22 Ideas for Improving Your Health and Wellness in 2022

22 Ideas for Improving Your Health and Wellness in 2022

Some say 22 is one of the “angel numbers” or “master numbers” – I just think it’s fun to use these types of numbers to make lists!

So of course my mind immediately goes to a list of ways to improve health and wellness. It’s a mix of ideas for fitness, nutrition, mental health and more. Enjoy!

  1. Try 1 new fruit – or 1 new recipe using your favorite fruit!
  2. Pick 2 things from this list to do this week.
  3. Identify 3 healthy habits to try for a week. I’m filling up 2 water bottles each morning and drinking them before the end of the day to increase my fluids. If you want some help with creating habits, check out BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits free 5-day program or James Clear’s Atomic Habits 30-day free class.
  4. Set 4 health-related goals for yourself. One of mine is to drink at least 64 oz. of fluids a day (see above).
  5. Try 5 new vegetables – or 5 new recipes for your favorite vegetables. Here’s a list of vegetables to get some inspiration.
  6. Stretch for 6 minutes per day.
  7. Take 7 deep breaths when you’re feeling stressed.
  8. Add 8 minutes of physical activity to your day.
  9. Brainstorm 9 ideas to help you stick with a healthy habit. For example, set a reminder on your calendar, put a post-in note on your mirror, sign up for a class, etc.
  10. Find 10 ways to move more during your typical day. Some ideas: use a bathroom that’s farther away, set a timer to remind you to stand up and stretch every hour, play with your child or pet for a few extra minutes.
  11. List 11 things you’re good at and how you can apply those skills to improving your health. I’m good at organizing social gatherings, so I use that to organize hikes!
  12. Choose 12 healthy recipes to try this year. I have the app Forks Over Knives on my phone to inspire me.
  13. Remember 13 successes you’ve had in your life, small or big, and what helped you achieve them.
  14. Log your exercise for 14 days.
  15. Try standing on one foot for 15 seconds, then try on the other foot and notice any differences.
  16. Spend 16 minutes connecting with someone you care about.
  17. Make a list of 17 people you want to see in the coming year.
  18. Rest and recharge for 18 minutes per week – or per day!
  19. Practice some form of meditation or mindfulness for 19 days in a row.
  20. Invest $20 in something that helps you improve your health.
  21. Spend 21 minutes learning something new.
  22. Write down 22 things you’re grateful for in your life.
Conquering the 5 Mental Stages of Preparing for a Challenge

Conquering the 5 Mental Stages of Preparing for a Challenge

Have you been toying with the idea of taking on an adventurous experience or challenging goal?

Maybe it’s that dream trip to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Or a “milestone birthday” goal to run a half marathon. Or a post-pandemic group cycling tour of Tuscany.

You’re excited about it, yet there’s a hint of hesitation.

Here’s how it usually goes for me. I see or hear about an interesting event or experience that includes a physical challenge that I’m not currently ready to do, but seems like I could if I focused on training for it. I get excited and sign up.

Then I figure out what I’ll need to do to get ready. I plan out how to increase my activity over the course of the weeks or months leading up to the event.

That’s the logical part. Then comes the mental part. I usually spend at least some time in these phases:

  • Hopeful and Enthusiastic
  • Wondering What Was I Thinking
  • Encouraged by Progress
  • Guilty and Selfish
  • Excited and Confident

The order varies and sometimes I go back and forth between phases multiple times. Here are some strategies for how to leverage the “good” phases and get additional support during the rough ones.

Hopeful and Enthusiastic

This is usually the first phase, right as I’m signing up for the event or experience. It sounds fun, I feel like I have enough time to get ready, and my ego is saying it’s a good idea to push myself a bit. The world is my oyster and I’m ready to dive in.

And this is why there are so many events and experiences marketed to us! The photos of happy people completing the event and sharing testimonials signal to us that we’re ultimately going to be rewarded with happiness, a sense of accomplishment, approval from others, or other desirable emotions.

