Whitewater rafting is one of the most beloved vacation activities, especially among thrill-seekers. But before you decide what kind of whitewater trip you’re going to take, it’s important to figure out a few logistics – including where you want to go rafting, what you need to know about equipment, and what kinds of falls are the best fit for your level of desired thrill. Here are a few specific things to know:

Wear the Right Attire

If you want to be comfortable on your trip, then you need to wear the right attire. Even if you aren’t going on any challenging rivers and don’t expect to fall in, you should dress like you’re going to get wet. Sometimes your instructor will give your group a chance to swim and it’s likely that you’ll get splashed from time to time while in the raft.

With that being said, dress like you’ll be spending a day at the pool. You’ll want a swimsuit with some coverage, sandals that velcro over your toes and ankles, some sunscreen, sunglasses, and maybe a sun-proof shirt. You’ll also want to leave all personal items behind in a locker or other secure space so that you don’t have to worry about getting wet.

Choose a Good Location

Your whitewater rafting experience will largely be determined by two things: the quality of your instructor and the river you choose. While you can’t always handpick your instructor, you can choose where you go. 

The good news is that there are great whitewater rafting trips in every region of the country. From Colorado and Arizona to South Carolina, Georgia, and Maryland, there are world-class rivers in a number of states. Do your research and find the best one near you. 

Know Your Limits

It’s important that you understand the limits of everyone in your group. Depending on age and health conditions, you may only be able to raft on certain “classes” of rivers. 

There are six different classifications, ranging from Class 1 to Class 6. Class 1 consists of moving waters with a few small waves and very few obstructions. Each subsequent class increases in difficulty, with Class 6 being nearly impossible and very dangerous. Only professional teams take on Class 6 rapids and they aren’t commercially available. 

“The minimum age for a child on a Class 3 river is 8 years and 14 years on a Class 4 river,” says Expedia. “Many outfitters run special family trips on Class 1 and 2 rivers, which can accommodate children as young as 5 years old. Pregnant women, the extremely overweight and those with heart and back issues should not raft in anything over Class 1 waters.”

Just Listen to Your Guide

Honestly, the best thing you can do is listen to your guide. It’s good to read up on different rules and techniques ahead of time, but your guide is trained to provide you with all of the advice and instruction you need while rafting. From telling you when to paddle and how to swim should you fall out, your instructor is well-prepared to provide first-timers like yourself with the advice needed to keep your family safe and engaged.

Be Safe and Have Fun

Few things are more exhilarating and breathtaking than a whitewater rafting trip down one of the country’s great rivers. From the excitement of a massive drop to the beautiful scenery surrounding you, there’s a little bit of everything to get you excited about the prospects of enjoying a day on the river. Listen to your instructor, be safe, and you’ll have a blast!


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