DIY Tubing: How to Plan Your River Tubing Trip

river tubing

Written by Caroline Eubanks on

Caroline Eubanks is a freelance writer from Atlanta, Georgia whose work has been published by BBC Travel, Afar, Thrillist, and National Geographic Traveler and is the author of the book This Is My South: The Essential Travel Guide to the Southern States. You can follow her work at

    DIY Tubing: How to Plan Your River Tubing Trip

    Looking to cool off this summer? Plan your own river tubing trip using these essential tips.

    Assembling Your Gear

    The key gear you’ll need to organize is the tubes. Some companies rent them out or you can buy one at your local outdoors store. While flamingo and animal floats are fun for the pool, they’re harder to stay on if you come across any rapids and are generally made out of a thinner material. The last thing you’d want is for the tube to spring a leak or burst during your trip, so pick a tough inner tube. Keep a foot pump in the car to inflate your tube when you arrive. And, if you want to attach your floats together into a flotilla, bring a rope or bungee cord to connect them. Most tubing companies require you to wear a lifejacket and even if they don’t, it’s a good idea to wear one regardless of your swimming abilities. Staying safe on the water is the most important thing.

    Sun protection should also be top on your river tubing packing list, so be sure to bring a high factor sunscreen and apply just before you get on the tube. It’s a good idea to bring a stick sunscreen too for easy application while you’re on the river as the high points of your face—especially your nose, are more at risk of burning. Wearing a hat to shade your face and wearing a sun shirt over a swimsuit will also help protect you from the sun. Keep your phone, keys, sunscreen, and any other essential items in a water-resistant bag to avoid losing or damaging them. And, getting a waterproof cover for your smart phone or even a waterproof camera is a fun way to capture the day.


    Stay hydrated while you tube with bottled water and if it’s a longer tubing experience, bringing some snacks is also a good idea. Some rivers allow you to bring beer if you’re 21 or over, but be responsible and don’t bring glass bottles. Keep a fresh change of clothes and towels in a duffel or backpack in your car so you don’t have to spend the day in wet clothes. A packing cube will help you keep your items organized.


    Wherever your day on the river takes you, come prepared with on-the-water essentials to get the most out of the experience.

    Caroline Eubanks