So we decide to go for it. We tell family and friends, and they start cheering us on.

Wondering What I Was Thinking

Sometimes this hits me early, as I’m just starting to prepare, and sometimes closer to the event. Or multiple times!

Suddenly what I am supposed to do seems ridiculous and not achievable. My confidence goes in the toilet. I’m embarrassed that I ever thought I should sign up for it. I’m afraid I’ll make a fool of myself. Imposter syndrome takes over my brain.

That’s when it’s time to bring in reinforcements. For me, that means reaching out to people who love and support me and believe in me. The ones who will remind me of what I’ve done in the past, reassure me that I’m doing what I should, and tell me it will all work out just fine. 

For others, turning around the negativity may involve journaling, listening to an inspiring podcast, or meditating.

The sooner you can pull out of this, the better. If one technique doesn’t work, try another.

Encouraged by Progress

As I make progress on my plan, I usually start to gain confidence. The incremental steps add up, and I feel stronger and more capable.

During this phase, it’s helpful to look back to your starting point and recognize how far you’ve come. It can seem like you’re barely moving forward until you reflect on where you were before.

If you are the type of person who likes to visually see progress, create or buy something where you can track what you’ve done to keep up the momentum.

Guilty and Selfish

Preparing for a challenging event or experience takes time. Chances are you had a pretty full calendar before deciding to do this, so something will have to give.

My husband doesn’t usually sign up for the types of challenges I like to take on. He’s very supportive, though. Yet I still feel guilty and selfish about taking hours to prepare for “my thing.”

My heart goes out to those who have kids or other people who depend on them. I can only imagine how much more guilt shows up in light of those responsibilities.

Consider how you can reframe what you’re doing (or want to be doing), because there are always several ways to perceive a situation.

You’re investing time in improving yourself, physically and mentally. As one of my clients told me, “when I invest in myself, I can show up as a better person for those I love.”

You’re modeling the importance and benefits of taking care of yourself.

You’re giving others the opportunity to figure out ways to take care of themselves. You might be pleasantly surprised by how well your family does when they need to handle things in your absence. And that doesn’t mean you’re not needed – in fact, they’ll probably appreciate you even more!

Realizing these alternatives may not banish the guilt entirely, though hopefully enough to get you back on track.

Excited and Confident

These are the days when everything is going well – you’re in “the zone,” you’ve got this, and you can’t wait for the event or experience. With any luck, you’ll be in this phase as it happens! After all, that was part of the original draw to do this, right?

Take advantage of this phase whenever it comes around! Create something to remind yourself of the feeling. Take a photo, write in your journal or draw something that you can use as a touchstone during the tough times, either during this experience or for your next challenge.

Moving Through the Phases

As you move through the phases, give yourself grace. These and other emotions offer opportunities for learning and growth. They aren’t right or wrong – they’re just a part of the process.

Recognizing them gives you the power to decide how to react.

So buckle up and make the most of the ride!

If you’d like some support with the mental and physical aspects of preparing for an adventure, check out my adventure coaching packages or book a 30-minute free consultation call.

 

 

 

 

5 Focus Areas for a Post-injury Hiking Trip

5 Focus Areas for a Post-injury Hiking Trip

An epic hiking trip has been on your “bucket list” for years – the Swiss Alps, the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Kilimanjaro. Then it happened. An injury that stopped you in your tracks.

Whether it was a torn ACL, a sprained ankle, or a shoulder injury, suddenly your dream hike seems much farther off. Yet you’re not getting any younger.

So how do you come back from an injury, and still make the most of your dream trip?

Having a specific goal – in fact, envisioning specifically what you want to do, also known as mental imagery – can help your recovery

The key is to set up a training plan as far in advance as possible.

