So you’ve decided that going on a hiking and camping trip (or a backpacking trip if you’re high speed and low drag. My low drag is a 5 yr old who can’t pack his own weight in gear….weak sauce) is in the near or foreseeable future but you don’t want to just go anywhere. The destination has to be epic, it has to be mind-blowing, it has to be colossal and be so wonderful that you consider never going anywhere else ever again. Well I have the recipe for blowing that vacation up, sinking it like the Titanic and causing one to swear off every camping and/or hiking ever again.
This list was birthed out of a trip I took with the wife and son last year to Yellowstone. We went in June and arrived the day after the campground opened looking to take on Yellowstone before the 15.36 million other people descend upon it like a junkyard dog on a bone (??? – I don’t write this stuff so please stop making that face at me). From this trip we gleaned so many thing to do that will ensure your time sucks like no other. Disclosure: Three months after the vacation I turned to my wife and said ‘That trip to Yellowstone was such a tremendous vacation, it’s going to be hard not to go back next year.”
My wife looking at me puzzled and then nodded her head in agreement, she realized that my multiple personality disorder was acting up again, or that I have finally lost my mind. Didn’t matter to her, she scooted closer to the door and unbuckled her seat belt juuuuusssttt in case.
Step #1 – Plan so much that your spouse considers not even taking the vacation.
One of the best decisions you can make is pure obsession with the objective. The more you plan the less fun you’ll have, I guarantee it! Take planning to a whole new level, obsess over it! Get every brochure you can and shove it into the face of your spouse, then be sure that every conversation eventually ends up on what you can do and see while hiking. Or what you need to get to make the trip more comfortable.
Your child isn’t feeling well, who cares, there is multiple geothermic activity all over the park. I mean how cool is that, much better then a toddler with the runs (son was turning four the month after our trip). You had a bad day on your job? Sorry honey, but you won’t have a bad day while hiking on this trail!
Oh no Aunt Louise died of cancer how terrible, but you know how to avoid death by bear on the trail? Make noise and be aware! (Didn’t happen I got carried away)
Step #2 – Over plan your day so that by the time you get back to the campsite you no longer have the desire to make dinner or enjoy what happened earlier.
Wearing yourself out by trying to see everything in one day is a totally awesome way to destroy the fun you had been having. Not taking things slow and having to rush everywhere to see everything and failing to factor in drive times makes for an awesome stress inducer! Especially when you have a toddler who isn’t allowed to nap for more then 20 minutes at a time is the key ingredient to producing a stunning display of child fireworks, tensions, and exhaustion.
Step #3 – Plan elaborate meals that need time and effort to prepare
Cause simple just isn’t going to cut it, especially in the rainy spring and cold of Yellowstone, in bear country where everything needs to be cleaned and put away. Why have PB&J when you can have BBQ meatballs (that make you vomit inside the tent because in the dead of night you can’t find that stupid zipper. true story) grilled chicken with veggies, burgers, and so much more.
Make the messiest meals possible, and be sure to use real plates and silverware because not only is cooking in the rain and cold fun, but eating the food less then lukewarm really hits the spot! Clean up is tremendous without hot water that isn’t carried to the wash basin that isn’t allowed at your site. Good times are had by all.
Step #4 – Leave yourself no flexibility to your lodging and plans
Because you followed step one so well, you planned it all out. Reserved all the sites at multiple places and you were ahead of things. Of course the car accident that keeps you in traffic for 2 hours didn’t come into play. Neither did the blinding rain storm which would put you at the intended site way after dark and setting up in the rain and cold. Who doesn’t want to do that with an already tired 3 yr old and a wife who is fighting the urge to nudge you over a cliff because you’re been the model for a patient and calm travel partner.
A failure to plan is planning to fail….right?
Step #5 – Bring too much gear in a car too small
So you want to make sure everyone is comfortable and taken care of. You planned out all the meals, purchased all the food and brought everything that you know you need; problem is your car is too small. Stupid coolers take up so much space and you can’t leave the child home alone because the police and social services have warned you that if they have to come a third time in the same week you get put in parent time out. So what do you do?
Duh! You pack it all on the roof in a waterproof roof cargo carrier, BRILLIANT! Oh no your car doesn’t have a roof rack to attach it to, what to do now? No worries you need all that stuff and dog gone it that gear is coming with. So let’s strap it on and run the straps into the car, we can deal with the straps over our heads for 20+ hours, right? Who needs head room and leg room, it’s overrated! And when it rains you can collect the rain that floods into the car through the nylon web straps so no one will ever have to deal with thirst. Real Genius!
You too can ruin your offspring’s childhood memories and nearly force your spouse to question why they married you by following these steps to the letter. Anyone can be successful and punching your family’s vacation dream right in the stomach and then kicking it while it lays on the ground. Don’t be the person who helps there family enjoy the outdoors and want to do it again, because really……that’s just lame.