Planning a trip can be stressful especially when all your friends constantly want you to be the one to plan it. That’s a lot of pressure. Not only are you in charge of all plans, but also you feel some responsibility for the safety and fun of the trip. So where do you begin?
First you have to pick a place and activity. Do you want to camp, hike, swim, climb, mountain bike, or all of the above? Nail down the location and activities and go from there. I use a lot of different resources for trip ideas.
- Rootsrated -has a lot of good articles on state specific hikes and camp spots.
- AllTrails - can help you find a ton of trails that are accessible in your area
- National Park Service - the NPS and NFS websites have everything you need to know about national parks, forests, and recreation areas that you might be interested in.
- State Park Websites - Every state in our country has some sort of state park tourism website that should tell all the parks, campgrounds, lakes, and rivers that are open to the public
- Recreation.gov - This is a government run site that is a great resource for finding campsites
- Instagram - I can’t even tell you the amount of trips i’ve been on that were initially inspired by instagram posts. Follow some outdoorsy folks in your area and metaphorically stalk their movements. You’ll find some awesome places!
- Local Outdoor Stores - Last but not least, go pick the brains of the employees at your local outdoors store. Nine times out of ten they’ll have a great recommendation for you.
Now that you’ve scouted some locations and activities, make a rough budget and a detailed list.
Your budget doesn’t need to be complicated. Just the basics of how much gas you’ll need for the entire trip (hello google maps!), food budget, spending money, extra wiggle room in case anything comes up like you need to unexpectedly book a hotel cause your camp site is sketchy.
Side note: especially if you are on a ladies only trip: trust your instincts. A woman’s intuition is NOT a joke. If something feels “off”, trust it. Pack it up and get out. 9 times out of 10 there’s a logical reason for you having those feelings. Better safe than sorry even you miss out on a dope campsite. End Side Note.
This will allow you to divide all your expenses between however many people are on the trip and have everyone plan accordingly.
I’m a huge advocate of absurdly detailed lists. I create a google doc with bulleted lists of GPS coordinates, campsite information, grocery lists, and packing lists. It’s also a great way to have a collaborative lists in case your travel companions want in on the planning process. I also make sure that I have my rough timeline sketched out on that same google doc with links to each location/activity so I can easily click into them in case of confusion (and there will be lots of confusion if you’re on a trip with me…)
I think the key to dealing with confusion and stress on a trip is to be well planned in the beginning. If you KNOW you’re going to be okay because you have appropriate plans and supplies in place, it takes a huge burden off you as the trip planner because no matter what, you know survival is possible.
Now that the main logistics are out of the way and you are super psyched to go on your trip. Start the packing and shopping process. I have a usual set of road trip/camping snacks that I stick to, but I also make sure that I meal plan for each day of the trip. If you’re going to be close to groceries/civilization I don’t worry about three meals a day, but I nail down dinner plans (with a rain backup) for every night. It gives me a sense of comfort to know what I’m eating every night along with where I'm sleeping.
My go to food and snacks for all weather include fresh fruit, cliff bars, cheese and crackers, and some freeze dried meals. I would eat the backpacker’s pantry chicken and rice every night of my life it was acceptable. You don’t have to spend a lot to eat well on a road trip. Grab some fruit, raw veggies, and some crackers and you’ll have it made. It’s really easy to eat bad and feel terrible on a road trip so as I’ve gotten older it’s become important to eat well so you can play well.
When you have your bag sitting empty on the ground surrounding by a pile of gear and food it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Don’t freak out. You made a list! Print it out, pull it up on your phone, I don’t care how you do it, but just check off the stuff you’re taking one thing at a time. I usually even have a list of exactly what clothes I’m taking. And so far (knock on wood) I’ve never left an important item at home. Sure I’ve forgotten a few things but these lists are going to make sure you have the essentials. Oh and by the way, If you’ve got all your gear in one place this is the time to take the cliche flat-lay shots of all your gear...we’ve all done it…no shame.
Alrighty. You’ve got the plan, the people, the supplies, and the highway in front of you. Make sure you have the killer playlist to carry you through all the ups and downs and winding back roads. Spotify is my favorite because you can download your playlists offline so internet isn’t a necessity. Also you can make collaborative playlists so all your friends can add jams to the trip soundtrack.
Lastly, check the weather like your life depends on it. Or at least like the trip depends on it. Keep an eye out especially if you're going to the mountains where weather can change instantly. Be prepared and make sure you don't let rain or storms kill the mood. It's uncomfortable in the moment, but you'll laugh about it later on.
PHEW. You’re done. All that’s left is to start the car and grab some coffee on the way out of the city.
all photos from Washington State trip 2016