These five components are key to preparing for a post-injury hiking trip:

  1. Your team
  2. Your mindset
  3. Your strength
  4. Your stamina
  5. Your footwear and gear

Tap into your team

Most health care plans include a limited number of covered physical and/or occupational therapy visits after certain injuries and surgeries. After that, you’ll probably have more work to do on your own, especially to do a post-injury hiking trip.

So keep the lists and illustrations of the exercises your therapists gave you. If they didn’t tell you which ones would be beneficial to continue, ask for recommendations.

If you’re unsure of what to do for your upcoming hike, go back to the physical therapist you worked with post-injury. It’ll be worth it to have expert guidance from someone who understands your capabilities and recovery.

Consider working with a certified personal trainer to get ongoing customized guidance based on your situation. A personal trainer will help you use the proper form when you exercise.

After an injury, you may have a tendency to compensate for the body part that was injured. That can put extra strain on your “good” knee/hip/shoulder/etc. This compensation can lead to cascading injuries in the future.

Working with a personal trainer can help you do exercises correctly, and use an appropriate amount of weight or resistance.

Ask for referrals from your physical therapist or doctors involved in treating your injury. How much experience do they have with working with people who have had injuries? Do they have specific training in functional fitness?

Check out these tips for choosing a personal trainer. 

Mindset matters

Many people find that the mental recovery from an injury is nearly as difficult as the physical recovery. Between the time on the sidelines and the slower-than-hoped progress back to “normal,” even the most patient patients get frustrated.

Once you’re done with physical therapy, it can be tempting to return to your pre-injury activity level. Resist that urge and ease back in slowly.

Be kind to yourself when it comes to getting back to the shape you were in before the injury. Put it in perspective – how long did it take you to get to the level you were at pre-injury? Probably years.

So give yourself a break when you’re starting to rebuild. Besides, nobody is as young as they used to be, so that makes the process a bit longer too.

Rebuild your strength

Assuming you completed physical and occupational therapy, you should have a decent foundation of strength to build on. Yet PT and OT are primarily focused on improving your strength, range of motion and physical abilities for normal daily tasks.

As you prepare for a post-injury hiking trip, you may need to build additional strength in the previously injured area. Other parts of your body may need some attention too, especially if you put all of your energy into the recovering limb or joint!

Your physical therapist or personal trainer may suggest body weight exercises to start. These exercises will help you get in tune with how movements feel before adding weight/resistance.

The next step may be adding dumb bells and other weights that are used by one muscle group at a time. These are useful for figuring out which body part(s) are stronger or weaker than others. Plus you can use less weight on one side for a while to build up the weaker muscle group.

For example, if you had a shoulder injury, you may use a lighter weight for the previously injured side to start. As the injured side gets stronger, you can add more weight while keeping the “good side” at the same weight.

If you use a barbell or certain types of machines, your natural tendency is for the stronger side to “help” the weaker side. That can maintain the imbalance.

Resistance bands are also popular for post-injury training. For many exercises using bands, it’s quick and easy to adjust the resistance by shifting your stance or range of motion.

Add activity and weight/resistance for the recovering area in small increments.

Be patient and remember that small increases add up over time and will allow you to make stronger and more sustainable progress than doing too much too soon. Improving by 1% every day adds up over time.

Of course, if a move causes sharp pain, STOP. Pay attention to your body and make note of any aches, twinges, fatigue or unusual feelings. Most exercises have many alternatives to work the muscles, so you might just need to switch to a different variation. A personal trainer can help with this too.

Increase your stamina

If your injury put hiking on hold, (re)start with short treks on varied terrain as early in your training as you can. Even if you live in a fairly flat area, at least go on a dirt trail, and preferably one that has rocks or roots, to get used to the uneven surface.

To find nearby trails, check out sites like AllTrails and apps like Hiking Project. They show detailed information about trails, and include reviews from people who have hiked them.

Your local parks and recreation department is also a great resource. Or stop by a store that sells outdoor clothing and gear and ask one of the employees.

