Living Abroad: What is an Expat?

 ”The loneliness of the expatriate is of an odd and complicated kind, for it is inseparable from the feeling of being free, of having escaped.”
— Adam Gopnik (Paris to the Moon)

In the last decade or so, the word ‘expat’ has rolled off my tongue more times than I can count. A short form of the word ‘expatriate’, Oxford Dictionary defines it as “a person who lives outside their native country.”  While this definition is true, to actually describe the life of an expat is incredibly difficult. I have toyed with whether or not to start writing a series here on being an expat as the internet is full of posts and articles already. After doing some quick searches, I became frustrated with two themes that popped out at me (this is definitely unofficial research): 1) Expats are living the high life in a luxury compound in some far, exotic place and, 2) Expats are miserable, suffering from issues of making friends and trying to fit in with locals.

Dictionary definition of word cultuvation
How descriptive are definitions when it comes to life experience?

Yes, there are many articles discussing the merits of expatriation and the downfalls with more finesse than that, but with the amount of annual lists of ‘best and worst places for expats’ being published these days, I thought it important to discuss ACTUAL expatriation. We they move abroad, expats are doing more than just leaving their life behind, they are gaining a new one (or many) in the process. They become exposed to differences they never knew existed. They learn things about the world they shamefully admit they hadn’t been aware of before. They change.  They also change how they view life ‘back home’. They see things in their native culture that might bother them. They see imperfections they didn’t see before. They see a place that they called ‘home’ for years from a different perspective. It can be scary to go through this process but it is normal and a balance between being from one place and being cultural enriched by another place is often found. This doesn’t mean expats all think their home countries are flawed. What it does mean, though, is that many find themselves no longer feeling 100% at ‘home’ in a place that they once were scared to leave.

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My junior world citizens running to the Eiffel Tower in their hometown, Paris.

With expatriation and all the changes that arise, expats often find friends and family back in their native countries unable to grasp the complete picture of what life their new life is really like. This should come as no surprise since they themselves were unable to foresee what their lives would be like once they moved abroad. Family and friends not understanding is normal and OK but it can cause frustrations, upset and misunderstandings. At this point, even those who strongly believed they wouldn’t move somewhere foreign just to make other expat friends, find themselves seeking others that ‘get it’. Expat friends often come on fast and strong. Someone I once knew, who eventually returned to her home country after a couple incredibly homesick years, told me expats can’t be choosey when making friends. I strongly disagree, but I will say the shared experience of leaving your native country and relocating somewhere vastly different not only tends to bond people together quickly, it can also trump other socio-cultural-economic differences which might have seen you not becoming friends with someone else if the situations were different. I don’t see this as not being choosey, I see this as sharing a mutual life-changing experience. Like new parents seeking other new parents to share their experiences with. It’s a needs-based relationship that plays an important role in an expat’s happiness abroad. Family and friends back home, don’t worry, we haven’t replaced you, we’ve merely added to our life and hopefully by doing so have stopped griping to you about things you don’t understand, such as why French bureaucracy is truly a mind-numbing experience.

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Lived abroad? Your life might look like this, too. The current state of my life: Foreign money. UK passport. Swiss permit. French driving license. Canadian birth certificate! All so confusing! 

Expatriation is scary. For some it comes with a clear end date depending on work contracts, visas, etc. For others, it is something more organic and undefined. When I moved to France, Mr H had 18 months left on his expatriation package. I moved there with the idea that in 18 months this might no longer be my home, therefore I struggled to really get involved in French life at first. I eventually got past that and made Paris my ‘home.’ Rather quickly, it seems, that 18 months turned into a decade, two Paris-born children, a labrador retriever and an eventual relocation to Switzerland. Along the way, I have learned that my home is where my children, husband and dog are. I have learned I can be both foreign and local at the same time. I have learned that expat life is definitely for me, despite the challenges and uncertainties it can sometimes cause.

I will be continuing this topic in the near future with subsequent topics that relate to expats and those out there who love us and miss us as we galavant across the globe. Stay tuned. I’m obviously not done with the expat train and therefore this topic is not done, either.

Photo credits: Jennifer Hart, Fotolia

Traveling and Storytelling Go Hand in Hand

I don’t know the right person to credit for the photo quote but it is so powerful I couldn’t help but share. It is incredibly true and I recently learned that my combination of traveling and storytelling is going to find a much wider reach!

