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Planning a Kayaking Trip: Important Things to Consider

If you are planning a kayaking vacation you are obviously passionate about the sport and want to travel to a destination known for great kayaking. Planning the trip can be difficult only because there are so many great choices you could make. There are several things to consider before deciding on a destination. The type of kayaking you prefer is a major factor in choosing where to go. If you enjoy sea kayaking, any coastline in North America is good. Mountainous regions tend to have the best whitewater, and extreme kayaking. There are thousands of these exhilarating spots. Kayak surfing spots are not as common, but there are enough to make for a tough decision.

Most people have their choices narrowed down by external factors so they donít have to make as many difficult choices. Your budget and recreational time available often dictate the length and location of a vacation. If you have the means and time to go anywhere you want you are luckier than most. Most people will have a week or two of vacation time to spend, and must spend it wisely to get the full benefits of a kayaking trip.

If your kayaking trip is a family vacation it is going to make a difference if the whole family is not going kayaking. In a case like that, you need to make sure there is something to appeal to the whole family at the destination you choose. It isnít that difficult as many of the locations with great kayaking also have attractions for the kids nearby. California and Florida are two states that have attractions for the kids, as well as great paddling. California has great sea kayaking with the Channel Islands, kayak surfing in many spots, and some great whitewater kayaking a ways from the coast. Both states also have great kayak fishing if youíre interested.

Other parts of North America offer several types of kayaking within a short distance. British Columbia is a good example of that. It offers great inland whitewater kayaking that will thrill even the most enthusiastic extreme kayaker. It is also a great area for sea kayaking, and is a kind of Mecca for whale watchers and other nature observation.

Instead of choosing the activities for your kayaking trip; try starting with the destination and work backwards. Consider those places you have always wanted to go, then checkout the kayaking options offered there. You may have always wanted to visit the land of your ancestors assuming you donít live there now. It is quite possible that you could get a little kayaking in during a trip to the homeland.

Other considerations in planning a kayaking trip, such as what equipment to take with you depends on a several variables. Driving makes it much easier to take along all of your own gear, including a kayak or two. A roof rack or trailer will be necessary for the kayaks if you decide to drive. Even secondary gear such as PFDs, paddles, fishing equipment, and whatever else you may be taking with you are difficult at best to take when traveling commercial airlines. The only boat you could possibly take on a commercial flight would be an inflatable.

Other gear and accessories you want to bring along if you are going whitewater paddling, are helmets and proper clothing; a wet suit may be required depending on temperatures wherever you decide to go. Itís a good idea to have one if youíre going whitewater kayaking in an area where the water is coming from snowmelt.

Non-kayaking things to bring with you include the usual things for outdoor activities such as sunscreen, insect repellant, any medication, etc., and depending on your itinerary, there are sure to be other things you need to bring. If you are camping, your gear will be much different than if you are staying with relatives, or in a hotel. Common sense will prevail when you begin packing, but give it some thought as you do.

If can get away for only a short time, your destination options will be naturally narrowed. Commercial air travel is an option if you can afford it, particularly if you can only get away less than a week. A lot of factors enter into whether you drive or fly such as if you own a car or not. Economically, even with higher gas prices driving is usually a better option. If you decide a little more time paddling is more valuable than the extra money it would cost to fly, then you should fly. The obvious question is what to do since you could not bring your kayak and gear. There are certainly outfitters in any destination you would bother to fly to for a kayaking trip. Consider the cost of rental equipment as well when you examine the pros and cons for flying or driving.

If you do fly in, and rent equipment from an outfitter there is a large range in the services they can perform for you. At the low end, renting you equipment, and giving advice on the best routes, and sights to see. At the high end, a guided kayak trip will include equipment, camping gear, possibly a mother ship for some guided sea kayaking tours that follows you and picks you up at days end for meals and you sleep nights on board. Some are lodge based, where the guides take you out kayaking in the morning, and you return in the evening for dinner and a few drinks before calling it a night. Some of these can be elegant, with gourmet meals served. Guided kayaking adventures with knowledgeable guides who show you the best kayaking in the area, as well as educating you on interesting local facts and myths are available. Even the shore lunches can be elegant with the top end outfitters who may get the catch of the day while you are paddling, and have it cooked for you with a great presentation for your midday break.

The choice is yours as to what type of kayaking trip you take. The do-it-yourself trips where you pack, transport, and supply your own gear, or the hassle free, all-inclusive guided vacation kayak trips where you pre-book, show up, paddle and enjoy. The later will cost more, but it may be worth it to you. A local outfitter should be able to help you, or put you in touch with an outfitter at your chosen destination who can.

About the Author: E.J. Seyer is a paddling enthusiast and the publisher of, an online resource on kayaking and canoeing, related gear, accessories and paddling destinations.

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