Tips on getting prepared for your backpacking trip

When you are planning a trip, any trip, a lot can go right, and you just planned a trip of a life-time, but on the contrary, a lot can also go wrong. You can get lost, you might not have brought enough food, the environment is a lot harder than expected and your not getting in your anticipated miles, you forgot an extra pair of socks, and the list goes on. I am planning a huge trip, where countless things can go wrong, but I am doing everything in my power where at least the stuff I can control, can go right.

Planning a trip, no matter if it’s a weekend, a week, or in my case, four months or longer, takes a lot of time and dedication in making sure you are prepared. You need to be comfortable in map reading, need to make sure you have enough food and money, need to make sure all of your gear is with you, and the appropriate amount of gear,  researching the area, transportation, and the list goes on and on….

I am doing everything in my power in making sure this four month trip I am taking is as successful and easy as I can make it. And some of these helpful hints also relate to week long trips and even weekends. When a person backpacks, your body goes through a substantial amount of changes! The physical exhaustion, the change in climate, food, water intake, that any extra stress is unnecessary and unwanted! I want to make this transition, as easy as one can make it. And these hints can help you too! I am simply, setting myself up for success.

One thing I have noticed  when you go to a supermarket, or pretty much anywhere to buy food, it’s hard to come by dehydrated vegetables. You find carbs, dehydrated fruit, protein, starch and all this food that you can buy to take backpacking with you (peanut-butter, tuna, oats, raisins, mashed potatoes, rice, nuts, etc.) As far as dehydrated veggies though, not so much. I figure this is a big one! I am giving up health insurance, I’m quitting my job. I eat healthy as it is anyway, but eating healthy on the trail is extremely important. I have a post just about eating on the trail. So that’s one way I am setting myself up for success. Just got my dehydrator today, and I will be preparing healthy meals for me on the trail. Your expending all this energy on the trail. It is important to put good energy back into your body, and not processed foods, or foods that contain “empty” calories.

Note: I understand that there’s the hiking stores that sell dehydrated veggies, such as mountain house, and no offense to these companies, but they are approximately 6-7 dollars a bag, and that’s just for one meal. I feel like I would just get more for my buck if I did it myself. When I go for a week or weekend adventures, I generally buy from mountain house. Their food tastes really good in my opinion and they have an amazing variety, but this four month excursion, it would cost me a fortune to buy from them, and I don’t have the money to do so. 

Another way I am setting myself up for success is equipment. I have ultra-light gear that will allow me to expend less energy, and hopefully be that much more plausible in getting myself up the high peaks. First stop is the Colorado Rockies. Need all the help I can get with light equipment.

Note: If you want to see how I lightened my pack weight, check out my other article lightening your pack. (Click on the link as follows)… 

Lightening your pack

Ultra-light backpacking is becoming really popular in the hiking world. The technology has advanced and equipment is getting smaller and lighter. Hikers are exploring new ways every day to make their pack lighter and hey, I don’t blame them. I am doing the same thing.

So we got, light-weight packing, healthy eating, and now for saving money! Saving money is HUGE for me since I don’t have much. That’s what I love about this article and other inspiring articles out there that are about saving money and getting the biggest bang for your buck. It’s that, I’m not special in the way that I came from money, or my life was easy, or I had things handed to me. And many others feel the exact same way, and yet that doesn’t stop us. Anyone can figure it out, and that’s what I love about dreams. It’s your life, and if you want it bad enough, you can make it happen, no matter what the dream is and no matter who you are!

Ok, back to saving money. As far as the National Parks go, the National Parks created a pass that allows you to venture to as many National Parks as you want in a years time for $80. Just the Grand Canyon alone is charging 30 dollars currently. You basically go to three, maybe four parks and you already made your money back. That’s incredible savings. Especially, if you know you are traveling to a lot of parks. Just in southern Utah  there are the “mighty 5” National Parks. I know for as many as I will be venturing to, I will be saving hundreds of dollars.

Another way of saving is, instead of staying in hotels, sleep in your car. I’m going to buy those sunshade things that go over your front and back windows. This will help keep my car cool, and help keep the light out for a better sleep. I also bought a foam mattress I cut specifically to fit my backseat so I didn’t feel the seat belts jabbing into my back. I believe I will get a hotel maybe once every 10 days. I do want to shower :). And when I’m not sleeping in the car, I will be sleeping in the woods, or the mountain tops! Free room with a great view! 

As far as saving money goes, there are ways I am saving money when I am on the trip itself, and there are ways I am saving now, before the trip. A trip this long, requires a good amount of money. Even taking a week trip can be costly when your adding in plane tickets, hotels, car-rentals, etc. It all adds up!

I had the same job last year, as I have right now, and last year, I saved nothing! This year, and I started saving the month of December, and I have approximately, $3500 saved up. (Its March now.) Not even four months and I saved that much! I am not making any extra money than last year. I am saving. And when I say saving, I went on the extreme, in which I had to, in order to make this vacation work. I do not make much. I bring home $400 a week, after taxes. It took a lot of self-discipline, but I courageously took off almost every “want” in my life. Shopping at Cabelas, not anymore, going out to the movies- nope, going out to concerts, uh uh. None of that. The life that you are use to, gone for the time-being. But, it is not all that bad. There is so much stuff to do that is for free when you think about it, and your friends will understand when you tell them that you need to save to live your dream. You just might have to remind them a couple times that you are serious. “No, I am sorry, but we can’t go out to dinner, I am trying to save, remember,” you kindly say. If you set it as a priority, you will save. 

I know I just wrote a lot about saving money, but I go into specifics on this article here. 

Right now, I am just trying to think of as many helpful ways I can in making this trip just that much easier. All of my electrical equipment is waterproof, shockproof, dust-proof, meaning my camera, phone, and I-pod.  That way I don’t have to worry about triple bagging all my electronics. I have all of my bills electronically taken out so I don’t have to worry about bills being billed to my home (I won’t be there.) I have family members lined up, my grandparents, to send me care-packages (dehydrated food) every couple weeks. I have the proper clothes I need for the weather that I’ll be experiencing, and so on and so forth.

These are just a few thoughts on setting yourself up for success. There is so much more, I could probably write a book. It is just so important on being prepared. I have never arranged such a huge trip before, and I am a little scared. I just feel very good that I am doing the best that I can on planning for this trip. That everything I have control over, I am doing to the best of my ability to being prepared. I know things are going to go wrong on this trip, but that is when the adventure happens, and when things do turn sour or different than you expected, that is when you embrace it, move on and who knows, maybe the result will be positive.  I just want to be prepared as much as I can.

This is my dream, to travel the world, and this four month trip to the National Parks is my stepping stone. I want to succeed so bad. I have always wanted this. In the past I have given up on love because the guy wanted to settle down and have a family and that just wasn’t me. I have always wanted to travel. At nineteen I packed up and moved to Alaska. This is not a spur of the moment idea. This is not a fad for me. This is me! And if I fail, I know I did everything in my power on making this trip as best as I could to the best of my ability.

I have now 2 months and three weeks for my last preparations. I can’t wait! This is just so exciting! Soon, this will be my reality and I couldn’t be happier! Thank you for reading and I hope I helped, even if it was just a little bit. 

About the Author:

Hi, I'm Shelly! A traveler, hiker and an outdoor enthusiast. My dream my whole life was to travel, so I stopped dreaming and started doing. I quit my job and I am currently doing whatever it takes to keep going. I'll pick up jobs along the way and do what it takes to keep being a full-time traveler! I can prove that you don't need to come from money or anywhere special to live your dream. You just have to have the power of your own life to finally say YES!

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