If you’re anything like us, you want your family to live an active lifestyle. Maybe you have a workout routine at the gym, register your kids in a few sports, or take advantage of Canadian summers by biking, swimming, and hiking. But when it’s vacation time, it’s all too easy for healthy habits to fall by the wayside.
When our family took a six-month sabbatical to travel the world with our two kids, aged eight and 12, we found staying active required a little extra planning. It’s worth the extra effort. Being active on our travels had so many benefits, like:
- Finding hidden gems off the beaten path. While hiking at the top of a mountain on Elba Island in Italy, we discovered a fully intact WWII bunker. In Athens, Greece, we hiked to a relatively unknown cave with an 18th-century church built into it. We also did an off-road cycling tour in the countryside of Bali, Indonesia, where we discovered traditional Balinese villages, exposing us to new cultures.
- Discovering new passions. In Bali, we tackled our first high ropes park and our family loved it, finding another fun activity that we can do together.
- Overcoming fears. I have a fear of heights and we partook in a lot of activities involving heights, including climbing steep stairs at fortresses, ziplining over treetops, and managing unstable obstacles at the high ropes park. We tackled our fear of sharks by cage-diving in Hawaii where we were able to view these majestic animals up close and personal.
Here are a few tips that we used to stay active:
Bring the right gear
If you know you’re going on a beach vacation, you wouldn’t forget to pack your bathing suit. It’s no different when planning other activities. Pack runners, comfortable clothes for exercising, a hat for the sun, and a good portable water bottle. On our last trip, I even sacrificed space for clothing (crazy!) for my exercise bands and yoga mat so I could keep up my workouts.
Campitelli tip: Bring an insulated Swell type of water bottle for everyone to keep your water cool in hot places.
Do your research and schedule activities
Do some online research about your favourite family activities in the places you’re visiting. Is there a lake for kayaking or SUP? Are there nice family biking and hiking trails around? We did this for each country and found some awesome outdoor adventures in gorgeous landscapes. Our family enjoys hiking and biking so we planned some amazing hikes and bike rides.
Some of our favourite hikes included hiking the Cinque Terre in Italy (pictured below), Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia, Diamond Head on Oahu, Hawaii, and many others. While hiking, we discovered amazing views and amazing waterfalls!
Campitelli tip: When planning your vacation, make sure you are insured for your activities. Health plans don’t always cover activities like mountain biking or water skiing.
Balance kid-oriented and adult activities
Our kids considered hiking more of an adult activity so we balanced this with “kid-friendly” activities to ensure everyone was happy. For example, our kids love swimming pools so we would visit local pools and take turns doing laps while the kids splashed around.
When travelling as a family you seem to discover all the parks whether your children are two or 12. While the kids would swing on the monkey bars we would sometimes do squats, push-ups, and planks. Some parks even have outdoor fitness equipment that the kids would use as well.
Campitelli tip: Don’t forget to plan rest days too! A day relaxing at the pool or beach lets everyone recharge and get excited for the next activity.
Walking is your friend
It’s amazing how much ground you cover by just exploring on foot. Whether you love to shop, visit cafés, or find the best parks, plan to walk whenever you can. You’ll tally up the miles without even noticing.
Campitelli tip: The kids would sometimes resist walking so we would occasionally build in a “reward” at the end, like going for gelato.
Nutrition is key
When you’re out and about all day, it’s important to stay fueled during your activities. We packed nuts, granola bars, crackers, and portable fruit that always seemed to come in handy. Good healthy snacks go hand in hand with staying active.
Campitelli tip: Shop the local markets for fresh fruit and other simple snacks.
Being active can lead to tremendous personal growth, bring your family closer together, and help you build new skills and discover passions. With a little bit of planning, you can easily maintain your active lifestyle, whether you’re on a two-week excursion or an extended trip like we did. Life is an adventure, so embrace it!