Some of my friends call me crazy, others call me brave.

I don’t really care what they call me because I need this. Yes, I need the outdoors. I need nature. I need to be able to check out every couple of weeks. Check out from work, check out of our digital environment, check out from every day life. Mother Nature is the perfect answer for all of that. However, if you’re a parent, you know it can be difficult.

Growing up my parents took me camping at a young age and I feel like it helped shape who I am today. I’m starting the kids young. In fact, our first camping trip with them was when they were 8 months old. My wife and I took them to Big Bend National Park in Texas. It was challenging, but I’m so glad I did. Now that we’re basically in the outdoor capital of the world, we’re at it again but this time, these two can walk.

After a couple of short one mile hikes to some local waterfalls and a few statements of, “Daddy, let’s turn around and go home now," I finally found a way to go longer distances.

A) Make sure the hiking trails aren’t gaining much elevation. These little kids’ feet get tired quickly.

B) If you hike, try to find the smoothest gravel path as possible so you can take an outdoor wagon. It was a lifesaver! We were able to go 2.5 miles, ONE WAY! That’s right, this thing helped us go longer distances and we didn’t have any complaining at all. We could bring snacks, small toys, all the while enjoying the outdoors, together!

If you’re bringing kids with you to hike or explore the outdoors, and you don’t like having all the amenities such as a hotel or resort, here are my suggestions.

  • Bring plenty of snacks.
  • Sun screen and bug spray. Put them on the kids & yourself, every few hours.
  • Bring backpack carriers and/or an outdoor stroller. In my case, the wagon worked pretty darn well.
  • Lots of water.
  • First aid kit.
  • Sturdy walking shoes.
  • Change of clothes (but you can keep these in the car).

Finally, make sure you bring your phone or camera everywhere. There will be so many precious moments you want to capture. Also, remember, enjoy the moment.