What the Heck is a Float Trip? Also, What to Pack for a Float Trip this Fourth of July

What the Heck is a Float Trip? Also, What to Pack for a Float Trip this Fourth of July
Here's a pic of the last float trip I went on in 2009. As you can see, the attire is causal, but a cute swim suit is a MUST.

Ah, float trips. Back home in the good ol' STL, float trips are the official sign that it's finally summer. See, when you live a state that's completely landlocked, a day at the beach isn't exactly an option. So what do we Midwesterners do? We swim in the river.

This is about the time when my friends in New York are all like, "Ew! Why would you ever want to swim in a river?" Hear me out, guys. Of all the things I miss about home, this is it.

What the Heck is a Float Trip? Also, What to Pack for a Float Trip this Fourth of July
A good pair of sunnies is essential on the water. Just don't splurge too much—if the river's current starts to get rough, they're history.

My friends' annual float trip, an epic two-day long camping adventure dubbed "Freedom Fest," is held around Fourth of July each year. The trip begins the first night with a camp-out. We roast marshmallows, jam out to tunes from our car stereos and make fun of me trying to figure out how to put up a tent. (Seriously, if I were ever on Survivor, I'd totally be the first voted off.)

What the Heck is a Float Trip? Also, What to Pack for a Float Trip this Fourth of July
Look how many chairs we had! I'm telling you guys, float trips are a BIG deal. Usually groups of 10-20 will float down the river together.

The second day we wake up at the crack of dawn and load up a school bus that comes around to all the campsites. Still yawning, once we get to the raft rental shack, we unload and prep for the journey that awaits—a five-mile-long course down the river that will take us approx until sundown to complete.

Some groups choose to float along in canoes, but this is best left to the veterans. Canoes tip easily, and there's not a whole lot of room to lounge. Having all the space you can to soak up the sun (while wearing SPF, of course!) is absolutely necessary. So instead, my friends and I opt for these humungous inflatable rafts, which fit about five or six of us. Then we tie all the rafts together and set sail. Bon voyage!

What the Heck is a Float Trip? Also, What to Pack for a Float Trip this Fourth of July
Here my friend Nicole slides down the back of our flipped over raft. During the 5-mile trip down the river, floaters often stop along sand bars for a break.

Looks fun, right? It really is. I promise. Now that we're all familiar with the concept (and now that you totally want to embark on your own float trip with your BFFs), here's a handy-dandy checklist of all the things you'll need to pack:

1. At least three T-shirts and three pairs of shorts. My friends and I usually go for loungy, work-out type clothes because they're comfy and we won't cry if they get muddy (because it will get muddy). To glam your basic tee up a touch, we love this DIY tutorial we found on Pinterest that teaches you how to turn your tee into a cropped confection. And while you're in the DIY mood, try your hand at making a pair of denim cut-offs, too.

2. Two durable pairs of sunnies. Just like the ocean, it gets super bright when you're out on the water all day and delicate under-eye skin is more prone to the sun's harsh rays. Protect your peepers with a good pair of sunglasses that offer UV protection. Also, just a heads up—don't splurge too much and absolutely do NOT bring your favorite pair with you. Currents get rough around the river bends. (Does that make you want to sing the Pocahontas song, too?)

3. A stylish (and affordable!) swimsuit. One of the big pitfalls to floating is that, unfortunately, the river is disgustingly murky and it damages swimwear easily. When choosing styles, look for darker colors that won't absorb dirt like whites or pastels. We always love Target's selection, and the prices won't throw you in the deep end.

4. Sunscreen and aloe vera. This should go without saying, but when you're in the sun literally all day, make sure you slather on the SPF. Keep the aloe on hand—just in case.

5. Jelly sandals. Now that these uber-adorable shoes are on-trend again, they make the perfect footwear for floatin' in style. Flip flops are far too lightweight and will get caught on the river bottom, and swim shoes, well, let's just say they make a splash in the wrong kind of way. We adore these Asos jellies, and they're only $14!

What are your thoughts on float trips? Would you ever go on one? Are my friends and I totally crazy or does this look like the best thing ever? (Because is so is!)