Maybe you've booked a three-week long adventure from New York to Los Angeles on the classic Southern Sun or maybe you're touring the Rocky Mountains and California Coast on the Pacific Dream; the question is, are you ready for it?
Whichever trek you've booked, or are planning to book, there are some essential and simple items to pack that can make your camping experience feel more like the majestic indulgence with Mother Nature that you are probably envisioning that your camping experience will be:
Unless you have been blessed with super-human night vision, a headlamp will be your greatest ally against the dark campground nights; and I promise you, even with campfires and lanterns, they are dark. A regular flashlight (or torch) will work, but the trendy, hands-free headlamp is really the most useful and appropriate for outdoor living. For $10-13, a headlamp will save you from embarrassing falls over tree roots and may even help you to spot skunks and other "exotic" wildlife!
2. Water Bottle/Camelbak
In the North American summer, few locations escape days of soaring temperatures and baking sun. It's important to always keep hydrated and have water with you; which, I understand may seem difficult when touring a nation that sells the "Big Gulp" of soda for 99 cents. But, water is always FREE when you have your own water bottle/Camelbak (backpack with water pouch inside) to fill up. Most tap water in the US is drinkable and it's easy to find water fountains and other filling stations. Restaurants and gas stations will usually fill you up too, especially if you smile and ask nicely in your charming accent.
3. Your Party Pants
Going to Vegas? Not going to Vegas? It doesn't matter! Among the shorts and tanks, you should have packed one "I look great and I know it" outfit for the last group dinner, or for any going-out night in cities. One of my favorite parts of a trip is arriving at a hotel after a week or two of camping and watching the group transform from disheveled hillbillies into swanky, sophisticated beauties. And it always feels so good to look so good.
4. Hiking Boots
I don't know how you trek America without them. Yet some people are not avid hikers, or just plain don't like them, in which case any kind of durable shoe will do. Your feet will appreciate you if you protect them from the elements and treat them to some sturdy footware.
Your tent mate might sound like a hibernating bear at night; crickets and frogs may not be your favorite relaxation sounds (or with thunder for that matter); you might want to go to sleep at 10PM and others might want to drink beer until 12AM; you might hate all the music playing in the van. Earplugs could truly be your saving grace for getting sleep on noisy nights, especially if there is an early start the next morning. I keep at least one package of them with me on the road and pass them out like bubblegum. No cranky campers in my van please!
6. Versatile Sleeping Bag
Depending on the locations you'll visit on your trek, your sleeping bag should be able to withstand near ten-degree Celsius weather and be comfortable at thirty. (Yes, it can be that cold and that hot at night on the same trek.) So if you want to sleep like a baby even in the wild outdoors, do some research before you leave home and get the appropriate sleeping bag. And please... Listen.. The Grand Canyon is cold at night, ice cold some nights; you have been warned.
7. Inflatable Sleeping Mat
Foam sleeping mats are provided on your trek, but if you require extra TLC and back support, purchasing your own mat will increase your comfort and overall hours of sleep logged each night. Note: there is a difference between inflatable bed and inflatable mat...
8. Waterproof Jacket
Rain happens pretty spontaneously, kids. Get yourself a jacket... or else!
9. Quick-Dry Towel
A quick-dry towel is super beneficial for swimming, showering and also for those unexpected rainstorms because as the name says, it dries quick and you'll be able to pack it away without getting your clothes wet or use it again half an hour later when it has returned to it's dry form. Convenient and soft, what's not to love?
10. Minimalist Thinking
The last recommendation is a theory, not a physical item. As much as it hurts me to say it, ladies this one is for you: how much clothing, hairspray, lotion and how many pairs of shoes, shorts, dresses and curling irons will you really need? The bigger your backpack or suitcase is, the more work it will be for you, so think critically when packing and take the items you'll use most. (And if you really need something, it will give you an excuse to go shopping while abroad.)
This list could continue, but I don't want to spoil you. It's time to spread your wings and investigate your particular trek to find what else might be useful on your trip. And, don't worry about packing things like your Mardi Gras beads, cowboy hat, denim tank-top, flannel shirts, superhero costumes, spandex, American flag apparel, feather boa etc.; you can pick that stuff up over here.
If you still haven't got yourself booked on to a Trek trip yet, what are you waiting for? Head over to our website and find the tour that's perfect for you!
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