Monthly Archives: June 2016

Hiking Safety Tips

A very popular outdoor activity, hiking involves walking in natural surroundings while reveling the mesmerizing nature. With its growing popularity, numerous hiking organizations have cropped up everywhere over the last decade or so. Along with the tremendous rise in the number of people taking to it, the number of accidents has also increased. Most of these accidents can be attributed to carelessness on the part of hikers, or improper planning, and therefore, one has to take his safety into consideration when opting to go hiking.

Hiking Safety Tips to Remember

Planning is the most important part of your hiking escapade. It’s always better to have basic knowledge about the terrain of the region and weather conditions prevailing there. You can look for this information on the Internet or consult hiking enthusiasts who have been there before. It’s important to choose the right time for the hike. You surely wouldn’t want to end up in bad weather. While it’s nearly impossible to predict what the weather has in store for us, we can always take necessary precautions and be safe on our part.

Basic study about the environment of the chosen place will tell you what all things you should and you shouldn’t do. For instance, some berries are poisonous. Hence, though tempting, berries are best avoided. Same is the case with animals. Small, colorful insects found in the wilderness can be highly venomous. Hence, it’s better to keep a safe distance from them. Basically, you should keep a safe distance from anything that you don’t know much about.

Drinking water from a crystal clear mountain stream may make you feel like you are getting closer to the nature, but you need to know that this stream water can have some harmful bacteria. It is wise to carry water from your home. Keep some water purifier (such as chlorine) with you while you are backpacking. At times, you may be left with no option, but to drink stream water. In such a situation, these purifiers will come handy.

When outdoors, especially during overnight trips, fire is one of the most essential things needed. So always choose to carry a matchbox or lighter and, more importantly, be careful with it. Out in the wild, you can trigger a forest fire with a small match stick. So be careful while lighting bonfires or using fire torches.

Learn the basics of first aid and make sure to carry a first aid kit with you. Minor injuries are common during hiking, but these injuries shouldn’t spoil your fun. Basics in first aid will arm you with skills required to overcome stress and deal with certain types of injuries. Your first aid kit should include bandages, anti-bacterial cream, disinfectant, etc. Information about the nearest hospital can be of great help in case of some serious injury.

Some people just grasp the basic knowledge about the environment and later, when they face a situation, they try to recollect what they had read. A better way is to carry field guides containing basic knowledge about the area, as well as flora and fauna found there. A field guide with a printed map of the area can also be of great help.

Small gadgets can turn out to be lifesaving in emergency situations. Some of the camping gear you ought to have in your backpack includes a flashlight, army knife, compass, and binoculars. Avoid taking unnecessary items such as video games, as these will just add weight to your backpack and exhaust you.

Watch where you step. Sometimes people are so engrossed in looking around that they fail to site the danger lurking right in front of them. This danger be from some venomous reptile to a dangerous crevice. A simple method is to keep an eye on the track and consider the path before heading forward.

Do not mess with nature, it would be better if you leave it as it was when you came. Unnecessary garbage spilling will do you no good. Also avoid bringing back the things you found while hiking; flowers, for instance. Some things are meant to be untouched as they are already in their right place. Even feeding animals in the wilderness is a strict no.

Hiking is a group activity, so it’s better done in a group. Going for hiking alone increases your chances of getting lost or injured, and also makes you more vulnerable to the dangers of wilderness. Even when going with a group, make sure you tell someone about your planned outing and expected time of return.

No doubt hiking is full of enthusiasm, but you need to keep your enthusiasm under control so that you have ample fun. Some people―especially youngsters―being over-enthusiastic, start off very fast and get exhausted half way through. Hiking is not about reaching the destination, it’s about enjoying the journey. You need to save energy and keep yourself hydrated. A steady pace and regular breaks will guarantee you a great adventure.

One should remember that over-enthusiasm and over-confidence can land you in some serious trouble. It’s better to acknowledge the fact that no matter how smart or how prepared we are, mother nature will always be a step ahead of us.

