Getting the most out of outdoor adventure activities with kids

From trekking chilly mountains to frolicking on sandy beaches, getting out in nature is a sure-fire way to create long-lasting family memories. But outdoor adventure activities with kids can seem a little daunting. Especially if you didn’t grow up spending lots of time in nature.

Nature’s Own Nature Report revealed this to be true. The survey showed that 4 in 5 families consider nature-related activities such as hiking, playing in parks, and adventuring outdoors as important for family bonding and creating traditions.

Although Australian parents acknowledged the benefits of spending time in nature, when it came to holidays, nature-centred and “nature escapes,” ranked the lowest. On the flip side, cruises and spa holidays took out the top spots.

Regular Family Travel readers will know that we share a lot of stories to help families enjoy the outdoors. If you’ve got teens or toddlers, some of our most popular articles provide practical advice for parents keen to spend time in nature as a family.

Here are our top 10 stories to help families enjoy their time outdoors together

  1. The 22 best national parks for teenagers in Victoria
  2. Top 5 nature escapes in Lake Macquarie
  3. The South Coast hikes your kids will love
  4. The ultimate guide to kayaking with kids in Australia
  5. Top Aussie beach wildlife encounters
  6. The best thing about Hawaii is the nature
  7. 14 awesome Australian natural phenomena
  8. Top 6 US National Parks for families
  9. Where to camp with kids in winter
  10. Top NZ stargazing spots

But don’t take our word for it.

We asked Ellie Williams, Founder of Outnumbered Holidays how to get the most out of outdoor adventure activities with kids. And we asked her to share a few of her favourite nature destinations too.

As a single parent of two, Ellie is familiar with the ins and outs of organising travel with kids. She is also a passionate advocate for getting more Aussie children into nature and reaping the benefits of the great outdoors.

Here’s what Ellie said

1. Let your family habits guide your nature-based holiday

When you’re planning your holiday, really think about the things you enjoy doing normally and let that guide your trip.

“My kids are not hikers, so I’d never plan a holiday around extended walking in nature because I know they’d moan!” she said.

“But they do love water experiences – snorkelling and swimming etc and they also love natural wildlife encounters. So, one of our best trips involved snorkelling with turtles in New South Wales.”

Read more: The best water activities on the NSW South Coast

two young kids standing on the waters edge on a beach looking at the sunset
Sunsets on the sand make for some of the best family memories. Credit: Ellie Williams

2. Domestic destinations make for an easy nature holiday

An easy way to introduce the family to nature holidays is by choosing a domestic destination.

“We’re definitely spoilt in Australia for world-class nature destinations, from beaches, bushlands, deserts and rainforests,” she said.

“We have some of the best beaches in the world. And it would be difficult to pick anywhere on the coast that didn’t have a great beach nearby.”

“An outback road trip is always a great option for seeing a different side of Australian nature. And if you’re after wildlife experiences, you can’t go past Queensland.”

Read more: Adventures in South East Queensland for every age

young girl steps over a log on the beach wearing a backpack and trainers on Lady Musgrave Island
Spotting turtles on lady Musgrave Island. Picture: Tourism and Events Queensland/Jen Dainer.

3. Choose international destinations close to home

If you’re looking for an international getaway, Australia has plenty of neighbouring countries that offer fantastic nature opportunities. Destinations such as New Zealand, Indonesia, Fiji, Thailand, and the Philippines are a short flight away, offering pristine landscapes and swoon-worthy scenery.

“One of our family’s favourite trips was to Koh Lanta in Thailand,” she said. “We went on a 4 Islands Tour for a day of snorkelling, tropical beach fun and a visit to Emerald Cave, Ko Mook. This involved swimming 80 metres through a pitch-black tunnel to reach a pristine lagoon. My boys were 2 and 4 at the time but swimming through that tunnel left such an impression and they still talk about it now.”

A mother holds her son's hand as they jump from the edge of a tinny into the water in full snorkel gear
Nature-based fun on and under the water. Credit: Ellie Williams

Read more: 9 best beaches in Thailand for families

4. Enjoying nature doesn’t need to be a hassle

When thinking about the kids, getting into nature doesn’t always need to be a big effort.

“Although a 3-day hike in the wilderness sounds like a great getaway, other activities such as an hour at your nearest beach, or a quick walk in the park to collect leaves are just as valuable and effective ways to get outside,” she said.

“My kids are big water babies so when we’re planning a trip, I always think about what swimming options are available, such as choosing a campsite with a river nearby.”

Read more: Australia’s top 5 spots to swim in nature

two young boys sliding down a sand dune (image from behind)
Sliding down sand dunes. Credit: Ellie Williams

5. Find nature near you

If travel isn’t on the horizon for your family but you still want to get the benefits of spending time in nature, take a look into what’s nearby. Check out local parks, nature reserves, bikeways, and wildlife sanctuaries.

“My family is very lucky to live on the Central Coast in New South Wales. Whenever we need a reset, we can be at the beach in 10 minutes,” she said. “When we are in a funk, the kids often say they don’t want to go outside but as soon as they get there it lifts everyone’s mood, and I can’t drag them away again! We also have great places for bike rides and easy bush walks with incredible views.”

Read more: The NSW Central Coast is fantastic for families

For more outdoor adventure activities with kids check out

Where you should chase the stars in New South Wales

 How to do Bali with kids who surf

Where to ski around Australia with kids

Top spots to snorkel with kids around Australia

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