7 Ways to Experience New York City Like a Local

7 Ways to Experience New York City Like a Local

Are you planning a vacation to New York City? Well, being a tourist is fine. But what if you could dive deeper? The best locations in any city are usually secrets kept to just the locals. How can you experience New York City like a local? An authentic experience of New York City will have you leaving with your return trip in mind.

The best way to travel around this incredible city is to experience it like a local. The secret bars, restaurants, and places to visit can completely change your trip. The last way to experience the true New York is to do it like the typical tourist. Make it your mission to find the hidden gems while you avoid most of the touristy spots. You will be happy you took the time to discover something different.

So, if you are ready to change the way you travel, then check out these top activities on your upcoming trip to the big city. Locals know best. Do not worry about finding a local to show you around. Check out these 7 awesome experiences to have an incredible time on your trip. You must take the time to find the more hidden gems and stray away from just the touristy spots. Get ready for a full experience of the real New York City.



Create a Local Inspired Trip to New York City



Experience New York City like a local.


 1. Walk the High Line and Watch the Sunset


Get outside while in the city! No matter what you do, you must catch the sunset in an epic place. It is a must to see this skyline with a beautiful array of colors.

For starters, check out the High Line. It is a 1.45- mile path that was created on top of a former New York Central Railroad spur on the west side of Manhattan. A beautiful public park that entices visitors with a mix of nature, art, and design. Either spend a morning, afternoon, or plan to catch the sunset after a nice dinner.

There are several places around the city to catch a sunset. Just to name a few are Sunset Park in Brooklyn, on the Roosevelt Tram, or from a rooftop in Astoria. You really cannot go wrong with finding a place to view the sunset.



Experience New York City like a local with a brewery tour.


2. Brewery Tour in Long Island City and a Visit to the Pepsi-Cola Sign


Head over the bridge to Long Island City. A fast growing residential and manufacturing neighborhood filled with waterfronts, unbeatable views of Manhattan, art galleries, and a booming craft beer community.

Thus, with so many breweries to choose from why not try them all. There are currently four major breweries to add to your itinerary. The Long Island Beer Trail allows for you to taste the best each has to offer. The four breweries in the area to head to are Rockaway Brewing Company, LIC Beer Project, Big Alice Brewing Company, and Transmitter Brewing Company.

Additionally, while in the area head down to the waterfront to visit the neon Pepsi-Cola sign. This sign is in the Gantry Plaza State Park.



Experience New York City like a local with pizza.


 3. Grab a Slice of Pizza and a Night Out in Brooklyn to Experience New York City Like a Local


You cannot head to New York City without trying a slice of pizza. It is absolutely a requirement. However, with so many different pizzerias, how do you find the right one?

New York is known for their delicious pizza. You really cannot go wrong when grabbing a slice. Head over to Brooklyn to try out two different pizza shops. Julianna’s Pizza features classic and specialty pies from a coal-fired oven. Or head down the block to Lucali for a thin-crust wood-fired pizza.

After all, the best way to wash down all that pizza is to grab a drink on the rooftop of the Time Out Market. A busy bar, filled with the art and culture of Brooklyn all under one roof. You are certainly going to head back to your place full after this night out.




4. Boozy Brunch in West Village with a Stop at Central Park


Are you a huge fan of brunch? Well, you came to the right place. New York City is a perfect place to find a delicious variety of foods with bottomless mimosas.

For a great morning while on your trip head to the West Village. There are several quaint restaurants to choose from in the area and afterwards you can head over for a pleasant walk in the famous Central Park. Popular brunch locations in the area include North Folk and Agave.

North Folk is a great option for bottomless mimosas and local ingredients in all their dishes from Long Island. You will for sure leave full after lounging in this rustic West Village restaurant. Also, check out Agave for a two-hour bottomless brunch with your choice of egg entree and drink. Just make sure to call for reservations in advance as these restaurants fill up quickly.

Afterwards, take a stroll through the nearby Central Park. Central Park is an urban park located between Upper West and Upper East Sides of Manhattan. The fresh air and sunshine will be a great way to spend the afternoon after your brunch.



Experience New York City like a local is to try street food from local vendors.


5. The Locals Love Smorgasburg


Smorgasburg is the largest open-air food market in America. A collection of many local vendors that attract thousands of people in the area. With several locations, try out the market to get a taste of the real New York City.

The locations include Williamsburg on Saturday and Prospect Park on Sundays in Brooklyn. From 11 am to 6 pm, you can pick and choose food options from a range of vendors.

Additionally, you are helping to support a great cause when you head to Smorgasburg. They partner with Rethink Food, an organization that helps to provide nutritious meals to under-served communities. Have some great food while helping to make the city a better place.




6. Capture the Best View of New York City Like a Local at Mr. Purple


Mr. Purple, a rooftop bar and restaurant located on the 15th floor of Hotel Indigo on the Lower East Side. The amazing view of NYC from the top will leave you speechless, especially at night. The bar has unique wood structures, free hanging lights, and comfy furniture to make your visit spectacular.

Also, not to mention there is a pool. Lounges, banquettes, and high-top tables leave you with enough room to enjoy your time with all your friends.

If you enjoy an up and close view of the incredible architecture of the city than this is your place to visit.




 7. Head to Hair of the Dog for Beer Buckets and Football


How does that sound for your afternoon? The Hair of the Dog is the place to head with your friends whenever there is a game on. A bucket of beer, chill vibe, and enough televisions to catch all the action. This is a must if you are a sports fan in the Lower East Side area.

Additionally, there are many other reasons to stop by. The sports bar has an “all-day” happy hour Monday to Friday, bottomless brunch on the weekends, and a DJ playing all the best hits late into the night. The Hair of the Dog is a go to for locals. Let the good times roll.



Why Experience New York City Like a Local?


Because it is the best way to see the city. Whether you are traveling for a few days or spending a month, these experiences will have you seeing New York City like a local.

If you have your heart set on a touristy place, you should still go for it. However, avoid just spending time doing the typical activities that all tourists rush to see. The suggestions here will help you stray from the normal. Experience New York City through the eyes of a local. If you have the chance to meet some locals, always ask them for their suggestions. The city is huge, and there is always an opportunity to catch the latest local trend.

Get out there and book a different kind of trip to New York City! If you need some more travel inspiration, check out 7 Reasons to Add More Travel Into Your Life.


7 Reasons to Add More Travel into Your Life Now

7 Reasons to Add More Travel into Your Life Now

Do you want to add more travel into your life right away? Of course, you do. It is a no-brainer, as travel is awesome! There are an endless amount of reasons to start traveling more. However, if you are still stuck check out these 7 reasons to justify adding more travel into your life.

Travel is an incredible experience allowing you to see the world, meet new people, and learn about different cultures. Once you step out into the world of travel you will become addicted.

Travel is much more than just visiting a different place. Well, that is if you do it the right way. The best part of travel is to step outside of your comfort zone to try something new. You must be willing to be uncomfortable to get the full experience. Otherwise, you will miss out while you are on an adventure.

