Top 15 Tips for a Trek America Trip
As a spontaneously booked trip – i went into this adventure rather blind. I had no idea what to expect. I scoured the internet to try and read about other people’s experiences but to no avail. Hence, this blog was born. Now i get to educate all of you lucky Trekkies-to-be, before you set out on your own American adventure. Below are a list of things i feel may help you. If you are looking for a more specialised list of what you should take. hop on over to my other pages “Trek America Tips – Part One” and “Trek America Tips – The Girly Section” for all things tent and luggage related.
1. Scout out areas for setting up your tent. Why? Well first of all you do not want to be sleeping on a slope or in a patch of mud, but most importantly its for bug avoidance. We actually put our tent on a spiders nest on our first night, luckily these were of the nicer, non-venomous type! Nice, flat grassy areas are a winner, avoid the edges of wooded areas and make sure there are no ants before you plonk your ground sheet down. They are the worst.
2. Keep the tent shut at all times. And i mean as soon as you step outside. This is a massive hassle but you really do not want any unexpected intruders. I recently spoke to a friend of mine who had camped in the Grand Canyon and ended up getting stung by a scorpion which had crawled into his sleeping bag. Turns out its not the most fun of experiences and the venom will actually make your skeleton hurt. Yes, you read that correctly – your skeleton.
3. Mosquito repellent is a necessity – I traveled from New York to LA between late June and July, and got eaten alive from Washington until San Antonio. You can buy own brand (Superdrug/Boots etc) repellent which is a lot cheaper than the others on the market. Just make sure you have a high percentage of Deet in whichever one you go for. Don’t rely on the natural products, they will probably just make you smell tastier.
4. Louboutins will not be necessary – Hush, girls. You are now travelers and we have no space for such trinkets in our packs. However, i do suggest bringing some less casual, going out type clothes. We ended up going out to bars a lot more than i thought we would. However, six inch shoes are not recommended, especially as you will probably be staying in a tent.
5. Go photo crazy – I took around 400 photos and i still feel this wasn’t enough. Perfect profile picture moments were missed out on, as were hilarious video moments. Embrace your inner tourist and take as many as possible. You will need something to look back and reminisce on.
6. Budgeting for the Small Things – You will have a food kitty to pay into and a large section of your budget will be for the daily activities. However, there were a few other things that my credit card took a pounding from; tipping, VAT and snacks. Waiters/waitresses and bar staff live off the tips they get, so be generous when you are being served. VAT is a little strange here as America have decided that its a good idea to add this on when you go to pay rather than on the actual price tag. And as for snacks, i think i bought something at every single gas station stop and it did add up … onto my budget and my waistline.
7. Shower Gauntlet – Try and get up earlier than everyone else so you can get to the showers first. This is especially true when you are at a campsite with other trek groups. Guys, you don’t need to worry about this part. Girls, prepare yourselves! If in doubt, dry shampoo it.
8. Stay Connected – Make sure you all swap numbers on the FIRST day. We all added each other on Facebook but never got round to exchanging digits. You aren’t going to need to make lengthy calls to your new friend, but one or two texts wont hurt. This is especially important once you reach those unfamiliar cities, and find yourself completely lost.
9. Medical Supplies – Bring plasters for flip flop and/or shoe related blisters. Your Trek Leader will have a first aid kit but plan ahead for small injuries or cuts, you may end up having a few.
10. Comfortable (Ugly) Footwear – Invest in some Teva’s, Karrimor Sandals or something similar. Yes, i am aware that they can be ugly, Jesus -sandals, but they are also very comfy! They can also be quite expensive, although mine have now been around the world with me – two years and still going! Plan ahead, see them as an investment for future travel.
11. Be Odd – Being weird is totally acceptable behaviour, just be yourself! I became so much more confident and outgoing after this trip. Throwing yourself out of your comfort zone once in a while is very good for you.
12. Select A Mascot – You will need a van mascot. Ours was a blow up alien and he went everywhere with us – from the Grand Canyon to crazy nights out. He even got his own Facebook page.
13. Mingle – If you are travelling alongside another van (which happens quite often with the Southern Sun trip) make sure you get to know them as they will become your extended Trek family. I find that 80% of travelling is making new friends. And the other 20% is spent getting drunk with them.
14. Confrontation avoidance – There may be times when you want to throw another individual into a canyon. Be patient, its an intense three weeks, there are a lot of personalities and there are bound to be conflicts at some point. Trust me, they do blow over.
15. Enjoy Yourself – Finally, be super positive and enjoy every single moment. It will all be over before you know it.