5 must-have items for the River Tubing trip in the Texas Hill country

Putting together the ultimate river snake ride in the Texas Hill Country should be a blast. When so much of our lives are surrounded by the hard concrete jungle of today's big cities, it's a great way to recharge your batteries to take a soothing ride down the river.

Before heading out into the countryside, however, it is important to think about what you need to pack for your trip. You can't take everything you want or need. Otherwise, you will be weighed down by all the extra things. However, you can take the right things with you to ensure a solid ride that keeps the fun ahead. Here are five items that need to be on your packing list when getting piped into Texas Hill Country:

1. Sunscreen – Sunlight causes serious damage to your skin if it is not protected. For a few dollars, it's a simple matter to have a good sunscreen and reapply during the tubing trip that pays for itself when it comes to peace of mind. Don't get caught up in the grandeur of Garner State Park in Concan, TX without anything protecting you.

2. Mosquito Spray – Snake down the river can mean being exposed for a few hours, so being able to keep mosquitoes away is essential for a good time. If you decide to go after the snake to Utopia Park in Utopia, TX for their annual fireworks show July 4, for example, keeping the mosquitoes at bay will be ideal while enjoying a bright, beautiful Texas night.

3. First Aid Equipment – More than likely you will be traveling with family or friends. Set someone to have a first aid kit available. You can even create one yourself and include basic items such as bandages, alcohol wipes, antibiotic gel, and, if possible, an emergency allergy shot.

4. Compass / Maps / GPS – Depending on when you go on the trip, you may actually find a large amount of traffic that makes it far less likely to "get lost." However, having a way to keep track of where you are can be important in case something happens. Another reason to know where you are may be related to being aware of the country you are in. The Lost Maples State Natural Area in Uvalde, TX is known for its beauty, but visitors are asked to stick to marked trails due to inherent dangers of rough terrain. Walking in unprotected areas can also cause damage to the maple trees that give the area its name.

5. Life jacket – The most important element to carry with you is perhaps a life jacket. Everyone is worried about how it can give them an uneven tan. Others see that the water is not so deep. The fact remains that life jackets save lives. The tourist website Uvalde County has a direct link to the Geological Survey site in the US regarding water levels to be checked in advance. Sometimes it is more important to be safe than to be cool.

A little common sense can go a long way when planning a Texas Hill Country river tour. As with all outdoor trips, plan smart and keep safety as your top priority.