Do you have a bucket list? Make it a priority to start checking off those experiences today! Although trip planning is a pain, your effort will be rewarded. Travel provides an endless supply of memorable experiences. Stop putting it off and start traveling more right away.

Start prioritizing your travel life now. You will never look back and regret that decision.



7 Reasons to Travel More Right Away



New adventures is a reason to add more travel into your life right away


1. Countless New Adventures When You Start to Travel More


Why not add more adventure into your life? The best way is through increasing the amount of time you travel.

Adventure is a huge reason to travel. Leaving your comfort zone is the best time to find new meaning in life. Have you consistently put off trying something new you always wanted to learn? Now is the time to start.

Adventure challenges you to become a better version of yourself, discover who you really are as a person, and to relieve stress from other parts of your life. The best parts of life can be found while you are out on an adventure.



2. Seek Out Challenges


You are never too old to look for challenge. In fact, taking a step outside of your comfort zone is the only way to become a better version of yourself.

Travel is a great way to push yourself into challenging situations. In the present time they may be hard, but you will grow tremendously from those challenges you must overcome. When traveling you must figure out new languages, different foods, transportation, directions, and how to interact with locals much different than yourself.

With all these changes added into the mix, you are going to have to learn to adapt. Travel changes your daily routine.  These changes will cause you to build a diverse skill set. As a matter of fact, without travel many of these challenges would probably never surface in your life. Remember, challenge is essential for your entire life. Without challenge, there is no growth.



3. Live in the Present Moment While Traveling


Often, you may find yourself passing through your day without being present. You are just on autopilot. Travel forces you to take a second look at many of the moments you would let pass by you in your normal routine.

Whether it is a beautiful view, or simply taking the time to have a deep conversation with your travel companion, travel will help you stop thinking about the past or trying to plan for the future. You will just be fully present in your surroundings.




4. The Power of Learning Outside Your Comfort Zone


Travel is in fact the greatest opportunity to learn. There are so many ways to challenge the way you think, learn in a different manner, and broaden your perspective. There is only so much you can learn from the internet. The rest comes from the real-life experiences of traveling to a new location.

As a matter of fact, the only way to truly begin to understand a culture or different groups of people is to experience it yourself. You will be surprised at how often you have been directed to believe false information about another area of the world.

Also, having to learn how to communicate with others who speak a different language is a humbling experience. When in these situations you learn to appreciate the kindness of others who are willing to take the extra time to help. Remember this, and always provide this kind of gratitude when others are in this situation.

Always do your best to travel like a local. When you travel like a local, you will be shocked with how much you can learn about others in such a short amount of time.



5. If You Want to Relax, Add More Travel into Your Life


A new place is the perfect time to step away from your busy life. Just enjoy the day. Travel does not have to be overwhelming. Do your research before leaving and you will be all set when you arrive in a new country. Now, just put your phone down and enjoy being outside. The best part of travel is to take time away from the problems of your daily life.

Always make time to relax when you are traveling. This is a great way to get a much-needed break from your home life. Taking the time to unwind from your daily responsibilities will help your mental and emotional health substantially.



6. Add More Travel into Your Life Now to Experience A Higher Level of Gratitude


Travel is a humbling experience. You learn how other people in the world live their lives.

You will meet people with far less than yourself. For example, visiting a third-world country will give you the check you need at times. It is an amazing experience to help others, learn more about yourself, and to reevaluate what is important in your life.

When you travel, it will have a profound impact on what you value in your own life. Learn to be happy with what you have, rather than always looking at what you don’t.



Create memories is a reason to add more travel into your life now


7. Travel Allows for You to Make Memories


Travel will be filled with once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Do you want to look back on your life filled with memorable memories? Of course, you do.

Live a life you will remember. Travel is a great way to make some incredible memories while having the time of your life. You can never get back time. So, start living your life to the fullest. No matter your other goals in life, always make time to travel. Enjoy the little time you have on this wonderful planet.



Reasons to Add More Travel into Your Life


Travel is one of the best parts of life. Make it a priority to start traveling more often and you will not regret that decision.

If you are looking to live in the present moment, make memories with your loved ones, meet new people, or just see some beautiful landscapes, than you are going to need to start adding more travel into your life right away.

Are you lost with where to begin? Check out How to Plan a Backpacking Trip in 5 Easy Steps or the Adventure Travel Packing Guide to help you get started.




The Best Cenotes in Mexico For Adventure

The Best Cenotes in Mexico For Adventure

The Yucatan Peninsula offers the best selection of cenotes in Mexico for adventure. If you are looking for an epic time on your trip, do not miss the opportunity to check these off your bucket list.

While traveling to Mexico, you have to at least visit one of the many cenotes scattered around. These sinkholes are all over the place. In fact, all you have to do is drive down any road near the major cities, like Tulum or Cancun, and you will probably pass at least five different cenotes. The difficult part is figuring out which ones to actually visit.


What is a “cenote”?


Cenotes are all over the Quintana Roo and the Yucatan provinces in Mexico. A cenote is a deep, water filled sinkhole. The pool of water is formed by rain or an underground river. These are formed when the roof of an underground cavern collapses. As a matter of fact, cenotes come in all different shapes and sizes. There are several different types of cenotes, including open, semi-open, and cave.

An open cenote is the oldest, whereas a cave cenote in the youngest. When the roof completely collapses, you are left with an open cenote entirely exposed to the sky. A semi-open cenote is one in which there is only partial openings in the roof of the cave. Furthermore, a cave cenote has the entire roof still intact.


Cenote Lol-ha is one of the best cenotes in Mexico for adventure.


Why should you visit a cenote?


Cenotes are a playground perfect for taking a relaxing swim, snorkeling, swinging from a rope swing, or even cliff diving for the adventure seekers. These picturesque locations are perfect for a new experience in your life.

However, the downside is these locations can become filled with an obnoxious crowd of tourists. Unfortunately, it can turn an amazing experience into a less than enjoyable situation.


Why you should venture away from the crowds?


Although, some of the most popular cenotes are visited for a reason, there are many other options to avoid the crowds. These options will take you to cenotes filled with adventure opportunities, reduced crowds, and all the time to create an amazing travel experience. While hitting some of the popular cenotes are a great addition, make sure to hit those first in the morning. The first hour within opening is your best shot to some serenity, if remaining close to any tourist spot.

Instead, I recommend getting a rental car to explore in less touristy destinations around the Yucatan peninsula. You will not be disappointed. The best part of exploring a lesser known cenote is the possibility you will have it all to yourself.


How to get there?


The best way to actually see all of the less-crowded and unique cenotes is to rent a car. Car rentals are super easy, cheap, and roads are a breeze to navigate. If unable to rent a car, public transportation is possible. You have the option to take a taxi or the bus. However, a taxi will be quite expensive if coming from a coastal destinations.

If you do not mind moving around throughout your trip, than staying in the cities of Valladolid and Merida can be a great alternative to longer road trips from the coast. These cities are beautiful and give a completely different vibe from the coastal areas, especially if staying in resorts. Either way, all of these cenotes are an easy trip from Tulum, Cancun, and Playa de Carmen.


One-Way Driving Times


    • Tulum to
        • Valladolid: 1.5 hours
        • Merida: 3 hours
        • Homun/Cuzuma: 3 hours
        • Yaxunah: 2.5 hours
        • Ek Balam: 1 hour 40 minutes
        • Cancun: 1.5 – 2 hours


    • Cancun to
        • Valladolid: 2 hours
        • Merida: 3.5 hours
        • Homun/Cuzuma: 3.5 hours
        • Yaxunah: 3 hours
        • Ek Balam: 2 hours 15 minutes



The Best Cenotes in Mexico for Adventure




Cenote Calavera


      • Entrance Fee: $350 pesos [There are additional entrance fees for any camera or Go pro use]
      • Hours: 9am – 4pm
      • Location: Tulum
      • Nearby Cenotes to Check Out: Cenote Carwash



Calavera is one of the most popular cenotes in the Tulum vicinity. It is small, yet makes up for it with unique openings you are able to jump through into the water below. You have several options to enter the water, you can jump into any of the three holes or you can climb down the big ladder in the middle. However, make sure to check this cenote out early in the morning, as it gets chaotic.

Cliff diving is allowed and encouraged. Just watch out not to jump on anyone else as the opening is not too big. Also, there is a swing present at the water level down in the cenote. However, a picture without other people in it is difficult.

Around the cenote is lounge chairs to hang out and enjoy the sun. In addition, there is a bar and restaurant just a short walk away. Since the location is so close to Tulum, the place gets rather packed fairly quickly. If you are looking for a peaceful getaway, this is not it.


Is Cenote Calavera worth the price?


The price to enter is rather steep, especially when compared to other cenotes. Additionally, the fact they charge separately to just use a camera to take a couple pictures is kind of crazy. I mean the price to enter is already excessive. But if you are staying in Tulum and do not want to travel far this is a decent option to try out.

If you are looking to meet other travelers than this is a solid choice. But it does get crowded. Almost to the point where its even hard to swim since there are tourists everywhere.

After visiting this cenote, we decided to stay away from any cenotes in close proximity to Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. The prices are insane, overcrowded, and way too many rules, like paying extra to use a Go Pro. If you want a true cenote experience, hit the road and head inward to find some hidden gems.


Oxman Cenote is perfect for adventure


Oxman Cenote


      • Entrance Fee: $80 pesos [There are additional entrance fees if you want to include a meal credit and or drone use]
      • Hours: 9am – 6pm
      • Location: Valladolid
      • Nearby Cenotes to Check Out: Cenote Suytan, Hubiku, Zaci, and the Dztinup Cenotes


Cenote Oxman, a Yucatan gem near the center of Valladolid, is one of the best semi-open cenotes in the area. This cenote is easy to get to by car, bus, or tour company. Again, since it is close to Valladolid and easy to get to it can become crowded with large tour buses. However, it is not too crowded to enjoy the cenote due to the large size.

The cenote is located in the traditional Hacienda San Lorenzo, once was an agave plantation. The parking lot is right next to the building you will buy your ticket. On top, there is a pool and restaurant making for a great place to hang for the afternoon. Bathrooms, changing areas, and showers are all available near the entrance. Make sure to check out the viewing platform on the top before heading down for a swim.



The Bottom


The underground cenote has a staircase tunnel leading you down to the bottom. Life jackets are a requirement at this cenote. You have two options to enter the water. One, you can either jump off a 3m platform or use the rope swing. In addition, on the far side there are stairs leading into the water. The water is a deep blue and is the perfect temperature to cool off. Take some time to swim out into the middle of the cenote and look up. It is an incredible view!

The cenote is far underground. The walls tower around you with cascading tree roots leading all the way down to the water. Even on a sunny day it stays quite cool and dark in most areas of the cenote. There is plenty of room to hang out by the water after your swim. Overall, Oxman is one of the best cenotes in Mexico for adventure.


Less-crowded Gems


Stepping away from the path of most tourists will leave you with the discovery of the lesser-known cenotes. These hidden gems are the best cenotes in Mexico for adventure. You will be surprised with how different your cenote experience is from ones near the coast.

When traveling to smaller villages, like Homun or Yaxunah, you can feel more connected to the local culture. As a result, you find cenotes with a rustic and more natural appearance. Although less popular, these cenotes still offer amenities, like a bathroom and shower. Here are three cenotes offering a great adventure without all the crowds.





Lol-ha Cenote


      • Entrance Fee: $50 pesos
      • Hours: 9am – 5pm
      • Location: Yaxunah
      • Nearby Cenotes to Check Out: Cenote Ik Kil


Cenote Lol-ha is an absolute gem and should not be missed! It can be found 15 miles, in a small village, away from Chichen-itza. The village is very small and does not see a ton of tourists. The cenote at this time is not too built up, which makes it a great place to escape from the crowds. If you enter this village from the direction of Chichen-itza, you turn left at the center green and it is on the back side.




For this cenote, you will benefit from having a rental car. However, you can take a bus to the center of Yaxunah. Since not a ton of people show up at this cenote, you are able to park right outside of the entrance on the street.

Right across the street there are bathrooms available, but minimal compared to other cenotes in the area. The cenote is a short walk down from the road to reach the top. Cliffs are around all sides but are not too tall. Thus, most of the cenote stays in the sun. The deep blue waters can be reached either by a set of steep stairs or by jumping from any side. The entire cenote is extremely deep.

The best part of this cenote is that cliff jumping is acceptable. Heights range greatly from a small wooden platform just above the water to around 15 meters. Life jackets are available but are not mandatory. Cenote Lol-ha is one of the best cenotes in Mexico for adventure and is highly recommended!



X’tojil Caves


      • Entrance Fee: $300 pesos [You will be here for multiple hours]
      • Hours: 9am – 5pm [consider this trip will take several hours]
      • Location: Cuzuma and Homun
      • Nearby Cenotes to Check Out: Cenote Canunchen, Santa Barbara, and Los Tres Oches


The villages of Homun and Cuzuma are home to countless hidden cenotes. Smaller, and more traditional Mexican villages that miss the waves of tourists closer to the coast. The area is home to hundreds of cave cenotes. Much are difficult to find. In fact, you will have to connect with a local to reach any of these cenotes. However, no need to worry. As soon as you drive into the center of either village, there are plenty of locals standing on the side of the road offering you a trip to their cenote.

Just be prepared as these are a bit more rugged, and many contain steep and narrow stairs to reach the water. One of the best cenotes in Mexico for adventure are the X’tojil Caves.



Remote Cenotes in Mexico


The X’tojil caves are at the end of Cuzuma, if driving from Homun. Parking is offered right at the road. From there, you will get to experience taking a ride on a horse-drawn railway. You will be on a trip for the next few hours to four different cenotes.


Horse-drawn railway for an advenute before reaching cave cenotes in Mexico.


All the cenotes are deep underground. So be prepared to head down steep wooden stairs to enter any of these cenotes. However, swimming in a cave with no one else around is an incredible experience worth the struggle.

