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Fall Road Trip Tips: Camping, Fishing & More

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Ah, the great outdoors–although summer seems the obvious time for outdoor fun, there’s (arguably) no better time to get out into nature than fall. Of course, if you’re a fan of gorgeous red, orange and yellow natural landscapes, as well as a little pumpkin or apple picking, you probably don’t need any convincing on fall’s high points.

But if you’re planning a road trip, mapping out an autumn trip might be your best idea yet. Aside from it being open season on wild turkey for those with hunting in mind, there’s no more beautiful time to see your state’s landscapes. And as temperatures drop, most areas will have drier conditions and fewer insects, making fall an ideal time for camping. It’s tough to imagine anything sweeter than cruising a highway lined with colorful trees on your way to a relaxing weekend of camping, hiking and maybe even a little fishing.

If the changing leaves and fall foliage have got you itching to hit the road, there’s a few things you’ll need first.

Do your research

First off, you’ll want to answer the question of where you’d like to go, and what you’d like to do. Would you prefer a long, scenic drive? Hiking out in the fresh air? Fishing at a secluded lake (or even swimming)?

Whatever you’d most like to do, be sure to plot out your rough destinations, and the time it’ll take to drive from place to place. Consider when you’d like to get to each spot, and what sort of things you’d do in your time there. Depending on how far apart your must-see attractions are, you may find yourself splitting your day between two parks or natural areas.

If you’re looking to camp, you can track some of the best areas for fall foliage across the states, and choose campgrounds accordingly. Many sites and state parks require reservations in advance, so plan ahead. Be prepared to pay a fee otherwise–and get there early. If you choose campgrounds with first come, first serve policies, youmay be stuck if you show up later in the day. Depending on your preferences and how flexible you’d like your schedule, however, you may find that using an app to research nearby campgrounds as needed will prove more useful. If you’re traveling with your family, then you may want to take the kids and the Jeep out on a test run at a nearby campsite.

If you plan on fishing, do your research–make sure you look into the nearby bodies of water where you’ll be stopping on your trip, and the regulations and rules specific to each. Make sure your vehicle can access the areas you plan on fishing, and, of course, know which fish you’ll be baiting with each area (and know if it’s in season!)

Most state and national parks will have extensive hiking trails and opportunities for recreation such as rock climbing. Check conditions and closures in advance of your trip, and try to plan out where you’d ideally like to hike, or what sights you’d like to see, before you hit the road. Even a general outline of the trails you might like to hit will help you plan out where you’ll need to set up a base camp. While you’re on the road, you can call local ranger stations or highway patrol to check in on hazardous conditions–and bring a map!

Getting prepped

Before you hit the road and explore, you’ll want to make sure you have all the proper gear and equipment.

First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure your car is road (and potentially off-road) ready. Your Jeep Grand Cherokee, Wrangler or Subaru Outback will likely best pull through more uncharted destinations, particularly if you plan on camping or fishing off the beaten trail. Regardless of your vehicle, you’ll want to check your spare tire and make sure you’ve got a basic kit for minor upkeep and repairs (for example, oil, jumper cables, a jack, and a flashlight).

Have a well-stocked emergency first aid kit, as well–many back road areas, parks and campgrounds don’t have reliable cell service, and you’ll have to plan accordingly. Create a checklist for all your items to ensure you have everything you’ll need, and don’t be afraid to bring extras of items like batteries.

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You’ll want to roughly plan your meals, and bring along plenty of non-perishables. Search online for nearby mini marts for perishable items, which you may want to buy as you reach your destination.

And you’ll want to make sure you’re not overloading your car, especially if you plan on towing a boat behind you. Full-size pick up trucks like the Ford F-150 can usually handle heavier loads, but for smaller vehicles, you’ll want to make sure you’re not over-packing it. Consider renting a car for heavier duty cargo or purchasing a cargo rack.

Most importantly, though—have fun!

Written by Jeremy Alderman

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Addition information by David Lafferty:

Though cheaper than traditional travel, backpacking can cost even the most budget conscious traveler thousands of dollars for a 14-day trip.

We created a guide to help minimize those costs while maximizing the backpacking experience. Our guide explains how backpackers can utilize points and miles to earn free hotel stays and flights. It also covers:

  • How to redeem points for free flights or accommodations
  • How to earn rewards from buying backpacking gear
  • When to use a card vs. cash in your travels

A link to our guide here: http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/ultimate-points-guide-backpackers.php

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