You can never have too many tips when it comes to living an outdoor life. Whether a short getaway or a long trek, travelling can be a bit stressful when it comes to the to-do list before heading out. Here are some helpful hacks that will make you happier in the outdoors, whatever your travel plans are.
1.) Mini hand sanitizer – Purell and other brands offer hand sanitizer available in a convenient 2oz snap top travel size. This provides an excellent way to clean and sanitize your hands or non-open wounds anywhere you happen to be. It is a great way to stop the spread of germs when you do not have access to an abundance of soap and water.
2.) Portable Solar Charger – Keeping your phone or other small electronic devices charged while travelling or in the backcountry can be a challenge. A small solar panel with an integrated USB port like the Renogy E.Flex will do just that. These are available in a number of sizes and capacities to meet your specific need. The smallest is a tiny 9.5″ x 5.9″ x 0.16″ and weighs only 6.7 oz. This small unit outputs nearly 1 amp of charge capacity over its single USB port. It has open corner loops which allow it to be securely attached to a wide variety of supports including backpacks or camelbacks so you can stay charged up on the trail.
3.) America the Beautiful Pass – Many US national parks have entrance fees for accessing the park. These fees are typically per vehicle and allow access for one week. If you plan to visit many parks, or the same park for more than a week consider getting the Interagency, or “America the Beautiful” pass. This pass is valid for entry into all the national parks for one year and at $80 it can save you a lot of money. Other options the National park service offers which are worth noting are the Annual 4th Grade Pass, Annual US Military Pass, and Access Pass. These are all free and give park access to vehicles with a 4th-grade student, active duty military personnel and their dependents, and US citizens or permanent US residence with permanent disabilities respectively. Senior citizens can also obtain an $ 80-lifetime pass, or an annual pass for just $20.
4.) Dispersed Camping – There are a number of free camping opportunities throughout the United States. National Forests, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), some wildlife management areas (WLM), some state forests and grasslands all offer areas where dispersed camping is permitted. The majority of these areas are limited to backcountry/tent style camping however RV’s of varying sizes are also allowed at many locations. Information on these sites can be found by contacting the designated ranger stations for the area of interest, or through the use of apps and websites like Campendium/Campendium.com and freecampsites.net.
5.) Lifestraw – Every traveller that spends much time outdoors should carry with them some basic survival gear just in case the unthinkable happens. Having a viable source of drinkable water is critical in an emergency. The Lifestraw is a small, inexpensive water filter designed to make water found from natural sources safe to drink. Lifestraw offers a number of options including direct use filters which can be carried in a small backpack compartment or pocket, filtered water bottles and larger pump type filtration units. The basic direct use filter is perfect to cover the needs of a single person in an emergency and should be part of every outdoor traveller’s emergency kit.
6.) Atlas Obscura – This is an amazing website and corresponding book for the outdoor traveller or adventurer. It provides a lengthy list of sites and attractions that are not your typical tourist attractions. The website offers many informative articles pertaining to sites all around the world and they have a handy “What’s Near Me” button right at the top of the home page that will give suggestions of sites in your immediate area: www.atlasobscura.com
7.) Cell Phone Survival – Your cell phone can be an invaluable tool as an outdoor traveller. There are a number of apps available for GPS location, trail maps and topology, compass and direction finding, and critical survival information including basic survival skills, first aid and even edible plant guides for your area. Even a damaged or inoperable phone can be useful as a signal mirror or fire starter in an emergency. If you plan on your phone being part of your survival kit, make sure you read #2 on this list so you can keep it charged in the field. Also, know what apps you are using require a cell connection for data and which do not. You do not want to rely on those apps in the field if you’ll be in an area with no cell reception. Also, many will allow you to preload data for a specific area ahead of time, so the data will be there when you need it even if the cell signal is not.
Well, there you go! Use these life hacks to help you not just get on the road quicker, but to truly enjoy your adventures. Happy Travels!