Increase your distance gradually, adding 5-10% to the length of your hikes per week. Aim to complete multiple hikes that are at least somewhat similar in elevation change and length to what you expect to do on your trip within two weeks of your departure date.

Add weight to your pack very gradually, starting with just water and basic essentials. Pay close attention to how your body reacts, then add more of what you expect to carry on the trip. Wear the pack on back-to-back hikes and note if you have any soreness or unusual twinges.

Select your footwear and gear

If you already have footwear, pack and other gear from before your injury, get it out and give it a try. The injury may have shifted your gait or how a pack feels on your back.

If you determine that you need new shoes, boots or other equipment, get them at least 2 months before your trip. That will give you time to get used to them.

Use your footwear like you will on your hike. If the itinerary includes two or more days of hiking in a row, then hike in your boots or shoes for two days in a row. That second day can be very telling! Don’t be shy about exchanging footwear that’s not working well for you.

Similarly, use the pack you plan to take on the trip several times before you leave. If it rubs the wrong way or is uncomfortable, go to your local outdoor store to get it fitted or find a new one.

Consider using trekking poles. They reduce the amount of force on your knees, especially on the downhills. Plus they provide extra balance and stability.

If you’ve had a shoulder, elbow or wrist injury, you may want to try poles that have shock absorption.

Also look for adjustable poles, which you can shorten for longer uphill climbs and lengthen for the downhill sections. Many adjustable poles collapse so they’re easy strap to your pack when you don’t want to use them.

Ready to head for the hills

As your trip gets closer, check in with yourself and your hiking partners, if applicable. Based on your progress, set realistic expectations for trip. Hopefully you’ll be feeling strong and confident about doing everything on your itinerary!

 

Find Your Motivation Matches to Keep Moving

Find Your Motivation Matches to Keep Moving

It’s so nice and warm here in bed, snuggled under the down comforter with the cat curled up next to me. I don’t want to disturb the cat. I don’t want to wake up my husband. The furnace hasn’t kicked on yet and it’s still chilly in the house.

And yet I slip out of bed and put on my workout clothes, strap on my iWatch, grab my phone and turn on my wireless headphones.

What gets me out of bed on those cold, dark mornings? Why do I lift weights, run outside when it’s cold, and swim laps in the pool when I’d rather be doing something more fun?

At the heart of it, I exercise so that I can really enjoy the “more fun” stuff I’d rather be doing when I can do it, including exploring the world by foot, bike and boat. I want to be able to keep doing those things for many more years, and I know that staying fit through consistent exercise is part of that equation.

I’ll be honest though, on those cold winter mornings, it’s tempting to justify staying in bed and tell myself that skipping a day isn’t going to matter. And some days I do stay in bed longer and give myself a break.

To keep that from becoming a pattern, though, I turn to more immediate motivation to stay on track.

Everyone has a different “motivation match,” though I’ve found a few common themes for what keeps my clients consistently motivated as they pursue their goals.

Upcoming Event

This could be a big “life event” like a reunion or wedding, an annual event like a vacation or family visit, or a fitness-focused event like 5K run or a multi-day bike ride. The deadline is coming, so it’s time to get going!

Of course, starting in March 2020, this motivator evaporated for a lot of people. I had signed up to do a triathlon in July 2020, and was just about to figure out my training plan when it was cancelled. Darn, no laps in the pool!

As I write this in March 2021, though, the triathlon is back on, so I need to book my time at the pool. The percentage of people who have been vaccinated increases daily, and events are getting back on calendars.

Many people have a renewed appreciation for events, and are looking forward to making the most of FINALLY being able to participate in them!

One of my clients is gearing up for a summer trip to a “dude ranch” in Wyoming with his family, including his pre-teen grandson. Several years ago he was inspired to get into better shape for a trip to Glacier National Park, and ended up hiking 6 miles on the High Line Trail.

