Whether you’re reading this in lockdown, while our adventures need to be walkable from home, or once we can get a bit further again, I hope these ideas can help you have fun, comfortable and safe adventures outdoors.
Yes, it can be very cold, but winter is a beautiful time to explore nature, no matter how close to home you are. From the fascinating morning frost, to the winter birds and wildlife, I hope some of these ideas can help you enjoy this incredible season outdoors.
Layer, layer, layer!
The most important thing to do is layer, making it easier to add or take away layers if you or your kids are too hot or cold. It also is essential in case you get caught in any freak storms – we even sometimes double up Lily’s gloves if her fingers start getting chilly!
For more information on layers and clothing for outdoors this season, check our our top tips for dressing the kids for winter.
Prepare your trip in advance
Particularly if you’re going somewhere new, find out parking and alternative parking just in case, and let someone know where you’re going in case you have an emergency and no reception.
If there’s a way of checking your walking routes in advance, do that too, so you know any obstacles, how long it will take and accessibility. Not only is this helpful in case of emergencies, but also can help you if the kids start to flag a bit!
Don’t predict the weather
The weather can change very quickly, so even if it says it will be a shower-free or warm day, make sure you’re prepared – even on the warmest of days, the temperature can drop quickly, especially in the shade or when you stop moving.
We’ve been in the snowy mountains in just our t-shirts, while in Leicestershire wearing about 6 layers, so you can never be too prepared. Did I mention that this is why layers help?!
As with the point above, make sure you have a waterproof layer as the weather can change quickly, and no one likes soggy clothes! They’re also great to sit on if needed too.
We find the most commonly used backups are gloves and socks, which we keep in our backpacks (along with any spare layers), and then changes of other clothes are left in the car.
Pack spare shoes
We usually leave a spare pair of shoes in the car, as her boots are usually caked in mud by the time we get back.
Having a carrier bag or cloth in the boot of the car is also good to lay out muddy boots so they don’t cake everything else in brown mush too!
Snacks, snacks, snacks
We all know to bring snacks, but always backup your snack stash too – they’re definitely an essential with kids, and important for emergencies too.
A flask of hot chocolate is also handy for a little rest or to warm up.
First aid kit
Take a small one in your daypack as, particularly in the winter, help can sometimes be harder or take longer to arrive.
Prepare the car
We keep a blanket (Lily’s Kelty Bestie Blanket gifted from Little Trekkers and the one I bought myself too!) and a bigger first aid kit in the car, as well as spare water in case we run out when we are out.
Lily is 5 and fully potty-trained, but we do also keep the potty in the car in case we are somewhere there are no toilets (particularly handy during covid!).
A few spare coins can also be handy in case you are caught-short with parking, and extra snacks. We also make sure we have a little bin bag to take any rubbish home as we often find there aren’t places to recycle when out.
Bring a backup charger
We have a backup phone charger in the car as the battery can drain quickly where signal is low – I also use it as my Satnav which doesn’t help too 🙂
Treasure in nature
We know that some days kids can walk for miles, whereas others their legs suddenly don’t feel like moving!
If your kids are starting to struggle, that’s OK. Why not have a backup such as a scavenger hunt or a bird/tree-spotting book in your backpack, helping keep them distracted til you get back?
Maybe you could find out some fun landmarks to reach or search for before you head off, or hunt for natural treasure?
We also love the 1000 hours outside tracker to have something visual to help with natural encouragement.
It’s OK to turn home
Kids are kids, if they aren’t feeling it or are not enjoying it, that’s OK. They may be tired from school, just too cold, or just not feeling it – that’s fine, feel free to try another day!
Aimless scrolling on social media can make it look like “everyone” is out or exploring woodlands, but there are days we all know that it is just too miserable to get out – or you may just not be feeling it. If you just don’t feel like it or if you get there and energy drops quickly, don’t be afraid to cut it short or head to a cafe (when we can!) to relax and get your energy back again.
We’ve also found recently that some of our favourite places are busier than usual now indoor places are closed, so I’ve explained to Lily that we’ve had to avoid play areas or leave earlier. By pre-explaining, she now knows and understands when our plans need to change too.
Walks and adventures are all about having fun – let’s make the most of this beautiful season, even while we’re still close to home. Just stay safe, stay warm and be prepared 🙂