If you are serious about the idea of getting out there and making a regular hobby out of hiking and backpacking, then you will need to be prepared. While creating a packing checklist and making sure to drink plenty of water are good first steps, so is figuring out how to get in shape for hiking.

Smart fitness is necessary so you can stay safe and also enjoy your travels as you traverse the beauty of nature. To help new and experienced hikers alike, we have created this guide for the best exercises and routines to try before your big adventure. 

The Physical Benefits of Hiking

If you have a budding interest in long-distance hiking or backpacking, but you can’t quite take the plunge, then you should know that hiking can be one of the keys to a healthy body and mind. The act of being around nature is great for our mental well-being because walking through the trees and surrounding ourselves with all of that greenery brings us back to a more natural place. It is a way for us to be at peace without worrying about work or deadlines.

Of course, there should be no surprise that hiking provides many physical benefits as well. In fact, if strengthening your legs, back, glutes, and hamstrings is your goal, then hiking should become a permanent part of your fitness routine. The great thing is that you don’t always have to walk the most treacherous trails to lose weight and feel great. Even a long flat trail will help to build your endurance and keep your body in peak shape. 

The Proper Nutrition to Get in Shape for Hiking

The act of hiking regularly will also help you to practice healthy habits because failure to take care of your body will result in a poor or dangerous hike. When thinking about how to get in shape for hiking, you should think about the proper nutrition, and pay attention to what you are eating and drinking.

For instance, while drinking beer and spirits in moderation is typically okay, if you drink excessively, then the alcohol can affect your body in many dangerous ways, including stiffening your blood vessels, which leads to high blood pressure. Plus, drinking can upset the balance of calcium in your body which can lead to weaker bones. In addition to hurting you during regular activities, these ailments will severely impact your ability to hike. So, by being responsible for your backpacking hobby, you will also wake up feeling better every day.

Putting Your Legs to Work

If you are like many people, then you might not walk around as often as you know you should. However, if you plan to backpack regularly or you have a long hike coming up, then you will need to get active and get your legs back in motion. You can start easy by taking walks around the block and the neighborhood, so you get back into the rhythm.

When you are feeling good doing that, then it is time to escalate your activity by walking everywhere and aiming for at least 10,000 steps a day. By doing so, you will get used to the motions, you will build the muscles in your legs, and you’ll see what it is like to constantly be on your feet.

Even if you plan to start on moderate trails, you should still expect there to be some hills and valleys from time to time, so you will need to get your legs ready for the new challenge. If you live by a coastline, one of the best ways to get in shape for hiking is to go to the beach where you can walk through the sand. Don’t worry about not walking fast. This is all about building and strengthening all the muscles between your feet and back, including your calves and quadriceps. 

Did we mention that all of this physical activity will also help you to burn fat and excess calories? By constantly being on your feet and keeping your core engaged when you do, you can get rid of that extra weight holding you back during a hike. 

Practicing with a Pack

Once you are ready for the next step, consider buying your backpack and wearing it around during your walks to really focus on how to get in shape for hiking with the pack. When choosing the right backpack, look for one that is adjustable, has space for a water bladder pocket, and has a comfortable weight distribution.

You don’t have to fill your backpack to the brim during your practice, but by adding a bit of weight and walking up and downstairs, you will become familiar with the motions and you’ll further strengthen your back and lower body.

Exercises for Overall Conditioning

Now that you are becoming more comfortable with the motions associated with hiking and carrying weight on your back, you can start to do some more specific exercises that will target the muscles that you will use the most. Keep in mind that there are many different exercises you can try when figuring out how to get in shape for hiking. We will highlight a few here, but if you want to find more, you can do a quick internet search.

Many of the exercises to get in shape for hiking are basic and don’t require a lot of equipment. For instance, in order to strengthen your legs, hips, and lower back, you can do wall squats where you stand facing away from the wall and bend your knees as you sink into a squatting position.

