Camping can be great fun, but sometimes it’s way too much hassle to set up the tent and tend a campsite, especially at the end of the camping season. Hiking vacations can be an alternative to traditional camping, especially if you pick the right locations. If you’re not sure where to start, here’s what to do to plan an awesome hiking vacation that does not involve camping.
Pick Your Location for Your Hiking Vacation Strategically
The first thing to consider is your location. Ideally, for a hiking vacation, you’re going to want to find a location central to a lot of trails. That way you can settle into a cabin, hike a different trail every day, and return to the cabin to sleep at night rather than setting up a campsite.
Lots of sites have cabins set up for this specific purpose. Many national parks crisscross with trails, so they pick one central location and set up a bunch of easy-to-build cabins for day hikers to stay in for the week. They might be equipped with water and electricity, or they might be primitive cabins, so make sure you do your research before you book.
Pack Lightly for Your Hikes
One of the greatest perks of day hiking? You don’t have to pack a ton of extra gear or haul it every day. This is great for beginning hikers — it takes a while to build up the stamina to carry dozens of pounds of gear through the wilderness to your campsite. Anything you don’t need immediately can be left behind at your cabin.
You will want to bring a bag along the trail with you, but it doesn’t have to be heavy. Consider packing:
- Snacks — Dry, high-protein snacks like meat jerky, nuts, granola bars and dried fruit are a great way to get quick energy on the trail.
- Water — We’ll go into this in more detail in a moment.
- Small first aid or emergency kit — Even if you’re not far from your cabin, a tumble down a cliff or a rocky trail could leave you unable to get back. Make sure you prepare for any possibility.
You probably won’t need much more than that, though you might want to consider bringing along a camera or smartphone to take pictures of all of the amazing things you might see on the trail.
Don’t Forget Water
Water is going to be your very best friend when you’re out on the trail. Even if you’re on a safe and well-traveled trail, dehydration still presents a danger — especially if you hike in a warm or dry climate. Water can be heavy and bulky, but you want to make sure you have enough for your trip. You might need as much as 2 liters a day during your hike, to stay hydrated, but this can vary depending on your pace, your skill level and the terrain.
If you’re worried about carrying enough water, consider a camel pack, a flexible water pouch you can carry on your back beneath any bag you carry for your other supplies. If you’re hiking in an area with lots of natural water sources, consider a water filter. Make sure you get one that can filter bacteria as well as debris — even clean-looking water sources can harbor bacteria that can cut your trip short and make you ill.
Know Your Limits
If you’re just starting out as a hiker, take the time to learn your limits. You don’t want to exhaust yourself and be unable to get back to your cabin, and you don’t want to get back to your cabin so exhausted you don’t leave the cabin for the rest of the trip.
You know your own limits better than anyone. If you don’t feel comfortable with a trail, especially if you are hiking with friends or more experienced hikers, speak up. Don’t push yourself to your breaking point just because you’ve got friends who want to try a tougher trail.
Hiking vacations are a way to take in the great outdoors without all the stress of setting up a tent. Just make sure you have all your supplies in order and don’t skimp on your water, and you’ll be ready to explore all the trails around your cabin.
Scott Huntington is a writer from central Pennsylvania. He enjoys working on his home and garden with his wife and 2 kids. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington