By: Ayja Bounous
Picture this: You’re engaged to your soulmate. As you approach the date of your wedding, you and your partner begin brainstorming how you’d like to celebrate your bachelor/bachelorette/bachelorx parties. Frankly, you and your partner aren’t really into the standard bachelor/ette/x parties flooding social media. You’re looking to curate a completely unique and adventurous experience for your friends—something that will blow all other bachelor/ette/x parties out of the water.
If you resonate with this, look no further than planning your trip with Holiday River Expeditions!
Never considered a bachelor/ette/x river trip before? There are plenty of reasons why you should. They include all the normal benefits of a river trip (beautiful scenery, exciting wildlife sightings, lovely hikes, splashy rapids, etc), plus many others that can really make a bachelor/ette/x memorable. Here are a couple of reasons worth considering:
- River trips create a sense of camaraderie and bonding, unlike almost any other type of trip. Whether your friends already all know each other or most of them are strangers (what we like to call future BFFs), there is something about river trips that quickly creates a sense of togetherness among a group. For a certain amount of days, these faces are the only ones you’ll see. You’ll all be pooping in the same box. It’s a surefire way of creating fast friends. And they’ll be stoked to see each other again at your wedding and say: “Hey remember when we were all pooping in the same box? What a magical time.”
- No cell phone service (!!). Sick and tired of getting together with your friends, only to have them all looking at their phones the entire time? River trips are a great way of forcing folks to disengage with social media and re-engage with the people around them.
- The guides take care of everything! Not the type of person who wants to cook or clean on your trip? Don’t want to have to worry about picking a restaurant that everyone will like? Not a problem. The guides will cook (and clean) all meals for you. If you do have friends with dietary needs the guides will make sure the meals will have options for everyone. And if you do have a specific type of meal or dessert you’d prefer you can always chat with the helpful Holiday folks about making it happen.
- If you or your friends have an interest in camping but it’s always seemed somewhat intimidating, river trips are a great way of gaining some camping experience in a relatively controlled environment. Folks can rent almost everything (tents, sleeping pads, sleeping bags) from Holiday, and if they’re really struggling to set their campsite up there will always be people around to help. Plus, “intro to camping” trips are always better when surrounded by friends.
- Have so many cool overlapping friends between you and your partner that the idea of doing separate bachelor/ette/x parties bums you out? River trips are the perfect way to switch things up. And if you would like to have some level of separation during the day, you can always “divide and conquer” on different rafts, then reunite at the campsite. I’ve also been on trips where one bride/groom group is in charge of one night and the other bride/groom group is in charge of the other night. It’s a fun way of getting everyone involved and delegating tasks to different folks. Think: picking the theme night, gathering lights/decor prior to the trip, planning games/activities, decorating the camp, setting the vibe, being in charge of the bar (either by mixing cocktails the night of or prepping a signature cocktail before the trip), etc!
I’ve now been lucky enough to go on three river bachelor/ette/x trips. (One for two Holiday guides, one for friends, and one for my own!) While each one was completely unique, all three trips took place on the Colorado River, along the stretch known as Westwater Canyon. Westwater is a great option for river bachelor/ette/x trips for a few reasons. First—it’s an easy put-in and take-out. Your crew will only have to endure 1.5 hours in the van to the put-in, and a mere hour and fifteen minutes back to the Holiday warehouse on the flip side. Second—the most common Westwater trip is 3 days/2 nights, the perfect amount of time for those who can’t take too much time off from work. Third—the entire first day and parts of the second and third days are flat water, which means you can loosen the buckles on your PFDs, lay back and get the ultimate river chill experience, or hop on a ducky or SUP. On the third day, you also get to experience the iconic Westwater Canyon, where you can see Vishnu Schist (the oldest exposed rock formation on earth, clocking in at approximately 1.75 billion years) and experience an exciting stretch of rapids, including the notorious Skull Rapid.
The time of year is worth noting for river trips. Early season (late spring and early summer) is typically considered high water, while mid-summer to late summer and early fall often mean lower water levels. The time of year you choose can affect the trip in a few different ways.
Early season: High and fast water and big rapids! The river is often more exciting during this time, so if you want thrilling rapids you might want to consider an early-season trip. Fast water also means potentially getting to camp on the earlier side, so less time on the water and more time on land. (Sometimes having structured activities/games is a good idea if you get to camp with lots of daylight hours.) Really high water can also impact the campsites—some of the big beaches might be underwater during early-season trips, so that might be something to consider.
Late season: Slower water, so you’ll likely spend more time lounging on boats. The sun and heat can be intense during these times, but the water is also warmer so swimming and spending time in the water is more pleasant. Low water also means big beaches, so plenty of room for activities!
Now that we’ve covered some logistics, let’s talk party! There are many different ways you can customize a river bachelor/ette/x trip so that it feels unique to you and your partner’s desires. Here are some tips I’ve compiled about items/costumes/themes you might want to consider for your bachelor/ette/x trip!
