As a college student, it’s crucial to create a study routine that works for you. This not only helps you crush assignments and exams, but it also helps to keep your mind fit. But what about your physical health? Do you have time to flex your muscles? If not, it’s time to get on it! Ever considered hiking?
You may not have the time, energy, or money for a gym membership, but that doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. In fact, we’re here to tell you that the best place to escape from your studies and get a little “me time” is outdoors.
And yes, hiking is our favorite way!
You don’t need to be a hiking pro to enjoy a trip through the woods. Just follow our seven tips for hiking while attending college.
1. Finish Assignments First
Your assignments are probably already a priority — keep it that way.
Unless you attend a college that gives credit to students who hike, your professors simply won’t understand if you skip lectures to pursue this hobby. Shocking, right?
After attending class and completing your assignments, you can take your mind off of your studies for a bit and plan your hike.
You’ll feel better focusing on a fun outdoor activity once you’re caught up on your school commitments. After all, the best part about hiking is that it gives you a chance to clear your mind and wander through nature.
2. Gather Essential Gear
Hikers need gear to keep them comfortable and safe. But if you’re new to hiking, you may not know what to bring with you and what to skip.
You don’t need to waste money on extravagant equipment that promises to improve your hike. But you also don’t want to forget any necessities.
Keep in mind that you need essentials like trail-friendly sneakers, a weather-appropriate outfit, a first-aid kit, snacks and water, navigation tools, and of course, a backpack to store it all in.
Anything besides these items will just weigh you down. When in doubt, consult this checklist by REI. You can also peruse hiking blogs and podcasts to learn what expert professional outdoorsmen and women carry with them on hikes.
Just check these resources before heading out on your hike, not during.
Why? We’ll discuss the follies of distracted hiking ahead.
3. Study Nearby Trails
Whether you attend school in a large city or a small college town, there are surely hiking spots in your area.
If you’ve never been hiking in your current city and are looking for a good spot, AllTrails has you covered.
Simply enter your location and it will provide maps to nearby hiking trails, their level of difficulty, and their length in miles, and average hiking time.
If you’re new to hiking, be sure not to overexert yourself by trying a difficult trail right away. Ease into hiking, and your enthusiasm for it is sure to grow.
4. Invite Friends
Plan a hike with a friend or group of friends. Sure, hiking offers you the chance to enjoy alone time, but bringing friends along is a great idea for several reasons.
For one thing, you’re probably not the only one who will benefit from physical activity and fresh air.
Also, there is safety in numbers. It’s never a good idea to explore unknown terrain solo. Plus, completing a hike, no matter how simple or arduous will create a lasting bond and memories you’ll always cherish.
5. Decide How Long You Want Your Hike to Last
Always decide the length of your hike in advance. This is a smart idea whether you’re hiking for two hours or two weeks.
Odds are, you’re not going to want to thru-hike as a hiking newbie. But no matter how long or short your trek, deciding in advance means you can plan accordingly.
You’ll know how much food and drink to pack to ensure you and your fellow hikers stay energized and hydrated.
You can also tell a parent or family member about your hiking plans and estimated timeline. That way, they know when to expect a text from you, letting them know you’ve returned to campus safely.
6. Keep an Eye on the Weather
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s also so obvious it can be easy to forget!
You already know your favorite weather for spending time outdoors, but you also need to factor in your comfort level and safety considerations.
If it’s pouring rain on the day you are set to hike, you probably want to postpone it until the ground is dry.
You also shouldn’t hike when it’s extremely hot. Sunstroke and heat exhaustion are very real dangers when spending excessive time outdoors at the peak of summer.
If you live in an area with moderate weather and are not sure when it’s best to set out on a hike, check out this blog by Outdoor Herbivore for tips.
The point of hiking is to immerse yourself in nature while testing your physical and mental limits.
At the very least, it should be a time for you to unplug. Put down the phone and forget about your social media pages for a couple of hours.
If you’re hiking just to take pics that you’ll upload to your Instagram later, you’re definitely missing the point. Don’t be that person!
Bring your phone, and make sure it’s fully charged, but keep it in a backpack pocket. Only use it for safety reasons and to gather any needed information.
Learn more about the cognitive benefits of hiking and the downsides to distracted hiking here.
Taking up hiking while in college can save your sanity and keep your body strong. It’s also a great excuse to put your phone down and connect with friends in a new way (or an old way, depending on how you see it).
Plus, it’s a fun thing to do without spending much money.
Follow these simple tips, and your future hikes will be both exhilarating and safe. You may be surprised by how much you enjoy hiking while unfettered from the usual distractions!
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Grove at Pullman to help them with their online marketing.