How to Plan a Road Trip With Children

The winter is almost over, and spring break is upon us. If you’re thinking about taking your family for a fun vacation this spring or summer, consider a road trip. Road trips are great for children because they’ll see more of our great country than they would in a plane. It’s also fun to stop at different landmarks on the way, not only to see the great stuff our country has to offer, but also to stretch your legs and stop and smell the roses. Family time is irreplaceable, so take your time getting to where you’re going. However, with any long trip, there is a chance that kids might get restless. If you travel prepared, though, you’ll have a happy trip.

Road Games
There is a huge variety of games, kids can play while on the road. From trying to find license plates from each state, to singing road trip songs, these classic games can be played with little to no money. If you visit your local bookstore, you can find a section of books that have all of these games in them already. However, if you don’t want to spend the money on these books, you can create them yourself. Find pictures of license plates from different states and collect them together for your kids to see, before they hit the road. You can also grab a CD from your local library that has all the sing-along songs on it for you to enjoy.

Books
For the bookworm in your family, head to your library or bookstore and stock up on books they have always wanted to read. If your kids can read without getting car sick, it’s a great time to practice reading skills and catch up on books they’re excited about. Make sure these are books for fun; let them pick out whatever they want. It is vacation, after all!

Technology
If you’re OK letting your kids use technology on family vacations, let them bring along portable DVD players or game centers. This can keep them occupied and not fighting for hours. However, put a time limit on any technology they use. Nothing is more annoying than trying to talk to your kids, while they are busy texting on their phones or playing games. Maybe allow them to use the technology between certain stops, but no more. Also, be sure you have a rule that, during meals, they cannot use their devices. Family vacation time is time for the family to spend together, not on their separate devices.

Food
Food is the best way to keep kids happy. Children often get hungry before adults do, so keeping several options for snacks on hand can help, keep your kids calm and full. This can also help you save money while on the road by making it, so you don’t have to stop at rest stops or restaurants, where you’re sure to spend a lot of money.

Sleepy Time
Vacations are time to rest up, so let your kids sleep during the car ride if they are able. Bring along pillows and blankets and even some favorite stuffed animals and calming music and let them cuddle up in the back seat – as long as they are still wearing their seat belts, of course! This will not only keep them quiet, but also prevent them from getting crabby due to exhaustion.

Summer Road Trip Ideas for Students

Who doesn’t enjoy a road trip? Fantastic scenes flashing by your window as you race along buttery smooth roads with your best pals, camping out in the wild and sharing laughs over a bonfire, cherishing experiences that will make you smile when you are old―being on the road is the best thing you can do with your summer months.

Fortunately, the U.S. is blessed with countless routes that are just made for someone who enjoys driving, and destinations that take your breath away. Here’s a list of the best road trip destinations you can visit this summer.

Couchsurfing is a surefire way of cutting the cost of your accommodation on all these trips, as most of the cities in question have Couchsurfing hosts. Campsites are also found aplenty in America, and are a worthwhile option to ponder.

Road Trip Ideas for Students

Rock Fest and Surrounding Wisconsin

State: Wisconsin
Distance: Variable
Rock Fest is one of the biggest rock music festivals in the world. Artists and ensembles such as Iron Maiden (’nuff said, to be honest, but there’s even more), KISS, and Korn have performed at this festival in the past. That it is held in the picturesque state of Wisconsin is a huge bonus. It is usually held on the third Thursday-Sunday of July, near Cadott, WI. This state is also home to popular tourist destinations such as the House on the Rock, the Circus World Museum, and the Dells of the Wisconsin River. The Oshkosh Airshow, which usually starts on the last Monday of July, also fits into this itinerary perfectly. Camping on the banks of Lake Superior is the perfect way to end this exciting trip through one of the most scenic states in the U.S. Wisconsin has numerous campsites, and camping in this picturesque state is the ideal way to experience it.

