Looking over the panoramic views, inhaling the fresh air, and feeling the mist of the waterfalls. There is something about being in the mountains that can feel so freeing. You get to reflect on life and feel at peace with the world. And especially if you’re somewhere in the lush Smoky Mountains, it’s hard not to fall in love with nature all over again.
But as wonderful as mountain vacations can be, they come with their challenges—the higher altitude being one. So, if you’re planning a trip to destinations like Asheville, NC, Gatlinburg, TN, or even just the hilly regions of upstate New York, here are a few tips to help you make the most of your time.
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Plan Your Itinerary
Having a loose plan of what you want to do each day before heading to the mountains is the right way to start. That way, you can ensure you visit all the spots and don’t miss anything important.
Whether it’s something as plain as seeing all the local attractions or something more adventurous like hiking to a hidden waterfall, having a plan will help you make the most of your trip.
Of course, part of the beauty of mountain vacations is that they offer a chance to relax and go with the flow. So, you don’t have to stick to your plan rigidly; leave some wiggle room for spontaneity.
It’s always helpful to know what options are available to you. You’d also want to cover where you’d live. The refreshing Smoky Mountain cabins are perfect for mountain getaways because they offer all the amenities of home with a rustic twist that will make you feel right at ease.
Start Acclimating a Few Days Before
If you are accustomed to living at a lower elevation, your body will need some time to adjust to the air and higher altitude of the mountains. Low oxygen levels can make even simple activities like walking feel more tiring than usual.
If you have the time, try spending a day or two in a city with a similar elevation to your destination. That way, when you reach the mountains, your body will already be used to the air.
And if that’s not possible, try to take it easy when you first arrive. Avoid arduous activities, drink lots of water, and take naps if you feel tired. To be safe, carry some over-the-counter medication if you get a headache from the altitude.
Dress in Layers
One of the best things about mountain weather is that it can change rapidly. One minute it might be sunny and warm, and the next, you might face a cold rainstorm. We love the versatility and unpredictability of mountain weather. Still, it requires extra layering.
Trust us, you don’t want to spend your trip sneezing and shivering because you didn’t pack enough warm clothes.
So, when in doubt, always dress in layers. You can easily add or remove clothing as the temperature changes. Make sure you keep the heaviest items, like jackets and sweaters, close at hand so you can put them on quickly if the weather takes a turn.
Don’t forget to pack a raincoat and sturdy shoes because you never know when you might need them. It can get pretty slippery and muddy in the mountains when it rains!
Don’t Take Unnecessary Risks
It’s essential to be safe and not take any unnecessary risks. Make sure you’re well-prepared before embarking on any activities, and always heed the warnings of park rangers and other experts. They know the mountains better than anyone, and they’ll be able to tell you which trails are safe and which are too risky.
If you plan on exploring nature’s best-kept secrets in the mountains, always have a map and compass on hand, and know how to use them. Getting lost is not fun, especially when you’re in a remote and unfamiliar place.
Pick Your Mountain-Squad Carefully
You probably have a booze-loving group of friends you love to party with on vacations. But a mountain vacation is perhaps not the best time to bring them along. Neither are your shopaholic, fashion-obsessed friends that need to hit up every designer outlet in town. When planning a mountain vacation, it’s crucial to pick your squad carefully.
You want to choose friends that share your love of the outdoors and are up for anything, from camping under the stars to hiking a rugged trail. Maybe even drinking right from a glacial stream (we don’t judge).
Friends that are easy-going and flexible are always the best to travel with because they’re less likely to get stressed out when things don’t go according to plan. And in the mountains, things rarely go according to plan!
Carry Enough Supplies but Don’t Overpack
Backpack vs. suitcase? We know it’s a tough decision. But when traveling to the mountains, we recommend ditching the bag and opting for a backpack instead. You can easily carry all your supplies on hikes and other activities. Make sure you don’t overpack – you don’t want to be lugging a heavy backpack around all day.
Some essential items to pack include sunscreen, insect repellent, a first-aid kit, a flashlight, and plenty of water. And if you’re planning on doing any hiking or camping, you’ll need to pack some extra supplies like a tent, sleeping bag, and stove.
But don’t worry – you can usually rent these items from local sporting goods stores. One important tip, however, is to layer things smartly in your backpack. Put the heaviest items at the bottom and the lightest at the top. That way, you won’t get tired quickly.
Mountain getaways are memorable. The sense of accomplishment you feel after summiting a difficult peak is unparalleled. The experience of nearly falling asleep surrounded by the beauty of nature, only to be woken up by the howling of coyotes, is incomparable. And the memories you make while roasting s’mores with your close friends will last a lifetime.
Just be very careful before you take the plunge and book your tickets. Make sure you’re well-prepared and have all the necessary supplies. And most importantly, pick your travel companions carefully.
Greg is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) with 22+ years experience in Financial Services. He has held numerous FINRA Securities licenses (series 7, 63, 65, and 66), and is an expert on Investment Products and Financial Planning. Greg has 22+ years experience as a real estate investor and degrees in Psychology and Philosophy.
Greg has been quoted/interviewed in Yahoo Money, Yahoo Finance, USA Today, Authority Magazine, Realtor.com, Business Insider, and others.
Greg is an avid runner, and the father to identical twin girls and their awesome brother. His love of budgeting and his kids led him to join The Great Resignation in 2021.
Disclaimer: Any Financial Tips on ChaChingQueen are general and informational. Speak with a professional about your specific situation.