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. 

Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn commissions from qualifying purchases through These are my go-to items (or very similar); no faking here.

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

You’ll get wet and sweaty. Don’t be miserable in thick, hot pants. Check out these SPF protecting, fast dry, thin Columbia adventure pants. The trail shorts are also great.


Not only does a rain coat make you look like an official adventurer, this works for the always cold mom (like me) or extra kid layer or warming after an accidental water incident. You just never know.


Not only do these colorful hats keep you from wrinkling your face, they allow for ponytails. Bright colors make it easy for kids to find you, and the strap keeps it on!

Hiking Boots

These protect my clumsy ankles, let me splash through puddles, and allow me to scramble after them easier. Best mom purchase ever.

Sensible Unders

Be comfortable. Be fast drying. Use some common sense. There’s no need for cute and fancy when you’re sweating and nasty. Don’t forget the fast-dry underwear too.

SPF Shirt

Make life easier for sun exposure. Beach days or sunny hikes, sun shirts keep you from having to worry about reapplying sunscreen. Tip: get a bigger size than usual to stay cooler.

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 cutesy clothes. Put on the play clothes, sun protection shirts, and appropriate shoes – let them have at it!

Adventure Sun Hat

As firm believers in hats, my kids are usually seen with either their baseball hats or these rimmed sunhat any time we’re out at the zoo or hiking or adventuring. No red noses here.

Waterproof Coat

Living in the South, these light-weight rain coats are usually enough for weather and rain changes. Great to keep nearby and used a lot. Bonus: they pack small for travel!

Exploring the Beach at Sunrise
Exploring the Beach at Sunrise

Boots for Splashing

Don’t worry about little kids and puddles when they have on good water boots. Let them stomp away. If they’re older, kid hiking boots raise the level of adventure while allowing for water sloshing.

Rain and Trail Suit

Prevent the piles of wet clothes with this genius tip. My friend with four boys loads her kids up in these water suits for outside play over their regular clothes. We used them for our snow trip. Genius!

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.

  • 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.

Magnetic Phone Holder

This keeps my hands free, and lets the kids know when we are going to be arriving! Bonus: the kids naturally get familiar with maps, cardinal directions, and just how far a mile is.

Solar Phone Charger

The more I depend on my phone, the more I have a problem when my phone dies. This 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.

Road Atlas

I don’t know how many times I have been in the country or mountains without signal. Or the phone charger stopped working. Always have a backup US road atlas or a free state map from the local visitor center. Also grab a durable state map.

Travel Safely

Thankfully, I haven’t needed emergency lights yet, but I feel safer having them in my emergency box along with jumper cables, first aid supplies, and all the extra mom stuff. Don’t get stuck.

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. Throw in some cold fruit, cheese sticks, nuts, and granola bars; extra food doesn’t have to be fancy.

Water Refill Jugs

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. Don’t stop at the next gas station to buy more; this way you have enough to share!

Insulated Bottles

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.

Car Picnic Blanket

The picnic blanket stays in the car all the time and gets used a lot. Picnic. Beach blanket. Seating at the skate park. Reading on the grass. Or even doing school outside on a sunny day. Must be washable and big enough!

Insulated Snacks

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 it’s not 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 backpack and put little bags inside of bandaids and such – but also exploring surprises. While I’d love to be that nature drawing mom and use our watercolor brush pens, my kids would rather run over the boulders. Maybe someday.

Quality Compass

Get an adult compass 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!

Insect Catcher

Don’t be that wimpy mom. If they think a bug is cool, let them catch it and observe it. Teach them how to respect it and let it go. Having little containers works wonderfully even if it’s just an old, empty pill bottle.

Walkie Talkies

Fun but also a safety item. Adventure often means no cell signal. 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 with a microscope; 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.

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.

  • 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.

Sun and Bug Spray

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.)

Motion Sickness

My puker is loaded up with bags in the car, but these motion sickness bracelets seem to help. He has also figured out that candy to suck on (like Jolly Ranchers) work as well as music he loves for distraction. Lots of different methods to keep trying to figure it out!

Potty Problems

When it’s hard to squat down or too public, you’ll be glad you have a pee funnel. I might just keep one in my car for travel with girls – big and little alike. Don’t forget the extra toilet paper. Guys have it easy on this one.

Sandy Messes

If they make a mud mess, make them sweep it up with the broom and dustpan. Don’t wait or the sand will just get ever more everywhere. If they know they have to clean it up, maybe (fingers crossed) they’ll be less messy to start with.

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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