Category: Blog

Trekking Off the Beaten Path: Vilcabamba to Machu Picchu

Posted By : Panchoi/ 1429

By Guest Blogger Burnham Arlidge

Machu Picchu, Peru, Mountain, Hiking, Off the beaten pathMost travelers worth their salt will eventually visit Machu Picchu – and for good reason – the ancient city is a truly incredible site.

The Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is practically a right of passage for most travellers and is now one of the most trekked routes on the planet, let alone South America.

Although the Inca Trail is the most notable trek to Machu Picchu, there are other less-trodden routes to the citadel such as the ‘Laras’ or ‘Salkantay’ which do not require the expensive permits that are mandatory on the Inca Trail.

Sick of the hundreds of tourists plaguing the Inca Trail, last October I decided to try one of these off the beaten track routes for myself. I decided upon the ‘Vilcabamba’ trek as I was reliably informed that this was one of the most remote treks available to Machu Picchu.

The Vilcabamba trek has a 5-day itinerary and sets off from Huancacalle – 8 hours drive from Cusco.

Trekking Off the Beaten Path to Machu Picchu

Day 1 – Hiking Vilcabamba

Although well-travelled, arriving in at Cusco still hit me fairly hard. With an altitude of 3,400 meters, Cusco had me gulping air for a few hours and taking numerous Paracetamol to quell my headache from altitude sickness. Before leaving on my trek I stayed in Cusco for several days to acclimatize my body to the altitude and would definitely recommend anyone else to do the same.

The tour transport left Cusco at 4 am (yes, you read that right – AM!) on its 8-hour drive towards Huancacalle. Although a guided tour with porters and mules is not technically essential, unless you’re Bear Grylls, the reality is you’re going to get lost out there. There are no signposts and numerous routes crisscrossing everywhere through the mountains, not to mention the exhaustion of carrying your bags and equipment over 3 passes!

The drive took us down into the Sacred Valley and then up and over the Abra Malaga pass, giving us some great views of Mount Veronica. The long and windy journey left me thanking the heavens I wasn’t the motion sickness type! The well-known ‘Jungle’ route to Machu Picchu descends down the Abra Malaga pass and is the only section on any route to the city that can be done on a mountain bike – although, as our guide informed us, the track is both fast and dangerous!

Machu Picchu, Peru, Mountain, Hiking, Off the beaten path, Mount Veronica, Abra Malaga pass

We arrived in Huancacalle early afternoon and were given the option to hike a couple of hours to see several lesser-known Incan sites which we accepted readily. Both sites, the Vitcos-Rosaspata and the Ñustahispana (The White Rock) were an easy hike away and both fascinating in their own way, especially Ñustahispana as it is an unfinished Inca site, thereby giving its viewers a slight insight to their ancient building techniques.

Machu Picchu, Peru, Mountain, Hiking, Off the beaten path, Inca, Incan Ruins

We stayed that night at a small hostel at the end of Huancacalle town, relishing the plain, but perfectly adequate sleeping quarters with their home-spun Peruvian blankets.

Day 2 – Climbing Asuntina Pass

After a simple breakfast supplied by our guide, we began the 5 hours uphill climb over the Asuntina pass that, when finally crested, offered incredible views of the valley below with its winding river and rich green meadows.

If you do a trek in this region then watch out for the small black flies! I was bitten nearly 20 times all over my hands and these things hurt! The sting is painful, deep and itchy and the pain lasts over 2 months – not pleasant!

It was a tough first day of trekking as we then descended down into the village of Pillaukasa wending our way along an original Inca trail. I was glad for the low temperatures and cloud cover as the 11 hours it took us was not easy going, although our team of mules and porters looked, much to my jealous annoyance, as if they had just had walked 10 minutes up the road.

Machu Picchu, Peru, Mountain, Hiking, Off the beaten path, Mules, Creek, River, Cross,

That evening we arrived at a remote dwelling, the first we had seen since leaving Huancacalle, and set up camp a few hundred yards from the stone house. So far, on our 11-hour hike, we had not encountered a single person – a total and welcome contrast to that of the Classic Inca Trail!

Incredibly, our guide informed us that the stone dwelling belonged to a local farmer and his family who were totally subsistent, living off the land around them.

