by Ashley Wells January 06, 2021

6 Tips For Family Kayaking Holidays

A family kayaking holiday is a great way to spend plenty of time outdoors and bond with your kids. You literally all have to work together to get where you want to go! It’s also a wonderful way to explore somewhere new or see a place from a totally new perspective.

However, having the kids out on the water with you even for just one day can be a bit of a challenge – depending on their ages and how cooperative they are. But if you plan everything right, you’re sure to have a brilliant adventure.

Get The Kids Involved From The Start

Girl paddles pink kayak.

Image by Kevin Phillips from Pixabay

Announcing to your children that you’re heading off on a holiday where they’re going to be stuck in a kayak might be a bit of a disaster. They may prefer the idea of freedom if they’re teens or feel overwhelmed at the idea of being on the water all day if they’re not used to it. However, if they have a hand in the planning, you can show them that it won’t be all that bad. You can also give them some agency in their own leisure time, which children of all ages appreciate.

Practice Before You Go

Group of kids practice paddling on makeshift kayak raft.

Image by MarjanNo from Pixabay

Kayaking isn’t the most difficult sport in the world, especially if you’re on reasonably calm waters. However, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with a vessel before you plan to spend several days on it. It’s also a good idea to know what kind of life jackets you’ll be wearing, how it feels to capsize, and what the water temperature is going to be like. Depending on where you live, you may need to just do some research. Actual practice in similar settings is first prize, though.

Practicing will also give you a chance to work out where everyone is going to sit and what jobs they are going to be doing. In a kayak the person at the back is responsible for steering, so they need to be pretty deft at maneuvering. The person sitting in front is likely to have a harder job paddling, so they need to be quite strong. If you have very young children, it’s important to consider where they will sit and how you’ll keep them entertained while paddling.

Research Your Whole Trip

3 sea kayakers paddle by rocky shoreline.

Image by Benedikt Geyer from Pixabay

A kayaking holiday is about the journey, not the destination. You’re traveling along a river, around a lake, or across part of an ocean. There are going to be many sights to see and interesting places to explore along the way. It’s nice to have an idea of what you can expect on your route so that you have places to aim for each day.

If you are on a one-way trip, you should know where you are going to be sleeping each night and what you’ll be making for dinner. You should also think about where you are going to stop for lunch daily, or if you’ll be packing snacks instead. Combining lunch with a great place to snorkel or a spot for hiking or some other activity is an awesome way to break up the day and provide some variation in activities too. This will require getting your timing right, so you’ll need to be able to work out how far you’ll be paddling and at what speed.

Have Clear Rules And Rewards

Boy paddles in yellow kayak.

Image by Candid_Shots from Pixabay

Being out on the water with children comes with a set of safety challenges. Everyone needs to be aware that there are rules and breaking them could lead to serious injuries or worse. This is why a reward system is often a good idea, especially with younger kids.

You know your kids, so think about rewards that will entice them to behave and the correct way to encourage them to follow the rules.

The most important rules on a kayak are:

    • No unexpected standing
    • No leaning over to one side 
    • No jumping off 
    • Always keep your life jacket on

    Pack The Essentials

    4 family members wearing life jackets laugh, sitting in shallow river.

    Image by wiykojune my from Pixabay

    First and foremost, you need well-fitting life jackets for everyone and a full first aid kit. Those are an absolute must before you even think about any other supplies. Then, you need to consider what kind of kayaking holiday you’re going on.

    Are you heading out and back from the same spot each day? Are you traveling one-way down a river? Is there accommodation at each stop or are you going to be camping? All of this will impact what you pack in terms of bedding, toiletries and food, and how you’ll stow it on your kayaks.

    Finally, consider the time of year you’re traveling in and what the weather looks like. Waterproof clothing and shoes are a must as capsizing is a possibility and so are impromptu swimming excursions, playing on muddy shorelines, and getting splashed by waves, rapids, or waterfalls.

    Sunscreen and hats are important too, even if you are going in winter, as sunlight will reflect off the water.

    Depending on space availability, you can opt to bring some extras like snorkels, fishing gear, buckets and spades, and binoculars. Chalk is great if you have young kids. You can draw on the kayak, sand or rocks, and it’ll harmlessly wash right off, so you won’t be damaging the environment.

    Be Flexible On The Day

    Father & son double kayak in harbor.

    Image by Dave Wilson from Pixabay

    Planning your trip is important so you know what to aim for and where you are at all times. However, you may find a hidden beach cove or have a day where none of you feels like exploring much. This is all okay and you need to listen to your impulses when on holiday. After all, it’s supposed to be relaxing.

    Rushing from one point to the next or focusing on always moving forward could mean that you lose sight of the fun of your adventure. Rather stay in the moment and enjoy the experience.

    A Family Paddling Affair

    Kayaks can open up a world of adventure for families looking for a holiday with a difference. They’re the ideal choice for anyone with an active lifestyle and the perfect option for parents looking to spend quality time with their kids.

    Man & small child walk to riverfront with kayak.

    Image by spot24 from Pixabay

    About the Author

    Ashley Wells headshot.Ashley Wells is a passionate outdoors enthusiast and writer. With her trusty camper van, she's on a mission to travel the remote corners and discover the hidden gems our world has to offer - one destination at a time.


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