New Orleans to Graceland

State: Louisiana-Tennessee
Distance: 400 miles
A memorial to one of the greatest entertainers in human history, Graceland attracts thousands of visitors each year. Having been the home of Elvis Presley, it now serves as a museum dedicated to the King’s life. Several idiosyncratic arrangements preferred by Presley have been maintained here. He is also buried there, along with his parents, in an area called the Meditation Garden. It is a veritable pilgrimage to fans of rock and roll.

A readily available route to take to this Rock memorial is traveling along the Mississippi river, starting from New Orleans. Though this route is not replete with campsites or Couchsurfing hosts, it is short, and can be covered in a day; cheap accommodation can then be found in Memphis.

Las Vegas-Lake Havasu-Sedona

State: Nevada, Arizona
Distance: 384 miles
Las Vegas, the City of Dreams, needs no introduction. Its casinos and various entertainment avenues are the ideal way to blow off some steam and do ‘what stays in Vegas’.

Havasu, straddling the border between California and Arizona, is famous for its fishing competitions and recreational aquatic activities. This route gives you the opportunity to drive through the Mojave desert, in addition to great camping opportunities. The popular vacation spot of Sedona is also easily accessible from the lake, and is the perfect destination to cap off the trip.

Yellowstone National Park

State: Mainly Wyoming
Distance: Variable
Being one of the most popular national parks in the world, Yellowstone’s rich wildlife diversity and geysers need no introduction. It also includes various historic places, such as the Yellowstone fort, and various other classic structures. There are numerous camping sites in this scenic national park, which enhance your experience of the wild.

U.S. Route 101

State: Washington-California
Distance: 1,550 miles
Several sections of this route can be rightfully included among the most picturesque and enjoyable drives in the world, including the Pacific Highway in California and the Avenue of the Giants. Though traversing this route in its entirety can take up to a week, there are several tourist attractions along the way, including the Golden Gate Bridge, in addition to the scenic road itself. More information about planning a trip from Seattle to Los Angeles, two of the largest cities on or around Route 101, can be found here.

Ocean City to Niagara Falls

State: New Jersey-New York
Distance: 480 miles
Ocean City, a popular family-oriented seaside resort, is full of fun activities. The most popular option is to take the famous, 2.5-mile long boardwalk, around which many of the attractions are located. Another massively popular attraction is Lucy the Elephant, a six-story-high novelty construction. The Niagara falls are a global favorite, and are worth a visit any time of the year.

Though the route from Ocean City to the Niagara Falls is relatively devoid of attractions, it passes through Philadelphia, which is renowned for its museums and national historical sites; a Philly sandwich doesn’t hurt, either! Also, although it is sacrilege to suggest this to New Jerseyites, a detour to the Big Apple is definitely a trip you should take if you have never been there.

New York to Asheville

State: New York-North Carolina
Distance: 707 miles
Biltmore Estate, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the U.S., attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to Asheville, but this city contains much more than that. It is a hotbed of stunning architectural pieces, including the art deco city hall and the Basilica of St. Lawrence. Apart from architecture, it is home to some of the best whitewater kayaking facilities in the U.S., along with other whitewater recreational activities.

The route, the I-95, is not particularly scenic, but passes through various must-see destinations, such as Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and Raleigh, NC. More information about tourist sites on the I-95 south of New York can be found here.

Ground Zero to Gettysburg Battlefield

State: New York-Pennsylvania
Distance: 211 miles
All Americans should visit these touching and inspiring sites at least once. They stand as a reminder of America’s resilience against oppression of every kind, and innate desire to be free and supreme. Philadelphia, site of various national historic monuments, such as the liberty bell, also lies on this route. A patriotic road trip every American must take!

These destinations are among the most popular tourist attractions in the world, let alone the U.S., and a road trip to these can be undertaken easily by students. There are scenic routes, fantastic camping locations once you tire of the road, and great destinations at the end.

