The week before your trip can be an exciting time but also a little bit of an anxious time. I have traveled many times and it seems I think of things that I need to do and make mental notes. But then the week before the trip, it’s a struggle to remember all that needs to be done. I created a preadventure checklist of things that need to be done the week before my trip.
There are many ways to plan and prepare for an adventure trip, but some preparations need to be done closer to the time you leave. For example, you can check the weather, but it’s not until the week that you will get a more accurate forecast. This preadventure checklist for the week before will keep you from forgetting wanted items and keep you safe while traveling.
1. Check for alerts on the park website
The week before your adventure it is always a great idea to check the park’s or land manager’s website for alerts. Alerts will tell you if the park has closed certain areas if there are specific wildlife dangers or other necessary information. I just got back from Great Basin National Park and the water system for the campgrounds was not working. The alter informed me to not expect water at any campground and then where I could get it.
2. Doublecheck rules and regulations, wildlife, fires, etc.
While you’re checking alerts for the park or forest, it’s a great idea to double-check the land manager’s rules and regulations. For example, when I went to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, I had to keep all my food and smelly items in a bear box at camp. Most places advise a hard-sided vehicle is enough to deter a hungry bear. But not the bears at Sequoia and Kings Canyon, they will break into your vehicle. Because of this rule, I bought boxes to make it easier to transport food from the vehicle to the bear box.
It’s also good to check for fire regulations. Some places may not allow charcoal fires, and then you will know you need to bring something like a propane stove to cook on.
3. Check weather.gov for the specific area
Weather forecasts change often so it’s a good idea to check the weather the week before and include it in your preadventure checklist. This will give you a more accurate idea of what to expect the week of your trip to a national park, state park, national forest, or the like.
Also, the National Weather Service’s website will allow you to dial into a specific area. Sometimes it’s cooler in the woods than in the closest city. Great Basin National Park has an elevation of difference about 6,000 feet. So a campground near the base of the mountain is going to be warmer than the campground at the top of the mountain.
4. Check river levels
River levels are dependent on rainfall, so it’s always a great idea to check them the week before your trip. Of course, this only needs to be added to your preadventure checklist if you plan on a hike with a river crossing or a float trip.
When I traveled to Big Bend one New Year’s, we planned on a rafting trip to the Rio Grande. However, the water was not high enough so we had to canoe instead of rafting. When I traveled to the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, the river levels were almost too high. Using a guide will help determine this better. But knowing the levels can help you make another arrangement if your trip falls through.
This is also a good idea if your adventure has any hikes with a water crossing. If the water is high, it might not be safe to cross where the trail is.
5. Make a packing list
Once you know the weather, river levels, etc., you can know how to pack better. So after you cross those off your preadventure checklist, you can make out your packing list. You will want to make a packing list for the clothes you plan to wear. But you will also need to make a packing list for the camping equipment you will need.
After reading that Great Basin National Park did not have potable water at the campgrounds, I included my water filter into my gear. I hoped there would be a nearby stream so I didn’t have to drive for water.
6. Take your vehicle in for a service
Before every cross-country trip, I take my vehicle in for an oil changed and checked over. This was especially important to add to my preadventure checklist on my last trip because there were times I was 100 miles from services. When I take my vehicle in, I usually tell my mechanic that I am traveling. And they check the car over to thwart potential problems.
7. Give a detailed itinerary to someone
One of the most important things to put on your preadventure checklist is to give a detailed itinerary to someone at home. If something happens to you, then someone knows where you should be or possibly where something could have gone wrong.
It also helps loved ones get in contact with you if something goes wrong at home and you don’t have cell phone service. And it’s just a good idea if someone knows where you should be.
Including these seven tasks into your preadventure checklist can help put your mind at ease and make your adventure more comfortable. These are the seven things I do the week before I leave on my trip to ensure that I have planned and prepared properly. It also is a great way to double-check yourself.
I have a multi-colored master packing list, with things I always bring in black and different colors for car camping gear, backpacking gear, winter gear, etc. When I’m about to go on a trip I’ll copy that master to a new file, delete everything which doesn’t apply, and tweak that as necessary.
Oh nice! I love that idea! So much better than going over my fear in my head and trying to remember what I might need or want.