Packing for a national park trip can be a daunting task, and it can be a challenge to master the art of packing light when there are so many things it seems you need to consider. But with a few essentials, you’ll be prepared for whatever comes your way on your next adventure! In addition to plenty of food and water, start with these packing tips and you’ll be ready for anything:Read More
Gadgets are essential parts of any trip to the national parks. If you want to fully harness the power of your camping trip, you’ll want to be selective about the gadgets you bring. To pack smart for your next adventure, begin with these essential devices. Don’t forget to bring appropriate U.S. adapters with you, so you can be sure to recharge and use them all throughout your trip!
Mobile phones are indispensable gadgets in the modern world, and it’s a no-brainer to bring one. Family members and friends back home will be anxious to keep in touch with you while you’re away, so travel able, and be ready to communicate. Additionally, the all-in-one nature of today’s mobile phones also means you can pack light, and carry everything you need in your pocket. Some smartphone apps can also serve as guides to the national parks you’re visiting. Be warned, however. Cell reception is often spotty in campgrounds and other less-populated areas of national parks.
If your mobile phone doesn’t support camera technology, or you’re an avid photographer or filmmaker, you’ll probably want to bring a separate camera. ‘Classic’ cameras are capable of capturing detailed, professional-grade images, so you might want one on top of your phone anyway. If you do that, you’ll need to know some photography basics. Click here to read more about how to fine tune your wilderness and nature photography skills.
Wood-Burning Portable Stove
There are several options for portable stoves to bring with you on your national park camping trip. Aside from being an essential tool for warm food or clean water, this gadget can also serve as an adapter that charges your devices. A wood-burning stove gathers its fuel from twigs and logs conveniently located at your campground, ensuring that this gadget is both a sustainable and energy-efficient way to help you stay nourished and connected while camping.
Another gadget and campsite essential, many portable showers provide water pressure similar to what you’d find at home. They’ll deliver a complete clean for a fraction of the size of a normal shower, and one that is perfect for convenient packing. Staying clean on the road is important. With all the hiking and nature you’ll be experiencing, it’s even more important.
If you’re traveling in cooler seasons, you’ll want to take along a portable heater to keep you toasty warm when the night gets colder. Being cold in the morning is bad – we all know it. It’s easily avoided with a heater, and you can use it after some cold-water swimming in a lake!
Ready to plan your first or next national park trip, but you still aren’t sure what you should bring? Our experts at USA Parks can help you create the perfect packing list to suit your needs while ensuring you don’t miss a thing!
Proper documentation is important when planning a trip to U.S. National Parks. Without one or many of the things on the following list, you may find yourself lost or even fined by the government. Plan ahead to ensure you’re prepared for any and all situations. We’ve compiled a list to help you:
If visiting from abroad, you’ll need these documents to gain entry into the United States. They’re also a valid form of identification that may be required of you to make certain reservations and purchases. If you’re planning an extended stay, you may need to secure a visa as well. Be sure to research this well beforehand, so you have what you need.
These might be the most important documents in your possession when visiting a national park. In short, you won’t be able to get in without them! American citizens have a couple options, including a free pass for members of the military, and a senior pass for those over the age of 62. Visitors and Americans who don’t fall into the select categories can purchase an annual pass for $80. The pass covers all entrance and amenity fees national parks present. Not just for you, but all the members of your party! You can also opt to purchase single tickets, if you’re only going to visit one park. Check individual park websites for admission details.
Fishing permits and other applicable licenses
Check local laws and regulations, which vary per state and park, to ensure you have the appropriate documents to engage in certain recreational activities specific to your campsite (and click here to learn more about how to prepare for a fishing trip in the national parks).
Remember all the other activities you took the time to plan; hiking, horseback riding, and more? Make sure you carry a written document of them, so you can stay on track and experience everything on your agenda! No one likes to forget the main event!
Bird-watching guides, plant guidebooks, or even specific national park guidebooks, for example, can help you make sense of the location and scenery around you. They can keep you safe from harmful wildlife, and ensure you’re making the most of your exploration.
A few other things you’ll need include the following: copies of insurance documents, rental car documents, lodging reservation confirmations and/or camping permits, maps and related material (to make sure you don’t get lost!), and prescriptions (if applicable) to help you stay healthy abroad.
