Car Travel Tips as Applied to Hiking

By Sharon Jones, Girls Who Hike West Virginia Ambassador

When hiking begins to take over your life, you find yourself looking at things differently. Case in point: This winter I had to drive in snow for the first time in many years. I did some online searching for tips on how to do so safely, and came across some “Holiday Travel Tips” from the folks at Jiffy Lube. I immediately found myself relating some of these tips to hiking.

Their first tip was to “Let it Flow.” Basically this tip was to make sure you kept all the vital fluids in your car topped off and changed as needed. I found I could equate this tip to making sure you stay hydrated while on the trail. Your body needs water. We tend to pay more attention to this in the warmer months than in the cooler ones. Wearing layers while hiking can sometimes cause you to sweat more without even realizing it. Being dehydrated in the cooler months can also cause you to have dry, itchy and cracked skin. Be sure to keep your fluids topped. 

Their second tip was to “Maintain a Clear View.” This tip consisted of insuring that your headlights, taillights, turn signals, etc. were in proper working condition. I would extend this rule to hiking by recommending that you keep a clear head while hiking. Be alert; pay attention to your surroundings, and enjoy the views. Don’t venture out if you are feeling under the weather. This can fog your view. 

“Keep ‘Kit’ Together” was their third tip. As you might expect, this tip suggests keeping an emergency kit in your vehicle. Some of the items they recommended to keep in the car are a part of the 10 essential items you would want to take on a hike or backpacking trip: first aid kit, emergency blanket, rain gear/extra clothing, flashlight, etc.

Don’t carry more than you need is the best way to sum up their fourth tip to “Watch your Weight.” While the amount of stuff you may carry while hiking will depend on your individual needs, and the type of trip you are taking, it is best to keep the weight of your gear to a minimum. Carrying extra weight in your pack makes you work harder and will tire you out sooner.

Their fifth tip to “Keep Rollin’” recommends making sure your tire pressure is adequate. When I read this tip I thought about making sure to have the proper footwear. There are so many types of footwear available these days it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the choices. It may be beneficial to have a gait analysis done. I did this for running, and it made a huge difference for me. Your feet are carrying you for the distance of your hike, run, or walk. Make sure you wear shoes or boots that will not cause you discomfort or pain. Not using the proper footwear can lead to injuries. Those injuries may keep you from doing the things that you enjoy. No one wants that. 


The final tip was to “Stay Charged.” Your body, just like the battery in your car, needs to be properly charged. When it comes to any exercise, including hiking, food is equal to fuel. Don’t forget to eat. Bring snacks with you on a short hike. If you are on a longer, more strenuous hike, you may need to eat more than you normally do. Stop and take a break periodically. Your body will thank you for it.