We moved to Germany a few years ago and had never been to the country before said move. It was an adventure learning the language, eating the traditional dishes, and learning the rules. Our love for hiking truly grew when we started hiking in Germany. If you are planning your next family vacation to Germany, I highly recommend hiking with your kids in Germany on a day or two to explore the nature surrounding the many hiking trails.
Tackling the outdoors is a great and inexpensive way to explore Germany, especially with kids in tow. When we started hiking in Germany with our daughter, we learned a few things via trial and error and developed these tips for future visitors. From the perfect hiking gear to memorable activities that your little ones will love, I hope this blog post helps you prepare and plan to hike in Germany with kids. So grab your water, lace up those boots, and get ready to go hiking!
5 Tips for Hiking with Kids in Germany
Research the Area and Plan Ahead
You’re in for a treat when you start hiking with kids in Germany as you get to explore the outdoors and hiking trails. You might encounter the thick forest of the Black Forest with creeks flowing or maybe the ruins of a castle. However, before you hit the trails, it’s important to complete your research, plan ahead, and create real-life expectations of what your kids can do while outdoors.
Germany has some stunning hiking routes, and you want to make sure that you choose one that is suitable for your family’s skill level and interests. Some trails are located near the cities, while others require quite a drive to reach. You can check Germany’s tourism website for more information about the trails near the city where you will visit. For your first hike though, I highly recommend visiting one of the premium hikes in Germany.
A premium hike in Germany reaches this level when the trail meets high-quality standards set by the German Hiking Institute. You can locate these trails by level and location to make it easier for you to pick one that the whole family can tackle. Remember, whether you want a stroll through the countryside or an intense climb up a mountain, Germany has a trail to offer.
So, take some time to do your research and figure out which route is right for your family. For example, we prefer loop hiking trails so there’s always something new to see in our route without the need to turn around. Also, by planning ahead, you’ll be able to ensure that your kids have a great time while staying safe and happy along the way.
Choose the Proper Gear and Essential Hiking Items
One of the most important aspects of a successful hike with kids is choosing the proper gear for both safety and enjoyment of the outdoors. For example, children will require comfortable hiking shoes, if they are waterproof and ankle height, even better. Proper layering of clothes is also important, especially during the tick season.
Here’s a list of recommended hiking gear for kids:
- Sturdy hiking boots with good traction.
- Comfortable hiking socks to prevent blisters.
- Weather-appropriate clothing (layers, waterproof jacket, hat, gloves, etc.).
- Sunscreen and sunglasses for protection against UV rays.
- Insect repellent to keep bugs away. Important note: The Federal Nature Conservation Act in Germany prohibits the deliberate disturbance, capture, injury, or death of bees, wasps, and hornets without an actual reason, and there are fines for violations. If you use a Raid Wasp and Hornet Killer, then you may violate the conservation act. However, a local DM or Rosemman in Germany store will have insect repellents accepted by the Federal Nature Conservation Act. We recommend getting a travel-size Autan Protection Plus for Multi Insects to avoid any unforeseeable issues and stay protected. It works for mosquitos, ticks, biting flies, and wasps.
- Bring a refillable water bottle and snacks for energy.
- Bring a backpack or daypack to carry personal items.
- Bring a map or trail guide for navigation in the event there is no cell signal. Premium hikes will have clear hiking markers that will be easy to follow. You can also take a photo of the trail map which is available at the start of the trail for further reference.
- Walking sticks can help with balance and stability. It is only optional and depends on the hiking trail and personal preferences.
- Bring a first aid kit with essentials, like band-aids, disinfectants, and pain relief medication. Some plants look pretty, but you should avoid touching them in general because some are known to cause rash or itchiness. Make sure to do your research to learn which ones to avoid.
Don’t forget, any gear for kids should be appropriate for their age and size so everything fits and is comfortable to wear. You can also teach kids how to properly use the gear, stay aware of the changes in terrain, and be respectful of the natural environment.
