Setting up camp (with deer!) from our 2008 trip to Glacier Ntl. Park.
As I've mentioned, Andy and I get out almost every chance we get. Whether it's just for a day hike, or for a long trip, we've learned a lot along the way about how to maximize our time, and minimize our stress. Here are a few tips that apply no matter how long you're planning to go >>
1 // Leave the night before. If you're going out for at least a full day, leave the night before. If you're planning a day trip a couple of hours away, waking up at your destination will make it seem like you've gone so much further, and will really extend the day. This applies for longer trips, too. If you can get a Friday off, but leave on Thursday night, it will seem like a properly long trip. The day you leave, drive as far as possible and get as close as possible to your destination. Which brings me to the next tip...
2 // Embrace the cheap motel. Cheap, no-name motels are the best. Don't be afraid of a little outdated-ness or shabbiness. I have stayed at MANY hole-in-the-wall motels in many hole-in-the-wall towns, and have never had a bad experience (knock on wood). All you need is a clean, safe place to sleep and maybe shower. Use your best judgement, of course, but most motels not in major cities will give you just that. Plus, I've found that the cheaper motels are a much better value than mid-range motels: they often have free WiFi and free continental breakfast.
3 // Have everything ready to go. Keep your gear as ready to go as possible. Keep first aid kits stocked, replace batteries as needed, air dry the tent as soon as you get home, etc. When you get home from one trip, make everything is right again before you put it away and while it's still fresh in your mind. Then you'll know that everything's ready the next time you want to go. The less you have to do pre-trip, the less stress and the less excuses you'll make.
4 // The bucket system. A couple of years ago, Andy picked me up from work to leave for the Grand Canyon. We were driving from Northern California for a long weekend and leaving the night before. He had done the packing that afternoon so we could hit the road ASAP, and when he showed up all of my clothes were in a plastic tote. I looked at him like he was dumb. But, after that weekend, I was a believer. We had a plastic tote with clothes which made them easy to rummage through on the road, and a tote with gear and supplies. A third tote held food. Travelling this way keeps everything simple and organized, and super easy to go out the next time. Everything is already packed and ready to go!
5 // Do more with less. This is sorta standard trip advice, but it really cannot be emphasized enough. One of my favorite examples are black leggings/running tights. Get just plain black ones, and they won't look as dirty as they likely are. You can wear them to hike in, to sleep in, as a base layer when it's chilly, and under dresses while in town. Another is Dr. Bronner's Soap, a camp classic. Good for laundry, hair, dishes, hand wash, and even toothpaste (haven't tried, but I'm curious). There are tons more ways you can do double (or triple, or quadruple!) duty with your stuff; just think creatively and don't be afraid to not have it be the BEST solution. Remember, it's only for a few days!
I hope you find these tips useful! If you have any of your own pointers for how to get out the door as fast and pain-free as possible, I'd love to hear them.
shanti >> sondra
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