How do we define adventure? Does it have to be jumping out of planes or climbing Everest or white-water rafting to count as an adventure? If we limit true adventure to those extreme opportunities, the vast majority of us will never go on an “adventure”. Let’s redefine it and go find it everywhere around us.

In all honesty, I am not a natural adventurer. I am a natural sitter – and I am very good at it. However, to raise little adventurers, Mom and Dad have to model a life of adventure and to seize every opportunity to turn even the smallest, most ordinary things adventure worthy.

Remember adventuring isn’t all sunshine and roses. Let’s limit the stress ahead of time as much as possible. If you’re heading out by yourself, make sure you prepare yourself and the kids to make the most of the trip. If everyday and every trip is seen as learning opportunities, these days don’t need to feel “wasted”. With a bit of planning, every trip can count as roadschooling even if your desk is behind a steering wheel.

My proposal: Adventure is a mindset.

No matter what schooling you choose for your family, with the right attitude and a little few supplies, even the smallest wooded park can become a little explorer’s paradise. 

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Adventure Mom Ready to Go
Adventure Mom Ready to Go

Dress Like an Adventure Mom.

Not long ago, I pulled out all the adventure stuff for a state park beach: sun shirt, fast dry shorts, sun hat… Totally ready to not fry and not be miserable. The lady next to me had on make up with her swimsuit. One of us was ready for an adventure. The other was not.

Nothing screams “not-a-mom-adventurer” more than being unprepared for the situation at hand. You can’t chase spiders or pull your kid out of a tree while wearing tight pants and ridiculous sandals. Or, in this case, be ready for emergency lake evacuation or your mascara will run and your boobs will pop out. Ha!

  • Fast-dry Pants – If you have to wade through a creek or have a kid pour his water bottle on you, you’ll be dry in no time. Just imagine how uncomfortable it would be to continue the hike in heavy, wet jeans. Not to mention, you need pockets! For summer time, check out these fast-dry shorts with sun protection. Super practical.
  • The Right Hat – Don’t tell anyone, but the husband has taken to stealing my hat to mow the grass. With a hole for a ponytail and a wide brim, this hat is ready for a beach or hiking adventure. Not to mention, just because you took your kids on adventures their entire childhood, that doesn’t mean your skin has to suffer for it and make you look old long before your time!
  • Hiking Boots – It’s hard to be a sitter when you have hiking boots on; it’s a true mental shift. These Keen hiking boots are the best thing I ever bought to encourage me to get out to explore. Stomp through the puddles and climb up the rocks with the kids. They’ll dry. Not to mention, when you see them in your closet every day not being used, you’ll hate how much money you wasted on this great idea you pull out several times a year. Definite motivation.
  • Light-Weight Rain Jacket – After first buying these coats several years ago for our Scotland trip, we use them all the time. I actually need to get more now that the kids are bigger. Columbia is my go-to adventure brand because I know they’ll last forever. Note to self: the coats only work if you pack them for some reason.
  • Sunglasses – A must! As a prescription glasses wearer, I usually end up carrying the other pair with me just in case. Protect your eyes from retinal sun damage as well as the crows feet when we’re all old.
  • Layers – Why do most moms tend to be cold all the time? Grab an extra layer with a flannel or sweatshirt.
The Adventure Mom at Work
The Adventure Mom at Work

Put on kid adventure clothes.

Things that make adventure unforgettable in a bad way: fussy kids, wet kids, sunburned kids, and a combination. Let’s counteract that by preventing as much as possible.

  • Sun Shirts – Keep the sunburn away without being hot. When we hit Sea World, it seemed everyone else was fried while we just enjoyed the sun in our shirts. No regrets here – shirts over sunburn. These work great for a beach or waterpark day while taking away the extra stress of remembering to reapply sunscreen. Note: Since these tend to fit snugly, I make sure to always get ours a bit bigger which also makes them cooler.
  • Rain Boots – Get rid of the fussing at the kids about puddles and let them stomp away. We’ve always stocked up on these at Wal-Mart!
  • Sun Hat – As firm believers in hats, my kids are usually seen with either their baseball hats or these any time we’re out at the zoo or hiking or adventuring. No red noses here.
  • Light-Weight Coat – Living in the South, these coats are usually enough for weather and rain changes. Great to keep nearby and used a lot.
  • Waterproof Suit – Prevent the piles of wet clothes with this genius tip, my friend with four boys loads her kids up in these for outside play over their regular clothes. Genius!
  • Play Clothes – This is not the time to look cute. Put on the T-shirt and cargo pants, and let’s go. Ruffles and matchy don’t belong on an adventure.
Exploring the Beach at Sunrise
Exploring the Beach at Sunrise

Find the place.

Even though even the park around the corner can become an adventure, I like to always keep my options open to discover new places or see what’s nearby. Research ahead of time and save the places on your phone for easy access.

  • Phone Holder -This phone magnet keeps my hands free, and it keeps the kids from always asking when we are going to be arriving! Bonus: the kids naturally get familiar with maps, cardinal directions, and just how far a mile is.
  • Real Maps – No matter how handy my phone is, I don’t know how many times I have been in the country or mountains without signal. Or the phone charger stopped working. Adventure mom should always have a backup US road atlas or a free state map from the local visitor center. Not to mention, our kids do actually need to see paper maps every once in a while.
  • Phone Battery – The more I depend on my phone, the more I have a problem when my phone dies. This solar charger stays in my car for the just-in-case problems. It’s not 100% keeping me from disaster, but at least I feel a bit more prepared.
  • Save places on Instagram or Facebook that others have travelled.
  • Search on TripAdvisor and make a folder of nearby sites.
  • Ask locals and friends! Better yet, invite them to come along.
Kids Exploring the Volcanic Rocks of Maui
Kids Exploring the Volcanic Rocks of Maui

Take food and bring enough water.