Desert Hiking Essentials and Safety Tips

Hiking in the desert may seem unconventional to some, but this activity does have quite a few avid followers. Desert hiking gives you ample opportunity to indulge in rock climbing, walk along the gorgeous terrain, and of course, click pictures as you move ahead.

Hiking, as all other adventure sports, should never be taken lightly, especially when you consider the harshness of the desert. There are certain safety measures and precautions that you need to keep in mind, every step of the way.

Top 5 Desert Hiking Essentials and Safety Tips

1. Carry All Essentials

A desert hike is definitely not a stroll in the park, so it is imperative to make preparations for it. To begin with, you must make a list of essential items which you need to carry along with you. These include basic supplies and safety equipment. Usually, the items that you carry along for your trip depend on the location, weather, and the amount of time you plan to spend there. But a desert hiking trip in particular, calls for the following essentials –

  • Extra water
  • Extra food
  • Map and compass
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight with spare batteries
  • Spray water bottle to mist water on your body
  • Protective clothing
  • Sunscreen
  • Whistle/mirror for use during emergencies
  • Swiss knife

2. Keep Sipping on Fluids

Nothing works like good ol’ water to beat the desert heat. Preferably, you should never hike between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., times when the sun is at its brightest. However, it is important to be hydrated at all times, in order to keep heat-related afflictions at bay. A good hydration pack will help you keep up your fluid intake, and won’t be too cumbersome to carry.

It is estimated that an individual perspires around half to one quart of fluid for every hour spent walking in the sun. This may exceed to around 2 quarts if you’re walking uphill in harsh sunlight. Ignoring the health risks associated with desert hiking can place you in a potentially life-threatening situation, especially if you’re alone. Therefore, remember to keep sipping on water every few minutes, rather than waiting for thirst to strike, and make yourself vulnerable to a heat stroke.

3. Respect Mother Nature

The solitude of the desert may trick you into believing that you are the master of this vast expanse of land, but it obviously isn’t so. Deserts are home to a large number of rattlesnakes, coyotes, black widow spiders, and scorpions, not to mention several land-dwelling insects. Your presence on their land would not bother them, unless you go and bother them first. Therefore, as a responsible hiker, you must keep yourself from going unnecessarily close to any animals, or deliberately harming them, lest you wish to be attacked by them. Accidental encounters may happen, of course, which is why you need to be acquainted with first aid measures as well.

4. Know What to Do if You’re Lost

In case misfortune befalls, you might lose your way in the desert. Your immediate response would be to panic, but do refrain from doing so. Instead, follow the Stop-Think-Observe-Plan (STOP) method to reassess your situation. This involves stopping to relax and get over your ‘freaked out’ state of mind. The next step is to look around and think about your best available options. This includes studying your map, assessing your possessions, and making optimum use of them. The third step is to observe the environment around you to chalk out an exit/escape route. The final step is to plan what your next move is going to be, having taken complete stock of the situation you are in.

Deserts are usually notorious for being reception-free zones, so don’t always expect your mobile phone to work here. Thus, it is of utmost importance to let your loved ones know about the exact details of your hiking trip, so that they can take the necessary measures to send out a search party in case you are lost.

5. Never Overestimate Yourself

As a hiker, you could be an amateur or a veteran, but you should never override any of the prescribed safety norms issued by the authorities. So, if you know of any adversity coming in the way of your hike, do not challenge it. Devious terrains that are out-of-bounds for people, stormy weather, etc., are some of the things that you should keep away from, no matter how thrilling it may seem to you. Throwing caution to the wind may not necessarily cause harm, but you will be putting your life at risk.

Hiking needs to be enjoyable, exhausting, and rejuvenating at the same time. To make your trip a memorable one, make sure that you tap into your inner spirit of adventure, and follow safety rules alongside. Hope you have a great trip!