A mum, dad and their three kids from Tasmania, go on an epic adventure in Borneo for 3 weeks in December
I love the website JM Cremps Adventures for Boys. Even though I haven’t yet purchased anything there, I love their idea “If you want a life filled with adventure, you better start when you’re young.” And they have very cool stuff, that I would have loved when I was a boy – hunting, fishing, military, science, camping and treasure hunting stuff – who wouldn’t love it?
Hence our philosophy with kids and travel. We regularly take the kids hiking, climbing, swimming, geocaching, fishing and camping. They absolutely love the outdoors and the way we look at it, everything is an adventure.
We reckon it stimulates them, promotes learning and is great for their health and it sets them up for a curious and active lifestyle as adults.
The trick is though, to avoid turning kids off (I’ve heard the stories of kids who hate fishing, because their dad took them fishing for hours and hours on end and bored them silly with it), their experiences have to be positive. That doesn’t mean they can’t have hardship – we definitely don’t cotton wool them, but the hardship can’t outweigh the positives. So what we do is make sure they have the right gear.
Yeah, I was taken to the snow in gumboots and jeans with no gloves as a kid, and if you’ve ever done that you know exactly what I mean – scarred for life. We try and equip our kids with the right gear to have a great experience. That means they have to be warm (if it’s cold) and cool when it’s warm. They need decent rainwear and footwear. Sleeping bags have to warm enough. When fishing, I don’t take them for hours and hours without a bite, in fact I do a fair bit of homework to make sure we’ll get fish. In fact, on one particular day Lachie and I caught so many trout an article I wrote about it was published in Freshwater Fishing Magazine.
The difficulty with all this is that it can get fairly expensive, especially when they keep growing out of stuff. Fortunately with boots and jackets, they can pass it down the food chain to the small one, so we can buy quality stuff so it lasts. Labeling is a big deal since they tend to leave stuff behind at various places (there’s a bike helmet looking for its owner in Low Head). Other stuff is going to be a compromise between decent quality and price if they’re going to grow out of it quickly.
We’ve found eBay pretty useful. Lachie’s first hiking boots are HiTec from UK. I think I paid about £4 for them and asked for the slowest (cheapest) sea freight they could find. Abbey is now wearing them. Other stuff we get online from the US. The sting with them is international shipping. I’m experimenting now with a freight forwarder who repack and ship with cheaper shipping options.
The other issue to keep in mind when it comes to gear is not to buy the best whenever getting into something. Some people decided to take their kids on a hike and end up spending hundreds of bucks on the best gear, never to be used again because the kid hated it, or it just didn’t press their buttons. You never know with kids. Not only that, they trash stuff. Get the good gear after using make-do stuff for a couple of years, to make sure it’s not just a fad.
Lastly, I think it’s best to consider moving slowly with kids. Everything takes about twice as long. They just take ages to do everything. They have to poo, wee and drink often. They like investigating stuff. They stand about talking to each other instead of walking. They don’t keep up. It can really frustrate if you’re running tight on time. So we plan to do half as much and have loads of time up our sleeve. In fact, moving at kids pace is an awesome way to go on holidays. The experience is so much richer and recharging.