It goes without saying that your packing list for any upcoming trip to Bend should include things like clean undies and sturdy walking shoes.
OK, depending on who you are and what you’re doing here, I suppose the undies are optional.
While I’m not going to remind you to pack your toothbrush, I am going to share 10 things you might not think to bring on your Bend vacation (and tell you why you ought to throw them in your bag).
This seems obvious during Bend’s chillier months, but plenty of people think they can skip the jacket in the summer or late-fall. Not so—and not even when it’s 90-degrees in the middle of August.
Bend sits at an elevation of 3,600 feet in the mountainous high desert. That means it gets cold here at night. You need the jacket even more in fall or spring when temps can fluctuate from sub-freezing to above 80. No joke, nearly every day last week, I kicked off my workday by running the heater in my car, and ended it with the air conditioning running full blast. Layers are your friend in Bend, so don’t forget those sweaters and puffy vests.
When you journey to Bend, there’s a good chance you’ll play in or near the water. In warmer months, that might mean kayaking or standup paddleboarding on one of the high Cascade lakes. In cooler months, you might find yourself hiking along the Deschutes River or spending a day sliding around on frozen water with a pair of boards strapped to your feet (i.e. skiing at Mt. Bachelor).
Whatever form your aquatic pursuit takes, you need to protect your smartphone. As someone who suffered water mishaps with my first couple iPhones, I can attest to the value of a triple-zippered waterproof pouch that can be worn around the neck. I bought mine at Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe, and it’s saved my phone more than once. If you’re especially prone to iPhone water mishaps (er, me) I recommend double-protection with a waterproof phone case like the ones made by Otterbox or Lifeproof.
Pack your phone with links and apps
Speaking of your smartphone, it can be your very best friend on a trip to Bend. Bookmark the link for www.visitbend.com so you’ve got easy access to info about lodging, activities, restaurants, and events.
If you plan to hit the Bend Ale Trail, be sure to download the free smartphone app that helps you navigate and collect passport stamps to earn prizes. Fond of Facebook? We have an active Facebook community with more than 100,000 followers and 3-4 posts daily about things to see and do in Bend.
Lotion and lip balm
Visitors who hail from the rainy side of Oregon seem especially surprised to discover how dry the air is in Bend. Our high desert climate can be hard on your skin if you’re not used to it, so don’t forget to toss some extra lotion and lip balm in your bag.
Forgot yours? We sell a pretty nice lip balm in the Bend Visitor Center, or stroll around Downtown Bend to test out lotions and potions in gift shops. Some of our local day spas offer pampering packages specially designed to soothe the effects of our dry desert air, so check out this list if you need extra pampering.
Gloves and a hat
Admittedly this is less important in the summer months, but in the fall, spring, or winter, make sure you’ve got a plan to keep your fingers and ears toasty. Even if you aren’t trekking out into the snow, it behooves you to stuff your coat pocket with a pair of cheap stretchy gloves and a thermal cap. That way you can stroll around Drake Park or the Old Mill District without having to cut your adventure short on a chilly day.
Measurements for that empty spot on your wall
This is one you might not think about, but consider using your Bend vacation as an excuse to outfit your home with a special souvenir.
My living room is adorned with art I brought back from travels around the world. There are paintings from Morocco, Belize, Jamaica, and Australia lining my walls, and shelves holding sculptures and vases from Venezuela, New Zealand, Italy, Fiji, and more. Art makes one of the best, most meaningful souvenirs you can possibly acquire, and gives you a way to remember your trip each time your eyes land on that special piece.
Bend has a booming art community, with a huge collection of art galleries and a wide array of special events ranging from First Friday Art Walk each month to Art in the High Desert every August. Get out there and find that one-of-a-kind piece that’s right for your home.
A small backpack
This is an easy one for me to forget when I’m stuffing my wheeled suitcase for a weekend trip that won’t involve camping or backpacking. But there’s a good chance you’ll plan at least one small hike or picnic while you’re in Bend, so it’s a good idea to have a small day pack you can stuff with lunch, a camera, and all those jackets and gloves I mentioned earlier.
Think you need to find a sitter for Fido when you visit Bend? Think again! Bend was named the nation’s dog-friendliest city by Dog Fancy magazine, and for good reason. When you come to Bend, you’ll find tons of dog-friendly hotels, restaurants, and off-leash dog parks, not to mention oodles of great trails where Rover can run free. For all the info you need about pet travel in Bend, go here.
Folks who don’t hail from snow country sometimes forget this one, but it can be vital if you’re journeying over the mountains between October and March. If your vehicle doesn’t have traction tires, get yourself a cheap set of chains at Les Schwab Tire Center. They’ll even show you how to put them on, and if you don’t end up using them, they’ll take them back.
If road reports show chains are suggested or required, don’t forget to grab a tarp or plastic garbage bag so you’ve got a waterproof barrier when you lie down on the ground to chain up. Gloves are important, too, as is a pack of wet wipes so you can scrub off the road dirt after messing with your chains.
Your laptop, camera, musical instrument, or sketch pad
In my non-Visit Bend life, I’m a romantic comedy author whose deadline schedule isn’t always convenient. That’s how I found myself waking early each morning of my recent honeymoon to crank out scenes in a new novel while my agent demanded frequent progress updates.
I don’t mean for any of this to sound lousy, because on the contrary—it was some of the most productive, creative, inspiring writing I’ve done in a long time. Sitting on a balcony overlooking the ocean while I wrote scenes of love and longing was amazing, which is why I’d tell any creatively-minded individual to bring the tools of his or her trade on a vacation to Bend.
There’s something about being in the great outdoors that’s beautifully inspiring. Haul your sketchpad on a hike in the Three Sisters Wilderness. Tote your camera to the top of Mt. Bachelor. Strum your guitar on a bench in the Old Mill District. If you’re looking for creative inspiration, I can promise you’ll find it in Bend.