Looking for some more information on how to pack for your first or next trip to one of America’s national parks? Click here for some more tips, and contact our Visit USA Parks experts for plenty of additional advice. We’ll help ensure you don’t leave anything essential behind on your next adventure.
Water intake and fitness are two crucial things to consider when in National Parks. To ensure that everyone in your party is able to enjoy the activities you have planned, consider what you need to do. We’ve provided some info to help:
Appropriate hydration is necessary to keep both you and your environment healthy. You need it just like those trees do! Necessary intake varies depending on weight and fitness, so keep both in mind when planning your trip. Keep waste to a minimum by recycling any plastic water bottles you bring with you. Better yet, bring a reusable water bottle to fill up at water fountains and refilling stations throughout the parks. And if you forget your water bottle at home, don’t worry: many national parks sell their own as souvenirs in their gift shops! With multiple options for rehydrating, and the bottles to make sure you’re doing so in style, you’ll definitely have all you need to keep your water intake at a safe level during your national park visit.
The fitness level required from activities is also vital to consider, especially when including several family members. Consider the energy and fitness level of the least able members of your group, and plan accordingly. With hikes, for example, consider ways to make it enjoyable for all members of your party. This might mean focusing on low-impact terrain that still offers stunning vistas. If you go river rafting, choose an adventure that takes you over gentle waters. If your party is large enough to split according to fitness, go for it. Just make sure no one embarks alone.
For more help on planning your dream vacation in one or more of the United States National Parks and around them, and for more advice on health considerations to keep in mind as you prepare for your trip, consult our experts at Visit USA Parks. We look forward to helping you with all of your vacation planning needs!
Vaccinations are an important piece of the pre-departure puzzle you need to solve. It’s important to take health precautions prior to your trip, in order to protect you, the people, and environments you encounter. Trust us, it’s better to remain in robust health for the duration of your trip. Chief among these precautions are vaccinations, that combat diseases local to your destination.
Before your trip, make note of whether vaccinations are administered in a single injection, or a series. Not only this, also note how long it takes to be inoculated. These time-frames may affect when you’ll be able to depart, so get it right the first time.
For a full list of recommended vaccinations for travel to the United States, please consult a physician or vaccination clinic. The following list is not exhaustive, and is intended to share basic information only.
A rabies vaccination is administered over the course of three to four weeks. It protects against a life-threatening illness contracted through animal and human bites. It may also occur through getting scratched by something infected. All warm-blooded animals can carry Rabies, and camping in national parks will put you in close proximity to potential carriers. Therefore, it is crucial to include this vaccination in your plan.
Tetanus can be fatal, and it results from contact with rusty objects and soil. In national parks it’s not unlikely you’ll these things, but what can you do? Thankfully, there’s a vaccination to protect against the infection. Consult your doctor to find out more.
Talk with your doctor if you have further questions on specific health measures that may be required or recommended to prepare for your trip. And if you have additional questions on how to plan for a trip to America’s national parks, contact our experts at Visit USA Parks. Together, we’ll make sure you don’t forget a thing, and that your vacation is one to remember!
US health insurance and local medical support are often provided in travel insurance. Travel insurance covers a variety of unplanned events that might occur. The insurance covers anything from trip delays, and stolen luggage, to cancellations. Visitor health insurance covers accidental injury or illness that could occur during a visit to the US. Furthermore, it covers necessary access to local medical support in these instances, allowing medical coverage to extend beyond native national borders. This is for visitors who are ineligible for citizen’s medical coverage.
Visits to US National Parks can bring higher risks than others, and it’s good to be prepared. National parks offer several kinds of local medical support, which can be used in the case of an emergency:
“Protection” Park Rangers
National parks train their rangers in “protection”. Usually, they are law enforcement officers, trained in EMS (Emergency Medical Services). They patrol the park and provide fast-response treatment for medical issues. In training, they tackle illnesses specific to a particular park’s location. For example, hypothermia in Alaska, marine issues in coastal parks, heat exhaustion in desert parks.
Most national parks have their own medical clinics. Typically, they offer local medical support within park borders. Yellowstone has three clinics: Mammoth, which is open year-round, Jackson Lake, and Old Faithful. On top of this, the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, located outside of park boundaries, partners with the park’s clinics to help out. Estes Park Medical Center, just outside Rocky Mountain National Park, is another example of a top-notch care facility. Whatever your medical needs, when in a national park, you won’t be far from care.
