A winter walk is a great way to spend time with your family. It’s a chance to get away from the stresses and distractions of home and spend some quality time together. A big walk is also great exercise, a chance to get some fresh air, and a huge mental health boost. This can all be especially beneficial in winter when many of us are stressed out and spending more time than usual indoors. But a big family walk takes a little more preparation in the wintertime, to help you all stay safe, warm, and dry while you are out. Here’s a look at everything you need.
A Big Breakfast
Everything seems harder in cold weather. Even getting out of a warm bed can be more of a challenge. To get yourselves going before a big family walk, a big breakfast is essential. Something warm, like porridge with fruit or French toast with berries can be ideal. It’ll fill you with energy and warm you up from the inside before you step out into the cold air.
A Spacious Bag
Whenever you go out for a walk, or any activity with kids, especially when they are young, you need a good bag with plenty of room. This is even more so on a big winter walk. You’ll need a tote bag or similar with lots of space so that you can comfortably pack things like snacks, drinks, extra layers, and anything else the kids might need. A designer tote bag can also help you to look stylish, even when you are wearing comfy walking clothes. If you need a new bag, you can find your favourite here.
Even if the weather forecast is dry, there’s always a chance of a winter shower at this time of the year, especially if your walk is taking you up a big hill or further away from home. Make sure you are all wearing or have packed a waterproof coat, and if you have them, some waterproof trousers that you can put on over your clothes. For younger kids who might enjoy jumping in puddles, puddle suits and waterproof dungarees can be ideal.
Even if it’s very cold when you start, it’s easy to get too hot and feel sweaty and uncomfortable during a big winter walk, as your blood pumps around your body faster and your heart rate rises. Thin, light layers are good at keeping you warm because they trap body heat between the layers, but they are also easy to remove and pack away in your bag if you do get hot. Cotton long sleeve t-shirts and thin fleeces can work well.
Good winter walking boots should be waterproof, sturdy, and have excellent grip. For kids, there are often lots of second-hand options available online that have been bought for school trips and then never worn again.
Hats, scarves, and gloves are all essential when it comes to keeping warm and comfortable on a winter walk. Make sure everyone has these accessories. If your kids love to climb, fingerless gloves with a hood, or gloves with grip can be a good idea.
It can get very bright on a crisp winter’s day, especially if you are at a high altitude. Winter sun can be as harmful as the brighter summer sun, perhaps even more so because we often fail to prepare for it. Make sure you’ve all got sunglasses that protect from UV rays, and that you wear sunscreen on exposed skin, even if it’s grey when you leave the house.
Food and Drink Flasks
On a long walk, you’ll need to pack drinks and either snacks or a picnic to keep you all filled with energy and give you a warming boost. Water is great for hydration, but a flask of hot chocolate can be wonderfully warming and a great treat after a tough walk. Flasks of hot food, like soups or stews, can also be very warming, especially if you are going to be out for a few hours.
A Well-Planned Route
When you walk in the winter, it’s common to find that the terrain changes due to the weather conditions. This can happen quickly, and a once safe route can suddenly be impassable. Make sure you walk a route that you know well or do plenty of research before you leave. If you use an app to plan routes, look at the most recent reviews of specific trails, or reviews that have been left after periods of bad weather, to get an accurate idea of what conditions could be like.
A Secret Snack
Sometimes, as a parent, a bribe goes a long way. Pack a chocolate bar or other favourites to keep the kids going if they start to get bored.
In the run-up to the holidays, when everyone is excited, getting out for a big family walk can be an excellent way to burn off some energy and calm everyone down. Just make sure you are prepared for bad weather and have a route in mind so that you can stay safe.