As many of you know, I will be part of an upcoming anthology this summer entitled Once Upon an Expat. If you would like more information and to check out the authors of this amazing collaboration, please head on over to Canadian Expat Mom. The stories are going to make you laugh, cry, shake your head and make your heart warm. I’ve been getting to know the other women over the past couple of weeks and it has been such an amazing experience that I cannot wait to share it with all of you. I am proud of all of everyone that has worked on this book and I know you won’t want to miss out!! I promise to post a link to the book on Amazon as soon as it is available (June 2016)

For now, make sure you check out the above link and get to know the ladies behind the stories. We are an eclectic group and Lisa Webb has done an outstanding job bringing us all together. We are all so lucky to have her at the helm!

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That’s right, I’m one of them!

 

Photo credit: Unknown, Lisa Webb-Canadian Expat Mom

“A Table!” Lessons in Expat Cooking – Raclette

When I first moved to France, I remember my husband saying to me that he was a big fan of something called raclette. Truthfully, I had no idea what it was but he described it as “meal of primarily melted cheese.” Considering my deep love affair with cheese fondue, I figure this could only be a good thing. My very first experience with raclette was in the lovely French town of Strasbourg where I went to the MOST amazing restaurant for cheese lovers: La Cloche à Fromage by René Tourette. This is where I discovered that raclette was indeed “melted cheese” but holy moly it was also SO MUCH MORE!

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The action of scraping the melted raclette onto bread…*drool* 

What IS Raclette: 
Raclette (pronounced: rack-let) is a type of semi-firm cheese, primarily made with cow’s milk ,with Swiss-German origins.  The name raclette derives from the French verb racler, meaning “to scrape.” By some accounts, raclette has been documented in Swiss texts dating back as far as the late 1200s. A typically wheel-shaped cheese, raclette started as peasant food that provided farmers a wealth of calories, protein and warmth at the end of the day. It was originally heated by fire and scraped off onto starchier foods such as bread and potatoes.  Other than the development of electric heating sources and raclette parties, not much has changed since the early humble origins of raclette other than the fact that very few would refer to it as peasant food anymore!

How To Eat Raclette:
Extremely popular throughout France and Switzerland, raclette can be found in many mountain restaurants, warming up skiers after a snowy day on the pistes. If this isn’t within you reach, you can always have raclette at home, although I do encourage you to try the classic ‘mountain chalet post-ski alpine raclette’ indulgence at least once in your life. You can thank me later!

Modern raclette is served in homes primarily using a modern table top electric grill with tiny cheese pans called coupelles. Raclette is served at the table pre-sliced and ready for melting. There are many modern varieties of raclette so feel free to serve a tasting platter of different raclette if you feel adventurous. My daughter LOVES the sheep/brébis version and my son loves the one with added dried chili flakes. I heavily favour the extra creamy version and Mr H often reaches for the peppercorn and garlic varieties. Common accompaniments are: small boiled potatoes, assortment of pickles/gherkins (the sour kind, not the sweet) and dried meats/charcuterie. If you are less into the dried meat part, like me, feel free to add a large salad with vinaigrette and sliced vegetables such as peppers, mushrooms and zucchini/courgette.

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Modern table top raclette grill

Raclette is a self-serve meal that evokes a lot of conversation and fun. I know purists who melt their cheese and pour it only onto their boiled potatoes and I know others that get creative and put dried meats and pickles in their coupelles and heat it all together. This is where your creativity can take over! I like to grill veggies on the top grill and eat together with the melted raclette. Pure bliss!

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Raclette serving options

What to Drink with Raclette:
Hands down, I am a red wine drinker. It is my go to when having a glass at night or when dining with friends. That said, I have spent the last ten+ years between France and now Switzerland and I have learned that white wine does pair better with cheese than red. There, I said it. It pained me to admit that a few years ago as I was very anti-white wine, but I have changed 😉

With raclette, a dry white is what you are looking for. You don’t want a white that overpowers the cheese’s natural flavours. If you are in Switzerland, I would look for the 2015 World Champion Chasselas La Grand’Rue Chasselas Reserve. Trust me, I’ve done a a lot of ‘research’ on this and Swiss cheese and Swiss wine make a perfect pairing!! If you are elsewhere, any light, low acidity, dry white will work. IF you are a staunch red wine drinker, try a pinot noir or other light, dry red. You don’t want something so heavy that it takes away from the cheese. For an added twist, try chilling your wine first.

