Planning a POTA Babe Trip – Part 1

by Teri (KO4WFP)

Many of you QRPer readers know I am headed to Florida the first week of April for POTA. This will be my first POTA trip on my own. Of course, I’ll have my trusty POTA pup Daisy with me as there is no way she’d want to miss such an adventure. My previous trip to Florida with my brother in December 2023 gave me a better idea of what I need and how to streamline my routines for such a trip.

I am a divorced, single mom so I will not be staying at a hotel or Airbnb but tent camping because that is less expensive. I found staying in state parks during my last trip a pleasant experience. Most people camping at a park are friendly but mind their own business. Traveling as a single woman could be a fearful endeavor but being with a dog and in a campground full of people makes that endeavor doable.

I thought I’d share what I am taking in case there are other aspiring POTA Babes (or POTA Dudes for that matter) who are up for the same kind of adventure. So, let’s dive into my equipment.

An overview of what I am taking

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I have a Sierra Designs two-person tent I purchased nearly 30 years ago. That tent was used for a summer cross-country road trip my brother Joseph and I took. Though Joseph and I used a four-person Ozark tent of my parents’ for our December Florida trip, I like the features of the Sierra Designs tent better – the grommets for holding the tent poles, three instead of two tent poles which makes for a more stable design, and tent poles that don’t pull apart easily as you move them through the sleeves on top of the tent. My Sierra Designs tent does not have a dedicated slot for inserting an extension cord into the tent but I’ll make do running it in through the corner of the door.

Tent without rainfly

Sleep is of paramount importance so I use a LuxuryMap Thermarest and it is well worth it. How do I know? This sleeping pad has been my bed for the past six months so I have lots of experience with it. Being in the townhouse now, I could certainly purchase a bed but I’ve become so used to sleeping on the floor, I actually prefer doing so now. My other sleep items are a Northface sleeping bag and a Sea-to-Summit inflatable pillow. Daisy has a sleeping pad and bag of her own from Ruffwear.

The last items rounding out my shelter set up are a brush/dust pan, a mat to minimize sand/dirt getting into the tent, and a head lamp.


A confession – I dislike spending time in the kitchen so I keep my meals as simple as possible. To save money, I make my own meals. I learned last December it is easier to pre-package the meals before the trip than to take larger food containers from which to make the meals during the trip.

Breakfast is simple – oatmeal, cranberries, nuts, and protein powder with hot tea to drink out of a large thermos for the morning. Dinner is also simple – noodles, canned chicken, a canned vegetable, and shredded cheese with hot tea to drink once again. For lunch, I snack on fruit or protein bars.

I purchased a new stove – the SOTO Windmaster – for the December trip after reading reviews of backpacking/camping stoves on Gearlab’s website.  It was easy to use and quick to bring water to a boil in which I cooked our food. I do not like using gas appliances; however, lightning the stove provided simple and I never felt like I was going to fry off my eyebrows from the flame.

I also have a spork, can opener, dish soap, towel, fuel canister, and lighter to ignite the fuel for the stove.

I debated about bringing a cooler. If one is going to use canned food and does not anticipate using the entire can, obviously the food has to be safely stored overnight.  I visited Gearlab again for cooler reviews. The RITC Ultralight 52 quart cooler is a Best Buy and received a 70 rating, only 8 points down from their top rated cooler – the Yeti Roadie 60. But what a price difference – $450 for the Yeti and $210 for the RITC. I realized I didn’t need a 52 quart cooler and looked for something smaller. There is a 32 quart size which is only $140. Sold! In tests, the RITC 52 quart cooler kept items cool for 6 days, long enough to last on my trip.


We live in a world of gadgets and those need to be powered. I purchased a Jackery 300 Plus portable power station for my last trip even though I had access to the RV power outlets. This little unit is sweet! It charges items quickly, is quiet, and has a solar panel option for recharging if you do not have access to an outlet.

