Tips For First Time Hikers And Hiking Swiss Alps With Children:
Updated: Apr 12, 2021
Hiking on Swiss Alps can be rewarding and memorable for first time hikers and family with small children. During our Swiss Alpine holiday we almost hike every day in different region of Switzerland for hours at a time and enjoyed the breath-taking views of the country has to offer.
Here are some of the hiking tips we would like to share that we learnt while hiking for first time hiker and hikers with small children.
1. Travel light: Hiking up the mountain even in the easy routs can be exhausting at times for many. Therefore it’s always advisable to travel light while hiking which will help with using less energy and effort while climbing up. Always carry the minimum amount of food and drink while hiking to keep the weight of the back pack to minimum.
2. Invest in a good hiking shoe: A good quality and comfortable hiking shoe is a must for enjoyable and trouble free hiking. Invest in a good quality walking or hiking shoe that will provide good grip while climbing up or down the mountain and will ease the pressure while walking. A good quality comfortable shoe is the key to success for long hiking or walking without getting shoe-bite of painful feet.
3. Wear comfortable outfit and carry a light rain jacket: Always wear comfortable outfit such as jogging tracks or normal shorts and t-shirts while hiking as it help with long walk. Tight and uncomfortable outfit is the last thing you want while hiking all day. Always carry a light rain jacket for a light shower as weather in the mountain changes very rapidly.
4. Trekking/Walking Poles: Using a pair of trekking or walking pole is always helpful for long hiking up and down the mountain to support the knees and feet getting too tired. We found the walking poles very useful specially while walking downhill to provide support.
5. Wearing Knee Support: This is optional only if you have history of keen discomfort with long day of walking. My left knee tends to swell up after a long day of walk which can be proven challenging in hiking. Using a good quality knee support helps with keeping the knee in good shape and provide support while hiking.
6. Use a good quality backpack with comfortable shoulder straps and hip straps: A good quality light weight backpack with comfortable shoulder straps is very useful while hiking as it helps with keeping the weight of the backpack nicely distributed. An additional hip strap in the backpack is also very handy as it help with keeping the backpack firmly placed on the back while walking.
7. Sufficient breaks: Take small (10-15 min) breaks in between long hiking to keep the energy going. This will help with giving rest to the body and feet which will help with avoiding muscle cramps at the end of the day and will help body recover quickly overnight after a day’s hiking. This is very helpful while hiking back to back for 3 to 4 days where hiking during last couple of days can be challenging if enough breaks and rest to body not giving during first few days. During our 2 to 3 hours hike we used to take small breaks of 15 min after 30 to 45 min of walk.
8. Bring sufficient food and drink while hiking: Bring sugary drink and water while hiking along with some light energy bar that will help getting enough supply of energy for the body while hiking. Availability of safe diking water is not an issue on hiking routes in Swiss Alps as there are many small diking water fountain located along most of the hiking routes where hikers can fill up the empty bottles.
9. Bring picnic lunch for hiking: This is something we will highly recommend while hiking in Swiss Alps as this is both rewarding and money saving option on food while hiking. As such along the hiking routes in small villages or near a tourist attraction there are restaurants which offers good quality local food, but that comes with a high price tag. Eating out in Switzerland is always expensive where a regular lunch or dinner for a family of 3 can be in between £90 to £110 (115 USD to 140 USD) at any standard restaurant. Therefore buying picnic lunch from super maker will always help with keep the budget under check and will offer the option of doing a picnic in between the scenic mountains. This is also very attractive and rewarding option for children and helps with keep their interest going with hiking. At the start of the hiking routes in small villages and towns the availability or supermarkets such as Migros or coop offers a wide ranges of breads, cheese, fruits, hams and salamis that can be bought to create a tasty and enjoyable lunch while hiking.
10. Avoid hiking on red and blue hiking trails: The hiking trails and routes in Switzerland are divided into yellow, yellow with white-red-white pointers, blue and pink route based on the level of difficulty of hiking. These signs clearly visible by the hiking path sign posts all along the hiking routes.
Yellow routes are easy to hike, not challenging and suitable for first time hikers and hiking with children.
Yellow with white-red-white pointers routes are medium in difficulty scale and can be manageable if someone is physically fit. These routes are often associated with climbing to higher altitude with relatively steep path. On our last day of hiking in Engelberg region we hiked down one such route for over 3 hours.
Blue routes are difficult hiking routes and suitable for experienced and very fit hikers only.
Pink routes and mainly winter trails and not challenging.
11. Build up stamina and fitness before going for hiking holidays: Building up the stamina and fitness is very useful before going for any hiking holiday. Try to do some regular exercise such as jogging or LIIT (light intensity interval training) for 2 to 3 weeks before the hiking holiday. In general both of us go for jogging 3 to 4 days a week for past few years now which has helped us a lot in general to keep fit which also helped us while hiking the Alps.