To continue to work your core muscles, you can perform planks. This is where you have your knees and elbows on the floor shoulder length apart, and you slowly lift your body until it is straight. Keep this position for 15 seconds, then come down, rest for a beat, and try another. You can also strengthen your core by doing standard crunches and sit-ups. 

Finally, consider doing a few sets of arm curl reps every other day with light free weights, so you can further manage a heavy load during your trip.

As you can see, there are many exercises and tactics that you can start today in order to be ready for your next big backpacking trip. Continue to work out even after your hike concludes, and you’ll feel healthier every day.

Going abroad requires some amount of prep, even beyond deciding where you’re going or what you intend to do. There are world events and politics to consider, cultural norms, and crime rates to all think about before you board a plane. And that’s all before you consider your disability. 

We’re not about to tell you to not go it alone. We’re all striving for as independent a life as possible, so if you feel like you need someone nearby or not is up to you. Instead, we’re looking at practical things you can do to make backpacking with a disability easier, and less likely to end badly. 

Understand your limitations

Your limitations aren’t something to be ignored or tiptoed around, but something you simply have to adapt to. 

If you are newly disabled, rather than having grown up with a disability, this might be harder to address. You will have to look at your situation and think of ways you can get around the sometimes physical obstacles you are facing. Maybe backpacking in the traditional sense isn’t for you. Can you take a train tour instead? Travel by cycling with handbike, or drive? Try the van-lifestyle for a trip? The literal walking for miles with your thumb out is a small piece of a bigger picture of backpacking. Maybe the limitations of that situation can be worked around by other common means of traveling. 

Learn adaptive hiking

If you are determined you are walking, understand that the idea might not be as easy as it seems. This article outlines a paralympic swimmer having to face the fact that hiking with a lower-knee amputation was harder than he realized, and in fact, he had to adapt to hiking. You will need to adapt literally how you hike, how long you hike for, and where you hike. This might take some experimentation and will vary depending on the disability you are dealing with, but some basics include building up your stamina and energy and stick to paved trails.

Make sure you’re insured

The exciting but also risky factor of all this is that you’re likely to be abroad, with different sets of rules on who can be treated and what the literal cost of that is. 

And unfortunately, the fact is there is more of a risk for you abroad. Make sure you have travel insurance in place to avoid any nasty bills when you head back home. Staysure is a travel insurance company that not only covers the hospital bills and lost baggage and cash, but also cancellation of your flights, even due to Covid. 

It’s a good safety net to hand, should the unthinkable happen, and while we’re on the subject…

Be prepared for the worst

The advice here will depend on your disability, but just make sure you’re ready for any eventuality. 

There are, of course, invisible disabilities and so it won’t be so obvious to a passing fellow backpacker that you’re in need of help – or how to help you. 

If you need a shot, keep it in a pocket. Somewhere you would usually keep a wallet, for the same reason: to keep it close and easy to access. Perhaps consider taking a bracelet a step further and leave some instructions on a business card in your pocket with your shot, so that anyone trying to help you can quickly figure out what’s happening and what they can do about it. 

Look into the local hospitals of your destinations and see if they are able and equipped to deal with your particular disability while backpacking and consider staying at an Airbnb for a more personable experience where you can explain your situation. 

There are so many reasons why someone would choose to travel solo, it could be work, it could be a need for some “alone time,” or just desire to experience different cities on your own. Traveling solo gives a different vibe from group traveling, one of life’s most inspiring adventures that bring in a renewed passion to understand the world around you.

Traveling solo is an act of self-indulgence, a feeling of complete freedom to go just anywhere and do what you would love to. It empowers a traveler, helps build confidence, and helps you get more connected with the traveler within you.

Traveling solo in Uganda near the Rift Valley Escarpment from Bwera, Kasese

Traveling solo in Uganda near the Rift Valley Escarpment from Bwera, Kasese

Uganda is one of the best destinations for solo travelers, from hiking to volunteering to safaris, the country boasts of some of the most spectacular wildlife and natural landscapes in Africa and the world at large. Traveling alone in Africa can be daunting, especially with the number of misconceptions about this great continent, but in recent years many have done it, so why don’t you try it too?

Uganda is safe; the people here are friendly and ready to help but still, precaution needs to be taken when traveling solo around Uganda, below are some tips.

Speak the Language

The majority of Ugandans are literate and can understand the Queen’s language, English, which is the official language. If you’re not a native English speaker, it would be great to brush up and learn some common phrases to help you out when the need arises.

Managing your Cash 

Always carry just enough cash with you when moving around, a lot of cash attracts thieves easily. Be mindful that ATMs and forex shops are not always available everywhere, so it would be a great move if you keep yourself loaded with some local currency all the time.

Don’t Carry Valuables with You

While traveling solo in Uganda is generally safe, it might turn into a nightmare if you had your lovely watch or necklace stolen amidst traffic. Always keep a copy of your passport and visa backed up on email, leave valuables and jewelry at home if possible, and keep your valuables in a safe place. A travel waist bag could be of help.

Dress Appropriately

Pack light loose clothes in fabrics like cotton, silk, or linen that are easily washed and worn again, it is always good to have an easy-to-carry backpack. Ladies should try not to wear clothes that are too revealing, especially in rural areas, as most people are conservative. 

Bring the Essentials With You

The big cities may have stuff available but if you’re looking forward to experiencing the rural bit of Uganda; then having enough sunscreen, insect repellant with deet, any essential medicines, a travel first aid kit among others. This is because you never know how far you will have to travel to buy any of these.

Plan your Accommodation

Always plan your accommodation in advance. Depending on where you will be staying or visiting, the most disappointing thing is arriving in the locality, and you don’t even know where you will lay your head. It would be good if your first-stop accommodation is booked in advance such that you base from there to plan your next move. Also, always have the location of the hotel you are staying at on your phone. You can find accommodation from guest houses, hostels, or hotels on booking.com, where you can also filter by guest reviews and budget.

Understand How to Travel Around

Local means of transport are cheap to travel solo in Uganda, especially for those on budget. Before you travel using either taxi or boda-boda, make research about the charges to the destination. If you are to use a bus, make sure you make payments in the bookings office of the recommended or preferred bus company, also first get the receipt before handing over your money as it’s common practice to be ripped off by another company. Also, never leave your luggage unattended.

Go with the Flow

Enjoying some solitude in Uganda near the Sezibwa Falls in Mukono

Enjoying some solitude in Uganda near the Sezibwa Falls in Mukono

To have the best experiences comes with flexibility and going with the flow. Uganda is the same too, the more flexible and spontaneity you are, the more you enjoy the country, and also it’s an opportunity for you to try those out of the box/guidebook ideas that locals may recommend because, at the end of the trip, it’s the experiences and memories that matter.

Usually, solo travelers in Uganda are never alone for the entire trip/ tour, they always meet like-minded people, locals or not to join them at one point in time in their pursuit of adventure. As a solo traveler, Uganda should not miss out on your travel bucket list.

Meditation has been tagged with some interesting stereotypes over the years. Many people think you have to be in a dark, quiet room with your legs crossed and eyes closed, doing some kind of “ohm” chant to meditate properly.

That’s just not true.

Meditation can take many forms – including hiking and backpacking. If those are hobbies you already love, it’s time to consider how they can help you feel re-centered and reduce your stress levels while you’re on the trail.

Many spiritual leaders have touted the effectiveness of walking meditation, and you can apply those principles to your hikes by being more mindful on each journey. If you’ve never meditated before, it can take some practice to connect physical activity to a clearing of the mind. But, hiking is already a great way to improve your mental and physical health. Adding meditation to your walks can help you feel more connected with the earth, and yourself.