At the end of your meal, if you wish to have a truly Swiss experience, try serving a small shot of cherry kirsch. Similar to the le coup du milieu that traditionally accompanies a cheese fondue, a shot of kirsch is believed to help break down the fats in the cheese and allow you to digest your meal better. I heavily question the ‘science’ here but who am I to challenge another culture’s traditions? When in Switzerland…!

In addition to wine and spirits, it is quite common to find people in Switzerland having a hot beverage such as tea or a tisane with raclette. Mint tea at the end of the meal is often offered to help digest.

Final Thoughts:
When choosing to host a raclette party or make raclette at home, remember that this is meant to be a social meal that lasts for quite some time. Raclette dining is one of the few things where the Swiss seem to forgo schedules and just allow the evening to unfold. Eat slowly, take pauses, enjoy some fine wine, or a hot tea like you would in a rustic, traditional chalet. Don’t rush eating a lot of cheese or you might pay for it later! The modern grill machines with the tiny coupelles allow you to pace yourself with small tastes at a time. Above all else, enjoy!

Photo credit: Fotolia

Adventure Families: 10 Tips for Skiing as a Family

“Once you take your first ride up a lift, your life will forever be changed.”

-Warren Miller

No stranger to regular readers of this blog, allow me to state the obvious for a moment for any newcomers: we are a skiing family. From the time my juniors were quite small, we have been trekking several times a year to the mountains in the hopes for some fun in the snow. Both learned at a young age (Buddy boy was 3 and little Miss was 2) and have taken to the sport like ducks to water. I’ve learned a lot over the years watching the kids learn to navigate their way down a mountain and after being asked for the umpteenth time if I have any tips or suggestions to get kids started, I decided to blog about it.

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My monkeys! 

Please note: this is written from MY point of view as a skier and “sometimes snowboarder”. I WHOLEHEARTEDLY believe that young children can be plopped on a snowboard just as easily as skis and do NOT subscribe to the belief that they need to master one before the other. My kids are skiers that dabble in snowboarding and if I was a stronger snowboarder I would be happy to write about that as a family sport but I’m just not. If your child shows an interest in snowboarding over skiing, perhaps you should inquire about what is available around you to help them learn their preferred sport.

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Happy chickens taking the gondola up! 

 

10 Tips for Skiing as a Family
Disclaimer: these tips are merely suggestions and things that worked for us or other families I’ve spoken with and might not be right for your family.