After a rough winter of staying inside due to COVID and weather, he’s gotten back into his strength training routine and started increasing his walking distance. He now exudes energy, excitement and confidence.

He acknowledges that getting into better shape will help him more fully enjoy his retirement in Colorado for years to come, which was why we worked to develop an exercise routine for him last fall. But it’s been his short-term motivator of hiking at the dude ranch in a few months that has really sparked him to get back on track.

Competitive Streak

As much as I enjoy participating in athletic events like triathlons and bike rides, I’m not a competitive person. But I know a LOT of people who are!

Some are competitive with themselves – they track their “personal best” for a specific route or type of event, aim to add distance, or set other specific goals to achieve.

Then there are those who push harder when they’re up against others head-to-head. They have the drive to win, and keep their eye on that prize.

Group Accountability

The power of accountability works motivation wonders for some people. The “group” be just one other person – a coach, a workout buddy, a family member – or even a dog, horse or other animal!

It’s a partner you’ve committed to exercising with or for, and you’re going to keep that commitment even on the tough days. One of my clients struggled to reach her daily step goal walking by herself. When she walked with a friend, though, she blew through it.

If you’re drawn to being part of a larger team working toward a common goal – at work, with your family, in your community – you can use the team approach for fitness too. Whether it’s a soccer team that plays games or a team of individuals training together for an event, the dynamic and energy can be similar.

The times that I rode the Bike MS through 100+ miles in Colorado’s brutal late June heat as part of Team Jude are some of my fondest memories. We trained together in the months leading up to the event, raised a ton of money, and our team’s “mascot” Judy was there at the end, smiling and cheering us on.

Social Accountability

This is similar to group accountability, though a bit broader and social media has definitely upped the ante.

How many posts have you seen on Facebook or Instagram about a friend or family member’s goal to run a marathon, complete a hike or some other athletic achievement?

Your proclamation doesn’t have to be that big and bold to provide motivation though. Even telling just a handful of supportive friends can be enough to get through those days when procrastination is rearing its tempting head.

Rewards and Incentives

Gold stars, medals, cash, t-shirts – it’s part of human nature to be motivated by rewards big or small. You can set a reward for yourself, such as buying something or doing something, or aim for an incentive from an external source, such as an employer’s wellness program that offers a gift card.

You can use small and frequent rewards – $1 for every workout completed goes into a jar, and soon you have enough to buy that sweet something you’ve been eyeing online.

You can also use a big reward for reaching a larger goal – a full day at the spa after completing a multi-day hike (my husband and I did this after our trek to Machu Picchu).

What’s Your Match?

Think about which of these resonate most, and how you might combine them to stay on track in case your “go to” falls through. Are you a “go for the gold” type of person? The dependable friend who won’t miss a group exercise class? Are you looking forward to a big vacation with family after a year of limited or no travel?

Once you figure out your motivation match, get specific about how to use it to fuel your fitness practice. And on those days when it’s a struggle to get out of the warm, cozy bed, you’ll have that extra push that keeps you moving forward.

Tap Into Your Strengths to Reach Your Health Goals

Tap Into Your Strengths to Reach Your Health Goals

Have you ever heard or thought “creating healthy habits is hard”? There are lots of reasons people think this way – limited time and competing priorities, extra effort required to exercise and prepare healthy meals, existing not-so-healthy habits that have become entrenched.

Yet we all have strengths we can tap into to make changes so we can reach our health goals. In fact, using our inherent strengths makes it easier to shift our behavior, enjoy what we do and stick with it!

It makes sense if you think about it – doing things we’re good at is easier and more fun than doing things we aren’t good at, so why not apply that to improving our health?

Discover Your Strengths

Years ago I took the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment, which focuses on talent-based attributes, and one of my strengths is “arranger.” I love to arrange events, social gatherings, and travel. In applying this strength to healthy behaviors, I arrange bicycling events that raise money for charity, group hikes for friends, and trips that include hiking and sea kayaking.