One of the cenotes has a large rope swing. However, if you take off from the top of the stairs, just pay close attention to how high you swing up. You can easily hit the top of the cave on the other side. Otherwise, swimming around all the different caves was such a cool experience.
After visiting the four cenotes, you are brought back to the parking area. If hungry, there is a small restaurant offering a typical selection of foods.

Check out these blog posts from Why We Seek and Bobo and Chichi for more information on all of the amazing cenotes in the Homun and Cuzuma region.


Cenote X' canche is one of the best cenotes in Mexico for adventure.



Cenote X’canche


      • Entrance Fee: $70 pesos
      • Hours: 8am – 4pm
      • Location: Ek Balam Ruins near Valladolid
      • Nearby Cenotes to Check Out: Cenote Agua Dulce and Cenote Hubiku


Cenote X’canche is a semi-open cenote right outside the Ek Balam ruins. Surprisingly, the cenote was not crowded in the early morning, even though the location was right outside the famous ruins. In fact, no other tourists showed up until after 10am. So, make sure to get up early if you prioritize having the cenote to yourself.

The entrance to buy a ticket is at the ruins. From the ruins, it is a 2km walk, bike, or drive down to a larger parking lot right outside the cenote. There is a large changing and shower area down at the top of the cenote. You must shower off before entering this cenote.



Activities Other Than Swimming


The cenote has much more to offer than just swimming. In addition, you can buy a ticket including a zip line and rappelling from one of the trees at the top of the cenote. There is a small rope swing at the bottom as well to enjoy. For the thrill seekers, this cenote is accepting of cliff diving.

From the top, there is a steep set of stairs down to the bottom, just make sure to watch your head from a rock jetting out. There are a few options to getting into the water. In two spots around the edge there are stairs leading into the water. Another option is to take the plunge from the rope swing.

Around the entire cenote there is a wooden boardwalk making it easy to see the cenote from every angle. When the water is high, parts of the boardwalk can become submerged making the wood very slippery, so watch your step. Otherwise, if you are looking for one of the best cenotes in Mexico for adventure make sure to check out all the activities available at X’canche.


Top Tips to Make the Most of Your Cenote Adventure


First, check out Adventure Travel Packing List prior to your trip to Mexico to avoid forgetting anything! Following are the top tips to make visiting all the cenotes as easy as possible.


    • The best piece of advice for all cenotes is to get there right when they open in the morning. Otherwise, plan to arrive in the late afternoon just prior to close to avoid the crowds. Avoiding the crowds is essential when visiting any of the cenotes.
    • As said before, a car is the best way to get to all the cenotes if you are planning on stopping at several. A car allows you to be on your own schedule, and to make sure you arrive at the cenotes in the morning when least crowded.
    • Make sure to always carry cash, many of the smaller and less popular cenotes do not accept credit cards.
    • Cenotes are delicate. Many will require you take a quick shower before entering to rinse all the chemicals off your body. Sunscreens destroy cenotes, so avoid using any to keep the cenotes pristine.
    • Water shoes are a great option for all. Many of the cenotes involve walking around either to cliff dive or walk down the ladders into the cenotes. The rocks surrounding many of the cenotes are rough, so if you have sensitive feet, you should use shoes.
    • The most important tip is to have a waterproof camera. A go pro or underwater housing for your camera is a great way to capture your adventure around all the cenotes. The right picture is the perfect way to show your friends and family your incredible time exploring the cenotes in Mexico.


Cenote X'canche is one of the best cenotes in Mexico for adventure.



Make Sure to Check Out These Cenotes


Whatever you do, make sure to check out some cenotes if you have the opportunity. These are the best cenotes in Mexico for adventure and you do not want to miss them on your next trip! If looking for more cenotes in the region check out Cenote Finder.



How to Plan a Van Ski Trip

How to Plan a Van Ski Trip

Thinking about planning your first van ski trip but unsure where to start? Any hardcore skier, or adventure enthusiast, must try out van life during the winter. It is a life-changing experience. Van life allows for the freedom to travel around the country to ski the best snow, whether at a resort or in the backcountry. Ready for an adventure? Well it is time to plan a van ski trip this winter.


Is a Van Right For Me?


Personally, I chose to experience winter van life in Colorado, in search for some of the best snow on the planet. The best part is the freedom to go anywhere. I was not tied down to any particular location. I was able to explore all the different locations and could stay wherever I ended up for the night. Yes, there may be some hurdles to overcome like parking and figuring out how to shower. But well worth it.  Van life will be an epic adventure. You will not regret or be disappointed.

But before you search companies to book, check out these tips and my experience with van life to determine if it is the right choice for you. First off, ask yourself some of the following questions:

Am I comfortable driving a larger sized vehicle? How many people are in my traveling group? What is my budget for the trip? Do I mind sleeping in the cold? Can I go a day without a shower? What is my budget for the trip?

Answering those questions will help to determine if van life is right for you. In my opinion, a van is cozy and can easily be lived out of for a short period. However, a van can get reasonably cold during the night and a long hot shower is probably not going to be available. So, you have to decide what you are looking for during your trip.



Colorado Van Ski Trip


On my trip out to Colorado, I rented a Dodge Promaster 1500 from Native Campervans in Denver. There office is a short 30-minute Uber from the airport. Most companies doing van rentals have different hours, so plan accordingly dependent on your flight’s time of arrival. It may be necessary to spend the first night in a hotel and get a fresh start in the morning.


The Van


There are three different options: The Biggie, The Smalls, and The Squad. However, I would only personally recommend using The Biggie for a ski trip in the winter months. The Biggie has an indoor kitchen, sits 3 while sleeping two (could get away with three if traveling with a small child), and some come with a build in heater. Even though there is a heater, it still gets cold throughout the night.


A quick snapshot for The Biggie:


♦  Plenty of overhead storage and a large compartment under the bed. This compartment is only accessible from the outside. There are an additional 2 storage drawers inside perfect for clothing and dry foods.

♦  Convertible dining table

♦  Lighting system with several options ranging from dim to bright

♦  150-watt solar panel with an inverter to charge any electronics

♦  Memory foam mattress, blanket, and two pillows

♦  All pots, pans, plates, cups, cutlery, and silverware. (3 of each) The van comes with a percolator as well for any coffee lovers.

♦  7-gallon water tank and two-burner propane stove




The Kitchen


Forget about boring meals and van life. A two-burner propane stove and mini-fridge allow for healthy home cooked meals on the road. The indoor kitchen is the best part of a van when doing a winter ski trip. This is a must item. An indoor kitchen will help you stay eating healthy and delicious food instead of eating out your entire trip. However, make sure to still enjoy some local coffee shops and breweries.


Is There a Bathroom?


The van does not have a bathroom built into the design. As of right now, none of their options consist of a bathroom, so plan accordingly. A bathroom would be helpful but can easily be done without one.

As for bathrooms, I would try to plan to use them before heading out of town centers. Camp grounds will have facilities. There are several options in Colorado staying open throughout the winter. If traveling to more rural areas to camp, than you will likely just have to go outdoors. Just plan to drink your water earlier in the evening, as heading outdoors in the middle of the night is not enjoyable!

Throughout the trip you must find places to take a shower.  Showers can be bought at places such as community centers, gyms, public pools, or truck stops.  There are other random places where a shower may be possible. I was able to take a shower when at a hot springs near the Great Sand Dunes National Park. There are several ways to find a place to take a shower. But between showers, as you most likely will not be able to every day, I used venture wipes to stay fresh.


Winter Packages: Plan a Van Ski Trip Without Worrying About the Weather


Worried about the weather? Try out their winter package.

The company has winter packages (only out of Denver) perfect for those renting in the colder months. The winter package includes tire chains, extra blankets, and a heater built into the van. A snow package can be a lifesaver.

When I was out near Breckenridge, I took Ivan the Terrible (name of one of the Biggie vans) on a snow-covered road on the mountain across from the ski area. Ivan, even with snow tires, had some trouble with the conditions. I ended up getting stuck and was unable to make it back up the hill from the way I came.

The road continued out of sight in the other direction. I decided to take a run. I ran down the street, probably about a mile, to determine if I would be able to make it with the van. Luckily, the other direction only had one hill which was much more gradual. Fortunately, I floored Ivan and was able to make it past without an issue.

However, the point of the story is road conditions can change quickly. Just down the road was nicely plowed. Towards the top the road became too narrow to turn around and less than ideal conditions. If you plan to adventure out a ways, the winter package is probably a safe decision to prevent any unplanned stays on the side of the road.

If you opt out of the winter packages, I recommend bringing additional gear like an extra sleeping bag, snow shovel, and insulated water bottles.


Should you get insurance?


In my opinion, yes. Personally, I rather just make sure I have coverage and not have to worry about anything. The van rentals have four different insurance options: no insurance, supplemental liability insurance, collision damage waiver, and full coverage. Although, the decision for insurance is up to you, I would at least get minimal protection. Each plan is outlined in more detail on their website.

For more information on the different rentals while you plan a van ski trip, check out Native Camper Vans.

van ski trip in Colorado


Planning the Route for a Van Ski Trip


Planning your route can be a challenging task. The United States is a vast area, especially when planning a trip in the western portion of the country. A rough outline is a great starting point. Attempt to map out your top ski resorts or backcountry spots.

Avoid missing any of your must-see locations. Do enough research to know general outlines of travel time, areas to park your van, and important locations for supplies. However, leave enough room in your trip for spontaneous adventures. These moments can become your favorite memories from the trip.

Directions and Weather


Service will cut out. Remember to bring a paper or a predownloaded map on your phone to prevent getting too lost. Maps.me is a great app allowing for directions while out of service. Just make sure to download the area ahead of time. Keep in mind locations of Walmart, gas stations, and public land for areas to park. The most important part is you can never be too prepared!

While on your trip, it is important to monitor the weather. Van camping can become a problem with snow. Much of the public lands become unavailable as roads are either closed or not plowed. Keep this in mind when researching free spots to park. If bad weather is coming, it may be a solid choice to stay somewhere you know will be plowed out. Weather will play a large role in where it is safe to bring a van.

Food and Water in the Van


The van comes with a small fridge and freezer. There is plenty of room to stock up on enough food before heading out into a more rural location. I recommend always having a few days of food on hand just in case bad weather comes in or you get stuck in the middle of nowhere.

Water becomes valuable when living van life. As there is only a 7-gallon tank, use water mindfully. Most likely, the tank will just be used to cook, wash dishes, and clean up after a long day. In addition to the tank, keep some jugs of drinking water on hand. Also, you could use a water purification system or boil snow for safe drinking water.

Water will freeze. The sink needs to be drained when not in use. The water will freeze in the pipes when gone from the van for an extended period. The last thing you want is no running water. Just save yourself the hassle and drain when not in use.

Travel Packing List


For a complete travel packing list, check out Adventure Travel Packing List..

In addition to this list, make sure to grab all your winter and skiing gear. Airlines are relatively good about checking your ski bags for a cheap price. Since most airlines will allow for a ski bag and a boot bag to be checked together, it gives you plenty of room to pack additional winter gear. Just keep the weight under the limit.



van ski trip around Colorado

Helpful Tips While You Plan a Van Ski Trip


♦  Avoid driving time over 6 hours in one day. Unless you are planning to take the entire day for driving. Stops along the drive will always add more time than anticipated.

♦  Bring a copy of the itinerary on your trip. Include important numbers, addresses, and locations of camp spots.

♦  GasBuddy is a great app for comparing gas prices in each area.

♦  Maps.Me is a great app where you can download a map while having service. Once out of service you can still search directions between locations.

♦  If hitting multiple national parks, grab a national park pass.

♦  Buy groceries from supermarkets. These stores will have the best prices. Make sure to create a list before going to prevent forgetting any of the necessities. Last minute stops at gas stations and convenience stores will hit the budget.

♦  Free Parking Spots: Check out Bureau of Land Management areas, large retail chains such as Walmart, and rest areas.

♦  Throughout my trip around Colorado, I stayed at a variety of locations. Always make sure to check out signs or online to avoid getting tickets. Here are some spots I stayed at while touring the state:

♦  National Parks during the off-season. I stayed at a pull-off in Black Canyon and the Great Sand Dunes National Parks without any issues. Of course, going during prime season may provide more difficulty.

♦  End of a side road near public land in Crested Butte


The Challenge to Plan a Van Ski Trip


Winter can be a rewarding time to experience van life. Although, this time can be filled with numerous challenges. One can expect to have difficulty with finding parking, cold temperatures, drying clothing, travel conditions, and van set-up.

In winter, much of the free and cheap camping spots are on unplowed roads. Restricted access due to road conditions will limit parking opportunities. You must come prepared and get creative at times. Always do research in advance to prevent getting tickets or being towed. Rough road conditions should be expected in the winter. Continuously check the weather to travel at the best times. If unavoidable, plan to give yourself plenty of time. Keep in mind this can add a significant amount of travel time to your route.


Cold Temperatures, Wet Gear, and Indoor Cooking


Cold temperatures provide a unique challenge with using sinks, showering, drying clothes, and the cooking situation. The sink in the van will freeze, so always run the water out of the line before turning off the pump. And showering is even more challenging than with warmer weather. In the summer, you can take outdoor showers and swim in rivers. However, these options are not possible in the winter. Plan to make stops to shower and use wipes in between to stay fresh.

Drying wet winter gear is not an easy task living van life. You are unlikely able to just throw it outside in the sun like during the summer months. Personally, I try to hang everything as soon as getting back to the van. In addition, if I plan to drive, I will take small items and place them right next to the vents. If available, grab a van with a heater for not only warmth but for the ability to dry gear.

Rent a van with a solid indoor cooking set-up. You will 100% not regret this decision while chasing pow in the van. Healthy and delicious food is relatively easy with a nice set-up. These vans are usually more expensive but worth every dollar.


 At Sand DUnes National Park in Colorado on a van ski trip

The Conclusion: Is van life a considerable option for a ski trip?


Yes and no. I would highly recommend doing a van trip if you plan on going to multiple ski resorts, backcountry locations, and stopping by some beautiful national parks along the way. But if you plan to only hit one or two areas and stay in close proximity to popular ski towns, other options may suit your needs better.

