10 Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Multi-Day Rafting Trip

4 Min. Read
10 Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Multi-day Rafting Trip

What to Know Before Your First Multi-day Rafting Trip

Before my first OARS trip on Idaho’s Main Salmon River, I’d never been on a multi-day rafting trip. In fact, I didn’t know anyone who had been on a multi-day rafting trip before. I learned a lot on that trip, and now I’m hooked.

If you’re preparing for your first river trip, here are a few tips and tidbits you’ll be glad to know before you go…

1) Don’t stress about packing.

I worried a lot before my first trip about what to bring rafting. My advice? Don’t stress too much. Looking back, I wish I had focused on being excited ahead of time – not stressed. You’re going on an awesome adventure! Plan, pack carefully, and definitely use the packing list provided by OARS for your specific trip, but don’t overthink it.

2) You won’t be paddling the whole time.

It’s not just those small rafts you remember from your last whitewater day trip where everyone has a paddle. Depending on the trip, there are often a variety of boat options and you’ll typically have the opportunity to try out different boats throughout the day. Each type of boat has a different intensity level. Some days you might want to kick back and relax on an oar raft, while other days you might prefer to take on the rapids solo in an inflatable kayak. You get to choose your own adventure.

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Multi-day Rafting Trip

3) You won’t be hungry.

Before my first multi-day rafting trip, I thought I might lose a few pounds because I assumed we’d be eating simple camping meals. I was in for a real surprise and quickly learned that the menus on an OARS trip offer river luxury! Expect hot breakfasts, tasty lunches and three courses suppers complete with delicious desserts. However long your trip is – even if it’s a full Grand Canyon rafting trip – you’ll be eating fresh produce and tasty ingredients at every meal.

4) You won’t be bored.

You’ll be busy chatting with your new river friends and exploring spectacular scenery. During downtime, your guides may whip out a small library of local- and river-related books, outdoor games to play in camp, or there might even be a guitar on your trip for a night of music.

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Multi-day Rafting Trip

5) You’re going to make new friends.

The people you meet on these trips are one of the best parts of being on the river! You’ll meet people you would never meet otherwise – and you’ll get to know their authentic selves. You’ll also laugh more than you thought possible.

6) Just because it’s summer, doesn’t mean you won’t want long sleeves and long pants.

You’ll quickly notice that most of your raft guides will be covered head-to-toe with lightweight synthetic fabrics (even with their hoods up). They’re in the sun all day all summer and they know that these clothes are the most reliable, low-effort way to stay safe and cool in the sun. Bring a lightweight long sleeve shirt with UPF protection (and something to cover your legs like quick-dry pants or a sarong) for protection during long sunny days on the river. If you want to get a tan, go for it – just bring options to cover up too!

7) Don’t be scared of the groover.

If you’re like me, when you say you’re going on a river trip – your friends always ask about using the groover (the toilet). Take it from me, your river friend: it’s really not bad. There’s clean toilet paper, privacy, and bonus: it’s always in way more scenic locations than the toilets you use at home.

Where to go to the bathroom on a rafting trip

8) The gift of the gods: lotion.

In addition to loads of sunscreen, bring deep hydrating lotion and lip balm with SPF. Your skin will thank you after long, dry days in the sun.

9) You won’t want the trip to end.

Your mind shifts after a few days away from technology and your schedule – and you’ll enter a new level of relaxation. You won’t be ready for the trip to end. If you can, give yourself a night in a hotel after the trip before traveling home to reset back to normal life (and take a shower).

10) This is going to be one of the best adventures of your life!

You’ve made a great decision: you’re going on your first multi-day rafting trip. You’re never going to forget this trip. See you on the river!

Photos: Main Salmon River rafting – James Kaiser; Steak dinner on the river – James Kaiser, Playing horseshoes on the Salmon River – James Kaiser; Gates of Lodore groover scene – Jim Block

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