Another strength I have is adaptability. In my past corporate job, I was constantly shifting priorities and tasks to address the latest “fire drill” (we need a video for a big meeting in 3 days!) or change in strategy.

When my husband and I are traveling, I’ll quickly create a plan B if our original itinerary has a wrench thrown in it. For example, when we went up to Glacier National Park several years ago, with visions of backpacking for a few days and reservations for an amazing lodge stay afterwards, there was a forest fire in the park. Several areas were closed and the air quality was terrible, so backpacking there was a no-go.

So we headed south and went to the Tetons instead. I studied the map and found a great loop route for backpacking there. We set out on the trail, and as we reached our planned campsite for the evening, it started to rain. Fortunately we were prepared and had waterproof gear and a good rainfly for our tent. But after it rained all night, and looked like it was going to continue all day, we decided that hiking in the rain and then setting up our next camp with wet gear was not our idea of a fun vacation.

No worries though, we adapted our plans yet again. We hiked out and got a hotel room in Jackson Hole!

I also leverage my adaptability strength for fitness. I plan out my workouts for the week – which days I’ll run or bike, which days I’ll lift weights, and which days I’ll stretch and rest. But sometimes on my “bike day” the wind will be howling, so I’ll swap it with an indoor high intensity interval training workout. Or on a strength day my legs will be tired from a run, so I’ll focus on upper body and core exercises.

Capitalize on Your Character

Another part of your personality you can use is character strengths. The VIA Institute on Character offers a free self-assessment (https://www.viacharacter.org/survey/account/register) that ranks how strong you are in traits like curiosity, creativity, teamwork and perseverance.   Let’s say you score high on curiosity and creativity. And your goal is to be able to hike 5 miles so you can keep up with your spouse or your kids on an upcoming trip to a National Park.

As you think about how to reach that goal, you realize that finding different routes to walk suit you much better than getting your steps in on a treadmill or the same path every day.

Seek Others’ Perspectives

Still not sure what your strengths are, or how they may apply to reaching your health goals? Ask family members, friends and coworkers what they think you’re good at – you may not realize that something you do “automatically” is a strength!

Then brainstorm how you could use those strengths to create habits that help you get healthier and happier. Sometimes just a small adjustment in how you approach your goal makes it that much easier and more enjoyable.

It’s like walking with the wind against your back instead of into it.

Prep for Your Road Trip: 15 Tips for Getting Off the Beaten Path

Prep for Your Road Trip: 15 Tips for Getting Off the Beaten Path

Hints for hiking, biking, paddling, packing and picking your destination

 

 

It seems like summer 2020 is shaping up to be the Road Trip Summer. I’m having flashbacks to my childhood, with me and my two sisters in the back seat of the green Ford Fairmont station wagon that was packed to the hilt.

 

 

We played “Slug Bug,” the license plate game (bonus points for Alaska, never did see one from Hawaii), and my parents’ favorite, “no touch, no talk,” as we headed Up North in Michigan.

 

 

Of course road trips now are WAY different than back in the days of AM radio, an 8-track tape player and no GPS – yep, totally dating myself!

 

 

While car comforts have definitely improved, many of the types of things we did on road trips back then are similar to what my husband and I do now: having picnics at roadside parks, checking out viewpoints with signage about the habitat and/or history, and staying in “rustic” lodging.

 

 

As more people (re)discover the appeal of road trips and outdoor activities, it seems inevitable that the most popular and easily reachable outdoor destinations will be busier than they’ve ever been.

 

 

Although I’m excited that more people are enjoying being outdoors – I believe fresh air and sunshine combined with being active is good for just about everyone – being at a packed viewpoint with dozens of strangers may not be the healthiest activity right now. So if you’re looking to get “off the beaten path” this summer, here are some tips to help you prepare so you can make the most of it!

