Now that summer is almost over, many people are scrambling to take that last minute hiking trip or purchase tickets to one last outdoor concert. Groggy, fall weather is around the corner. And if you’ve been spending up a storm this summer, you may be looking to be a little more conservative with your money as well. Here are ten items that are nice-to-haves on your outdoor vacation, be it a hiking trip, a week-long bike ride or a weekend on the lake. These items are all vegan, practical for outdoor travel – and they won’t break the bank either.
1. GRANOLA — If you’re anything like me, you need something to munch on during long hours of riding in a car, or to keep your strength up during rigorous activities like hiking. Granola is cheap and easy to stock up on. Clif Bars are another tasty vegan snack that are good for either the office, or as sustenance while exploring the outdoors.
2. SPIRITS – Doesn’t it seem only right to bring along some libations during a summer journey? If it’s your thing, then how about toting along some Jameson Irish Whiskey for the road? Any good backpacker would tell you that’s how it’s done. Bring it along in a perfect aluminum flask at your hip or in a jug (if you can carry it) and you’ll feel like you’re really surviving the wild, wild west. To make it wallet-approved, share it with your buddies. Just a little goes a long way.
3. WATER CONTAINER — You’ll be dehydrated if you partake in athletic endeavors in the blistering August sun, so don’t forget to bring along water to keep you fresh. Get a reusable bottle that you can drink from again and again – but before you buy, do your research. Sustainablog has a list of water bottles that are BPA-free (you should be fine if your bottle was purchased after 2008).
4. SPARE T-SHIRTS — You never know when you’ll sweat through, spill on or just plain lose an article of clothing. Come prepared for anything by buying extra T-shirts for your arsenal. Plain T-shirts usually cost less than $10 and you can find organic ones for comparable prices to regular cotton.
5. EXTRA FLIP-FLOPS — As Lieutenant Dan says, “Two standing orders in this platoon: One, take good care of your feet, Two, try not to do anything stupid, like getting yourself killed.” Regardless of what you’re doing all day (hiking, camping, swimming, sitting in a car, etc) it’s important to let your feet breathe in your down time. While you’re cooking out at night, lounging in your hotel room, or trotting down to the beach for a late night swim, flip flops will give your tootsies a break from constricting tennis shoes and rejuvenate you for the next day. Old Navy flips are vegan and have about a million different colors for under that $10 mark. Oh, and try not to get yourself killed either.
6. JOURNAL — Instead of hauling around a giant SLR or your new Polaroid, (no matter how indie they make you feel), how about bringing a notebook or journal to jot down your thoughts and experiences? It will be great to look back on what you were thinking as things were happening. And if you must, you can post your notes to your Tumblr as soon as you get back.
7. SUNSCREEN & LIP BALM — It’s important to not let your skin and lips bake while out in the summer heat. It can make your time outdoors miserable and give you some sorry battle wounds when you get back. Here’s a list of cruelty-free vegan sunscreens and insect repellants. I’m a personal fan of the Kiss My Face brand and most will run you just under $12. For lip balm, try The Merry Hempsters (under $5).
8. BACKPACK — This might seem like a given if you’re camping or hiking, but if you’re used to traveling out of a suitcase, a backpack might get overlooked. You never know when the opportunity will strike to get out for the day and sightsee or explore. JanSport has been in business for over 30 years and their Heritage line of backpacks pay homage to the first backpacks created by JanSport’s founder in the 60s. Not all are vegan, but many are made of nylon instead of leather so you’ll just have to dig around a bit (prices vary by retailer). Backpacks may not be the least expensive item on your trip but if you inherit one from a family member or borrow one from a friend, it doesn’t have to break the bank. If you do drop some dollars on one, make sure you put it to good use and get your money’s worth.
9. VEGGIES! – Run by your Farmer’s Market on the way out of town and pick up a bag of fresh fruits and vegetables to nourish you on the road and during your adventures. Easy to share and cost-sensitive, these should be a no-brainer for any vegan trek. Eat them before your granola of course, because they won’t last forever!
10. BODY & HAIR SOAP — And finally, a vegan’s gotta get clean (at least once a week?) so save money and time by buying an all-in-one vegan soap bar. Even if hygiene isn’t a priority, these little guys will provide a refresher during a stint of sleeping on the ground. You can even find eco-friendly bars that won’t poison the water hole. Try Castille or Dr. Bronner’s (under $5) brands for yummy-smelling, inexpensive bath bars.
And now, a little advice from a friend. Be reasonably prepared. Don’t take tools that you might not use because it adds extra weight. For more backpacking and outdoor travel advice check out the Vegan Backpacker.
TALK TO US: What are your favorite outdoor summer activities? Do you have any travel tips about must-have products? Feel free to share.