Machu Picchu, Peru, Mountain, Hiking, Off the beaten path, Camping, Stone House, Farm

Day 3

Day 3 turned out to be the hardest of the trek as we had to traverse 3 high passes! The first pass was Yanacocha (4,400m above sea level) which gave us great views of Yanacocha Lake far below. We then descended to the lake before re-ascending up the Tullu Tacanca pass (4,500m) where it started to become fairly muddy. At this altitude, I was huffing and puffing as my body struggled against the lack of oxygen.

Machu Picchu, Peru, Mountain, Hiking, Off the beaten path

Although very tired at this point, the third pass – Abra Mujun was slightly easier and we quickly descended to our next camp site at Mtuypata. All 3 passes had offered stunning views and the landscape had a feeling of stark wilderness, making the days exhausting trek well worth the effort. My 4 season’s sleeping bag had never felt so good and I was glad for the extra down as the temperature at night got to the freezing point.

Mercifully, from this point, the trek became easier.

Day 4 – Descending into the Village of Yanatile

Day 4 began with an easy 4-hour descent into the village of Yanatile. Sadly, roadworks on a new road between the Hydroelectric Station and Yanatile interrupted the trail slightly and are set to continue through 2015. This was offset though by the beautiful jungle scenery that characterized the first section of the walk to Yanatile which eventually turned into fruit and coffee plantations as we neared the village. From Yanatile we drove to the Hydroelectric Station for lunch before trekking a further 2 hours to the town of Aguas Calientes.

Arriving in town our guide quickly checked us into the local hostel and suggested we take a swim in Aguas Calientes’s famous hot springs. Although fairly busy, the springs were a great way to relax from the journey and I would recommend it to anyone staying in Aguas Calientes. If you feel anything like I did after arriving, you’ll want to sit in those springs all evening!

Day 5 – Arriving at Machu Picchu

The final day we were up and out before dawn taking the first bus to Machu Picchu to witness the sun ascending over the ancient city. Our guide took us to a point known as Watchman’s Hut where we all stood and witnessed the amazing vista before descending into the city itself.

Machu Picchu, Peru, Mountain, Hiking, Off the beaten pathWe arrived in Machu Picchu well before the tourist hordes, giving us a couple of hours to wander the site in peace and tranquillity – perfect. After exploring the ancient site we then took the bus back to Aguas Calientes and from there a train back to Cusco.

The whole experience was one of sheer remoteness and wild beauty. I would highly recommend the Vilcabamba trek to anyone wishing to get off the beaten path, avoid the permits and, most importantly, avoid the tourists! It’s certainly tough in some sections, but the final destination, incredible vistas and wild landscape you trek through are definitely worth the effort for any intrepid traveler.


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What Does the Future Behold for Travelers?

Posted By : Panchoi/ 856

It’s quite interesting to think of what the future can behold for travelers.

What kind of new gadgets will be invented, renovated, or upgraded? What will people consider when planning their next vacation abroad?

As it so happens, in a recent survey Americans were asked to predict what the travel experience could look like by the year 2030.

From unique travel experiences to putting the real in virtual reality, the top predictions reveal some unique surprises.

What will the future have in store for travelers?

Did you know that about 71% of travelers who participated in the survey agree that Americans will choose “eco-travel” destinations for vacations?

Gibbon Experience Laos Tree Monkey Primate Monkey Eco-friendly travel

This doesn’t surprise me.  With the rise of global warming and the awareness for change in our daily lives, the new generation of millennial travelers recognizes the need to protect our local environment.  If we fail to protect the fragile ecosystems around us, going on adventures such as the Gibbon Experience or treks through the Costa Rican rainforest could come to a screeching halt.

And a taking experience like this could change altogether in the future as well.

Nearly half (47%) of all travelers who took this survey believe personalized mobile travel guides will become available in the future.  Can you picture that?  You’re essentially going on a self-guided tour with your phone or iPad in hand as a guide.

This could drastically improve (or decrease) the experience, depending on your outlook of the changes and how it’s implemented.

Fancy sleeping with the fishes?

Among travel experiences of the future, 40% think underwater hotels might become more of a reality in the next 15 years.  In fact, this is already a possibility for people who have the checkbook to do so.

For a mere $1,500 a night, India will soon be surfacing a resort that allows you to sleep, essentially, in a giant bubble surrounded by a coral reef!

If you happen to be planning a trip in the future, you may want to do so by using a specific credit card that offers good perks including reward points on all purchases, accumulate free night stays, and more to help you get the most out of your travel.


