As we transition to a post-COVID world, mental health issues are running rampant. Over 40 million adults in the U.S. have some type of anxiety. Depression, excessive stress, and loneliness are other common problems. 

Needless to say, people are looking wherever they can to give their mental health a boost and to find the help they need to feel good again. In some cases, that might mean talking to a therapist or counselor. 

Other times, you can manage your mental health and well-being by giving your brain a natural dose of a mood-boosting activity. The psychological benefits of hiking and backpacking are great for helping you manage your mental health.

Whether you’re already an outdoor enthusiast or you’re trying to find ways to improve your mental wellness, understanding the mental health benefits of backpacking can make a big difference. 

So, what can you expect from the “nature pill” of getting outside and staying active? Let’s look at some of the benefits and how you can get started as a hiker. 

You’ll Unplug and De-Stress

We live in a digital world where it seems like we always have to be “connected.” While technology has its benefits, it can also have some drawbacks when it comes to your mental health. One survey discovered that people who are always checking their digital devices tend to have higher stress levels. 

The psychological benefits of hiking and backpacking include forcing you to unplug and disconnect from things like social media, text messages, and work emails. The activities can even get you off of the couch and keep you from spending your weekend binge-watching a new show.

Streaming shows and movies can be fun, but watching more than four hours of television a day can decrease your dopamine levels, increasing your risk of depression. 

Being outside, however, has the opposite effect. Some of the mental health benefits associated with being in nature include: 

  • Lower stress
  • More focus
  • Boosted mood
  • Improved attention span
  • Reduced risk of psychological disorders

It might feel impossible to go “off the grid” for a long period of time. But, taking a weekend backpacking trip can help you to feel rejuvenated and keep your mind clear so you’re ready to tackle whatever your life throws at you. 

Reduced Rumination

One of the biggest factors contributing to poor mental health is worrying about the past or future. People tend to exaggerate the “negative” things that have happened in the past, making them worse in their own heads.

More prominently, however, those with anxiety will spend a lot of time fearing the future – especially the “what ifs.” 

When you’re backpacking, you’ll have less time to ruminate on those worries. It’s also the perfect time to practice mindfulness. 

Mindfulness is something you can do every day, but with so many distractions in life, it can be hard to find the time or do it the “right” way. When you’re outdoors on a long hike or setting up camp, it’s the perfect time to choose to be mindful. If you need some tips to get started, try these: 

  • Set a positive intention before you go hiking
  • Focus on your breathing
  • Take in your surroundings whenever you take a break
  • Pay attention to how being in nature makes you feel

The more prepared you are for your backpacking adventure, especially as a beginner, the easier it will be to have those moments of mindfulness. So, make sure you feel comfortable with the route you’re taking and that you have all of the necessary supplies.

When you choose to be mindful, you’ll focus on the present instead of worrying about the past or future. You’ll also learn how to manage those fears when they come, and push the negative thoughts and worries aside. 

How to Get Started

One of the great things about backpacking is its global availability. You can hike almost anywhere in the world as long as you can find a good trail and a safe place to camp.

All you need to get started is the right gear, basic safety knowledge, and a bit of strength and stamina (something you’ll get more of as you’re more active outdoors!). 

What we touched on here is only a fraction of the mental health benefits of backpacking. The runoff benefits are just as important. For example, backpacking is a sustainable hobby.

You can find peace of mind in knowing you’re doing something good for the planet, and possibly promoting others to do the same. If you choose to go with friends or family members, you could also be giving their mental health a boost – and that’s something to feel good about!

Whether you need to find a way to relax and get rid of stress or you’re struggling with your mental health and want a way to cope, backpacking is a wonderful option.

Keep these mental health benefits of backpacking in mind as you pack for your next adventure. The more you understand how backpacking can help, the more you’re likely to focus on your mental health while you’re hiking through the woods. 

The summer is upon us, which means fun in the sun and amazing hiking and backpacking adventures across gorgeous landscapes. While we love to enjoy the warmer months, caution is of absolute importance.

Currently, heat waves are occurring across the globe, with record-breaking temperatures of over 100 degrees becoming the norm.

Excessive heat can be one of the most dangerous elements you can face, and prolonged exposure may lead to many dangerous conditions that could make you very ill.

That is why you need to be smart about summer backpacking and pack the right items before going out on long treks. Here are some pointers to stay cool while backpacking in hot weather.

Heat Concerns for Summer Backpacking

The first step to staying safe when backpacking during summer is to understand the potential risks of being out in the heat so you know when you need to take a break or hydrate.

Heat exhaustion is the main concern that you want to avoid because, if not properly handled, it can quickly turn to heatstroke, which could create disorientation, confusion, and a high fever that could lead to further sickness.

