Packing and Planning to Visit Everglades National Park

We have only a few more days until my kids are finally out of school for spring break.  We don’t always do a big family vacation over spring break but with the kids getting older, we only have a few years left to travel together as a family.  Pretty soon, jobs and college will interfere with our family trips so we decided to do a big one this year.  We decided to explore Florida and will spend some time in the Everglades as well as visit Disney.  A few days with friends and family will round out our trip before we come home.  While traveling isn’t really new to us, planning to visit Everglades National Park is something we have never done before.   I thought I would share travel tips and a packing list with you in case you decide to head there yourselves one day!

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Packing and Planning to Visit Everglades National Park

Planning to Visit Everglades National Park

I am really looking forward to our visit and have spent weeks doing research in preparation  Here are a few of the things I learned as well as a few affiliate links for products you may find useful.

Packing and Planning to Visit Everglades National Park

Choose the right season

The one thing to keep in mind when planning to visit Everglades National Park is the season!  We are at the tail end of what is considered a ‘good’ time to visit.  October through early April is their busiest time of year because it is the dry season.  Having lived in sub-tropical areas before, I can tell you that WET seasons in the tropics are fairly miserable to be a tourist.  The heat, humidity and daily downpours of the wet season will make your life a living hell.  This is not a trip to make over summer break.

Packing and Planning to Visit Everglades National Park

You can’t see it all by foot

When planning a trip to Everglades National Park, keep in mind that it is HUGE.  Seriously.  There are multiple entrances to the park and it spans a giant portion of south Florida.  There are also different geographical regions.  You have the saltwater Gulf of Mexico side and the swampy, inland mangrove areas.  In order to see the sites completely, we booked two Everglades National Park Boat Tours.   While we will spend plenty of time on foot exploring the trails, visitor centers, and other more accessible areas, we really wanted to get the full experience and have a guided tour for the more inaccessible areas as well.

Packing and Planning to Visit Everglades National Park

Safety first!

I am a huge proponent of taking kids out into nature.  I firmly believe that a child who gets into the wilderness as often as possible will learn to fully appreciate it and strive to protect it.  However, safety must come first when planning a trip to Everglades National Park.  Thankfully, my kids are teens and have been in alligator-infested areas before.   That photo up there is my daughter and I paddling through the swamps of North Carolina and there were LOTS of alligators in there with us!  As well as snakes, snapping turtles and a few other dangerous critters.  You also need to worry about sun protection, hydration, bugs, getting lost, etc.

I will include a few helpful items in the next section that you will want to pack.  Just make sure you talk to your kids before you go so they understand that there is no petting of alligators, running, yelling, etc.  Respect nature, follow directions and stay on the path and everyone will get home safely.

Packing and Planning to Visit Everglades National Park

What to pack

There are a few key things you will want to pack when you visit Everglades National Park.  I have a list and am adding to it daily.  I have a pile on my dining room table that is going to be huge by the time we leave.  Here are a few key things we will be bringing.  We will pack everything in a sturdy hiking daypack for easy of carrying.

  • Camera:  While I love my iPhone, I won’t be relying on it for all of my photos.  I get a much better shot with my Pentax DSLR.  In fact, my daughter and I will both be bringing our nice cameras because she is hugely into photography and doesn’t want to give up control of the shutter to mom!
  • Binoculars:  We have always been passionate birders so we will be bringing a nice pair of binoculars for birding.
  • Sunscreen:  This is a no-brainer.  Even though there are lots of trees and overhead coverage, you will want to bring plenty of sunscreen.  I am using Alba Botanicals natural spray sunscreen. Yes, it is pricey but I prefer the natural products when I can find them.  And my teens hate anything that has to be rubbed in.  This natural sunscreen is one that we both like.
  • Bug Repellent:  Now, while I love natural products, I was a little hesitant about the natural bug repellents. We are going to be in mosquito infested waters in an area where Zika virus, West Nile virus, and a few other pretty nasty mosquito born illnesses are commonly found.  I decided to take conventional mosquito repellent to maximize protection from mosquitos.
  • Plenty of water:  Have I mentioned how HOT subtropical areas like the Everglades can get?  We will be well stocked with water in stainless steel water bottles to prevent dehydration.
  • A journal or two:  I am encouraging both of my children to bring a journal to write down their experiences.  My husband is also bringing his birding journal so we can add to our life list of birds we have seen.
  • Snacks:  We will be packing plenty of snacks with us when we visit Everglades National Park.  Trail mix, peanut butter crackers, pretzels, protein bars, and other assorted healthy snacks will be in our backpack.  I’m going to leave the beef jerky at home.  Don’t want to smell TOO good to the alligators!

I am really getting excited about our trip to Everglades National Park. I think the kids are going to have a blast and I really hope they make a few great memories to last a lifetime! If you want more travel planning tips, head over to the Everglades National Park website.

Have you ever been to Everglades National Park?

 

 


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