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3rd from the left, the shorty, that’s my little girl
  1. Invest in lessons. I cannot stress this one enough which is why it is the first to make the list. I am fully capable and able to teach people to ski but there is just something incredibly stressful about trying to teach someone you love a skill. Ski instructors around the world are well-equipped to teach littles how to navigate skis. As part of their training, they have learned to really understand how even the youngest skiers think and respond. Trust them. Respect their training. Let them do their job! Swiss ski schools start at 2 years old and French typically start at 3. Always call ahead and ask if you think your child could handle lessons at an earlier age than is listed on your local ski station’s website. My daughter was eager to try which is why she started at 2 instead of 3 (which is normal in France). Bringing me to number 2…
  2. Don’t assume they are too young. This is very personal choice and I am not suggesting you do anything that you are NOT entirely comfortable with. Skiing is an easy skill set easy enough for even the youngest in your family to learn so don’t deprive them by assuming they cannot handle it. Many places have contained ‘play areas’ (French skiers think Club Piou Piou) where the littlest kids can play with skis strapped on their feet. With this method, they unconsciously learn technic through play. Both my kids started this way and really elevated quickly from the play area to the pistes.
  3. Rent. In the first few years of a young skier’s life, I highly recommend you rent their gear. Whilst children’s skis and boots are NOT expensive, they do grow very fast making owning gear not worth it. Our local sports shop here in Switzerland does seasonal rentals where you can exchange at any time for free if they kids grow mid-season. An EXCELLENT solution for families! Inquire if something similar exists near you.
  4. Forget about the poles. What? That’s right. FORGET about the poles to start. Young children are more often than not completely unable to grasp the complex set of motor skills needed to learn skiing with poles. I have seen children (and adults, Mr H will attest I made him ditch his poles to start!!) that I want to rip the poles away from. In the early days, poles are more of a headache than a necessity. In fact, most times it results in a very classic break or ligament tear in the thumb/arm area. Let them master their feet and carving skills before adding more gear to the mix.
  5. Helmet and goggles. These are a non-negotiable in my world. You may have your own personal opinions and feelings on the matter and that is great. However, do yourself a favour and protect your kids from UV and head trauma. Nothing in life is a  guarantee but why take the risk?
  6. Proper clothing. I thought skiing in jeans ended in the 80s but after seeing some bizarre outfits the last few years, I have begun to wonder what do I know?! Please get your kids some proper waterproof, warm and well-fitted gear. This goes for the aforementioned helmets and goggles, too. If it doesn’t fit or keep them dry and warm be prepared for a less-than-fun day. Also, put some tissues in their pockets. You’ll be happy you were prepared for this one. Trust me and don’t ask why I know this.
  7. Listen to them. If they are cold, tired or scared, don’t push them. Teaching young children to ski should be viewed as an investment in an activity you all can do together as they get older. They don’t need to attack challenging runs their first few times out. This will come in time if they want. Also, if they want to practice more, take them to the green/bunny run and enjoy. A kid showing interest is a great thing so bank on it, don’t ignore it.
  8. Pack snacks. Snacks and a bottle of water should be with you at all times. You will absolutely require water if you are skiing at higher altitudes. Healthy, good energy snacks like granola bars, bananas, nuts, dried fruit and even some dark chocolate are always on hand when we ski. Before I had kids on the slopes with me I was anti-backpack while skiing but it has become part of my standard gear now. I truly hated it at first but it has proven invaluable. Somedays we pack our lunch and stop slope side for a bite to eat. Many European resorts also have designated heated on-piste/slope picnic rooms. Scope it out before you head up for the day and you could save yourself some major cash if you are skiing on a budget.
  9. Skin protection. UV rays at higher altitudes are a LOT stronger than normal so be wise and protect your kids with some strong SPF (types that are designed for sports/labelled waterproof are best) and lip balm. Both my kids carry lip balm in their pockets as chapped lips and skiing go hand-in-hand!
  10. HAVE FUN! I shouldn’t have to say this but the amount of on-piste family drama I have seen over the years makes me feel like it is necessary to point out. This is a fun past time and sometimes people forget that in the moment…especially the ones that seem to ignore point number 1 😉
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When she was ready to try skiing outside the play area for the first time!
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My son on a snowboard and daughter on skis

 

Now get out there, dress warmly and have some fun!!

Photos: Jennifer Hart

 

2015: A Year of Change

An emotional sandwich of fear, anger, happiness and tears. It’s hard to sum up a year like this one…

Greetings those left of you reading this blog. I have thought of you and of writing every single day for the last month but have struggled to find words. To find motivation. To find the appropriate messages. I had scheduled posts that I pulled from circulation as I felt, in the wake of terrible global events, that discussing family travel, luxury and fine dining were not time-appropriate subjects. As former Parisians and the mother of two forever Paris-born children, I found it hard to focus on writing. Bloggers around the world started posting about their one weekend/trip to Paris and how they felt an ‘affinity’ to the city. Whilst I respect everyone’s need to grieve, I couldn’t jump on the immediate bandwagon I felt it had become. My affinity was stronger and it hurt. I didn’t feel relieved not to be there during the attacks, I felt guilty. People we know were hurt. People we know were at the places that were attacked. I struggled being far away when something happened so close to a part of my life. Paris drove me insane but after a decade of love, living and fun there, I can’t shake the feeling that she will always be part of what makes up the idea of ‘home’ for me and that she was hurting.

This year started with Charlie Hebdo while we were still living in Paris, crescendoed with our blissful move to Switzerland and came to a close with the attacks of November 13th. An emotional sandwich of fear, anger, happiness and tears. It’s hard to sum up a year like this one. There are some extremely strong markers of what is cruel, wrong and problematic with our world. As many of us are preparing for forthcoming celebrations or just ending our 8 days of light, the world is plagued with bombings, shootings, rape, child abuse, animal abuse and more. Terror reigns supreme and the culture of fear has many of us gripped and paranoid. This is not the world I want to continue to pass onto my children, or any other future generations.

