The Packing Problem with Kids | Family Tramping

12th November 2019|4min

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We’ve got a problem. A problem that could lead to serious consequences. At our house, packing for day walks is haphazard. Over and over again, we’ve forgotten the one thing we needed to make the trip safe and comfortable. The worst part is that I know better.

It’s the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council’s Get Outdoors Week on 16th to 24th November 2019. I’m excited to collaborate for #GOWeekNZ and share some tips and tricks for family tramping in New Zealand. Let’s start with the day walk packing problem.

Don’t get me wrong, when preparing for a trip, we do a lot right. We find out about the destination, the track conditions, and any warnings. If we’re unfamiliar with the area, we check with DOC or the local authority. We consider the group and their ability to complete the mission. For a particularly challenging trip, we plan multiple outings progressing in difficulty to improve everyone’s readiness. We check the weather many times in the week leading up to the trip and in the morning before we leave. We tell someone where we’re going, when we’ll be back, and what to do if we don’t return at the appointed time. But when it comes to packing, we’re not doing very well. On average, we forget at least one essential item 100% of the time.
Meg Drive packing with kids for tramps
Meg Drive packing with kids for tramps viewing platform
As I tiptoed over the areas of track with small, sharp rocks, I pondered our persistent problem of forgetting things on day walks and came upon the solution — put the kids in charge. Unlike the adults in our crew, my children take suggestions as rules, follow recommendations, and even police others. A couple of years ago, I took a photo of all our overnight tramping gear laid out on the floor. Now when we go overnight tramping, my kids use that photo to check, double check, and militantly remind each other to pack everything in the photo. So with this revelation, I introduce the day walk photo packing checklist. You can use it yourself, but for best results give it to the children. For those that can read, there is also a traditional checklist. Along with this video from the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council, you’ll be sorted for packing for a day walk.
Meg Drive packing with kids for tramps pack dump
Despite being unprepared, we made it back safe and sound. I’ve shared this story not to celebrate foolish decision-making, but to highlight that human nature sometimes makes us carry on, even when we know better. This phenomenon is sometimes known as Summit Fever. Even more difficult than packing properly is turning back or changing plans before real problems set in. See the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council website for more information on planning your trip and #MakeItHomeNZ