As tempting as it is to drive through fast food on the way home for a treat, it’s not always feasible or the best option. I like to prevent that by stopping the whine before it starts with food in the car.

  • Water – Sweaty, thirsty kids are guaranteed with adventuring. We did the Camelbaks for years along with the moldy straws. Yuck. These insulated water bottles keep the water cold on the hottest summer days and easy to clean.
  • More Water – My kids go through a ton of water, so I have this pair of extra large water jugs always filled up in the car trunk to refill the water bottles. After a hot day at the zoo or playground, these have saved me so many runs into gas stations to buy more water.
  • Picnic Blanket – The picnic blanket stays in the car all the time and gets used a lot. No picnic table? No problem. Beach blanket. Seating at the skate park. Reading on the grass. Or even doing school outside on a sunny day. Bonus if yours easy goes in the washing machine and is big enough for all the kids. If you don’t have one, old sheets and towels work.
  • Food Storage – Food in the car usually gets transported in our wheeled cooler. When at the zoo or heading to the picnic table, everything can get piled onto this to also be used as a cart. If I know where we’re going isn’t paved, the over the shoulder insulated bag comes out.
Kayaking Kid Headed Out on the Water
Kayaking Kid Headed Out on the Water

Pull out the magic.

As much as I love the idea of my kids each carrying their own backpacks, it just doesn’t happen. I’ve tried. There are four excellent backpacks in my closet – that they don’t use because you can’t run and explore with a backpack strapped on. I get it. I kinda gave up. However, I carry my mom bag and put little bags inside of bandaids and such – but also exploring surprises.

  • Walkie Talkies – As much fun as they are, these are also a safety item for me to track kids down, and cell signal when adventuring isn’t all that reliable at time. The excitement level always goes up when you hand these out. Bonus that this set is colorful, so you know who to blame when one goes missing!
  • Backpack Microscope – It’s not just a stream; now it’s an opportunity for exploring (and getting wet in the process). You know they want to play in the water anyway. Grab some pipettes while you’re at it so you can suck up some water to look at easier.
  • Compass – While the kid compasses look so cute, don’t. They’re cheap. They’re unreliable. And they break. Get a better one and teach them how to take care of it. Holding a compass gives their little hands something to do, gives them a bit of control over the situation, and makes them feel like an important part of the team. Get one with a lanyard if you can; less change of losing it!
  • Bug Catcher – Don’t be that squeaky mom. If they think a bug is cool, let them catch it and observe it and teach them how to respect it. Then let it go. Having little containers works wonderfully even if it’s just an old, empty pill bottle.
  • Nature Study Materials – I’d love to be that mom, and we have great supplies with our watercolor brush pens and palette, but my kids would rather climb the boulders. Maybe someday.
Neighborhood Water Exploring with Dad
Neighborhood Water Exploring with Dad

The not-so-fun extras

Part of being ready for an adventure means being prepared for the hard-to-prepare for unexpected extras. Getting wet on the trail, carsickness, or even a potty accident are no big deal if you just pack a few extras.

  • Sprays – Keep these in the car or in your bag. How many times have you wished for that bottle that’s at home. You just never know when sunscreen or bug spray are going to be needed. They’re small. Keep it. (Note: this brand of spray zinc-based sunscreen is the only one my kids will tolerate. I’m done fighting.)
  • Wet Bag – Don’t forget the bag to put all the yucky clothes in the car so they can go right into the washing machine. I have an old wipe container full of plastic bags to whip out for mud or wet or… puke.
  • Trash Bag – Pass out old plastic grocery bags and gather trash at each stop. Maybe the car will only look like half-disaster by the time you get home. I keep mine in an empty bleach wipe container.
  • Extra Clothes – Pack at least one extra set of clothes in the car. Pick a size in-between the kids if you don’t want one for each kid. She can wear a batman shirt two sizes too big if the other option is naked.
  • Towel – Grab one. You just never know. My years of experience has shown that “Don’t get wet” usually means “Get wet” in their minds. I’m over fighting it. It’s true.
  • Car Sickness Supplies – I have a puker. He has gotten better and knows what works. However, still not perfect. We’ve tried the motion sickness bracelets and loaded him up with bags in the car. He has figured out that candy to suck on (like Jolly Ranchers) work as well as music he loves for distraction. Keep trying to figure it out!
  • Pee Funnel – Laugh it up. But sometimes, your kid is just too old (or public!) to squat down, and you’ll be glad you have one. I might just keep one in my car for travel with girls – big and little alike. Guys have it easy on this one.
  • Cleaning Supplies – If they make a mud mess, make them sweep it up with the little broom. Don’t wait or the sand will just get ever more everywhere.

Top tip? If at first you don’t succeed, don’t just give up and stay home. Learn the lessons. Prepare yourself, your kids, and your bag better, and head out again. Adventuring is the best way to make family memories.

Backpacks and Nature Walks in the Houston Bayou
Backpacks and Nature Walks in the Houston Bayou

I hope this encourages you to get ready to go adventure more. With a bit of preparation both in supplies and in mindset, it really doesn’t have to be as overwhelming and scary as it may seem. What other supplies do you take that have streamlined your trips?

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