Let’s cover some of the benefits of hiking as meditation and how you can set clear intentions for your treks.

The Benefits of a Mindful Hike

There’s no question that simply spending time in nature is good for your health. It reduces stress and anxiety and can offer a boost of energy. Taking things one step further (no pun intended) through walking meditation can offer even greater benefits to your physical and mental well-being. Some of the “perks” you can expect from being more mindful on your hikes include:

  • Increased blood flow
  • Improved digestion
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Improved circulation
  • Better sleep quality
  • Enhanced balance

Walking meditation also helps with symptoms of depression and anxiety and can boost your creativity levels if it feels like you’ve been in a slump lately. Combining mindfulness with regular outdoor exercise, like hiking, is also a fantastic way to naturally boost testosterone levels (which can decrease with age). That will lead to a clearer mind and greater physical awareness while also promoting strength and vitality.

How to Meditate On the Trail

Ready to give hiking as meditation a try for yourself?

Again, you don’t have to worry about specific chants or keeping your eyes closed while you walk – that would probably do more harm than good with trees around! Walking meditation is easier than you might think. Try the following steps to break down the process until it becomes more familiar.

  1. Find a spot on the trail or a clearing in a wooded area that will allow you to freely walk back and forth about 10 to 15 feet.
  2. Stroll throughout that area slowly as you breathe deeply and take in your surroundings.
  3. Take slow, intentional, mindful steps, and focus on sensations that you usually don’t notice. That could include how your feet and legs feel while moving, or the rhythm of your breathing. It could even include the gentle “thud” your feet make with each step. The more you focus on yourself and the world around you at that moment, the more mindful and present you’ll be.

You may have other thoughts come to mind. That’s out of your control, and you don’t have to work to “block” those thoughts out. There’s nothing you can do to prevent both positive and negative ideas from entering your mind, but think of them like clouds passing by. Don’t hold onto them, and do your best to refocus on the present.

You can continue to be mindful throughout your hike, paying attention to how your body feels with each step forward while also observing the sights, sounds, and smells of your surroundings. It’s a wonderful way to manage your anxiety while hiking and to feel more relaxed by the time you’re finished.

Staying Safe

While meditating on a hike is a wonderful way to feel more connected with the earth and your natural surroundings, it’s important not to bite off more than you can chew. If you’re new to hiking, familiarize yourself with certain trails and build up your strength and stamina before you try to meditate on your journey. You’ll still enjoy wonderful mental and physical health benefits, simply by exercising in nature.

Additionally, if you deal with chronic pain or you’re trying to recover from an injury, use a pain scale to determine if you’re ready to be active again. Pushing through the pain or trying to force yourself to get back on the trail can end up hindering your performance. You’ll also be so focused on that pain that it will be nearly impossible to be mindful and present.

Whether you’re just getting into hiking or you’ve been hitting the trail for years, there are more benefits than we could ever think to list here. Using hiking as meditation, however, adds to that list and can help you feel more in tune with the world around you while reducing your stress levels. If you’re ready for that step, try to introduce walking meditation into your next hike.

Every dog owner knows that their dog is their go-to companion for everyday life. Are you one such dog lover? If so, then we are sure that you’ll be excited about the adventure of a road trip with your dog by your side. And why shouldn’t you be? As long as you travel safely, having your favorite travel buddy by your side can make your road trip even more fun. Here are seven tips for you to know when planning a road trip with your dog for a smooth and safe experience.

1.   Keep Them Warm

Oftentimes, we forget to keep our dogs warm in cooler temperatures. If you plan a trip somewhere cold, you should take some Dog Jackets for Winter. These will help keep your dog warm to prevent any health issues caused by the cold. Naturally, you will enjoy the trip much more, knowing that your dog is entirely safe and sound in the pullover you bought for them.

Apart from caring for your pup by taking along warm clothes, you should also make sure that your vehicle’s heater is working correctly to make your dog’s ride more comfortable.

