There are some fairly trendy infusions into the travel industry lately. The simple relaxing vacations that once motivated people to temporarily abandon work stresses is giving way to an increasing emphasis on high-end luxury and upscale entertainment. In a lot of ways this has muddied up things for both guests and hosts. Travelers are led to wonder what level of ‘glam’ they should plan for in their “quiet” vacation and then how to prepare for the adventures of their “relaxing” itinerary.

At the Marble Mountain Guest Ranch, we do our best to make sure that our clients are properly prepared for their vacation. On our website you can find a detailed packing list and other supporting documents to assist with informed planning. You can of course also contact us and ask more specific questions about needs and services available.

Over the years we have seen some repeated faux pas from inbound guests. In the spirit of love and fun, we would like to share some insights to help you avoid joining the club of embarrassed “dud” ranchers! Here is a list of some of the more common mistakes that we see people make when planning, packing and attempting to dress appropriately for their dude ranch excursion.

  1. Don’t bring too much of the office work with you.

We understand that many of our clients have demanding jobs that may need attention during their week-long stay at the ranch. But too often we see people embark on what is meant to be a family vacation, only to spend the majority of their time glued to a computer or a phone. The ranch is not set up to provide office space or other office services except for the free wifi based in the lodge. Sometimes this frustrates people who plan on spending much of their time working and connected to cell phones. There is NO cell coverage available at the ranch, so communications are limited to land line phone service and skype / facetime / email services available through the internet. To this end, we jokingly call our lodge the “star-boots café” in honor of those who arrive early prior to breakfast for a cup of coffee and the morning check-in at the office via the internet. Most of our guests find a nice balance between early and late-day office check-ins with the morning through evening scheduled activities uninterrupted by concerns of work.

  1. Medications

Perhaps one of the most unique things about the ranch is its remote rural location. It is not an exaggeration to say that we live in the middle of nowhere. It is a long 2.5 hour drive to any significant city or town. It’s a two and a half hour one way drive to a movie theater, a large store of ANY kind, a pharmacy, an airport, or a hotel. We try to be careful about reminding guests to please, please, please remember any prescription medications that you will need. It’s very disappointing to watch entire families arrive on the ranch after long hours, or maybe even days of travel, only to have to embark on a 5 hour round trip journey to the pharmacy because they forgot their prescription meds.

  1. Food Allergies/Dietary Restrictions

There are countless dietary trends that like to include the word ‘free’ in their titles. You may consider yourself to be ‘Gluten Free’, ‘Dairy Free’, salt free, ‘Sugar Free’, or any number of other ‘free’ things. We also know that there are plenty of people who have legitimate health needs, such as allergies or diseases that require dietary restrictions. We are more than happy to provide customized diets for those who sincerely need them. But too often we see people confuse dietary restraints with dietary preferences that they frivolously superimpose on our kitchen staff. For example, if you don’t love dairy, but indulge in it occasionally, then please do not describe yourself to our cooks as being ‘Dairy Free’. We ask this because of the small scale of our ranch and limited staff capacities. On a typical evening we have three to four people working in the kitchen. To have one staff member diverted to cooking an entire Dairy Free meal, or Sugar Free, or Gluten Free meal, when it is not needed, is a huge strain on our staff’s time and energy. If we make an entire ‘free’ meal for you, and you have no intention of eating it, then you are wasting our time, energy, and product unnecessarily. All too often we have guests who say they are gluten free but then hungrily grab a huge slice of homemade gluten-rich bread rather than the “gluten free” option that we have provided. When told the homemade bread is not gluten free the guest will often say, “Oh that’s O.K. I can have some once in a while or I have pills I can take to offset the discomfort.” If that is an option it would be better to use your agency to choose rather than to have an entire staff go out of their way to meet your restricted diet only see the “substance Y free” item passed over in preference to the mainstream dish. As stated before, if a guest is truly celiac, diabetic, or actually intends to follow their restricted diet of choice, we will move heaven and earth to meet that need

Properly attired dude ranch vacationers

Well Dressed Dude Ranchers – complete with effervescent smiles!

  1. Inappropriate attire

Here is where the glam parts of current travel trends can get you into trouble. For example, it is a common amenity to have pool access at a resort. (We do have a pool at the ranch). And when you go shopping for your pool attire, you may find things such as tiny string bikinis, little sandals with heels, and hats and sunglasses that are not actually meant to be exposed to the water. If you want to bring these items to enjoy for your personal pool time at the ranch, please feel free. But please understand that this does not qualify as appropriate attire for our scheduled white water rafting. The glamorous version of pool attire is not likely to survive or to suffice when your are needing to climb in and out of rafts, traverse slippery boulders at the river edge, or take an extended trail hike to a secluded waterfall. The glamorous choice for your pool fashion statement will likely not be adequate for your 45 minute adventure hike to the waterfall. This hike will require you to do some tricky trail maneuvering, including swimming up a stream of fresh snow melt for about 20 yards. So please don’t plan on wearing your heels, a bikini that does not give your body adequate coverage, or your expensive jewelry that if lost or damaged, would ruin your vacation.

While preparing this blog, I did a little research for articles that might have packing list suggestions. I found more than I can fit into this post. But here I would like to list a few suggestions gleaned from my research, which have NO place on a dude ranch.

According the Marie Claire, the popular women’s magazine, a perfect vacation packing list must include the following items:

  • A cashmere scarf
  • Cashmere separates, such as tee shirts and pants and sweaters. Preferably white or tan, all neutral tones
  • A Bodycon dress (which we would be less disapproving of, if it encourages karaoke participation)
  • Expensive perfume (sure, why not help feed the mosquito population or attract scent-driven wildlife)
  • An extra suitcase, just in case the airline loses yours. Maybe they should call this an ‘in-case’?

I also came across a few interesting celebrity travel habits. These also amused me, but most have no place on a dude ranch.

  • Alton Brown – a world renowned chef, says that he has “this little bag that carry these three things with me almost everywhere I go.” And those three little things are: an espresso machine, an electric kettle, a small blender, and a tin can of sardines”. Come to think of it, that is actually four things. Also, I am curious what his definition of a ‘little’ bag is.
  • Other celebrities such as Mayim Bialik, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Megan Fox suggest bringing personal comfort items when traveling. Their list includes: essential oils, a colloidal silver spritzer for sanitizing everything, and health supplements to increase your immune system and calm your nerves
  • Kit Harrington – says that he takes his lucky pen with him everywhere he goes. Amazingly, he has never lost it. Can I just say, that if a pen is that important to you, think twice about bringing it to the river, or on a horse ride. On the other hand, maybe you’ll get lucky and be able to find it if it gets lost?

There are plenty of travel habits that are useful and will serve you well on your vacation. We at the Marble Mountain Guest Ranch want to offer this friendly advice to anyone we may be lucky enough to meet; keep it simple, and read your packing list. We have instructions, lists, and real life support staff who are available to help answer questions and assist you in planning a smooth, comfortable, enjoyable, fun, and exciting vacation. And in this one way we agree with those most luxurious, and trendy travel trends; what you wear will affect how much you enjoy your vacation.  One final bit of advice, what is white at the beginning of your dude ranch vacation will likely leave the ranch in a lovely blend of earth tones.  Take heed!~

Cierra Sorensen / Doug Cole