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3 Best Luxury Adventure Safari Destinations in Africa

Posted By : Panchoi/ 738

Africa is naturally home to some of the most incredible wildlife on earth, and an increasingly popular place for luxury adventure safari destinations. Come with me as I revamp my top 5 safaris to visit in Africa and show you which among those destinations will give you a truly luxurious experience, while still taking you to the heart of Africa.

Luxury Adventure Safari Destinations

The Kruger National Park

3 Best Luxury Adventure Safari Destinations in Africa

The Kruger Park is world renowned for its abundance of wildlife, the Big 5 in particular. If you are unfamiliar with this term, it refers to the Big 5 animals, historically the most difficult to track or hunt. These animals are the elephant, lion, rhino, leopard and buffalo. In addition, Kruger Park is home to over 140 other species of large mammal, more than anywhere else on earth.

The Kruger Park however is more than just world-class wildlife, it boasts some of the finest luxury accommodation on the planet, with lodges like Royal Malewane frequently ranked in the top 50 worldwide. The Kruger Park is easily accessible by road or air and located in the north of South Africa.

The Serengeti in Tanzania

3 Best Luxury Adventure Safari Destinations in Africa

The Serengeti is often featured on National Geographic documentaries and is the home of the Great Animal Migration. This yearly migration sees over 2 million animals moving in a circular pattern through the Serengeti, in search of better grazing grounds. This massive movement of animals comprises mainly of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle on the herbivore side, but attracts many predators like lion, hyena and crocodile, waiting in the rivers for their next meal.

This magnificent wildlife spectacle is a must-see on any wildlife lovers bucket list – right up there with the wildlife located in Everglades National Park, and there are many luxury lodges catering to the demand to view nature in its purest form with expert guiding teams that will have you hot on the trail of those photographic opportunities in such high demand.

Okavango Delta in Botswana

3 Best Luxury Adventure Safari Destinations in Africa

The Okavango Delta is a true luxury adventure safari destination and easily accessible by light aircraft. The many waterways and channels in the Delta attract a large variety of wildlife and birdlife. The superb 5-star lodges featured throughout the Delta offer unique experiences like a Mokoro safari.

If you haven’t experience a Mokoro safari, this is something you must add to your neverending bucket list! A Mokoro is basically a traditional dug out canoe which allows guests to come up close and personal to animals as they come down to quench their thirst in the water. However, you must be extremely careful to avoid the many hippos in the waters.

If this is something you’re interested in experiencing, it may well be worth your time to check out the blog written over at Luxury African Safaris. They do a good job explaining how much a luxury safari in the Okvango Delta will set you back as well as more detailed information regarding some of the best lodges, including different accommodation and safari styles that are available.


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How to Plan an Adventure & Luxury Vacation in a Single Trip

Posted By : Panchoi/ 1950

Some people may want rest and relaxation when they’re figuring out how to plan an adventure. Meanwhile, others figure that if you’re going to be planning an epic adventure and travel half way across the world, you’d better do something simply amazing and mind blowing that you couldn’t do at home.

It’s quite evident that vacations can actually be a pretty divisive topic when it comes to planning an adventure and luxury vacation.

You might be torn between spending a lazy day out on the deck chair of a cruise ship sipping a cocktail and mustering up the energy to immerse yourself in the local culture, take in the landscapes, or challenge yourself with some new experience like hiking up the side of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

These are both fine ways to enjoy your vacation, all depending on what you want, but there’s nothing to stop you from having a balance of both adventure and luxury on vacation. The real question is how.

Adventure and luxury on vacation

Planning an epic adventure

How to plan an adventure

The temptation to just put your feet up and stick to the few streets you got to know on the first day is all the stronger if you don’t actually know what kinds of activities there are at your destination. Likewise, if you just follow every lead and whim that you find yourself with, you might end up having no downtime at all during your trip, let alone get the chance to get to know some of the locals.

This is why knowing what you want to do ahead of time, at least to some extent, is important. You can research this and put together an itinerary yourself, but this is pretty time-consuming (although I have to admit, half the fun of going on a new adventure). Fortunately, you can find holidays that blend adventure and luxury in the form of prearranged package trips from places like Exsus Travel or other travel operators.

Journeying from city to city by boat across Croatia is always a fun luxury and adventure, but doing so with a pre-booked bed and breakfast waiting for you, while seeing some of the most iconic landmarks in places like India between stays at elegant historic hotels is where the best of it is at.

