Preparing for a big hiking trip is quite a job; it takes a lot of planning and careful attention to detail, in part because you want to ensure your safety and the safety of your group if you have one. Hiking is a wonderful pastime that mixes exercise with fun and allows you to spend time with nature, but it can be dangerous if not done correctly.

Knowing what and how to pack is half the battle; the other half is being prepared with knowledge about the area you’re traveling to and what the elements might bring your way. Spending time outdoors means you’ll need to check the weather forecasts daily, and if you’re going to be hiking in an area you’ve never visited before, do some research into what type of animals call it home, what the terrain is like, and whether there are residents living nearby. 

Here are some of the best tips on how to get started with your hiking trip planning.

Get online

Check out your destination as much as possible online well before your trip. This will give you time to research the climate, get an idea of what you’ll be facing where woods or mountainsides are concerned, and whether wind will be a factor in your time budget. If you’re traveling with a group, make sure everyone has access to this info and get them on the same page so there will be no surprises down the road. 

Get your home ready

Taking a trip for two or more days can be daunting if you live alone, as it means you’ll need to make preparations at home to ensure it stays safe and sound while you’re gone. If you have pets, make the necessary arrangements for their care or consider letting them stay with a friend or family member. Set up motion-sensor lights around the perimeter of your home, and let your neighbors know where you’ll be going and how long you’ll be gone so that if they see anything suspicious, they’ll know to alert authorities. 

If burglary is a concern, consider investing in a simple surveillance system that will allow you to view what’s going on in your home remotely via smartphone. Put away any weapons or valuables in a safe, or ask a friend to hold onto them while you’re gone. 

For more tips on getting your house ready before you leave, read this helpful guide.

Prepare your body

Getting ready for a big trip means you need to get your body in good shape. This means exercising every day and walking varying distances with a pack on your back to get used to the weight. Drink plenty of water and amp up the protein in your diet. Focus on workouts that help your ankles, calves, hips, and thighs, and don’t neglect your joints. During your walks, break in your hiking boots so they won’t rub blisters on the trip.

Stay connected

Hiking brings plenty of opportunities for fun, but there are also plenty of chances to get seriously injured. Be sure to bring walkie-talkies so you can stay connected to your group and so you’ll have a means of getting help if you need it. 

Pack smart

Packing the right items is an essential part of preparing for a hiking trip, so think carefully about the clothing you’ll bring. Keep in mind that you’ll be carrying everything you bring the whole time, so if your pack is too heavy, consider scaling down a bit. Pack lightweight cotton clothing that can be layered, as well as any protective gear you may need, such as a hat, gloves, and hooded jacket. Pay close attention to the weather forecasts to see what the temperatures are like during the day versus at night, as it may differ dramatically. 

Don’t forget to bring matches, flares, and a fully stocked first-aid kit, as well as a canteen or large water bottle. With a good plan and some careful preparation, you can create a hiking trip you’ll remember for years to come.