The symptoms of heat exhaustion include nausea, excessive sweating, and a headache that gets progressively worse. If you feel these symptoms, it is important to find shade, then sit down and relax and drink water until you are feeling better.

On that note, you also want to watch for the signs of dehydration, which also include fatigue along with a dry mouth and dark-colored urine. If you don’t drink water when these issues begin, it could start to affect your blood pressure and you could become too tired to continue.

Along with the issues associated with activity on a hot day, you also want to avoid a sunburn whenever possible. More than just giving you a little color, an excessive sunburn can cause blisters and swelling and can even lead to chills and nausea.

To avoid sunburn, apply sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 before you leave to protect against the sun and dangerous UVB rays.

What to Bring To Stay Cool While Backpacking in Summer

When preparing for your adventure, it is essential that you take the time to create a packing list of everything you need, with an emphasis on first aid supplies and tools that will keep you cool while hiking or backpacking in summer.

The most important items involve hydration and that means bringing plenty of water you should drink during the course of your adventure. Moderation is key, as drinking too much can actually lead to over hydration, which can result in fatigue and cramps as your blood cells are so inundated that they lose functionality.

If water is too plain for you, then at least bring hydration packets that contain electrolytes as they replenish some of the fluid and minerals in your body that you lose when you sweat.

There are smart ways you can ensure that you have the water supply required for the hottest days. One idea is to get a hydration pack which is either part of your backpack or a separate entity that houses an extra water supply.

That way, you won’t have to hold it in your hands and it can balance your weight as you walk. If you want the water to remain cold, then freeze a water bottle the night before and it will last longer during your hike.

If you plan to camp during your summer backpacking adventure, then you will want to find a tent that will keep you as cool as possible. That means finding one that is a light color as it will reflect the heat.

Dark fabric will absorb the heat and make the interior warmer. A lightweight model like this heat-blocking tent has a mesh interior so you can allow a nice breeze to enter. Set the tent up in the shade and open the vents so the air can flow through.

Backpacking in Hot Weather? Plan Accordingly

In addition to packing the right equipment, you will also want to take the time to plan your hike accordingly, so you can avoid the warmest parts of the day.

Generally, it is hottest between the hours of noon and three in the afternoon, so you either want to return home by that time or wait to take a night hike as the sun is setting.

Early morning hikes are ideal because the sun will be rising, it won’t be too warm, and you will generally have the trail to yourself. If you are planning on an early morning hike then you will want to ensure that you get enough sleep, so you can have the energy required to climb those peaks and observe the beauty of nature.

One way to make sure you get enough rest is to use a sleep calculator, which will tell you when to lay down so you can get the 7 to 9 hours of shut-eye that the doctors recommend.

It is also a smart idea to plan the clothes you will wear during the hike, as what you choose could drastically change how warm you get during your adventure. Just like with your tent, you want to choose lighter-colored clothing that will reflect the light instead of absorbing it.

Also, opt for loose-fitting clothing, and if you can find hiking apparel with vents, then that is the best option. If you have especially sensitive skin, then make sure to wear pants and long-sleeved shirts so your arms and legs aren’t hit with those harmful UV rays.

There is nothing more exciting than celebrating the bright summer months with an exciting hike, but caution must always be present. Try the tips above to stay cool while hiking and enjoy your summer backpacking adventure without worry.

Over the past year, many avid travelers have had to slow their roll and reduce their travel due to COVID-19. During this time of quiet reflection, the realities of human carbon emission have begun to fully sink in.

As cars cleared the streets and airplanes stayed grounded, the facts remained: One long-haul flight from London to New York can produce around 986kg of carbon dioxide per passenger, according to the Guardian (US). That amount is comparable to the average yearly carbon output of a person living in a country like Paraguay or Burundi. 

With the return of air travel and the alarming projected increase in aviation emissions, you may be seeking solutions to carbon offset travel while exploring all our beautiful planet has to offer.

The What & How of Carbon Offsets

Carbon offsetting involves recognizing and directly addressing your individual carbon emissions. Online calculators make it fairly easy to determine exactly how much carbon you emit in your daily life. However, when travel is thrown into the mix, transport and other activities may cause your carbon footprint to skyrocket.

By employing simple techniques to counteract your carbon emissions, you can fill your passport with stamps while still protecting the environment. Carbon offsets for travel take many forms, and you can choose which forms best fit your lifestyle. 

Whether you prefer planting trees, encouraging less wasteful farming techniques, or helping isolated communities install cookstoves to replace wood fireplaces, you’re sure to find a cause you can get behind. Canceling out your carbon emissions allows you to get back to what you love most: travel.