If you do not mind roughing it a bit, a van is one of the best ways to explore the outdoors, especially in Colorado. A van is a perfect home to go between searching for powder, enjoying the charm of any mountain town, and taking an off day walking around a national park. A van can serve as a great home-base for any of your adventure plans.

However, if you do not love camping or plan to remain in just a handful of locations, I would suggest looking elsewhere. It will be a considerable challenge, if not impossible, to find places to park your van in ritzy mountain towns like Vail or Aspen. Therefore, if you are going to stay in ski towns like those, I would recommend against living in a van during your ski trip. I would rent a car or even just take a bus to the town and stay at an Airbnb.

Either way, I hope this has helped in your decision to plan a van ski trip!


7 Tips to Increase Your Hiking Stamina

7 Tips to Increase Your Hiking Stamina

Are you struggling to increase your hiking stamina? Creating a plan to train for hiking does not have to be a hard task. With the right steps, you can increase your hiking stamina in no time. Small, consistent actions throughout the year will make a huge difference. Preseason training will make all the difference to reaching your hiking, trekking, or mountaineering goals.

You must remain dedicated to your goals. It will take effort each and every day. The fitness level needed to complete certain hikes are dependent on the level of difficulty. A short and gradual hike will need far less training than if you plan to start climbing the highest peaks in the world. However, there are a group of simple techniques to start working towards reaching your hiking goals.

Yes, going out to hike more often will definitely help increase your stamina, but it is not always the most convenient. There are far more ways to plan for hiking. The days in between going out for a hike can be used to train in multiple other ways.


Creating a Plan to Train for Hiking


Heading out to go hike more often will improve your hiking capability. Although, to be successful it takes some training in between your outings. A short but consistent approach will help to keep a strong hiking stamina. Here are seven tips for improving your hiking endurance, strength, balance, and overall cardiovascular shape. These tips include everything from exercises to understanding the importance of fueling your body with the appropriate nutrition. Using a holistic approach will help for maximum success while out on the trail. 


1. Consistent, short intervals of training are most effective to increase hiking stamina.


How many times have you started a workout plan to only quit because it was too aggressive? Short and consistent is the key to prevent burn out. The first step is to set a training goal. However, the hardest part is yet to come. Sticking to a plan to train for hiking will be difficult once the initial motivation wears off.

The ability to stay dedicated over a long period of time takes a plan. Do not try to overdo it at first. Start slow and gradually build, as consistency over time will be the most effective way to building your hiking stamina.

It is far better to prevent feeling sore for days because you went too hard on day one. Start small and consistently add each week.


Yoga can provide many benefits while training for a hike.


2. Try a yoga routine 2-3 times per week.


Do you want to relax, become more flexible, or improve your breathing? Start doing yoga. The benefits from yoga will reduce the risk of injury and soreness while improving your athletic conditioning. A quick yoga routine will be beneficial when added to your training regimen, as a pre-hike warm-up, or during a post-hike cool down.

There are many simple yoga routines online to follow. Do not worry about being an expert, even basic moves can have a huge impact. Check out this list of 9 great yoga poses for hiking and adventure.


3. Stretching and dynamic warm-ups before all hiking and training.


Always warm-up your muscles. Use a foam roller or gentle pressure on tight areas before and after all exercise. Pressure helps to release tension, reduce injury, and create quicker recovery times.

Dynamic warm-ups are best for preparing the body for tough activity. Muscles and joints become stiff when at rest. Gradually start any activity with a quick warm-up. Movement reduces muscle stiffness and works a joint through its entire range of motion. It must be done before performing quick movements that have the potential to cause injury. In addition, stretching while in motion assists to replicate the movements you will experience when hiking or strength training. Try these active stretches: side shuffle, backpedal jog, and lunge walk with a twist.

Stretching after a hike decreases the chance of injury and soreness. The best way to reach your hiking goals is to prevent being sore for too long. Focus your stretching on the calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, and hip flexors. Additionally, stretching your back and shoulders will be huge if carrying a large backpack.


4. A strong hiker will benefit from strength training.


Train for hiking with the use of strength exercises. Hiking relies on strong leg and core muscles. On larger hikes, shoulders and your back play a much larger role in supporting heavy packs. The foundation of a muscular build will increase your hiking stamina, speed, and enjoyment. The last thing you want is to be too tired from a lack of strength to enjoy the beautiful views at the top.

It is recommended to start training 8 to 12 weeks prior to your hike, in some cases even longer depending on the difficulty. A minimum of two strength training workouts per week is necessary to build the proper muscles in your legs, core, shoulders, and back.

Compound exercises engage multiple muscle groups in one workout. These exercises will provide the most value in a short period of time. For hiking, the best workouts will be squats, dead-lifts, rows, presses, lunges, and step-ups. All workouts use the same movements as hiking. Make sure to focus on the form, not the weight. Strength and stability occur from the proper technique when performing these exercises.

Another crucial component is your core. Since you will be working on a strong back with rows and dead-lifts, you must also balance your torso out with a solid core. Do not skip abs. The core and lower back are responsible for originating movement in all other areas of the body. Planks, leg raises, and back extensions are perfect for working out the foundation of all movement and support.


Balance and coordination become important when trekking across ridgelines and loose rocks. These skills are useful with conserving energy to increase hiking stamina.


5. Balance and coordination improve hiking speed and stamina.


Creating a plan to train for hiking requires a portion of time to be spend working on your balance and coordination. Balance and coordination is needed when on narrow ridge lines, steep traverses, and jumping across rocks while crossing numerous streams. In addition to an increased hiking speed, you will reduce the risk of rolled ankles, knee pain, and falls while on uneven terrain.

You can improve your balance through yoga or strength training. One way to create better balance is to reduce imbalances between each of your legs. Single leg training prevents instabilities. You can try Bulgarian split squats, single leg Romanian dead lifts, and walking lunges for promoting equal strength in each leg.

If single leg workouts are not enough, you can also use bosu balls or other training equipment like slack lines to further strengthen balance. Slack lining is a line between two objects that one must balance on while walking across. In order to maintain balance you have to carefully shift your weight. You begin to pay more attention to the way you move around, along with building some solid ankle stability.


The importance of hydration for training and hiking.


6. The importance of proper hydration and nutrition to increase your hiking stamina.


All dedicated athletes know the importance of water and high-quality food sources to promote training results. The quality of training is directly influenced by the choice to fuel the body effectively. It all comes down to hydration and the right food choices. This goes for any time you are training, hiking, or resting.




The optimal amount of water per hour for a moderate hike is ½ a liter or 16 ounces. A hard hike requires even more, on average a full liter or 32 ounces of water per hour. It is important to drink enough water. However, avoid drinking too much at one time. You will want to keep your electrolyte levels consistent. Electrolyte supplements will add the right minerals, while also enhancing the flavor. This is a perfect solution if you are finding it difficult to keep up with drinking enough water.