Choose locations wisely

adventure and luxury destination planning

If you prefer to stay centralized in one place during your trips, you’ll want to be selective about your destination. What you really want is a place that sits on some kind of border—between sparkling unspoiled beaches like those in the Hawaiian islands and the pounding music of the urban nightlife, between verdant wilderness and fascinating cultural capitals.

Tropical destinations are often great for this. Hotels on the waterfront often mean that zip lining and scuba diving are within mere minutes of a relaxing soak or simply sunbathing. Chiang Mai in northern Thailand is another great destination, with a simple bus ride being all that lies between bustling urban centers and a long hike through an untouched natural landscape teeming with life up to a traditional inn complete with a hot spring and ping pong tables.

Pack everything in one backpack

Travel with one backpack on your luxury and adventure trip

When it comes to traveling, I like to think I’ve mastered the art of traveling out of one backpack. I usually fit everything I need into my 30-liter backpack; and yes, that include my digital equipment. To get the most out of your next adventure and luxury vacation, do your best to consolidate down to as little as possible.

Carry limited amounts of clothing, camera gear, toiletries, or anything else you find you may need. Need some help trying to figure out what I think are the bare essentials? Take a look at what I carry in my backpack, then take what you need and try to pack them up using my backpacker tips that’ll save you room in your backpack.

Travel with an open mind

Planning for adventure and luxury on vacation

At the end of the day, what matters most is that you plan your epic adventure, step out the front door, and make the most of your next experience traveling. Whether it be a vacation domestic or abroad, traveling with an open mind to get that perfect adventure and luxury experience is what’s going to make your trip the best.

Of course, as long as you think ahead, getting both adventure and luxury out of your holiday is well within reach. All it takes is a little intuition, some research and planning a trip to a vacation destination you’ve always wanted to go to.


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Travel: A Great Way to Reduce Stress

Posted By : Panchoi/ 713

If asked what they look forward to most about travel and vacation, a majority of people would probably say something along the lines of “getting away from it all.”

When pushed further, most would probably go on to talk about how vacation is a way to escape from the stresses of everyday life.

Although some stress can be good for you and help motivate you to meet certain deadlines, prolonged chronic stress can be harmful to your body. The impacts of stress on health can include weight gain, insomnia, weaker immune systems and more.

While there is no disputing the power of travel as a way to relieve stress, there are other ways you can manage your stress when you’re not relaxing on a beach or exploring a new country.

Here are a few other tips to help you manage stress wherever you are:

Travel a Great Stress Reliever

1. Regular exercise

Top 5 Ways to Save Money on a Ski Vacation

Regular weekly exercise can help you manage stress and reducing the adverse impacts on your health. As times goes on, the increased activity levels can also help regulate sleep patterns as well as provide the brain with a healthy supply of endorphins, both of which will help contribute to reducing stress levels.

Need some ideas on outdoor activities? Take a look at my adventures snowboarding in Snowmass Colorado or sandboarding in Colorado Sand Dunes National Park.

2. Cook or Try a New Type of Food

reduce stress cook food

Finding a hobby you love such as cooking can be a great stress reducer. When you spend time on things you love doing, you give yourself a chance to rejuvenate and reconnect with you. Cooking is an easy hobby to pick up and doesn’t have to mean that you spend hours in the kitchen cooking. Try a delicious mix for an easier version of your favorites.

Great reads: Exploring the Night Market in Chiang Mai Thailand and Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone: Bizarre World Cuisine.

For fall and winter use a cornbread mix to whip up a quick side for your favorite chili. And don’t forget about dessert! Other hobbies to help you relieve stress can be playing a musical instrument, painting, crafting and more. Of course, you can never go wrong with throwing some food on the grill for a delicious barbeque!

3. Daily joy and create happiness

How often do you laugh? Are there things in your life that provide happiness and joy on a daily basis, such as a beloved pet, an appreciation for music, a significant other, etc? Genuine joy is crucial to proper stress management, and what’s more, it needs to be part of your daily life.

Find what makes you laugh and work it into your routine. Whether it’s planning your next adventure luxury vacation, taking some time to go backpacking or camping in the backcountry, or going extreme by taking a cruise to the Caribbean Islands, a good experience may be just what you need to put some pep in your step!

4. Emotional endurance

Effectively managing stress requires emotional endurance – the ability to keep your wits and stay strong during difficult circumstances. Everyone has to develop their own method of properly managing their emotions in the face of truly unwelcome situations. Even for those of us who tend to do stressful activities like traveling on a daily basis (have you heard about how I helped a local give birth to a baby in Laos??). In short, life can get overwhelming VERY quickly. 