If you’re like me and you like to spoil your friends with gifts, here are some fun (and practical) gifts for a river trip:
- Sarongs: The ultimate essential river item. Sarongs can keep you warm if the wind picks up, or keep you cool if the sun is relentless (pro tip: if you end up going on a hot hike, get that sarong wet first and bring it along). Plus they’re cute and can be used as a towel, bathing suit coverup, shawl, pillow if you’re desperate, a “changing room” if you want to change outfits on the boat, and decor once you get to camp. Plus, they’re popular among all genders. I bought each of my bridesmaids a sarong for our trip and they loved them—years later they still use them all the time! (You can even buy sarongs at the Holiday store before the trip!)
- Fanny packs! Stuff them with necessary items (like Advil, emergen-C, sunscreen sticks, and lip balm with SPF) as well as fun items (custom temporary tattoos, patterned croakies for your sunglasses, flasks, etc). If you don’t want to have to buy all new fanny packs a great option is to find them second-hand, then have everyone pick one before the trip.
- Bucket hats. Ever seen matching bucket hats for the couple? A sun-friendly way to make sure everyone is 100% certain who the most important people are.
Decor + Other Items
- Lights! Cannot recommend this one enough. If you want the party to continue into the wee hours, lighting up the campsite is key. Solar-powered string lights are great for decorating bushes, branches, and tents (just make sure to charge them first). Battery-powered light projectors turn a rock wall or tree into an art installation. Having fun lights is an ultimate vibe setter.
- Tapestries + Sarongs make for great ways to decorate tables, rocks, create a cuddle puddle in the middle of the dance floor, etc.
- Floaties are super fun on the flat water sections of the river (just make sure to check and make sure your guides are okay with that as well!) The guides bring along a pump for duckies and SUPs, but you might want to consider bringing along a little battery-powered pump as well.
- Light up bocce ball set! Take your bocce game to a whole new level with a light-up bocce ball set. When played at night even simple terrain becomes exciting. Plus, they make for great dancing props once the dance party gets going.
- Speakers—if you’re hoping to throw an epic dance party, then you might want to consider bringing along a speaker (just be advised you won’t be able to plug it into any power source on the river). Music is great, just make sure your guides are okay with it and be aware of other groups that might be camping nearby!
There’s no better way to start the evening than everyone reappearing from their tents dressed in costume! Costumes, decor, games, and signature cocktails can all play into a themed evening. (Just make sure that your decor/costumes don’t shed and dirty up the campsite—consider avoiding feathers, glitter, etc)
- River prom: A river classic! Break out your old prom attire or find a vintage gem from your fav thrift store, snap on those costume earrings, put your hair in a side ponytail and party like it’s 1989!
- Rompers and Rapids: Jumpsuits and rompers make for a snazzy and comfy way to party the night away.
- Beached Burning Man: Basically whatever you picture yourself wearing to Burning Man. Faux fur, body jewels, armor, fuzzy jock straps—anything goes!
- Summer Camp: We chose a summer camp theme as night #1 on my friend’s bachelor/ette/x trip. We did a high water trip in May and knew we’d have lots of time at camp, so we prepared a variety of summer camp games. We divided the group into four teams (giving everyone a colored cape to match their team), then played a series of relay races, had an epic limbo match, and finished the night off with a campfire and s’mores.
- Animal HAUS: Ears, tails, and house beats—oh my!
- Cowboys + Aliens: Channel your “inner paranoid Southwest conspiracy theory” self for this one. You could have different games to match the theme (lasso throwing, light-up horseshoe or ring toss, stick horse races, etc.). Or skip the Cowboys and go straight to alien/astronaut vibes.
- Roaring 20’s (CFS): If your crew is big into vintage looks, pick a decade like the 1920s and roll with it, or let everyone dress up as their favorite decade. (P.S. The title is a play on words: CFS = the amount of water moving at cubic feet per second.)
- White Elephant Gift Exchange: Have everyone bring a gift/outfit that will be given to someone else in a gift exchange. Wear whatever gift/costume you end up with that night!
- Drunk History: Are you a history buff? A few weeks before the trip, request that everyone learn an obscure history lesson, and have them memorize it. Once everyone is nice and liquored up, have folks share their history lessons. Fun, entertaining, and informative!
- River Olympics: Is your crew an athletic bunch? Bring along a toga and decorative ivy for your head and get ready to prove your talent in the river Olympics. Think: stone throwing, wheelbarrow races, push-up contests, who can tie a knot the fastest, etc.
- Boat games: Though not a theme night, creating games to play while on the boats are fun as well. Spot a Great Blue Heron? Everyone take a sip of their beverage. Spot a Bald Eagle? Everyone drink water. On the flat water sections ask the guides to tie the rafts together to create what we call a “party barge” and start a dance party (bonus points if anyone in your group brings along a musical instrument!)
Long story short—you can’t go wrong with a Holiday River Expeditions bachelor/ette/x trip. You and your friends will make memories that will last a lifetime—just as long as you don’t drink too much. We hope to celebrate with you on the river!