Hiking through Enchanted Rock outside of Fredericksburg, Texas

Hiking 101

Going on a hike soon and don’t know what to expect or can’t remember all of the things you need to bring? Don’t fret! Below your will find some tips about hiking prep and packing so you will have all of the tools you need for an awesome trek!

Pre-hike prep:

  • Pick a trail – Most trails are rated for their difficulty and length. Before you head out on a trail, check the trail’s website to see how long the trail is, the average time to complete the trail, the elevation change, and the level of difficulty, to ensure the trail meets your hiking goals.
  • Find a map of your trail – Most parks and trails will have trail maps available online. Print out a map before you go so that you have directions if the trails are not clearly marked or in case you lose cell signal.
  • Research where to park, park entrance fees, and park hours before you go. Some parks open at a certain time but, due to popularity, close once they hit capacity. Most hiking trails will tell you the optimal hours to arrive at the park. Additionally, while more and more parks are taking cards, some are still cash only, so be prepared to pay the park fee either way so you aren’t turned away at the gates!

What to bring on your hike:

  • Packable backpack – A good bag to carry extras is essential to any trip. A packable backpack fits easily into any suit case or car pocket, has supportive, padded straps for comfort, and has extra pockets for water bottles and other necessities you don’t want to hold by hand. My backpack (shown below) folds up to be about 5×6 inches:

  • Water bottles – Swell or Hydro Flask bottles are great. Not only do they look cool (no pun intended), they keep your water cold for hours and hours so you can be refreshed while in the heat.
  • A hat and UV protected sun glasses – Make sure your sunnies stay on when you tilt your head back and forth. You will be looking at the ground a bunch so you don’t want a pair that constantly slips down your face.
  • Hiking boots – Along with a good pair of socks, shoes are the most important part of a hike. Invest in a good pair with support, ventilation, and decent grip. REI is a great place to go try on boots with some expert help, but you can find a bunch of options on Amazon with rave reviews. If you are going on a hike and can’t buy a new pair of shoes right now, wear sneakers with a lot of tread and ankle support.
  • Hiking socks – Investing in a decent pair of socks will prevent painful blisters down the road. REI has comfy and soft hiking socks that come with either high and low tops and will keep your toes warm without blister discomfort. If you are still nervous about blisters on a long hike, check out BodyGlide. I use it when I go on long runs (8-20 milers) and it prevents blisters wherever you feel a chafe. Also, if you are going into grassy areas, wear higher socks and long pants so you don’t get dirt, bugs, or poison ivy on your legs.

  • Protein bars for extra energy – No one wants to hike on an empty stomach! If you are going for over an hour, bring a healthy snack, high in protein and  / or healthy carbs, to pick you up. My favorite are Quest bars, especially the white chocolate raspberry and cookies and cream flavors, almonds, and apples.
  • Bug spray – A must if you are a mosquito magnet like I am!
  • Band aids or a small first aid kit – Target has a bunch of travel sized first-aid kits with a little of everything you may need.
  • Camera / phone for pictures – Don’t forget your selfie stick! You may also want to bring a portable phone charger just in case.
  • A light and comfortable jacket – Just in case it gets cool
  • Umbrella – Check your local weather before you go to make sure you don’t have any rainy surprises!

Have questions? Feel free to comment them below. If not, happy hiking!

Beach Vacation Packing List

Beach Vacation Packing List

Weather you are heading to the exotic beaches of Mexico, Australia, or Thailand, island hopping through the Virgin Islands or Hawaii, or just heading to the US coastline, beach packing is pretty standard across the board! The following packing list should help you get everything you need together for an amazing trip with no “I can’t believe I forgot ….” moments!

Clothing:

  • Swim suits: A few of them! Who wants to wear a wet bathing suit multiple days in a row? A few options, like strapless suits for your lazy days on the beach so you won’t get crazy tan lines and more sturdy suits that tie around the neck and wont fall off while you are snorkeling or going on excursions with more movement, will be your best bet. While my favorite swim wear comes from Everything But Water, Target and Aerie have reasonably priced options you can’t beat as well
  • Tank tops: Light, breathable tops to keep you cool but give you some sun coverage when you need it
  • Shorts: Make sure they will not chafe and are comfortable / easy on / off when wet. If your thighs rub together like mine (*sigh*), longer shorts, like those at Gap, can help prevent the rub when your sticky from the salt water
  • Easy on / off rompers or sun dresses: Perfect to wear to the beach or resort pool as a cover up and cute enough to go to a restaurant after
  • Athletic leggings / shorts and tops for excursions or workouts: Focus on light, breathable, sweat-wicking, and easy to clean clothes for your zip-line or adventurous tours
  • Formal wear: Don’t forget flowy dresses or a cute skirt / top combo for nice dinners and dancing. Heels might be a bit much for the casual beach scene, so wedges, chunky heels, or cute sandals might be the easier to pack, more practical option
  • A scarf or light jacket for those cool beach nights (and the plane ride to and from your destination)
  • Don’t forget your undies, socks, and bras!