 

 

3 Hiking Prep Tips

 

 

  1. Learn about the location where you’re planning to hike, and bring a map. How rugged is the trail, how steep is it, what are the weather conditions usually like? In Colorado, thunderstorms roll in by early afternoon on many summer days, which takes a lot of visitors by surprise since we wake up to blue skies pretty much every morning.
  2. Be realistic about how far you can hike. If you’re used to walking 3 miles on pavement or fairly flat ground at home, you may be surprised how far 3 miles seems on an unfamiliar trail, and how long it takes. When I’m walking around my neighborhood, it takes me about 15-20 minutes to walk a mile. On a trail, it can take 25 minutes to an hour to walk a mile! Try shorter trails to start and see how you (and others in your group) feel.
  3. Bring more water and snacks than you think you need, along with the “essentials”, to carry in a backpack if you’re planning to go more than a mile from your car.

 

 

hiking with a backpack
A fully stocked backpack goes with me on every hike – including plenty of water and snacks!

 

 

3 Biking Prep Tips

 

 

  1. Think ahead about how much biking you’re planning to do. If it’ll be more than an hour or so, and/or you’ll be riding on multiple days, consider bringing bike shorts with padding, and tops that will be comfortable when you’re leaned over and reaching for handlebars.
  2. If you don’t have your own bike, borrow or rent one locally and go for a few rides in familiar places before your trip.
  3. Find out what the terrain is like where you plan to bike. Are there rolling hills? Will you be riding on pavement, gravel and/or dirt? Knowing what you’ll be facing ahead of time can help you prepare mentally.

 

 

mountain bike
Know what kind of terrain you’ll be biking on during your trip – the rocky and sandy trails in Moab, Utah, are perfect for mountain bikes!

 

 

3 Paddling Prep Tips

 

 

  1. If you’re trying a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) or kayak for the first time, take a lesson if possible.
  2. Take a water bottle with a loop and clip that you can attach to the board or boat. If you tip, you don’t want your water to go into the water!
  3. Pack a synthetic top to wear over your bathing suit and under the PFD. It’ll be more comfortable than having the PFD directly on your skin, and if a cool breeze blows in, it’ll keep you a bit warmer.

 

 


Paddling in Alaska required several layers of clothing – even in July!

 

 

3 Packing Tips

 

 

  1. Bring phone chargers and all of the personal hygiene items you may need, especially if you prefer certain brands. Stores in small towns often have limited selections of electronics and toiletries.
  2. Include at least one clothing item for each “season” and a jacket if you’re going anywhere in the U.S. besides the deep South. It gets pretty chilly at night in remote locations across most of the country.
  3. Upgrade your cooler, if you haven’t already. Newer “rotomolded” models with serious insulation power and tight sealing lids are more expensive than Igloos, but they keep your food and beverages cold much longer. Yeti is one of the best-known brands, though there are less expensive alternatives.

 

 

3 “Off the Beaten Path” Destination Tips

 

 

  1. Check out non-National Park destinations to avoid crowds. For example, Bureau of Land Management recreation areas, especially in the Western U.S., have some incredible hikes, and historical sites too. In fact, BLM manages our National Scenic and Historic Trails, and manages more miles of historic trails than any other agency (yep, even more than the National Park Service).
  2. If you’re a bird nerd, find a National Wildlife Refuge that is on the flyway for a variety of species. Many refuges have networks of trails and information about the birds (and fish and other wildlife) that live and pass through the area.
  3. Seek out local and state park alternatives. Colorado has 41 state parks, Virginia (where I lived for 9 years) has 38 state parks, and Michigan (where I grew up) has more than 100 state parks! Many states also have designated wildlife areas or refuges that have trails too.

 

 

Aztec National Monument
These Aztec ruins are a National Monument site, which is near the very popular Mesa Verde National Park and yet doesn’t get nearly as many visitors.

 

 

I hope that helps you have more fun this summer. Most of all, be healthy, stay safe and have fun!