For minor emergencies – scrapes, bruises, cuts, colds, and headaches – pack a first-aid kit with all the essentials. This includes a gauze, antibiotic ointment, aspirin, band-aids, and more. Preparing yourself to handle multiple ailments on your own is a good thing. Prevent illnesses associated with being outdoors (dehydration and heat exhaustion, for example) by bringing water with you, and you might be saving someone else by doing so.
Need more help planning for park emergencies, choosing health insurance coverage, and ensuring you’re as prepared as you can possibly be? Let our experts at Visit USA Parks guide you, and consult our other articles on how to prepare for your next national park trip.
“Welcome to America!” Or maybe: “Howdy, how is it going?”, you might hear those words when you arrive at the United States or check in at your hotel. The United States is a fascinating country, with so much diversity that it might even be overwhelming at first. Well, we’re here to provide some insight.
How to plan
Ultimately, there are only two ways to plan a trip to the United States. You either do it on your own or have someone do it for you. Both options have their pros and cons. If you’ve never visited the United States before, we recommend choosing a tour operator so that you can book your vacation and all the things are taken care of. Also, tour operators have the best relationships with hotels, airlines, and car rental companies, so if anything goes wrong on your trip (like a cancellation, flight delay, overbooking, etc) they are the first ones to help you. The downside is you might be less flexible with your itinerary as your route is predetermined.
If you speak English quite well or have been to the United States before, you can choose to organize the trip by yourself. America itself is a safe country to visit. They respect and welcome you when you are interested in learning about their culture. So, there is nothing wrong in organizing a trip by yourself. The advantage here is that you might be more flexible where you don’t have to book everything in advance. You could rent a car or RV and just go on your own throughout the country and explore. You will feel a sense of freedom traveling throughout the United States and exploring the best locations in every state.
Visa & Health Insurance
When visiting the United States, research about the visa requirements specific for your country. Most importantly, look up your country-specific visa requirements before booking your trip. While it has become a lot easier to visit the United States, recently with the immigration process, every country has its own proceedures and protocols. You should check the website of the US Department of State. There is a Visa Waiver Program for many countries in the world, making it easy to obtain a 90 day visitor visa. Also, in case if you are part of the Visa Waiver Program you will need fill out the ESTA application.
We recommend checking with your health insurance provider about coverage in the United States. Most of your outside U.S. health insurances won’t cover you automatically until you notify them. There might be an extra fee you will have to pay, as well. In most foreign countries, there is a travel insurance that you can just buy for up to 60-90 days that will cover in emergency and accidents. It is most important that will buy your insurance before you leave for the United States.
What to bring for a national vacation to the United States?
It can be overwhelming for anyone to pack exactly the right things for your US vacation. You are limited to one larger suitcase, one carry-on and eventually a handbag. Don’t try to bring too much as you will just have the challenge to be scrutinized with US Customs or the airline charging extra fees. Pack as light as you can and leave enough space in the suitcase for gifts when you return.
Things to consider for your national park vacation
Clothes: that will fit for very warm and very cold temperatures. You might discover national parks over 10,000 feet of elevations where nights can be freezing, but then discover metropolitan cities that exceed 40 celsius. The climate in the United States is very diverse, so study your itinerary and the seasons to make sure that you have proper clothes.
Camera equipment: You will be visiting one of the earth’s most unique places and world metropolitan cities, discovering movie locations and theme parks. It is a trip of a lifetime, so be prepared to bring a camera. We recommend bringing a SLR camera and learn in advance about how to shoot great pictures.
Shoes: bring shoes that you feel comfortable in walking. Sneakers and sport shoes, are good for national parks and the board walks. In case if you would like to do more adventurous hikes, we recommend durable hiking boots.
Backpack: if you would like to explore the national parks, we recommend a backpack and a suitable water bottle. Given that many of the national parks are located in a desert-type area, it is recommended to drink at least one gallon of water per day.
Print out all your documents and save them online, together with your visa and passport. In case if anything gets lost in your emails or your phone dies, this will help you a lot. It will save you a lot of trouble.
Cell phone: We recommend checking with your local cell phone provider about coverage and plans in the United States. While there is excellent coverage in major cities, most of the national parks have limited to no cell service. You can also buy a pre-paid phone plan here in the United States for the time you are here in case if you would like to do local calls within the U.S. There are many places offering free WiFi so you will always be able to log in to the hotel WiFi or a coffee place to upload your favorite pictures.