Planning an End-of-Summer Adventure

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With Labor Day marking the end of summer it also marks a short break for me.  We are in the lull period between summer vacation and leaf-changing season.  This makes it the perfect time to plan an end-of-summer adventure with NoKey!  Since both of us really enjoy taking bold, active, exciting trips with short notice and we both have only a few hours a day of free time, this meant we needed to do some planning quick.   

NoKey and I discovered SToK Coffee over the summer while we were on our weekly shopping trip to our new Walmart.  We had heard a lot about cold brew coffee and with the temperatures so warm we decided to give it a shot.

SToK Coffee stood out to us for a few reasons.  We love Arabica coffee and this blend was also pure coffee with no weird ingredients.  We also loved how smooth it tasted as compared to what we normally drink hot in the mornings.  The almost fruity, Brazilian Blend flavor profile definitely went down easy.  It may have been slow-brewed, but it was definitely fast-sipped!

Of course, when I'm planning a trip I always love to eat well!  Coffee has always been a problem for us because we've often resorted to drinking an instant blend with some sort of powdered milk and sugar.  While it's great when you're in the backcountry, front country adventures need something more special.  I'm super glad that SToK Coffee is already cold and can easily be kept in a cooler, ready to drink, for those early morning starts.  It's also available at Walmart with the Iced Coffees and Teas so that makes it easy for us to stock up if we ever need to grab any more.  

Since we both have been working long hours over the summer, sometimes with me not being home for a few days at a time, we knew that planning a trip was going to be tough.  We often were doing reading and research about destinations late at night and the caffeine we were getting from SToK Coffee definitely kept us going!  Toward the end of trip planning it almost felt like our vacation ideas were only one late night away from becoming a reality.  While going through this process, I decided to share some tips with you to help you plan out your next adventure: 

Plan a Destination Based on Your Needs

Want to go trail running and kayaking?  Make sure that your destination has both of those options close by!  If you're taking the time to pack the gear you'll want to make sure all the activities you want to do are going to be either at your campground or close enough to not be a huge drive.  If you're planning on taking your dog along, make sure your park allows dogs in all the places you're going.  It's very common here in the Smokies for people to bring their dogs camping, but when they get here people are shocked when dogs are not allowed on our hiking trails!  Doing a little reading ahead can help you prepare better.  

NoKey marking some mapped routes on our map. 

NoKey marking some mapped routes on our map. 

Lay Out All Your Gear

While this might seem like a no-brainer for many, laying out every single piece of gear you want to bring is SO IMPORTANT!  NoKey and I have packed up and driven hours away to go camping with our dog only to show up to the campground in the dark without our tent!  Thankfully, other campers had extra gear but it was so embarrassing!  Don't let this happen to you - lay everything out just before you pack it and go over the activities you'll be doing.  Make sure everything is in order before you pack it all up!

An Epic Trip Calls for Epic Gear!

An Epic Trip Calls for Epic Gear!

Pack Smart and Plan Ahead

If you're headed out for a front country camping adventure you've got plenty of room to bring extra items.  This doesn't mean, however, that you should cram everything into the vehicle and drive into the sunset though!  If you're going to be doing many different activities, try to keep all like items together in your vehicle and keep your coolers easily accessible.  Also, make sure where you're going has ice for your food nearby.  Having to drive an hour round-trip for a bag of ice can really put a dent in your adventure time.  You've got to keep your SToK Coffee cold to get going in the mornings, right?!

Be Flexible

While planning for your trip, make a few back-up plans.  When planning a trip this time of year, give yourself extra drive time for the early leaf-peeper tourists in the area.  When planning trail adventures, always have a back-up plan.  The thunderstorms that often come in late summer can damage or erode trails and cause trail closures.  Having a back-up hike planned will help ensure you're not spending a few hours in the early morning scrambling for a new plan.  Be prepared with a map of the surrounding area as well.  

Traffic can be tough! Always plan ahead!

Traffic can be tough! Always plan ahead!

These are a few of my tips to help you plan out your next trip.  What do you like to do to ensure your vacations go smoothly?  I'd love to hear about it!