The Truth About Travel & Carbon Emissions

According to the Washington Post, “flights were responsible for 2.4 percent of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2018.” While this may seem a relatively small sliver, the statistic fails to tell the whole story. 

For one thing, those numbers are projected to soar to nearly three times their current level within the next few decades. For another, because of the vast inequity of carbon emissions on our planet, a flight is likely to take up a much larger percentage of your personal carbon footprint.

Lifestyle Changes to Carbon Offset Travel

Reduce Waste & Consumption

There are many ways in which you can reduce or help carbon offset your travels. One way is by adopting a minimalist lifestyle. Minimalism doesn’t mean getting rid of everything you own, though — it means recycling, avoiding single-use items, and maximizing the enjoyment of any collections you do have without relying on quantity over quality.

A minimalistic approach to life will reduce the amount of waste you produce, thereby making the Earth greener and more enjoyable when you travel.

Eco-Friendly Digital Solutions

While you’re on the road, you can make use of several digital solutions that allow you to travel while being kind to the Earth. Carbon and solar calculators permit you to measure your impact on the environment and take concrete steps toward living a zero-waste lifestyle. 

Eco-tourism apps, on the other hand, can help you locate local produce, find sustainable lodging, and rideshare, no matter where you are in the world. In the future, fully electric driverless cars will help accelerate this change even more!

Adopt Environmentally-Friendly Work Habits

Today’s work landscape is also rapidly evolving to accommodate more eco-friendly habits. Depending on your lifestyle and work preferences, some of these techniques may work better for you than others. Two of the most popular options for eco-friendly work are work-from-home and work exchange programs.

Working From Home

As we’ve come to realize over the past year, working from home has one rather major impact: no commute. Not only does working from home save you money and time, it also significantly reduces your carbon emissions for flights. 

When you reduce the amount of fossil fuels you produce on a daily basis, this helps carbon offset travel and travel-based carbon emissions. Freelancing writing is one popular way of achieving this flexible, work-from-home lifestyle.

Work Exchange Programs

For those unable to go freelance, consider participating in a work exchange program in the location you’d like to visit. The options available to you depend on your nationality and the country you wish to work in. 

Potential work exchange programs in the United States include ranch work, the hospitality sector, and childcare services. When you work and travel at the same time, you’re less likely to jet off to a new country each week, reducing your overall fossil fuel emissions and allowing you to enjoy a rich, authentic work-travel experience.

Other Ways to Carbon Offset Travel

If you still haven’t achieved the carbon-neutral lifestyle of your dreams, there are several other ways to offset your carbon footprint. Many companies are more than happy to take your donations, but you’ll want to ensure their projects are legitimate and high-quality.

Some airlines also offer options for passengers to manually offset their carbon emissions for flights.

No matter what your current lifestyle, there are always ways to reduce your carbon footprint while journeying across the planet. Take the first step today toward living a greener life and saving the planet you love to explore!

Are you itching to explore nature and hiking activities for fun? Well, then backpacking is that ultimate activity for you. It is an adventure that mixes hiking with backcountry camping.  Backpacking will let you broaden your horizons.

You will get to enjoy a richer, exciting outdoor experience. If you are just getting started, you are in the right place, as these backpacking tips for beginners will help you get your backpacking experience right.

Choose a Simple Destination

For your beginner backpacking trip, you do not want to have a miserably difficult experience. That is why you need to find an area that is not hard to hike. You can do a quick online search of destinations near you, or consult with other backpackers to get an idea of good destinations.

Also, consider choosing shorter distances and picking a well-traveled trail and well-established camp. Now that you have a backpacking destination in mind, it is time to get the preparation work done. 

Train! Train! Train!

Be sure to train for your first backpacking trip

Be sure to train for your first backpacking trip

One of the best backpacking tips for beginners is to prepare your body for weeks and months leading up to backpacking by doing some training. Training will give you a better shape that is suited for the activity as a beginner hiker.

Besides, training will ensure that you have fun in your backpacking. You do not want to have a nightmare. And in case you are wondering why it is essential to train, here are some benefits: 

  • Training will give you a better experience as you will not get easily tired and feel miserable while hiking.
  • You will avoid getting blisters and injuries since you will develop strength and flexibility in the knees, ankles, and feet.
  • Training will also help you create a firm mindset that will see you through the tough trails. 

Get a Comfy Place to Spend the Night

When you are backpacking for the first time, you might find it a demanding experience. Depending on how long you want to be out backpacking, you should consider getting a comfortable rental space to spend a couple of nights.

If you are backpacking a place like Belleplain State Forest, you can consider spending a night at Ocean City, NJ rentals. Spending a night in a comfortable place after a long trek will rejuvenate your energy and allow you room for more explorations. 

