069 | Being a Backpacking Mom with Stephanie McNulty

backpacking mom
Learn insider tips as Stephanie walks us through being a backpacking mom with three kids in adventurous destinations.

Hiking with kids is something we are talking about in the membership.  Currently the membership isn’t open for new members as we are in the beta phase, however you can buy me a coffee to say thanks and support the show and get a 15 minute 1:1 to discuss topics like hiking with kids or anything else that has you stuck.

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I was first introduced to our guest through another podcast and was intrigued with her approach to life and adventure as a parent.  One of the things on my dream list is a thru-hike with the kids, maybe not quite the PCT or AT but something that requires us to live off what we carry on our backs.  Our guest did just that as newbie backpacker and mom of littles.  

Stephanie is a mom of 3 kids ages 14, 10 and 17 months old. Her family values experiences over things, and you can usually find them outside any free chance they get. Stephanie’s passion is getting into the mountains through backpacking and climbing, and she usually has her  kids along. Their family goal is to raise kids who protect the environment, live sustainably, and value conservation. Stephanie, also known as thebackpackingmom, it is such a joy to have you with us today.

Key Takeaways

  1. When Stephanie started backpacking it was a thirst to go into the mountains that she saw around her.  It was messy and hard but it was worth it.
  2. Her first trip to Shi Shi Beach on the Olympic Peninsula is one she recommends for backpacking trip, and a place she goes back to regularly.  She started with a mis-matched tent and non-backpacking gear.  The haggard hike was hard, but despite all of this they still had a magical experience and are still going over 10 years later.
  3. There will be twists and turn that you can’t account for.  A natural disaster struck the Nepali coast in Kauai leaving them stranded on the beach eventually being airlifted out.  While it was definitely scary, having the background with enough extra supplies to stay safe and the community of others helped them through.  
  4. Start small with a shake out trip.  Somewhere nearby with no more than a 2-5 mile hike.  They still do these every year to test the gear, and get back in the habit of hiking.  It also makes it easy enough to bail if it’s not working for your family.  
  5. Even with a love of the outdoors, she still leverages bribery as a tool to get her kids on trails.  The bribery changes as the kids get older.  For her teenager bringing a friend, extra screen time or staying out later have worked thus far. She is not beneath even paying them if it comes to that 🙂
  6. Hiking with kites are great fun and very light to pack.  When morale is low they use trick like the bear song, snacks, or fun activities to help them through. 
  7. A couple of go-to meals are oatmeal, PB&J on tortillas or tuna packets.  Carrying enough food to feed a family of 5 requires them to get creative and stretch meals.  Some of their favorites are Mountain House breakfast skillet and some taco sauce and tortillas for breakfast burritos or Mountain House Pad Thai with Ramen for dinner.  
  8. As Stephanie states, “We aren’t going to inspire a generation of kids who care about the outdoors if they don’t see it.  By fostering a love for these places, hopefully  it inspires them to take action to protect the places for years to come.” The family memories are a lovely bi-product of her why.  
  9. Given the high altitude with baby they took precautions to know their limits in Peru.  At the worst part of the trip her mindset was just 10 more steps.  Eventually in 10 step increments they made it to the top.
  10. The outdoor community has demonstrated they will cheer on my kids when I can’t.  As a hiking mom it’s helpful to know I don’t have to be everything today. 

You can follow Stephanie on Instagram: @thebackpackingmom

Where to Listen

Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher,  Google Podcast, anywhere podcasts are played