We must fix our world. It is our burden and our responsibility. Peace on earth, goodwill to (wo)man. Could we please learn to put these words into practice more than 3 weeks per year? What if peace was a daily goal we all set for ourselves instead of something more commercial? I may sound like a beauty contestant but I truly do believe in the need for world peace. That said, I am a realist and know this will not happen if people believe the limit of their political action involves simply hitting a ‘share’ or ‘like’ button. We must all do more. More people, more involved – make this happen. Don’t send prayers. A whisper will never quiet a beast.

I didn’t want to just disappear as I wasn’t having writer’s block, I just couldn’t face writing when I was so angry. So, I would like to now officially sign off for 2015. I will be the first to admit that personally, this past year has not been all doom-and-gloom but I do think it would be amiss for me to pretend that everything is simply amazing right now. We are headed to the mountains to ski for Christmas then will be spending a few days with family and friends.

I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday period and a Happy 2016. I look forward to seeing what is on my mind a year from now but I will be back in January to continue the journey this blog was originally intended for.

Stay safe. Be kind. Help others.

Merry Christmas. Joyeux Noël.

Photo credit: Fotolia

 

Adventure Families: Huffing, Puffing and Hiking up a Mountain

Before I proceed with this post, I’d like to address the term ‘hiking’. As a Canadian, I know this term to mean a vigorous, oftentimes challenging, walk primarily on trails (but not always) in the countryside and forest/mountain regions. It requires gear and special shoes. Sometimes I use poles and I most certainly must carry water with me. Married to a Brit, I have had a decade of listening to the term walking (or even the lesser used ‘rambling’) used for the same thing. To me, walking is something I do to take the kids to school or go to the local shops. I walk in the city. I walk in town. I walk in the mall.  I can walk in heels. I can walk in flip flops. I cannot, however, HIKE up a mountain in either of those forms of footwear. Walking and hiking may look the same to those who do not do both but try walking up a mountainside in your city gear and tell me if they feel the same to you! I don’t say this to be rude, though. I say this because I think it is a let down of the English language to not embrace more terms for this particular form of movement. When I hear someone say they took a walk on the weekend I picture a flat wander through town. I don’t think of mud, the need to wear gaiters, dirty hands from gripping onto massive boulders or being completely out of breath. So, what is the point of all of that? I just wanted it to be clear what I personally mean when I refer to hiking so there is no confusion about it (Kiwis of the world, I hear you…insert tramping for hiking wherever relevant!) 🙂

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Happy Feet heading up a mountain…bonus points if you spot the dog’s nose!

Back to my original reason for posting today: families that hike. The juniors grew up in Paris and learned at an early age that walking was going to be a major part of their daily lives. We walked everywhere in the city and by the age of 3 I knew Buddy was ready for more. I spoke about hiking back in Canada and he asked so many questions that I decided to bank on his interest. I knew introducing him to hiking would be more successful if we weaned ourselves into it. So, I bought him a mini Camelbak Skeeter (now discontinued) and we went for a walk through the neighbourhood the very first time with it half-full. He drank all his water in about 30 minutes then had to use the toilet so we traipsed our way home. He was a happy little fella and he never complained about the backpack. I considered it a success.

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Happy boys learning to hike together!
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Snack time is the best!

A few weeks later, we went to the Bois de Boulogne in Paris and tested out my little hiker on a bit more rugged terrain. This time his pack was full and he had snacks in his pockets. He felt like a mountaineer and kept talking the entire time about us being explorers off in an unknown forest. I loved it and so did he! I could tell he was getting into it and it naturally progressed from there. When his sister turned 3, I did a very similar thing.

No fear?!
No fear?!

When Little Miss turned 4 the kids asked about hiking somewhere different. We packed up our kit for a day hike in the Forêt de Fontainebleau and stumbled across a great 6K hike around the Rocher des Demoiselles and it was exactly what we were looking for! Some flat, some steep and some rocky terrain all mixed into one.  It definitely challenged all of us and it is, what I believe, what bit both my children with the need-to-be-in-the-mountains bug! We returned, many many times to Fontainebleau to hike. We spent a few weekends in the village of Barbizon at a local hotel and would hike all day Saturday and Sunday. For Little Miss’ 5th birthday, she asked to spend a weekend in the forest. Everyone loved her idea!

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Up up up!

