Are you ready to start playing your trip? After years of visiting national parks, I know a thing or two about planning outdoorsy vacations. I’ve learned through trial and error what companies make for a great travel experience and what companies to avoid. So I’ve put together a list of my favorite travel companies to help you plan an epic (and stress-free!) national park trip. Keep reading to explore my favorite tools for booking flights, hotels, rental cars and more!
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, where I receive a small commission if you choose to purchase at no additional cost to you. This helps me provide free content to you to help you plan your national park trips. I only recommend companies and products I use and love. Every travel company recommended here is one I use on my own trips.
Skyscanner is my favorite tool to research flights. You can compare flights to and from multiple airports and filter by airline and departure time. Once you’ve found the perfect flight, Skyscanner takes you directly to that airline to book.
Google Flights is an easy tool to check the typical price of flights to and from your destination. If you aren’t quite ready to book, but want to get a general idea of the available flights, this is the tool for you.
Scott’s Cheap Flights
Scott’s Cheap Flights is an email newsletter that provides exclusive flight deals. A few times per week you get emails with the latest deals to popular destinations and how to book. Best of all, the newsletter is totally free!
Hotels.com is the best tool out there to search and book hotels in the United States! You’ll find everything from boutique hotels to national park lodges. Hotels.com gives you access to exclusive deals and low prices when you book through them. Plus, they have a reward program too where you get 1 night free after 10 stays!
Airbnb is the best way to book private rental homes near national parks and outdoorsy destinations. Staying in an Airbnb is great for those traveling in groups or want to cook their own meals to save money.
Recreation.gov is the go-to site for all things camping in the national parks. Here you can research campsites in most of the parks, book your campsite when reservations open, and manage your reservation before your trip.
Transportation & Getting Around
Rentalcars.com is my favorite tool for researching rental cars at my destination and finding the best deals. They have all the popular brands, from Hertz to Budget. When you book through Rentalcars.com, you get access to exclusive deals where you can book a super low price if you choose a wild card vehicle.
Ever wanted to try out van life? Outdoorsy connects you with converted vans for short term rent (think Airbnb for vans and RVs!). This is the perfect way to explore national parks, particularly for those who want a blend of camping and luxury.
The National Park Service website is the best place to research information on national park shuttles, vehicle restrictions, and parking regulations in all 63 USA national parks.
REI is my go-to for everything outdoors-related. I buy all my hiking, camping, skiing, and backpacking gear from REI. Whether you buy the REI store brand or one of the other brands they sell (like Patagonia, Arc’teryx, Big Agnes), you can rest assured everything there is high quality. REI has a one year return policy and allows you to trade in used gear for gift cards. Best of all, for a one-time fee of $20 you can become an REI member and get 10% back on every full-price purchase (that means you only need to spend $200 at REI in your lifetime to make that back!).
Amazon is perfect for last minute travel and outdoors gear. The 2-day shipping you receive as an Amazon Prime member is the best on the market. Amazon has some of my favorite travel and outdoors brands too like Coleman and Anker. Becoming an Amazon Prime member costs only $12.99 per month, but if you pay annually you can save 25%. I make back that membership easily each year between free shipping and Amazon Prime Video streaming.
My Travel Essentials
Looking for the best travel items to pack for your national park trip? Check out this list of essentials my I pack every time I travel!
National Park Must-Haves
- America the Beautiful National Park Pass
- National Park Passport and Journal
- Mappinners National Park Scratch Off Poster
Backpacks & Luggage
- Samsonite Carry On Suitcase
- Osprey Fairview Travel Backpack
- Osprey Tempest 20 Backpack for Women
- Osprey Talon 22 Backpack for Men
- Osprey Aura AG65 Backpack for Women
- Amazon Basics Packing Cubes
Outdoor Clothing for Women
- Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket
- Arc’teryx Cerium LT Down Jacket
- REI XeroDry GTX Rain Jacket
- Patagonia Cool Capilene Short Sleeve T-Shirt
- Patagonia Cool Capilene Long Sleeve T-Shirt
- North Face Aphrodite 2.0 Hiking Pants
- Nike Tempo Running Shorts
- Altra Lone Peak 4.5 Trail Running Shoes
- Chaco Z Cloud/2 Sandals
- Columbia Newton Ridge Hiking Boots
- Black Diamond Storm 400 Headlamp
- Black Diamond Screen Tap Gloves
- REI Midweight Merino Wool Hiking Socks
- REI Midweight Logo Beanie
- Buff CoolNet UV+ Headwear
- Nalgene Water Bottle
- Osprey Hydraulics 3 Liter Reservoir
- Lifestraw Water Filter
- Adventure Medical First Aid Kit
- UCO Titan Stormproof Matches
- SOL Emergency Bivvy Shelter
- Tri-Power Life Whistle
- REI Flash Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles
- Garmin InReach Mini GPS Device
- Swiss Army Huntsman Knife
- Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 Tent
- REI Magma 30 Sleeping Bag for Women
- REI Magma 30 Sleeping Bag for Men
- Therm-a-Rest Trail Pro Sleeping Pad
- REI Camp Prep Table
- Coleman Triton 2-Burner Camp Stove
- Jetboil Flash Camp Stove for Backpacking
- Sea to Summit Delta Camp Set
- YETI Rambler Mug
- Aeropress Go Coffee Maker
- Lodge Cast Iron Skillet
- Coleman Xtreme Cooler
- Black Diamond Moji Lantern
- PackTowl Microfiber Towel
Road Trip Essentials
My Favorite Non-Essential Travel Gear
- Kindle Paperwhite E-Reader
- Apple Airpods Pro
- Anker Portable Charger
- Platypus Platypreserve Wine Reservoir