How to long distance hike if you are time poor

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Perhaps you are like me, frequently daydreaming of time on the trail, away from kids, stress, surrounded by nature, and good trail vibes.

Your dreams are then interrupted by the clashing and banging of kids bouncing around the house on a rainy day, and yet it’s only 11 am. Another 9 hours until bedtime and another day away from the trail slips by.

If you are a parent, you feel my pain. I love my kids unconditionally and I’m happy with my choice to be a father, yet as a parent, the desire for solo outside time never fades.

When you pair up a busy and active family life, with full-time work, commutes, keeping a house in order, trying to be a good parent/partner, and keeping a social life alive, there is often little time left for anything else.

But what about that most time-consuming passion of yours – distance hiking? Why could I not have picked gardening as my hobby…

What time is left to indulge in the stress-free joys of the trail? Where do you fit it in?

I’ve battled with this, and still battle with it as time goes on and my kids grow up (they are only little still) but I have gained some perspective.

I feel parents often fall into two categories with kids:

  1. They go too far and hardly ever engage with their kids or family by getting away with every opportunity, missing the all-important here and now with kids. I think this is a shame as it deprives kids of their parents.
  2. They don’t get out at all, building resentment for a lack of personal space and free time. I fell into this category

My answer to this is finding a sweet spot in the middle between overindulgence at all costs and simply not having a life.

But how can you get your nature fix with kids? Here are my suggestions.

Plan ahead

No, don’t get your maps out at this point. Plan ahead with your family. Let your spouse know that you want to get away, and block it out in the calendar.

Want to get good brownie points? Suggest that they get to go away a different weekend, or better still, see if your kiddies can be left with a friend/relative for a night while you hit the trail together.

Walk trails in sections

Section Hiking, as it’s called is walking long-distance trails in sections. For time-strapped walkers, it’s often far easier to do it this way than to walk trails in long stints.

This is easier done with two people, and two cars, so aren’t going to win any safe-the-planet points, but it does allow you to eat bite-sized chunks of a trail.

Embrace the Micro Adventure

The term Micro Adventure was coined by Alistair Humphreys back in 2009 and is an excellent way of getting yourself outside on mini-adventures that are fulfilling and memorable.
For long-distance hikers that could include:
Walking somewhere local, camping for the night, then rising early and walking home
Finding somewhere nice to camp for a night, with a good view
Simply getting out for a walk, but adding some interest, such as a wild swim at the end of your hike or some outdoor cooking

Take the kids

For the brave – take your children. Camping with young kids is hard work so depending on your patience levels, and the amount of stuff you want to take, the B&B and hostel option may be best.
But taking the kids on a long-distance hike can be hugely rewarding experience.

I hope there are some ideas and thoughts above which help you to find more time doing the thing you love – long distance hiking.
If you have any ideas don’t hesitate to put them in the comments and I’ll be happy to add them in!

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