Recently, my family and I rented out our home and began living a life full of travel adventures. My wife, Krista, our son, Tristan, and I spent over year on an epic journey to mountain towns all over the world. We’ve had all day hiking trips with Tristan in a hiking pack, ran marathon distances with our BOB stroller up to the top of mountains and experienced several international 10+ hour flights. We’ve learned a few tricks along the way for keeping toddlers entertained during long journeys. The main thing to remember is to just have fun with your little ones and experience the world through their eyes. They’ll show you how magical the world is.
Here are a few tips that we’ve learned along the way on how to have awesome All Day Mountain Adventures with a Toddler:
- Rocks & Leaves – On long runs, toys are hardly needed because in nature, there are fun things to play with all around. We take breaks and let Tristan collect, stack, throw rocks. We hand him flowers, pinecones, ferns, leaves and all sorts of natural toys to explore and keep him entertained.
- Treats – Bring some special treats that your kiddo doesn’t get to enjoy on a regular basis and give out snacks every hour or so to keep him occupied. Some of our favorites include homemade kale chips, EPIC bars and PocketFuel nut butters. We throw in a few special treats like fruit strips and lollipops. Lollipops are a new favorite and a perfect reward for reaching the top of the mountain, plus they easily occupy Tristan for an hour. Fair warning: be prepared for everyone to have sticky hair.
- Learning Words – Being outside is the best playground for everyone and an incredible classroom for toddlers to learn and discover. We are constantly pointing out our surroundings and asking Tristan if he can find different things – trees, mountains, birds, deer, etc. It’s a fun game that has the added bonus of learning new words. We even practice colors – “Where is the GREEN tree?”
- Let them Run Free – The BOB stroller helps you cover more ground as a family, but make sure to let your kiddo out to run free, too! Tristan has amazed us with maneuvering some technical trails and running for 30 mins+ on his own. Be patient – as your little one will run at toddler pace and is likely to take breaks to check out rocks. It’s never too early to teach your kid to love an exercise like running. Tristan actually ran his first race this year and had an awesome time!
- Gondolas and Ski Lifts – Two year old boys live in a world of cars, trains and planes. The best end to an all-day mountain adventure is when a gondola, or ski lift, is part of the fun. Most mountain towns are also ski resorts and have gondolas that can save you a few miles and provide your kiddo with a fun, high flying adventure. We start talking about the gondola in the middle of the hike and tell Tristan to “warm up his wings” by flapping his arms and get ready to fly. Some are even free, like the gondola in Telluride!
The most important thing to remember is that everything is an adventure to a toddler. It’s up to us, as parents, to recognize the magic and wonder around us so we can introduce it to our children. Having children is an incredible chance to relive every youthful stage of life, but to do better than you did it the first time.