Sometimes it’s important to take a step back mentally and try and put things in perspective. Focus on positive thoughts. As long as your life or the life of someone else is not in imminent danger, how bad can it really be? Again, the path towards emotional endurance is one we all take alone, but it’s a path that must be taken if stress is to be successfully managed over the long-term.

Managing stress starts at home and work, and occurs during the majority of the year when you aren’t relaxing on a sunny beach somewhere. Besides, if you’re able to successfully manage stress when you aren’t on vacation, just imagine how great your next trip will be going forward!


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Hiking in el Caminito del Rey Path

Posted By : Panchoi/ 1139

The Caminito Del Rey has recently been reformed. It is also known as El Camino del Rey, and it’s reopening has been among the most anticipated events of the year.

The new pathway has been talked about across the world and is known as one of the most popular activities.

There is no shortage of impressive hotels in Malaga that provide tourists a comfortable and memorable experience when visiting this magical location.

But once you book your stay and get your itinerary filled with adventures, why should you pick to explore the exhilarating path of el Caminito del Rey?

Caminito del Rey

History of el Camino del Rey

Hiking el camino del rey

There are several facts that you should know about it before hiking el Caminito del Rey, for both your own curiosity, knowledge and to ensure safety as well. The Caminito del Rey officially opened on March 28th, 2015. It was built originally between the years of 1901 and 1905, for the purpose of transporting both materials and people between two separate power stations, which were built on both sides of the EI Chorro gorge.

Only in the early 1920’s was it given the name King Alfonso when it officially opened. The name was given because this King walked its entire length. Since then, the Camino has become one of the many wonders of Spain.

el Camino del Rey trail

The El Chorro Gorge is an incredible place, with huge walls made from rock that are as high as 400m. The actual length of it is 3km. The term El Chorro can be translated to spurt, which is just what the water did when it traveled through the narrow ravine of the gorge.  The height difference between the two reservoirs at both ends provide a special chance to create hydroelectric energy, which was at the time could be understood as a revolutionary concept.

Other than the electrical creation, the concrete catwalk always makes for an impressive attraction and goes along the gorge. The structure was originally built by sailors who used to climb ropes and work while being suspended above a void. Some reports, although the unconfirmed claim that prisoners were summoned to carry out some of the most dangerous tasks here.

El Camino del Rey Path

Caminito del Rey Hiking

The path was built from cement and sand but has been held together by the help of metal brackets. An iron railing was also set up this simple path. In 2000, the Caminito fell into disrepair and closed after several people died due to its unsafe setup.

This danger began to create legends and attracted those looking for some serious adventure to come from across the world, with many believing it to be the world’s most dangerous pathway. But this was before the reforms of 2013 began.

el Caminito del Rey deaths

Talks of reforming Camino went on for years, but finally, in 2013 these plans came into action with a combined investment from both the city of Malaga and the local authorities, who shared the €5.5m that it cost to renovate. €2.2m has been used for the construction of the actual site, while the rest has been used for other services on the grounds. 

The site has made it their goal to be one of the largest and most promising attractions in Spain.

Related reads: Explore our Budget Escapades in Lively Alicante Spain, a Travel Blogger’s Guide to Barcelona, or the Top 3 Festivals in Spain You Just Can’t Miss.

El Caminito del Rey Tickets

El camino del rey hike

In order to obtain el Caminito del Rey tickets, they must be ordered online on the official website. The entrance was free for the first six months after opening, however, once that period ended the entrance fee is €10 per visitor, a pretty minimal cost for such an experience in my humble opinion. Guided tours are also available upon request.

caminito del rey chorro gorge

Only up to four hundred people are allowed into the Caminito at one time, and a maximum of 1,100 people daily are permitted to walk through.  

The total distance to walk or hike through the new Caminito del Rey site is 7.7km, with a breathtaking trail from Ardales located in the north all the way to southern Alora.  

The route follows the river stream and takes approximately 4 hours, depending on your speed and how many breaks you teak. The route begins right off of the MA-444 access road, located right next to the Ardales lakes. There are various ways to reach the start at the Caminito from there.

caminito del rey

If you are thinking of doing this hike, there are certain things that you need to keep in mind. If you suffer from vertigo or are a highly anxious person, the trail probably should not be attempted. 