Another tip to maintain the right amount of fluids is to use a hydration pack. Water will be easily accessible. The ability to drink without taking off your backpack will encourage you to drink more often while on the trail. No more excuses. A hydration pack cannot make drinking water any more convenient. The key to preventing dehydration is to drink before feeling thirsty.




Another important part of hiking performance is nutrition. Your body needs the right nutrients while training, hiking, and on rest days. Set out to supply your body with the right amount of calories, protein, carbohydrates, and fats. The consumption of proteins, slow digesting carbohydrates, and healthy fats will provide ongoing energy to your body. Avoid high sugars, as these spike your blood sugar. A spike may provide a short burst of energy, but it will be followed with a crash. The goal is steady energy. If you do need a quick pickup, I recommend using energy gummies throughout the day. Just make sure to use them sparingly. 


Rest is important when training to increase your hiking stamina. Taking a much need break between long days training to hike in the hot springs of the San Juan Mountains Colorado, USA


7. Make sure to rest when training for hiking.


An important part of training that is often overlooked is rest. Rest is a fundamental part of any training routine, as you need time to heal. Do not try to push too hard. In order to avoid burnout and quitting, you must listen to your body.

However, there is a big difference from being lazy and making time to rest. Avoid confusing the two. Listen to your body. When your body needs rest, you must listen to avoid injury and overworking yourself. In contrary, taking too much time off when not needed will impact your hiking goals. The key is to balance between taking rest when you need it and pushing yourself hard to increase your endurance. Remember, consistency over an extended period is much more valuable than pushing yourself too hard at one given time. Results take time, so plan ahead. Give yourself the necessary time to be in the right shape for whatever hike you are planning to do.

Check out REI for more information on how to increase your hiking stamina.

The Ultimate Guide to Backcountry Hiking

The Ultimate Guide to Backcountry Hiking

So, you are ready to leave the crowds behind? A guide to backcountry hiking will teach you how to make a plan, prepare, and head out on the trail for a successful trip. The work is worth your effort. You are setting out to create some of the most memorable outdoor experiences of your life. Take the time to educate yourself. The guide to the backcountry outlines the proper approach to staying safe while out in the backwoods. A foundation for any person who plans to spend time in the backcountry. This guide to backcountry hiking will provide insight to gear selection, layering, pre-trip planning, weather, and avoiding medical problems.


Start With the Backcountry Hiking Essentials


A guide to backcountry hiking calls for every single person who is entering the backcountry to have the ten essentials.In addition, make sure to prepare adequately for your attempted route. Check out 7 Tips to Increase Your Hiking Stamina for more tips.



The “10” Essentials in the Backcountry


1. Navigation
2. Insulation
3. Light
4. Sun Protection
5. First-Aid Kit
6. Fire
7. Emergency Kit
8. Shelter
9. Water
10. Nutrition



Navigate the Backcountry


Know how to use a map and compass? If the answer is no, stop. Do not head out into the backcountry before learning this skill. Don’t be a fool. Always plan ahead.

One must master direction. Every person heading into the woods must be able to use a map and compass. In addition, backpackers have the option to use GPS systems. However, the fundamental skills must never be overlooked. Technology fails, so always know how to use a traditional map and compass.

A map, compass, and GPS system will provide the highest level of safety. The advanced GPS systems allow for additional features. These features include tracking your route, advanced signalling, 2-way offline messaging, and enhanced location assistance for search and rescue during an emergency. Every minute counts. Make sure to set yourself up for the greatest chance of survival. Technology can be great, but never rely on it. Nothing beats the basics.

Methods of Heat Loss While on a Hike


A guide to backcountry hiking involves keeping crucial body heat when in exposed weather for hours. The body loses heat in four ways. Take note on each of the methods and ways to avoid them.

Conduction is the loss of heat through direct contact with another surface, such as wet clothing or the ground. Whenever possible, replace with dry clothing and avoid direct contact with the ground. Convection is the transfer of heat through the movement of air, such as with wind, thus the importance of a wind breaker layer. Invest in a quality shell. A shell should protect against wind and rain while being able to ventilate effectively.

Radiation is the movement of rays of heat from a warm object to a colder one, thus the reason hats and face masks are important to prevent heat loss. A warm head will lose heat to the cold air. And evaporation occurs when tiny droplets of water are converted into vapor. The creation of vapor results in heat loss. When sweat evaporates from the skin, it causes a cooling effect. In turn the body removes heat.



Bad weather should be expected when in the backcountry. Hypothermia is one of the leading causes of death in the mountains. Thus, proper clothing is vital to success. A guide to backcountry hiking includes using the right layers at the right times. Effective layering is one of the best ways to avoid hypothermia.

Layering allows the addition and removal of clothing. The addition, or removal, of one layer at a time keeps a stable temperature. Along with temperature, layers are easy to place in a backpack. Layers pack better than large bulky jackets. Thin and foldable. Large all in one coats do not perform well in the backcountry. Long uphills and exposed ridge lines create the need to constantly shift clothing throughout a hike.

The key to mastering the art of layering is timing. Each layer serves a purpose. A layer should be added or removed at the appropriate time. Make sure to have a merino wool layer at the base, an insulating mid-layer, and waterproof hard shell on the outside. All layers should be moisture wicking and able to vent effectively. Sweat can cause just as big of a problem as rain. Either way, wet clothing will cause heat loss.

Mountains have wild weather. A day can start warm and mild at the beginning, changing to cold and windy towards the summit. Extra clothing is crucial. When one layer becomes wet you have the option to change.

A Guide to Planning Your Backcountry Hiking Trip


A guide to backcountry hiking involves creating a plan. You can never plan too much. Be sure to research different routes, duration of the hike, locations of water sources, and alternate ways off the mountain if caught in bad weather. The terrain will influence the choice of gear as well. Always know the terrain.

When creating a plan consider the physical limitations and comfort level of each member within the party. Physical limitations include fitness level, altitude acclimatization, ability to trek on exposed terrain, and joint health. Make adjustments accordingly. Never try to push a member too far.

Once a plan is in place, make sure to check inventory. The right gear equals a safe trip into the backcountry. It is easy to forget vital pieces of equipment when in a rush. Create a list of all pieces of needed equipment. Frequently check all equipment to make sure everything is working. When packing, check off each item from the list. Organize your equipment in an efficient way. Thus, you will always know where each piece of gear is without having to unpack your entire backpack.

Even a seemingly easy day-hike can turn into a nightmare in a matter of minutes. Take the necessary steps before departure. Plan to leave a detailed note with family about the route, duration, and when they should expect to hear from you again. Provide enough detail so that search and rescue could find you in case of an emergency. You have to plan for the worst. If search and rescue can narrow their area, you have a much better chance of survival.

A guide to backcountry hiking. On Mt. Rainier, starting to climb up the Muir Snowfield. The weather changes quickly, as it was sunny on the bottom but completely clouded in half way to Camp Muir.

On Mt. Rainier, starting to climb up the Muir Snowfield. The weather changes quickly, as it was sunny on the bottom but completely clouded in half way to Camp Muir.


A Guide to Weather When Hiking


Weather is always changing. The forecast may call for clear skies, but in the split of a second can change to a thunderstorm with high winds. You must check the weather before heading out every single time. The best habit is to check the weather right before departure. Weather is constantly changing.

Since weather changes so frequent, it is a good habit to pay attention to environmental clues. Clouds can tell a lot about approaching conditions. Whenever possible try to take a good look at the nearing clouds. The formation and movement of clouds provide valuable information on upcoming weather. Stay attentive. Weather can be dangerous anytime of the year.

Check out this article, Backpacker Backcountry Weather, for more information on how to predict weather.

A Guide to Backcountry Hiking Medical Conditions


While out in the backcountry, weather has a large effect on overall safety. A guide to backcountry hiking includes learning how to analyze weather conditions before it becomes too late. Weather changes quickly out in the mountains. A lack of preparation can be the difference between life and death. The following information displays the effects weather can have on the body.



The body needs water. As a matter of fact, the average person needs at least 20% of their body weight in ounces of water per day. This calculation is done without any activity. With strenuous exercise, much more water is needed throughout the day.

Dehydration is when the body does not have enough water to function properly. When dehydrated, you can begin to experience tiredness, dizziness, and confusion. To avoid dehydration you should consume water on a regular basis. Make sure to drink even when not thirsty. The sign of thirst is already too late. Electrolytes, especially salt, help to retain body fluids and prevent muscle cramps.

Heat-Related Illnesses


There are times where the body needs to release too much heat. In these times, interventions must be done before the situation requires medical attention. Generally, you will experience in order muscle cramps, heat exhaustion, and finally heat stroke.

Muscle cramps occur when the body becomes challenged with intense heat for an extended period of time. The body’s salt and fluid levels are low. This situation is not dangerous; however, one must monitor electrolyte and hydration levels more effectively. Rest and consume water. In addition, electrolyte packets will replenish imbalances linked to cramps and help with fluid retention.

Heat exhaustion is when the body cannot cool. Too much exertion in warm temperatures can cause clammy skin, weakness, and nausea. Rest and hydrate. Allow the body some time to catch up. If near water, try to submerge to cool. Interventions are critical. This condition is to be taken serious, as it can easily become heat stroke.

Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition. When heat exhaustion is not treated properly, you become excessively overheated and cannot continue to produce sweat. At this point the body is unable to cool itself. A person could have dry skin, weakness, flushed face, and eventually become unresponsive. Seek help as soon as possible.



The most common killer in the backcountry. Hypothermia is the drop of the body’s core temperature. There are a number of ways to avoid with the proper plan.

Food and water are the best way to generate heat. In addition, muscular activity creates heat with the use of food energy. It is crucial to know clothing and shelter only conserve heat.

The body’s first reaction to cold is to shiver. Shivering causes isometric contractions in attempt to begin to produce heat. Although, shivering lowers the body’s level of energy. If energy levels are low, the body may stop shivering all together. This is a bad sign.

As the body constricts blood to the core, one may begin to experience mental cloudiness. The change of chemical components in the brain cause victims to see vivid hallucinations. As hypothermia becomes more severe, the body may periodically pump warm blood to the colder extremities. The movement of this warm blood causes a person to feel a sensation of heat. One may begin to remove clothing. It is important to keep as much warmth as possible. Always monitor the person. Believe the signs, not the person.

Prevention is key. At the first signs of hypothermia, turn around. Reaching the peak is not worth your life. Hypothermia can be avoided with layering, reducing exposure to wind and wet conditions, and stay hydrated.



Frostbite is the freezing of deep tissues. Cold air, altitude, and constriction of blood vessels lead to the problem. The best way to avoid is prevention. The use of non-restrictive clothing and keeping your extremities warm will prevent deep tissue injuries.

Once frostbite is present, your priority should be to get out of the cold. Do not rewarm until out of the cold. The back and forth from warm to cold does not help improve the outcome. In fact, rewarming a frostbitten area to only have the same area re-exposed will lead to further, irreversible damage.

UV Radiation


When in direct sunlight, cover all exposed areas of skin and your eyes whenever possible. The sun is strong. The sun and elevation have a direct relationship. As you climb in altitude, the sun increases in strength. Pay attention. It can take only minutes during the right conditions to cause harm.

Sunburns will happen quickly. The use of sunscreen and covering exposed skin with clothing can stop any serious effects. The key is to remember to cover all skin. The underside of your arms, chin, and nose can get burnt from the reflection of the light on the snow.

Snow blindness is when sunlight is reflected off the snow on the ground into the eyes. The proper eye wear is crucial for prevention. Sunglasses or goggles should always be worn in areas of direct sunlight when in high altitude. The light is intensified with the reflection off the white surface of the snow. Snow blindness can occur in as little as thirty minutes. The pain does not occur until after the damage has been done.


Sitting above Dingboche, Nepal at 14,469 ft. The effects of high altitude can be felt at this elevation, including headaches, nausea, and insomnia.

Sitting above Dingboche, Nepal at 14,469 ft. The effects of high altitude can be felt at this elevation, including headaches, nausea, and insomnia.

High-Altitude Sickness


Generally speaking, most individuals live at a low elevation. Problems with altitude can occur at as low as 5,000 feet. As you ascend, the level of oxygen decreases and it becomes more difficult for your body to perform. Altitude sickness is directly due to the low level of oxygen. The body is unable to adapt if pushed too quickly. In summary, the body will begin to slow all functions.

Typical symptoms include headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, and fatigue. These symptoms may increase in severity. A person may experience insomnia, vomiting, and unconsciousness. Life threatening conditions are high altitude cerebral edema (swelling of the brain) and high altitude pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs).

The gradual approach to altitude can prevent sickness. The body will likely adapt.  A general rule is to take a rest day after gaining 3,000 feet in elevation. A rest day allows for the body to adjust to the low levels of oxygen. While on the rest day, it is recommended to climb to a higher altitude before returning to a lower altitude to sleep.

In addition, start drinking extra fluids a few days before starting to climb. Ever person handles altitude differently. So, if it is your first time in high altitude just prepare to take your time. Slow and steady is the way, especially when you are unfamiliar with how your body adapts to changes in altitude.

Conclusion: A Guide to Backcountry Hiking


The number one rule to the backcountry is to stay safe. A series of tasks must be completed prior to leaving for your trip. The first is to have the proper knowledge, training, and gear. Those all save lives.

The next in order to have a successful trip is to check the weather forecast, familiarize yourself with the terrain, and create a detailed plan to leave with a family member. While on the trail you must eat nutritious foods and hydrate. Always be thinking ahead. Plan to eat before you are hungry and drink before you get thirsty. Monitor your body temperature. Plan to adjust layers before becoming too cold or hot. The key is to create a consistent temperature. Keep an eye out at the clouds in order to get out of a dangerous environment before severe weather.

If you keep planning ahead you will be much more likely to avoid emergencies. In conclusion, heading out into the backcountry is dangerous and takes work. Never take shortcuts. If you put in the work, you will definitely be rewarded. The backcountry is an awesome place to enjoy.

A great source for planning your first overnight hiking trip can be found at Adventure Junkies.