Share Safety Tips with Your Children
Kids should learn proper hiking safety tips before heading out on a hike in Germany. I found these are some of the essential safety tips that little kids will understand:
- Stay on marked trails: As a parent, you can explain what trail markers are and show your kids the ones they need to follow at the start of the hike. You can even make it a game to see who finds the next trail marker first (this is my daughter’s favorite game). Parents can also explain how important it is to stick to designated hiking paths and avoid wandering off into unfamiliar or potentially dangerous areas of the trail.
- Dress appropriately: Pick clothes that will fit the trail and the weather conditions for the day, such as comfortable and sturdy hiking boots.
- Know your limits: It is not a race to get to the end of the trail, and as parents, we can make sure kids are hiking at a comfortable pace so they don’t push themselves beyond their limits.
- Stay hydrated and fueled: Explain how important it is to drink water and eat snacks to maintain energy levels during the hike. It is also ok to take regular breaks.
- Be aware of surroundings: It is important to be mindful of the hiking trail surroundings and terrain. Kids can learn of potential dangers, such as steep drops or slippery rocks.
- How to use a first aid kit: The above section mentioned bringing proper gear, such as a first aid kit, but it is also important to show kids how to use the items within it, including how to treat minor injuries, such as cuts or scrapes.
- Leave no trace: Teach kids to respect the environment by leaving no trace, which means packing out all trash and staying on designated trails.
- Keep an eye on the weather: Make sure to check the weather conditions before you start your hike. Note that changes can also happen at the drop of a hat. You can teach kids how to pay attention to weather patterns, such as cloudy skies or temperature changes.
Create Activities for Kids to Enjoy During the Hike
One of our fears during a hike with our daughter is getting that dreaded question, “Are we there, yet?” We found that the best way to avoid this is to create a few hiking activities to keep boredom away. We came up with a few simple ideas for activities that help, here are some of them that your kids might like too:
- Make a scavenger hunt list: A scavenger hunt list can include different types of trees, stone shapes, or birds the kids can search for during a hike.
- Nature journal: Kids can use a cute nature journal to document different plants or animals they observe when they are hiking. They can write about them or take photos to print and add to the nature journal. For the kids who love to color, they can bring colored pencils or crayons to sketch or draw nature art that they see during the hike.
- Geocaching: If there are geocaching spots along the hike, kids may enjoy searching for hidden treasures and learning more about navigating with GPS coordinates.
- Photography scavenger hunt: This one is my daughter’s favorite! You can provide a list of photograph themes or concepts to capture during the hike, such as “a bird taking flight” or “a flower in bloom.” My daughter loves to find shapes and uses nature itself to frame a main subject.
- Trail games: You can also go old-school and play traditional trail games, such as “I Spy” or “20 Questions” but integrate the hike itself. For example, they can identify a plant, animal, or landmark they saw along the way.
- Bring a book: Kids can bring a nature guide or storybook to read during rest breaks or quiet moments on the trail.
Take Breaks Often
For kids and adults, taking breaks is an essential part of a hike for several reasons:
- Rest and recuperate: Let’s face it, walking for long periods is tiring for everyone. A break allows kids and parents to rest and recover before continuing the hike. Plus, rest prevents muscle strain and helps prevent injury.
- Rehydration: Hiking means staying active, and as a result, everyone sweats and loses water from their bodies. Take water breaks to rehydrate.
- Stay energized and prevent fatigue: During a break, kids can also eat some trail snacks, like protein bars or fruit, which help restore energy levels. It also reduces burnout related to the overuse of specific muscles.
- Promote safety: You may not realize it, but taking breaks also prevents accidents or getting lost. Not everyone hikes at the same pace, so a mini break allows everyone to catch up, check if everyone is doing ok, and review the plan or assess any potential risks associated with the trail or the body.
- Explore the surroundings: One of the reasons to hike is to explore and observe the outdoors and nature. A break allows you and your kids to stop and learn something new about the local flora and fauna of the area.
- Bonding with family: Taking a break also helps with family bonding or meeting other hikers in the area. You can share food and stories or play a family game to develop a sense of togetherness and create those lasting memories.
- Have fun: Kids and parents can play fun games or lie down for a bit to relax before continuing to the next leg of the hike.