Accessories:

  • Water bottle for excursions: I love Swell bottles. They are easy to travel with, keep drinks cold for hours and hours, and are super cute
  • Water proof camera (if not your phone with a water proof case)
  • Umbrella: For both sun and rain protection
  • Floppy sun hat and sunglasses: A MUST. Bring nice sunglasses for pool days and some cheaper, “it’s ok if I lose these” ones to go in the ocean / on excursions with
  • Day bag: Pack-able backpack for your sunscreen, poncho, water and snacks, towels, and anything else you may need on excursions
  • Sun screen: Make sure you apply often! Don’t forget an oil free version for your face to avoid breakouts
  • Waterproof phone carrying case: This will save your phone when you are on bumpy jet boats, in rain, and are surrounded by water
  • Hand sanitizer, lip balm with sun screen, water proof make up, lots of aloe just in case of sun burns, and bug spray
  • Reading material for the plane or by the pool

Shoes:

  • Comfortable walking sandals that can get wet and keep your feet secure from slipping around. My personal favorite are Chaco’s. While they might not be the cutest shoes, they are so comfortable for miles of walking and are easy to clean. Note, black shoes tend to soak up the heat when you are in the pool or at the beach so lighter shoes are better
  • Sandals for walking beach
  • Sneakers and / or water shoes for adventure tours or a mid-vacay workout (funny right?)
  • Wedges or comfy heels for any “nice” nights out

Hopefully this list will take some of the packing stress away and help you have the best time on your beach vacation!

On the beach in El Salvador

Phuket Packing List

Phuket packing guide

Phuket and the surrounding islands are full of beautiful beaches and tropical adventures! Between sea-canoeing, swimming in resort pools, walking the beach, visiting popular islands, and walking the night markets, there is tons to do and lots to pack. Fingers crossed sunshine will be the only thing in your trip’s forecast, but during monsoon season (May – November), it rains like crazy on the coast, so you will want to ensure you are prepared no matter what!

Snorkeling outside of Maya Bay in the Phi Phi islands, Thailand

With all of that said, below are my recommendations for making the most out of your Phuket packing space:

Chaco Dorra Sandals  | NeatPack Foldable Backpack | Forever 21 Floppy Sun Hat | Cheap sunglasses bought in the night markets so if they go for a swim, its OK | a poncho & umbrella | Everything But Water Sundress | Everything But Water Bikini | Flowy Romper | Universal Bastex Dry Bag Wterproof Phone Case

Clothing:

  • Tank top: Light, breathable tanks that do not reveal too much but keep you cool. Make sure they can match with lots of prints so, if you buy clothes in Thailand, you can mix and match!
  • Shorts: That will not chafe and are comfortable / easy on / off when wet.
  • Easy on / off romper: Perfect to wear to the beach or resort pool as a cover up.
  • Athletic capri leggings and top for excursions: Focus on light, breathable, sweat-wicking, and easy to clean clothes for your zip-line or adventurous tours.
  • Formal wear: Flowy dresses or nice skirt / top combo. Remember, Thailand is a very conservative country so try not to reveal too much.
  • Bathing suit (2): Bring a strapless one for your lazy days on the beach or at the pool so you won’t get crazy tan lines. Bring a second one that ties around the neck and wont fall off while you are snorkeling or going on excursions with more movement.
  • Poncho or rain jacket: to keep dry. Bring with you at all times! You never know when the sky will open up and the rain will come.

A floating fishing village outside of Phuket, Thaliand

Accessories:

  • Water bottle
  • Camera (if not your phone)
  • Umbrella: For both sun and rain protection
  • Hat and sunglasses: A MUST
  • Day bag: Pack-able backpack for your sunscreen, poncho, water and snacks, towels, and anything else you may need.
  • Sun screen: Make sure you apply often!
  • Waterproof phone carrying case: This will save your phone when you are on bumpy jet boats, in rain, and are surrounded by water.
  • Hand sanitizer

Shoes:

  • Comfortable walking sandals that can get wet and keep your feet secure from slipping around
  • Sandals for walking beach
  • Sneakers for adventure tours

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Chiang Mai Packing List

Chiang Mai Packing List

After the heat and humidity of Bangkok, we were not surprised that Chiang Mai was along the same lines. Walking around downtown to check out the various temples was worse than the most humid of days in Houston Texas, so wearing breathable clothes, lots of sun protection, supportive shoes, and keeping hydrated was essential!

On top of gallivanting around town, a huge draw to visiting Chiang Mai are the elephant sanctuaries. The sanctuaries are typically in the mountain areas and there was an unexpected 15 minute hike to get to our location, so sneakers and sweat-wicking active wear was the way to go. Additionally, during monsoon season (May – November), it rains like crazy and gets super muddy, so you will want to ensure you have a plan for packing and washing your clothes after the fact…. Mine was washing everything in the shower afterwards and using the hairdryer to dry things…

Wandering temples in Chiang Mai, Thailand

With all of that said, below are my recommendations for making the most out of your Chiang Mai packing space:

Chaco Dorra Sandals  | NeatPack Foldable Backpack | Forever 21 Floppy Sun Hat | Cheap sunglasses bought in the night markets so if you lose or break them, its OK | a poncho / umbrella | Under Armour UA Fly-By Capri | Coach Messenger with Pop Up Pouch Bag

Clothing:

  • Shirts (1 per day): Light, breathable tanks or tees that do not reveal too much. Make sure they can match with lots of prints so, if you buy clothes in Thailand, you can mix and match!
  • Maxi skirts or maxi dresses (1 per day): Perfect to wear at temples and they dress up and down so easily! Try and buy ones with slits so you can have a bit more ventilation.
  • Athletic capri leggings and top for jungle excursions: Focus on light, breathable, sweat wicking, and easy to clean for your muddy elephant journey or adventure into the jungle.
  • Formal wear (number pending your night plans): dresses or nice skirt / top combo. Remember, the night markets are a great way to spend an evening and are very casual so, if you only have two nights, make sure you check out a market for one of them!
  • Bathing suit: bring one on the elephant tour and make sure you check out the hotel pool to relax your body after a long day of walking in the heat!
  • Buy some elephant pants in the markets. They are the most comfy $5 pants you will ever own. I wore them almost every night!

Accessories:

  • Water bottle
  • Camera
  • Light scarf: to cover your shoulders at the temples
  • Umbrella: for both sun and rain protection
  • Hat and sunglasses: A MUST
  • Day bag: pack-able backpack recommended to put your shoes in at temples, carry your water and snacks for long days, a change of clothes for after the elephant park, and anything else you may need.
  • Sun screen & bug spray: make sure you apply often!
  • Purse: A small, zipped (for security reasons), cross-body purse, to carry your personals. Try and make sure it is easy for you to get in and out of when you need to grab your phone or camera quickly to capture your favorite moments of the trip! Also, an easy to clean leather material will help if you maintain it and pick a color that is easy to match with.
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Tissues / toilet paper: if you want some in the bathrooms…

Shoes:

  • Sneakers that can get muddy
  • Comfortable walking sandals that are easy to take on and off (at temples)
  • Sandals for walking to the spa or pool / hot tub

Bangkok Packing List

Bangkok Packing List

Being from Texas, I figured I was used to heat and humidity, but boy did Bangkok test my tolerance! Not only was it hot, it was super humid, and when combined with the heat generated by a bustling, concrete, no-shade city, lightweight clothes and sun-gear were a must.

On top of weather control, you also have to pack for the temples. Out of respect for the Thai people, you must cover your shoulders, not show cleavage, have bottoms on that go below your knees, and take your shoes / hats off when entering and walking around Thai temples and the Royal Palace. In general, you want to make sure you are more covered-up as short or revealing clothes are not appreciated. Doing all of that while staying cool and looking cute is a challenge, but is doable!

Below are my recommendations for making the most out of your Bangkok packing space:

Chaco Dorra Sandals  | NeatPack Foldable Backpack | Frever 21 Floppy Sun Hat | Cheap sunglasses bought in the Bangkok night market so if you lose or break them, its OK | Everything But Water Bikini | Coach Messenger with Pop Up Pouch Bag

Clothing:

  • Shirts (1 per day): Light, breathable tanks or tees that do not reveal too much
  • Maxi skirts or maxi dresses (1 per day): Perfect to wear at temples and they dress up and down so easily! Try and buy ones with slits so you can have a bit more ventilation.
  • Walking pants (1-2 pending length of stay and activities): Don’t go for jeans – they are way too hot. Try active wear type pants that are light, breathable, and easy to clean. If you wear leggings, make sure your tops go substantially below your butt so are you still within temple dress code.
  • Formal wear (number pending your night plans): dresses or nice skirt / top combo. Remember, the night markets are a great way to spend an evening and are very casual so, if you only have two nights, make sure you check out a market for one of them!
  • Bathing suit: Make sure you check out the hotel pool. The So Sofitel’s pool was an amazing infinity pool and I am so glad I brought my suit!
  • Workout gear: Just in case all of the Pad Thai makes a gym date necessary…

Outside of the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

Accessories:

  • Water bottle
  • Camera
  • A scarf to cover your shoulders at the temples (note: the Royal Palace requires something more robust than a scarf. I had to buy a $2 white tee-shirt outside of the Palace entrance so I could pass the standards)
  • Umbrella: for both sun and rain protection
  • Hat and sunglasses: A MUST
  • Day bag: pack-able backpack recommended to put your shoes in at temples, carry your water, and anything else you may need.
  • Sun screen: make sure you apply often!
  • Purse: A small, zipped (for security reasons), cross-body purse, to carry your personals. Try and make sure it is easy for you to get in and out of when you need to grab your phone or camera quickly to capture your favorite moments of the trip! Also, an easy to clean leather material will help if you maintain it and pick a color that is easy to match with.
  • Hand sanitizer

Shoes:

  • Sneakers
  • Comfortable walking sandals that are easy to take on and off (at temples)
  • Sandals for walking to the spa or pool / hot tub

At the infinity pool at the So Sofitel Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand