You would know by now that natural health is my biggest passion. But travel is another love of mine. So I thought I’d talk a bit about my latest adventure travel experience with my 10-year-old son, and how going on your own adventures could benefit your kids.
Watch the video below or keep reading to learn more about the benefits of adventure travel experiences for kids.
I was first introduced to the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail by Jason Tyndall from Nature Play SA when I interviewed him for my Natural Super Kids Klub. The hike is over 60kms, which you cover over 5 days. There are plenty of facilities and everyone camps at the same spots along the way.
My son and I recently completed the trail over the October long weekend, with 10 other people walking the trail with us.
Why adventure travel experiences are important for kids
Both adults and kids are spending far too much time indoors. But there are a multitude of benefits for kids who get outside regularly.
Getting outside means:
- More exposure to sun and fresh air
- More exposure to the natural elements, including microbes
- Increased physical activity
Sun and fresh air exposure are vital for a child’s wellbeing. The sun is our #1 source of vitamin D, which is needed for healthy bones, immunity, mental health and gut health. To learn more about the benefits of vitamin D for kids, check out this article.
Being outside can also have mental health benefits. Research suggests that time outdoors can reduce anxiety, improve mood, and reduce the behavioural symptoms associated with conditions like ADHD and autism.
Being exposed to the variety of microbes outside is essential for a developing gut and immune system. More time spent outdoors can support the growth of a healthy microbiome.
However, the benefits of adventure travel don’t stop with health. There are also benefits for a child’s mental and emotional development that are just as important.
Learning & creativity
Being in an outdoor environment can promote learning and creativity. What kids find outside – sticks, flowers, rocks, water – are open-ended toys. They need to use their imagination to use them in many different ways.
They also learn about taking calculated risks. Roald Dahl says it best:
The more risks you allow children to take, the better they learn to take care of themselves.
Many kids don’t get a chance to take enough. But the natural world is conducive for risk-taking. It’s unpredictable, so kids need to make judgements about what is safe and what is best avoided.
Connection with the natural world
It’s important for kids to develop appreciation and respect for the natural world. Outdoor experiences like adventure travel trips allow them to engage with the natural elements of their world.
This can give them a greater sense of belonging and familiarity with nature. Over the long-term, it also helps them to be more respectful and choose sustainable behaviours.
In my experience, when kids are indoors, they are probably fighting or not engaging with each other at all. This is particularly true with technology – kids who rely on it for entertainment don’t get a chance to fully develop their social skills.
But once they head outside, behaviour and relationships improve automatically. My son had the chance to engage in conversation with both children and adults on the trip, simply because there was nothing else to do!
You certainly don’t have to undertake a massive travel adventure experience for your kids to reap these benefits. Even just encouraging them to play outdoors more often can be a good step.
The Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail was my first multi-day hike since becoming a mum. My son and I planned it together – we shopped for food and gear together and planned out our meals. It gave him some responsibility, rather than me doing everything.
The longest day is around 14kms, but the terrain is fairly flat, so there is plenty of opportunity for rest breaks. There are also some spectacular views, walking along the coast, through the bush, and even some beach walking. We spotted plenty of wildlife, including echidnas, kangaroos and even a tiger snake.
It’s not often that I get time one on one with my son. As he is a tween, it’s that age where it’s important to foster a connection before the teens hit.
He also developed resilience. The first day, he complained of sore shoulders and needed to stop every 20 minutes for a rest. But we soldiered on. That night, we met another family with a 12 year old boy. We hiked with them for the rest of the trip, and the two boys egged each other on. After that, there were no more complaints.
What you need for overnight hiking
Thinking about going on your own adventure travel experience, hiking-style? Here are some of the essential to cover:
For overnight hikes, you need specific gear. It can be quite expensive to get all of your gear, so make sure you enjoy short hiking trips before you jump in for the long hauls! I still had some left from my travels in my 20s.
The most essential gear includes:
- Lightweight sleeping bag and tent
- Sleeping mat, such as a Thermarest mat
There is a limited amount you can take hiking, especially with kids. You need to pack food that is long-lasting and lightweight. Carrots and celery were the only fresh vegetables we packed.
We’d have quick oats with cinnamon and honey for breakfast. Lunch was crackers, beef jerky and veggie sticks. We’d snack on a mix of dried fruit, nuts and M&Ms (despite the additives and sugar!) Dinners included pre-cooked rice sachets mixed with flavoured tuna and celery.
We also had some dehydrated meals for the last few days, including spaghetti bolognaise and roast lamb. Dehydrated meals aren’t great in terms of taste or ingredients, but you do what you can!
Do you enjoy reading about adventure travel experiences?
Check out my other travel blog posts here:
Nothing in this blog post constitutes or substitutes for professional or medical advice. Whilst Jessica Donovan (the Naturopath behind Natural Super Kids) is a registered health practitioner, she is not your health practitioner. Any health advice given by Jessica Donovan (or by any other person representing Natural Super Kids) is based on that person’s opinion and their general professional experience, but not your specific case. As such, you should always seek the advice of your own health professionals before acting on something that is recommended by Natural Super Kids. For our full disclaimer, please visit: https://naturalsuperkids.com/nsk-disclaimer/