Upon entry, you will be given a helmet and it must be worn at all times. Throughout the entire route, there are no restrooms so you will have to come prepared. It is important to also bring food and water with you.  Children must be over the age of 8 years old and need to accompanied by an adult.

el camino del rey hiking trail

When the winds are over 35km/h, the sites close down for your safety. The walk in is linear and goes from north to south. There is a bus service that connects the two sides and leaves every half hour. As much as the path might sound intimidating, it is seriously a once in a lifetime experience and one that you will not want miss.

What do you think of the el Camino del Rey path? Would you attempt hiking el Caminito del Rey?


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20 Packing Essentials for America’s National Parks

Posted By : Panchoi/ 644

You’ve every reason for wanting to visit any one of America’s National Parks on a road trip. From the awe-inspiring landscapes of Yosemite to the purism that Glacier National Park bring, and so, so much more, these locations are diverse and all have their own undeniable highlights for people to experience.

If you are staying in the National Parks, you’ll want to be prepared. This is where our guide on 20 national parks packing essentials comes in to help you enjoy your stay without any worry that you’re unprepared or left wanting. This means you can enjoy your stay to the fullest!

Here goes…

What to Pack for National Parks Road Trip

1) Tent

Starting off with the easy one for what to pack for a national parks road trip; a tent. You’ll want to ensure that your tent is a high-quality version and has a good rain fly that can be removed when the weather becomes fairer because we’re guessing that you will be wanting to bask in those enticing clear, starry night skies that will pleasantly soothe you to sleep.

A top tent tip is to buy a bigger version. For example, if you’re going as a four, take a six-man tent with you. You’ll appreciate the additional space when storing all of your belongings, and will be sleeping in less-compact conditions, too. what’s more, you won’t notice the weight difference while you’re walking either.

2) Sleeping bag

national parks road trip sleeping bag

It’s advisable to do some background research on the average night-time temperatures you can expect to experience in the location you are staying and take a sleeping bag that will suit the conditions.

You don’t want to be shivering on your mattress all night, but you also do not want to be unable to sleep because you’re overheating in your Arctic-ready sleeping bag either!

3) Fire-starting apparatus

usa national parks road trip

Fires are very handy for a broad range of reasons when camping, so you will need to be able to get one going in every type of weather circumstance.

If you head to a location where wet weather is renowned, then sourcing dry kindling that will enable your campfire to get going will become tricky. As such, you should pack a fire starter so that you can sit and indulge in the warmth of a campfire at night. You can use it to cook on too if you want to.

4) LED lantern

road trip usa national parks what to pack

While you are observing in amazement at the dark night sky, making everlasting memories, it’s important for you to be able to see what you are doing once the sun goes down. Therefore, you will want a handy LED lantern.

The classic kerosene lanterns are okay, but it’s not quite as effective as the LED versions. What’s more, kerosene is risky is you take it inside the tent due to the fire risk. The modern LED battery lanterns are energy efficient, you can use solar options too, and they will undoubtedly provide you with plenty of night-time lighting on a single battery charge for your entire trip.

5) Maps

national parks packing essentials

Can you think of anything worse than arriving at the beginning of a day’s hike only to realize that the complimentary maps that can often be left at the trailhead by the National Park Service have all been taken?

You should be looking to get to the trailhead the day before you set off on your walk so that you can acquire a map.

6) Download the best apps for your trip

usa national parks packing essentials

Alternatively, you can plan even further ahead and download some app that will assist you on your exploration of the national parks.

Some of the highly-recommended apps recommended are:

  •     Gaia GPS: Ideal for planning and navigating your backwoods hikes, and also features National Geographic’s authoritative maps of the National Parks.
  •     Strava: Great for tracking your runs and hikes.
  •     Weather Channel: Perfect to have an idea of what the weather might be doing throughout the day.

We’d advise having the classic map as a backup, in case the tech fails on your for some reason; having National Geographic’s Guide to National Parks of the United States is a reliable choice.

7) A quality backpack

road trip usa national parks

Most seasoned hikers will know that a quality backpack is a must. It should have the ability to carry plenty of water, snacks, your camera and extra kit, along with some additional essentials that you like to pack on your treks.

For day hikers, a reasonably small backpack will suffice, but if you’re on an extended hike, however, a larger litre backpack that has the capability to carry your tent, sleeping bag, and the rest of your gear will be essential.