Get Essential Backpacking Gear

Get the right gear for your first backpacking trip

Get the right gear for your first backpacking trip

Based on the backpacking experience you intend to immerse yourself into, you will decide what to gather as part of your gear. However, you can borrow or rent pricier items such as the tent, sleeping bag, and pad to keep your budget low for your first backpacking trip.

Don’t forget to pack supportive over-the-ankle boots. Also, part of the essential gear is the clothes you will need. For your clothes, you might want to consider packing T-shirts, sun shirts, and sun hats to insulate yourself from the heat.

Depending on the season, you may consider the weather and decide if to carry a waterproof jacket or breathable jacket. Remember that the whole point is to be comfortable while not having the burden of excess wear. 

In a nutshell

Backpacking is an adventure you should consider doing. Not only will you be able to immerse yourself in nature and beautiful sceneries, you will expand your horizons by visiting new places and meeting new people.

The good thing is that it doesn’t have to be complicated, even as a beginner. The backpacking tips for beginners above will make your experience better. 

Planning for a trip can be a daunting task, especially if you are a beginner. You can easily get overwhelmed when you have no clue where to start and even the more minor details that might hurt your experience. Luckily, there’s plenty of information out there nowadays. All you need to do is do your research and figure out some travel tips for beginners. Social media, guidebooks, and blogs have never been more plentiful. Just pick what suits your ideas best.

Hopefully, this travel planning guide for beginners will put you on the right path just as you desire and help you travel frequently and more efficiently.

Decide When to Travel

Timing is one of the critical travel factors to consider. One of the best travel tips for beginners is to travel during the off-season as compared to travelling during peak season.

Being flexible with your travel dates saves you a good chunk of money on both accommodation and transportation. Additionally, you get to enjoy popular tourist attractions when it’s less crowded and shorter wait periods.

Pick a Destination

Travel tips for beginners

Step 1 when planning a trip: pick your destination

One of the most exciting parts of planning a trip is researching and choosing a travel destination. The whole world is your oyster at this point, and you can go anywhere and do anything.

However, it’s essential to have an excellent strategy to narrow down your options.  You may opt to pick a destination from your bucket list that you had created, the most economical to fly to, or one that you got inspired to travel to through travel magazines or travel bloggers. Go ahead and get detailed and specific with your plans.

Every little detail would count, such as luggage storage places in Seattle, or bike rentals in London. The idea is to be as explicitly detailed about your destination as possible.

Research Flights and Dates

Research a few dates to find the best time to travel

Research a few dates to find the best time to travel

Hotel or activity prices are not as volatile as airline prices and availability are. In that, there’s still a good chance you can find another place to stay that will still fall within your budget and meet your needs if the hotel room you had booked is no longer available. 

On the other hand, consider if you had booked a hotel, but the flight you were looking at is no longer available or has doubled in price? Therefore, you must take your time researching flight routes and dates. Book your flight early enough to get your desired flight and also for the best deals.

One of our best travel tips for beginners is to use apps such as Skyscanner, Momondo, and Google Flights to help you find cheap air tickets. 

Remember to find a good parking spot for your car. You can also try to save more on the parking spots you pick. For example, you can save more if you park your car near the airport you intend to use.

For example, you can book parking at the Embassy Suites RDU Airport if you use the Raleigh-Durham International Airport. You can then use a free shuttle service to and from the airport. It will save you a lot. Remember to pick a spot that can guarantee you security for your car for the time you will be away. 

Decide on the Duration of Your Stay

The length of your trip will highly depend on your monetary budget since the longer your trip, the more you spend. On top of that, vacation time is another factor to consider. How much time do you have at your disposal?  How much of it do you want to commit to this trip?

Also, think about the time needed to explore and enjoy your destination and the travel time to the destination. One of the hardest parts about planning your first trip is figuring out the balance between taking your time, and trying to see it all.

One of our travel tips for beginners is to spend at least 2 days in each city in order to really immerse yourself. For large destinations like Paris or Rome, you should plan to spend even more time.  

Set Your Budget

Setting a travel budget is one of our essential travel tips for beginners

Setting a travel budget is an important part of planning your trip

Go the extra mile and research your total costs with your preferred travel style. Would you rather stay in hotels, or do you want to backpack to the destination? What’s the cost of restaurants, hotels, and attraction sites?

These questions will guide you in coming up with a rough estimate of your total costs. If working with a limited budget, look for destinations that fit into your range and rule out unaffordable destinations. If you are flexible, figure out how much you are comfortable spending and squeeze your expenses into that budget.

Wrap up

It’s always important to have almost as much of your trip planned out in advance as possible to avoid getting into sticky situations on your travel. We hope the simple travel tips for beginners will help you organize better and prepare for your trip.