Just Your Average Tip: Always Let Someone Know Where You’re Going

Before I set out into the woods, even for a simple local day hike, I always leave a copy of my itinerary with The Wife. If I am going with a group, we all leave that information with our significant others, or, a close friend or family member.

Before I go, I give the following information:

  • Where I am hiking from (parking lot, trailhead)
    • I send a link to a Google maps terrain map, wither an address or coordinates in the email as well.
  • The route I plan to take
    • I will be taking trail A to trail C, possibly going down trail B, and planning to come back on trail D.
  • What time I estimate I will be leaving
    • I think I should be at the trailhead by 9am, and on the trail no later than 9:30
  • What time I estimate I should be back
    • I estimate it will be a 6 hour hike, so I should be back to the car by 3:30
  • The “time to worry time”
    • If I do not call you by 6, it’s time to worry.
  • Trail Maps (links, printed, etc.)
  • Emergency contact information for the area (911, Ranger Station, State Police, Local Police)
  • Car information
    • Rusted out ‘76 Pinto with Flames on the hood, MA License Plate: IH8MYCAR
    • Even if your significant other knows this, they may be rattled if you are missing, and having this information handy makes it get to who needs the information quicker, especially the plate number. I can’t ever remember mine, let alone think The Wife will.

With a group…

  • Names and contact cell #’s for all other parties I am travelling with
  • The makes/models/license plate numbers of those driving
  • Contact name and number for those hikers, in case The Wife becomes the emergency triage for the group


  • Assume you will have cell coverage at the trailhead
  • Assume you will have even intermittent cell coverage on the trail
  • Assume your cell will have battery life after your trip
    • DO estimate the nearest close civilization you can use a pay phone or phone at a residence to radio back

In short – don’t be selfish, don’t be stupid. If you can’t make it out alive, make sure someone back in civilization can help you, and make it as easy as possible for them.

Additional Resources and Notes…

  • The LA County Sheriff’s Department has a handy form here which tracks most of this information here
  • If you have the $$, it is worth investing in something like a SPOT GPS Satellite messenger
  • Try using a site like https://www.ineversolo.com/ – allows for creating trip plans, and has automated alerts that will alert your contacts if you do not close out your trip in a specified time.

4 thoughts on “Just Your Average Tip: Always Let Someone Know Where You’re Going

  1. This is valuable advice and something I always do regardless of how long or shot the trip is. I have been tinkering about getting a Spot or PLB, but can’t make my mind up as to which to get. I suspect either of them would be a big improvement in terms of a safety net!

    • The one that I have had my eye on for a while is the DeLorme inReach 2-way Satellite Communicator for Smartphones (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007ZOK6B2/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&tag=theshayan-20&creativeASIN=B007ZOK6B2&linkCode=as2). I always have my phone on me (phone, camera, gps, etc.), so I can pair it with the device and send two way messages, both in emergency mode, as well as normal SMS texting. It also has a function to send out coordinates at regularly configured intervals, and allows your contacts to remotely ping the device if they need a status update as to where you are. It’s got a lot of features and functionality over just a regular PLB. I think its greatest feature for its regular service, is that you can receive messages from home, in case there is an emergency that requires you to turn around and hoof it back to the trailhead. That is one of my major concerns when away from contact with the world, is that something has happened with my wife or kids, and I do not have any idea that it is happening until I get back into coverage range.

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