Paddling is complicated. Not the simple act of placing a blade in the water and pulling your body forward. That part children figure out in a matter of minutes without any training.

I watched hundreds of families do just this at the East Coast Paddlesports Symposium. The volunteers tried in vain to provide rudimentary instruction. But really moms and dads and kids just want to get on the water and figure it out for themselves. And they do.

We’ve been figuring it out for ourselves for generations, probably since the first sheets of birch bark were stitched together and since the first sealskin was stretched over a driftwood frame. How hard can it be, right? A little trial and error and presto we’re gathering beaver pelts and harpooning narwhals.

Elsewhere in James Island County Park, there were experts delivering seminars on packing, route finding, navigation, and menu planning. This is how canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding and kayak fishing gets interesting. I like to paddle, but I love to travel. This is also how paddling gets complicated.

Planning and preparing all the details of a wilderness paddling adventure can be part of the fun. I love it but only when I have time to pore over maps and putter away at checklists.

Compared to the heyday of backcountry travel in the 1980s and ‘90s households today have fewer holidays and more distractions. With all the little details to consider paddling trips are postponed, sometimes indefinitely.

Why? Because I would rather you venture to Nahanni’s Virginia Falls than Niagara Falls

This must be why people go on cruises and all-inclusive island vacations. I will never go on a cruise, but I get it.

In the outdoor industry white papers, kayaking and standup paddleboarding participation are up. Canoeing is also hot again, making the top ten lists for aspirational activities in America. This new Paddling Trip Guide is well timed. People want to get on the water but have less time to plan than ever before.

Last summer, I almost booked a trip to the Whistler Bike Park instead of going on our annual family canoe trip. Why? Because they make it so damn easy. In two phone calls, one to the airline and one to the hotel I could have had it all organized—transportation, lodging, bike rentals, lift tickets and meals.

Many canoe and kayak outfitters are simplifying their offerings and streamlining their businesses to meet new clients’ needs. Their websites no longer list every widget of rental equipment they have to offer. Nobody has time for all that. I’ll take your six-day, all-inclusive, please. Here’s my credit card number. Kids, we’re going canoeing!

If 20 years ago you told me paddlers would or could book a vacation on the Internet, I’d have told you to open a window and get your head out of the epoxy and resin fumes. But this is the way things are going. Many of the 190 trips and services featured in this issue can be booked this way. More will surely follow.

My goal with this Paddling Trip Guide is two-fold. I want to inspire you to travel to destinations you may have not considered before while introducing you to companies who can remove the barriers and make your trips happen.

Many trips in this year’s guide are all-inclusive vacations but wait, there’s more. Inside you’ll find paddling skills clinics and rescue courses. Maybe you just need equipment rentals, a water taxi, food or a night in a cozy room before you head out. That’s here too. We don’t have every outfitter in every region offering every service, but we’re working on it.


I would rather you venture to Nahanni’s Virginia Falls than Niagara Falls. I’d rather you be mesmerized by the northern lights than the Vegas Strip lights. I’d rather you spot a bull moose in Northern Ontario than Mickey Mouse. Don’t even get me started about orcas at Sea World versus seeing them on the wild coast of British Columbia.

The Paddling Trip Guide is paddling made easy. Call now. I promise you won’t regret it.

Scott MacGregor is the founder and publisher of Paddling Magazine, Kayak Angler Magazine, and Paddling Business Magazine.

What happens in Vegas, can stay in Vegas. Feature Photo: Jay Siemens

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