8) Photo equipment

national park road trip essentials

Speaking of camera equipment, if you’re going to capture unforgettable moments then you will need your kit with you, or you won’t be able to look back on what you’ve experienced.

The good thing about today’s smartphones is that the cameras can be really good quality, but if you want to go one step further, then it’s well worth making sure you have your camera with you to really capture the best images you can.

9) Memory cards

what to pack for national parks road trip

If you’re going to be taking all of these pictures, then you will want something to store them on. Don’t get caught out and run out of memory; carry several cards with you, after all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

10) Batteries


The same goes here for batteries as memory cards. Make sure that you have a small selection of different sized batteries, particularly spares for your cameras.

11) Broken-in trainers or hiking boots

national parks road trip essentials

The last thing you want to do is turn up for a holiday adventure around the national park to find that your footwear is causing you to develop blisters and discomfort.

You should be looking to break your boots or trainers in before you go away by walking around the house in them or going for shorter walks near your home, for example.

12) Sunscreen

20 Packing Essentials for America's National Parks

An absolute essential is having sun lotion with you on your trip. Even in overcast conditions, you are at risk of damaging your skin, which can have serious health risks, so be prepared and take sun cream/spray with you.

13) National park passport

road trip in national parks

This handy, functional ‘passport’, provides visitors with color-coded regional maps, need-to-know information about the 400+ parks, and an official NPS interpretive map that you can refer to.

Want to see some of our must-visit stops along your National Parks road trip? See below:

14) Large water bottle

national park usa road trip

Essential to stave off the dangers of becoming dehydrated, a large water bottle, which can be carried in your bag is a must. There’s no feeling quite like quenching your thirst during a long hike!

15) Pick the correct clothes

what to pack for national parks road trip

When it comes to clothing, opt for quick-dry, lightweight clothes. Consider long-sleeve shirts to help beat the heat.

Trousers with a zip-off option at the bottom will protect your legs when needed and can convert to shorts if needed.

Layers are important, so think about wearing lighter layers instead of one thick one as you can always remove them and put them back on depending on the conditions.

16) Pack for rain

Being prepared is, without a doubt, paramount to ensure you get the most from your trip. This includes making sure you have the right clothes with you in the eventuality that it rains.

17) Carry cash

pack extra cash for road trip

The majority of parks come with an entrance fee as standard, so you will need money to cover this. You may want also want to purchase a souvenir or two for family and friends or pick up some essential supplies.

So, with that said, don’t forget to carry some money with you on your trip.

18) First Aid Kit

first aid kit

Always remember to pack a basic first aid kit. This is a staple for your trip and you definitely should not set off without on with you. Packing standard dressing items such as bandages, antibacterial ointments and gauze, along with standard platers and blister plasters are things are good to bear in mind.

19) A bear bag (if necessary)

If you’re in bear country, a bear bag is essential. There are two types of bear bags. The first is similar to a bear canister which is made from Kevlar and wire mesh with a metal insert to prevent crushing, while a bear bag is similar to this and does the same job; protect your food on backpacking trips and prevent bears from becoming accustomed to eating human food.

20) A water filter

national park road trip essentials water bottle

A water filter will come in useful if you are hiking and camping in the backcountry. A water filter turns water that can potentially contain dirt, minerals, chemicals and other impurities that make it smell and taste bad into safe drinking water.

Remember, some of the contaminants we’ve mentioned can endanger your health, so make sure you use the filter unless you have enough bottled water with you as part of your national park road trip essentials.


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The Best Weekend Road Trips From Denver

Posted By : Panchoi/ 706

f you are one of the nearly 700,000 people who live in Denver, it may just feel like a good place to live. You have beautiful surroundings, top of the line shopping, and there is something to do year round. But what people don’t realize is the easy accessibility to short weekend road trips from Denver.

The homes are lovely and the school systems rank highly. Another attraction, Medical care, is readily available with doctors, hospitals, and every kind of specialist you need is at your disposal.

For example, you can find the best physical therapists in Denver or visit many of the medicinal marijuana dispensaries to take care of your every need. Denver makes everything easily accessible – whether or not an expert is needed.

If you ask someone who lives here, what the draw to Denver is, you will probably hear skiing, hiking, fishing, and they could go on and on. But the locals know this is just the tip of the iceberg. What visitors fail to understand is there are fantastic weekend road trips from Denver.

You will have a completely unique experience visiting cities, 8 hours from Denver. Take a look at our favorite Denver road trips below!

