Kayaking is a fun and physical activity for the whole family to enjoy! It is healthy, a good way for children to connect with the natural world, and great for family bonding, too! Whether you have decided your child is old enough to “buff” (ride in the center of a boat) or paddle along with you, here are planning and packing tips to consider when kayaking with kids.
If you are taking a little road trip to go kayaking, check out these tips on how to entertain kids on a road trip.
Unless you are a very experienced boater, you want to find somewhere with calm water and minimal currents when kayaking with kids. Try small, protected lakes and bays or maybe even slow rivers to reduce stress levels and develop kids’ skills. Look for places with lots of variety and wildlife to keep your children entertained! Know what you are getting into; study currents, tides, and boat traffic before you head out. If possible, plan bathroom breaks ahead of time.7 Planning And Packing Tips When Kayaking With Kids Click To Tweet
When choosing a destination, try to factor in how long you think your children will want to be out on the water. Be conservative – half an hour to an hour is usually sufficient for all first timers, regardless of age. Generally, the older the child, the more time you can spend in the boat before they become restless. Other things to consider when planning the length of your trip might include the child’s: experience with boats, physical strength for paddling, familiarity with water, swimming ability, and age or level of maturity.
If you have a few months before you are scheduled to go on your kayaking trip, consider signing yourself and your children up for swimming and kayaking lessons! These are often offered at community centers and local pools and really help children become comfortable getting in and out of a boat. Or think about doing some fun workouts with your children to get them (and yourself!) in peak shape for the extremely physical sport that is kayaking. Simple push-ups and pull-ups enhance the push and pull of your paddle stroke!
The most important thing to pack is proper PFDs (Personal Flotation Devices). Don’t skimp on keeping your children and yourself safe! Purchase U.S. Coast Guard-approved models, and follow the rules for sizing and usage. There are different sized PFDs for infants (8-30 lbs), children (30-50 lbs), and youth (50-90 lbs). Children exceeding 90 lbs should wear a small adult-sized PFD. It’s also a good idea to keep lines and floats in your boat with you in the event of a rescue situation. It’s critical to learn and practice the safety techniques that accompany them before you set out.
Layers are the name of the game! Pack multiple layers of water-resistant, breathable fabrics (such as rash guards, polyester, and merino wool) for you and your little ones’ for maximum comfort. Pack an extra outfit in a waterproof “dry bag” strapped tightly to the inside of the boat for the inevitable mud and wetness.
If you are going to be out on the open water, it is crucial to bring sunscreen with a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor), as well as other protective gear. Wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and light layers work wonders to protect your children from the sun’s harmful UV rays. If you are going to be in a densely wooded area, it is also important to bring insect repellent to fend off pesky and biting bugs. Finally, it is never a bad idea to pack raingear – the weatherman is not always right!
Hydration is key! Pack more water than you think you will need, and make a conscious effort to have your children drink throughout the day. The physical activity of paddling combined with the hot sun can tire your little one out quicker than you might imagine. Pack plenty of healthy, easy-to-bring snacks! Trail mix, granola bars, and fresh fruit will give your children just the energy boost they need!
Go slow, teach your children as you go, and empower them through this fun and rewarding sport. …And don’t forget to take lots of breaks when kayaking with kids to enjoy the scenery around you!