2.   Keep Important Pet Documents Handy

If you’re planning a road trip with your dog, be sure to carry all the pet-related documents with you in your car. Here’s a quick checklist:

  • State-issued dog or pet license.
  • Anti-rabies and vaccine record.
  • Medical check-up files in case of a visit to an out-of-town vet.

The medical files and records can come in handy if your dog gets sick during the vacation leading to a trip to a vet during your road trip. The new vet will be able to go through their medical history to conclude what treatment to begin with.

To be on the safe side, you can also use mobile apps that let you digitally store all the documents in one place. Most of these applications are cloud-based, so you can access them from any device you want, given you remember your account’s password.

3.   Practice Responsible Behavior in Public Places

Be a responsible pet owner during your road trip

Be a responsible dog owner during your road trip

We know your dog means the whole world to you, but the world as a whole might not always feel the sane way. Whenever you take a pit stop on your road trip with your dog, make sure to keep them on their leash.

If you don’t leash your dog in public places, they could chase people, or other animals, creating unrest in the surroundings, which we don’t want.

If not taken care of, this act might even land you and your dog in trouble, and you may be fined by local law enforcement. That would be a quick way to spoil your holiday mood.

Apart from this, you should also teach your dog to refrain from sticking their heads out from the windows of your car. This could cause them serious injury and can cost you a fortune in medical expenses.

4.   Carry The Essentials During a Road Trip with Your Dog

While you are planning a road trip with dogs, it’s natural that you’ll be excited about the experience. But with all the excitement, you shouldn’t forget to carry essential items that will come in handy later on your trip.

Make a list of things that you might need in different situations and carry those things with you. To start with, here is a generic list of items that you might need:

  • An extra blanket for your dog.
  • Extra tough and durable mats for seats so that your dog doesn’t ruin your car seat covers.
  • Some packets of your dog’s favorite biscuits and snacks to ease the journey a bit.
  • Some medicines to help soothe any nausea that your dog might experience during the ride.
  • Life safety tubes if you are headed to the poolside or a beach. This will let your dogs enjoy the water safely.
  • A leash to keep your dog’s excitement under control.

5.   Give Your Dog Their Own Space During the Road Trip

To make their ride more comfortable, your dog shouldn’t ride shotgun. Instead, it would be best for your dog to ride in the backseat of the car. This way, it will be comfortable for both of you. You and your dog will get optimum space for yourself and will enjoy the ride a lot more comfortably. If possible, you can also have a barrier between the driver’s seat and the passenger’s seat. This will make your dog even more comfortable and will keep them safe in the event of an accident. The barrier will also prevent your dog from distracting you throughout the ride.

6.   Don’t Plan A Road Trip When Your Dog is… Grumpy

Plan your road trip with your pet's condition in mind

Plan your road trip with your dog’s condition in mind

Dogs are lovely, but they can be grumpy too. During their heat, female dogs can also be pretty much in a mood to wreak havoc here and there. They might feel sick and nauseous also. An excellent way to avoid this is to keep track of their cycle and plan your road trip accordingly.

7.   Keep Track of Your Dog using GPS

Your road trip might include some time to camp in the countryside or somewhere remote. In that case, it’s natural that your dog would want to roam in the wilderness, and you can’t run everywhere behind them.

Naturally, they might lose their way in the woods, or a wild animal might try to prey on them. For emergencies, you can tie a GPS tracker on their collar or ankle. This will ensure that you will be able to locate your dog if they happen to wander off.

As you can see, you need to be extra careful while planning a road trip with dogs. In addition to items in your own suitcase, you’ll need to do some extra planning to ensure that your dog has a comfortable experience. In addition to the eight items discussed, a few essential things to consider adding to the list are the dog’s full photograph, extra food, odor eliminator, pet wipes, bells and a whistle, an extra leash, and portable water and food bowls. With these items and the proper preparation, you can have a memorable road trip out with your dog.