As you can imagine, the news that we would be moving to Switzerland came with a lot of excitement for many reasons. I have previously explained how our family love of cheese was a part of our excitement to relocate here. So were the mountains. We are all skiers, amateur snowboarders and definitely hikers. Being here has meant we are 30 minutes away from amazing hiking in the Jura Mountains or in the Alps-both Swiss and French sides. Waking up on a lazy Sunday morning has often led to comments such as, “Can we go hike somewhere after breakfast?” and more often than not, the answer is yes. We do this as family. We hike in silence sometimes and other times we talk the whole way. We leave TVs, games, stress, work, homework, etc behind and just hang out together. I’m not anti-technology by any means but I do think there is something very important and special about spending time with your loved ones whilst ‘unplugged’. A few weeks back we hiked around the ski pistes of Métabief with the kids and the dog and spent 7 hours together without interruption. A fondue spot on the mountain was open so we stopped for lunch then carried on. For us, that was a perfect day.

Fall hiking in the Jura Mountains
Fall hiking in the Jura Mountains

I’m not saying every family will enjoy hiking together. It IS labour-intensive and your fitness levels will affect how fun or completely not fun it will be. However, it is a great activity to do together as a family and is something everyone can improve upon. My kids want to train up to do a tour of Mont Blanc when they are in their teens. I can’t think of anything better than crossing Italy, France and Switzerland on foot with my family in tow!! Alright kids, let’s do it!

Tips on hiking with kids:

-Work up to it! It’s too much to assume a kid that doesn’t mind a 15 minute walk to the store will enjoy 4-5 hours of difficult hiking. Find a park or a smaller forest path and train up over the course of a few weekends. You’ll be thankful you did.

-Train them to carry a backpack. My kids started with the CamelBak ones but progressed from there to Deuter backpacks with snacks, water bottles and rain jackets, gloves, a hat and an extra polar fleece inside.

-SNACKS!!! Kids and adults get hungry on a hike. Your quads, glutes and hamstrings are working overtime to climb up down and around so make sure you feed them. My kids make their own trail mix and both carry their own packs of pistachios since they refuse to share them. Make your snacks healthy and hearty. Fruit, nuts, protein-packed sandwiches, etc will all last longer and fuel you longer than junky store bought ‘granola bars’. I DO bring chocolate and energy gels/fruit chews in my bag for any crashes in energy. I’ve never used the gels or chews but sometimes at the end of a hike we all have shared the chocolate 😉

-WATER!!! Non-negotiable. We all carry water. The kids each have a bottle. The dog carries two bottles on his back. I carry over a litre and my husband carries about 3 litres in his CamelBak hiking bag. You can almost never have enough water, especially when your hike takes you into higher altitudes. I have taught my kids to at least stop and sip on some water every 20-30 minutes or so even if they don’t feel thirsty. I did not say they chugged a bunch of it. They sip. There is such a thing as being over hydrated and far up a mountainside you don’t want to experience that. But, it is crucial to stay hydrated to keep your body cooling itself properly and to help stave off any effects of altitude. Be smart, drink water.

Gear We Carry:

I like to be prepared. I’m ‘that mum’. So, we carry more than you might want/need to but since it doesn’t bother me on my back I figure I’d rather have this stuff than say “oh no!!” at any point in the trip.  As previously mentioned, the kids both carry a bag with rain jackets, hats, gloves, water, small snacks and extra polar fleece. They also have tissues for any running noses or toilet breaks needed! Hey, it happens. But what else do we carry?

My husband carries most of the water and any maps we have. If we have our poles with us, he carries the boys poles and I carry the girls poles. Our kids are too young and too short to have theirs strapped to their backpacks. They do add weight and even folded up they are still long.  That leaves me with the majority of the ‘other stuff’ which includes:
-first aid kit
-canine first aid kit (first aid needs adapted for your furry friend including powdered dog- safe antiseptic, non-stick wrap, tick remover, etc)
-any meals
-crushable water bowl for the dog
-Swiss army knife (Mr H has one, too)
-rain jackets
-medication (i.e. antihistamine, paracetamol)
-fully-charged phone
-sports gels/chocolate
-small mesh garbage bag (no littering in Mother Nature!!)

Lots of 'stuff' !
Lots of ‘stuff’ !

I think that about covers it!!!

What about you? Do you hike with your family or are you thinking about doing it?