Weekend Road Trips from Denver

We are going to list our opinions of the best road trip out of Denver, but we encourage you to do your own research. You will notice we have added a few locations much closer than 8 hours away. This is to show that even if you only have an extra day to set out on an adventure, You still have many options.

8-hour road trips from Denver

Steamboat Springs

8 hour road trips from denver

Steamboat Springs is only about 156 miles from Denver. While it doesn’t exactly fit in our 8 hours away point, it is worth mentioning.

Steamboat Springs has family and private ski lodges. Steamboat Springs is known for their natural hot springs with soaking pools as well as pools with slides. This city features mountain and wall climbing,  There are bike parks, gondola rides, mini-golf, and a whole lot more.

Places to eat in Steamboat Springs:

There are dozens of restaurants to select from and the majority are vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free friendly. My favorites are:

  • I Egg & I Restaurant for breakfast
  • Johnny B. Goods for lunch or dinner
  • Winona’s for a great lunch and upper-level family meal
  • Cafe Diva’s is the place to go for an elegant dinner and fine dining.

Road trip to Aspen, Colorado

Aspen colorado maroon bells

Aspen is only 158.5 miles from Denver, but it is a year-round destination. It is a ski resort in the winter and a wicked mountain town in the Summer. You have a very good chance of seeing a celebrity or two since several own vacation homes there.

Aspen has the best high-end shopping in the area. If you are looking for class and elegance, then this is the best road trip out of Denver, for sure. Learn more about this famous city with some of my posts below:

Places to eat in Aspen:

Aspen caters to the rich and famous. This means there are great places to ship and excellent restaurants, with excellent service. But, let’s not forget the celebrities that are in Aspen are vacationing. They want to wear their jeans and let their hair down.

This is where they want rest, relaxation and recovery. So, even though Aspen is fit for a king, if you see one, he will probably be kicked back with a beer in front of a roaring fire. Aspen has the most beautiful mountain areas in the world. You will be able to get from place to place via ski lift. There are more than 150 miles of trails and Snowmass is a mountain that has been a skiers dream site since 1947.

  • Hickory House They also have great lunch and dinner. Good atmosphere
  • Poppycocks Actually, Poppycocks is famous for their breakfast, brunch, and lunch. It is a tiny place and always packed so get there early – It’s worth it.
  • The Red Onion You simply must eat at The Red Onion. This establishment was built in 1892. It is still as good now as it was then. This is good food, moderately priced, eaten in a historical landmark.

You said 8-hour day trips!

Yes, we did. The above-mentioned towns were just too good to pass up. So let’s head 8 hours away from Denver. There is no bad time to go. This beautiful and sunny area is a year-round playground.

Road trip to Salt Lake City, Utah

best road trip out of Denver 8 hour

The first adventure that we recommend is Salt Lake City, Utah. Salt Lake is 8-hours by car from Denver. Along the way, you will see some fantastic scenery including the infamous Arches National Park. It is almost like crossing into another country instead of another state.

You will notice a lot of tour companies in Salt Lake. This is because there is so much to see, you can rarely see everything from just one tour. For the mild at heart, there are museums, art galleries, historical sites, and first-class shopping. If you are a bit bolder than that, try a river rafting tour. There is one river rafting excursion that lasts ½ a day! If that doesn’t get your adrenaline pumping, stick around for an after dark Ghost Tour.

Places to eat in Salt Lake City

A quick search online can bring up pages of restaurants. If you are watching your money, there are plenty of fast food places that are actually good. If money is no object, you will find the finest restaurants, with famous chefs. But we are going to give you our favorite middle of the road restaurant. These are family-friendly places that will not break the bank.

  • Bruges Waffles & Frites – Great waffles, Belgian fries, and fantastic sandwiches.
  • BGR (or Burgers Grilled Right) – Seriously the best burgers…the BEST.
  • Ice Haus – A German-inspired pub filled with burgers and brats with loads of domestic and imported beers.

Conclusion – 

This is just a small sample of the wonderful places you can visit during a weekend road trip from Denver. The small 8-hour road trips from Denver are well worth the drive. Want more?  Discover these other places and adventures you can have in Colorado:

There are many more cities and towns that you can experience on your way. The natural evolution of the earth makes this part of the country unique and beautiful. The people make it welcoming and fun. Just try this once, and you will be hooked. We will see you there!

Would you like to take any of these weekend road trips from Denver, Colorado?


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