The Importance of Being Fit When Traveling with Kids
In my travels BC (before children), I realized how important it is to not just be fit, but be strong the first time I went snorkeling. It was in Belize in 2000, and although I could swim with the string-rays and sand sharks, I could not lift myself out of the water back into the boat. Luckily, the muscular guide got me back on the boat. I knew that if I wanted to see more of the beauty under the sea, I would have to build upper body strength.
The next time I went snorkeling was in Thailand, about 2 years later. After going to some advanced yoga classes, I found it easy to pull myself out of the water after snorkeling. Success. Accomplishment. Pride.
Here’s a lesson about lessons: every time we master one, we face the next level of lesson.
Fast-forward about 12 years, I was in Zion National Park, trekking through the Narrows, with my kids. We rented water socks and waterproof hiking boots, but walking through water on top of river rocks was a balancing act.
Add 3 kids, divided by 2 adults and very cold water (yes, the water was cold even in the dead heat of the summer), and you have an extreme physical challenge.
Luckily, one of my daughters had a strong ballerina core and a quick understanding of how to balance feet on river rocks, walk, and repeat. My other daughter needed assistance, as did my son. So there we were: walking on an uneven—slippery—surface, holding up a child of 80 pounds (my kids are tall and not petite). This was an extreme challenge.
Within minutes, I created a new mantra: “Do not panic. Hold yourself up. Be mindful of all the other people there. Walk as far as you can. Don’t be disappointed if the kids want to turn back.” Trying is accomplishing and seeing.
We walked as far as we could, and that was fun and adventurous.
Lesson: If you take your kids out on hikes, you may have to pull or carry them in tricky spots. Or, you may have to turn around early.
The next year, we followed a map of petroglyphs in and around Moab given out by the local tourist office. Off of Highway 279, we stopped to look at various displays of rock art. We loved seeing the stories left by the native occupants of this land. It took us back in time, as we tried to decipher the message and meaning.
The last stop proved to be a testament of how I had been working on my upper body strength in yoga class.
We stopped at Potash Road Dinosaur Tracks and Petroglyphs. We followed the trail, and within minutes of walking on the trail, we realized what we wanted to see was straight up the cliffside, not along a trail.
Again, my daughter, the ballerina, climbed up easily and quickly.
My other daughter, who was super excited to see dinosaur prints and Native American art, required my assistance. It was an extreme physical challenge to hike upward. We went level by level. Slowly. I would climb up, sit down and then pull her up over me.
This trek was a huge accomplishment. The rock art amazed us. The dinosaur prints spectacular.
Then we faced our next challenge—going down. I looked down and thought, “What was I thinking bringing my kids up here?”
Then, in her child’s wise voice, my daughter asked, “Can I just go down on my butt?” Absolutely. Good idea. We all went down like crabs. My husband and son watched us and laughed.
Dirty, dusty pants, but goal accomplished. We saw the rock art and petroglyphs, using our strength and creativity.
Lesson: There is always a way to travel to what you want to see.