Hit The Road

Kids can go longer and farther afield than you think

May 9, 2011
Outside Magazine

Hooked: Aaron Teasdale's 11-year-old during a mountain-biking trip    Photo: Photo by Aaron Teasdale

The first rule of traveling with kids: Don't give them a choice. "It's far better to say, 'Here's what we're doing next summer—get ready!'" advises adventure photographer and writer Aaron Teasdale, who conspired with his wife, Jacqueline, to bring their 11- and 7-year-old boys on a six-week mountain-biking odyssey from West Glacier, Montana, to Canada's Banff National Park. The second rule is to make sure they're prepared. The Teasdales practiced with a series of shorter overnight wilderness-biking trips.

Michael Benanav, a photojournalist who has taken his four-year-old son, Luke, to India, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico, cautions that kids "can get a little freaked out by unfamiliar stuff" on international trips. Heading to the tropics? Have them sleep under a mosquito net at home first. Off to Japan? Sample seaweed and sashimi a few meals beforehand.

Once you're out there, don't adhere to a schedule, and don't push them too hard. "We'd go for six hours a day maximum," Teasdale says. "We'd pick berries, fish, explore caves, hold frog races, chase butterflies. The ride had nothing to do with a goal or distance." (His 11-year-old felt differently: "He wanted to keep going to Alaska," Teasdale says.)

Ultimately, as much as possible, just let them do their thing. Benanav packs a small point-and-shoot camera for Luke and pulls it out when waiting for buses and planes. "Kids love taking pictures," he says. "And they get some really cool shots."