Heidi and guest co-host Trina share tips and considerations of how to adventure at every age. They acknowledge that they are not the experts and welcome feedback, insights, or additional ideas at the Ordinary Sherpa Facebook Group or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Infant: (NB-12M) They are non-mobile. We found they make great travelers because they sleep so often. They are free in many places (usually 2 and under). All of our kids were on a plane by 3 months. Helpful to note that many airlines the car seat and stroller fly free. Consideration is their feeding schedule. One of our essential travel items for infants was the front pack. Having both hands accessible was a game changer.
Toddler: (12M-3Y) They begin to be more mobile and many things go in the mouth! We tried to find local parks and playgrounds on our routes to help burn off some energy. The consideration at this age is usually around potty training. Routines or play, snacks, naps are all still important. (“Park” does not always equal playground: Yosemite story). Some of our favorites to allow for family adventures at this age were: Kelty backpack, Lucky Bum Ski trainer for down hill skiing, and the bike trailer (we had a Burley double seat)
PreSchool: (3Y-5Y) Need active time each day. We try to create adventure sprints and planning for 3 hour blocks of time so food, bathrooms, and rest don’t kill the connection. We set up our schedule to have drive time be down time, that often means we are up and adventuring early and also late afternoon we try to hit another round of adventure if possible. The kids are much more independent at this age and can dress themselves, have a lot of creative ideas and engage in pretend play- can usually fill idle time. I saw a drastic reduction in our gear at this age. I would suggest a strider bike (balance bike) to help get kids comfortable with pedal biking.
School Aged: (5-12) This is where we are personally at, and I am finding it to be delightful. They can tolerate longer adventures. 3-5mi hikes are doable for us. They are much more independent (down hill skiing- mentioned earlier, all of my kids are safely skiing solo now, mountain biking-single trek biking, kayaking, sand boarding) and entertain each other (more conflict too). Following the rules is less about safety and more about working together. Can add in educational aspects to adventure to help reinforce the activities- read, writing, science, history. I am finding at this age, they are always hungry- I don’t know that decreases with the next age, but keeping a steady supply of adventure friendly snacks is important (and our kanteens). Essential items are a good backpack, and journals for the kids to plan, draw, and reflect are helpful.
Teen: (13-17) They have the strength and coordination to do more adventurous activities. Frontal brain isn’t fully developed – so much more apt to take risks. They also can have a longer attention span and can unpack more complex topics. Things we have done at school-aged that we think would be better suited for older ages are surfing, rock climbing, Halibut fishing charter, overnight backpacking trip). Might want to choose locations and activities where phones don’t work. They have opinions about what they want to do, so make sure to engage their voice in planning.
- Take a break from technology together
- Get lost together (mystery trip example)
- Rewrite the family adventure narrative. What do they want to do? What is their definition of adventure and right-sizing the experience and expectations. (Language learning or cooking).
- Do something insta-worthy? What would challenge them and would be really a fun accomplishment?
- Can you build a tribe? Who else can join the clan and have some 1:1 time and group time so it doesn’t seem like an intervention?
Additional thoughts: Travel with teens article; Getting teens outdoors article
Young Adult (18-30): They can plan the adventures and hopefully bring you along. Have more perspective on possibilities, cultural implications, depending on their stage of life they may have more flexibility to travel, or may have more responsibilities and less time/resources to dedicate to adventure. This is a good age to begin to explore travel rewards (any age is good…but having them understand the rules) but also important as they are creating their own financial path. Parenting tip: I was worried that I only had 18 years to create these memories, and a friend reminded me- If you are willing to pay for their travel you can easily keep them through their 20’s. This age is also more open to foodie exploration. International travel is much more prevalent at this age, but there is nothing that says it has to be here, just noticing where it often shows up in people’s adventure journey.
Adulting (30-50): In the throes of life. May be working through transitions in roles and responsibilities and the many demands for your time. Define resource rich and time rich. I am here. I celebrated 40 and have been active most of my life and finding that there are physical changes that happen at this stage as well. I no longer consider myself an athlete. I really look forward to a good cup of coffee each morning, I need good shoes (Saloman Speedcross are my favorite in case you are wondering).
Older Adult 50+: May be more flexible with time and resources, many appreciate the down time and the ability to kick up their feet each day. Where I was introduced to the concept of “slow travel.” They may also have limitations or times of day when they are their best. When I travel with my mom, I take into consideration what her typical routine is and create space in the itinerary to allow for the routines that she is most comfortable with.
Notes of caution: Don’t assume those in age groups other than your don’t want to participate. It’s important to understand their limitations and expectations of what adventure looks like to them.
- Many of my friends are single and I never assume they want to adventure with my kids, because it’s a different experience
- On the flip side, my kids love to adventure and I appreciate the opportunity to decide what is right for us, rather than having others exclude us.
Not everyone embraces adventure as an infant and walk through a linear process. Embracing adventure at 50 is very common and may need mastery of all of the aspects of confidence, risk-taking, knowing your limits…it’s a journey and the journey changes as we age.
Many adventures transcend age and a good for any age. These include camping, traveling, hiking, and simply playing outside. Play…it’s not just for kids you know!