures may not always be super easy. Seriously, though, is ANYTHING stress-free with kids?! 😝 I don’t think so, lol. But, I do know, if you take these simple steps, they will be LESS stressful.

Your turn! Comment below and let me know if there is anything else you do to make your family adventures less stressful.

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Adventuring with Kids

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