From the seasoned veteran to the first timer - off-road vehicle trips are amazing adventures! They offer you the opportunity to break away from the status quo, see some unique sites, and challenge your skills. If you’re a parent, (like me!), you might be tinkering with the idea of taking your kiddos with you on one of these adventures.
Spoiler: you absolutely should! Of course, you may have some hesitation - taking kids anywhere is often filled with unexpected surprises, and taking them ORVing isn’t likely to be any different. Let’s make some plans anyway – this is what life is about! Here are some tips for making the first ORV trip with your little monsters a success.
TIP: Stay close to home
“Are we there yet?” – every parent’s worst nightmare, right?
Avoid picking a trail that’s too far from home. A long road trip to get to the ORV trail is a surefire way to kill the love of the trail before you even get to the good stuff! Likewise, if you stay close to home, you can bail quickly if the day and mood go south, which sometimes happens with kids’ unpredictable moods and sleep schedules.
TIP: K.I.S.S. (Keep it short and sweet!)
With kids, a great tip is to always keep it short & sweet! Any time you introduce a new activity to a child, it’s usually best to keep the activity short. So, choosing a trail that is hours long is a really bad idea. Our tip here is to choose a trail that’s super short (say 30 minutes), sweet, and fun. Kids have short attention spans so no matter how fun the trail is, if it is long, it will lose its luster quickly.
TIP: Find Somewhere to stretch those legs
Pick a trail with some added excursions. Are there some rocks to climb, a creek to stop and play in, or even some trees to climb? These little mini-exercises can be a great way to keep kids interested in the trail, and get out any excess energy that might impact their ability to sit still during their time in the vehicle.
TIP: Pack snacks
A hungry child is an unhappy child (… honestly, a hungry me is an angry me as well!), so making sure you have snacks for the trip will go a long way in making your adventure a success.
***If you are like me and like to keep a tidy vehicle, pick snacks that aren’t covered in cheese or sticky sugar. If you plan a snack break along the trail, you can avoid the problem altogether.
TIP: Consider a buddy for your child
Kids around 10-16 years old enjoy their friends more than their parents - sorry, it’s true! If your kids are in that phase of their lives, then you might want to consider allowing them to bring their friends. They’ll engage and enjoy the experience more if they aren’t forced to be away from their friends, and instead get to include them, sharing an experience together.
TIP: Factor in your kids interest
If you can find a way to tie in your children’s natural interests with the trip, then you will be a true, award winning rockstar.
For example, if your child likes drones, maybe they can learn to video your ORV trips! If they like wildlife, stop off and observe the animals you see along the way. Maybe they love action figures, so find a way to tie in their favorite characters into the narration of your trip. Aquaman loves a good adventure, so bring him along! If they love dolls and Barbies, well girls love a good adventure too, so maybe you can video and create a short adventure imovie with your child and his/her favorite toys!
TIP: Crank it up!
Kids love music, so create a playlist together to crank on your Audio System while you travel. Have a sing along! Play some American Idol, (minus the Simon Cowell critique, nobody likes that), and have a ball making memories on the trail.
Off-roading is a special kind of adventure, but when you have kids, it can limit the amount of time you get to hit the trail. With a little planning, you can get them just as excited about it as you are, and then you are on your way to many adventure filled memories together. Just break them in easy, start slow, be prepared, and work your way up to that trip up and down the East Coast hitting all the sweetest trails.
Check out my recent ORV adventure with my (at the time!) 2 year old daughter. Spoiler: she loved it!