For my upcoming summer trip, most of the places at which I’ll stay will not have power available so the Jackery will come in handy. I will purchase a car charger to assist in recharging the unit while driving on that trip.

extension cord in campsite power connection in Florida Dec 2023


While lounging around camp, it is nice to be able to sit. I possess a Helinox chair I use during activations when the weather is warm outside. But I don’t want to use that in the tent due to the flooring and low ceiling height. I found on the December Florida trip not having something to support your back while operating or reading or typing up a report, to be taxing. Therefore on this trip, I will use the Thermarest chair made to use with my Thermarest sleeping pad.

from Thermarest website

If you are going to spend time outside, you will share the space with insects. Several of the trails I want to walk with Daisy warned about mosquitoes and ticks. To protect me, I will spray my clothing and tent entrance in advance with Sawyer Premium Insect repellent. I’ve used this stuff before and it works well. I also have Ben’s 30% DEET Tick and Insect Repellent wipes, top rated by Consumer Reports. As for Daisy, she is already on an oral flea and tick preventative. However, neither of those cover mosquitoes which of course can carry diseases and are irritating. Before the trip, I’ll apply an Advantix II treatment for her protection.

Other additional items will be clothing, toiletries, a quick-drying towel, a leash, a lead & tarp on which Daisy can lie down, my laptop for writing up reports and checking email, AirPods, my journal, and a few books to read. I tend to travel on the light side.

Well, now you have it – what the POTA Babe uses on her trips. I’d love to hear from y’all what you think would be a great addition to my set-up or a piece of equipment you prefer.  For part 2, I’ll share what is currently in my POTA QRP kit. Stay tuned…

23 thoughts on “Planning a POTA Babe Trip – Part 1”

  1. Terri…thank you for this report…it seems to be a complete list chock-full of great items that I appreciate….I’ve not camped in 20 years or so……

    Now I am curious what Part-2 will cover!

    I am curious with your 30-year old tent?….did you find a need to reseal the seams for water-proofing? I too have a ~30 year-old Northface 2-person tent….and recently set it up only to see that resealing the seams was clearly in order….maybe storage in an attic was a poor choice -:(

    And no plastic ground-cloth?

    Thanks again for this posting!
    Jim / AC3B

    1. Jim:

      I don’t know for certain about the seams as it hasn’t rained yet – hi hi. The weather forecast is 55% chance of showers Wed so I may find out.

      Your comment reminded me of a trip to the Okefenokee when my son was young. I had forgotten about it. We used my tent for that trip and I resealed some of the seams then out of precaution. I discovered the nearly empty tube of sealant when checking the tent before this trip. The tent has been stored indoors in a conditioned space away from sunlight and appears in good condition from that decision.

      I do have an inexpensive ground tarp which I forgot to include in the photo. I purchased it for the tent before this trip and am using it to protect the tent floor.

      I appreciate your comment and am making a mental note to consider resealing the seams once again before my summer POTA trip.

      The POTA Babe

  2. Teri…careful with deet. The stuff will melt plastic and dissolve paint. I had to repaint a morse paddle recently.

    Your friend…Philip

    1. Philip:

      I appreciate the note of caution, Philip. I dislike wearing DEET but find it necessary. As I’ve aged, I developed an allergic reaction to insect bites and decided preventing the bites however I can better than the aftermath when they successfully nail me.

      The POTA Babe

  3. Teri, you may want to consider a Thermacell to keep the skeeters at bay(I’ve heard there are a few of those varmints in FL). Works very well, we use ours quite a bit camping in spring & summer. Have fun and hope to hear you on the air!

    1. I second Thermacell! I’ve used it deep in Canadian forests where I would have otherwise been carried off my mozzies!

  4. Teri,
    There are alternatives to DEET. My wife and I discovered Picaridin when we went to Brazil about 10 years ago and did some jungle hiking near Iguacu in the Pantanal region. We never looked back. The damage DEET can do was not the reason we switched, but having underwear or a pair of hi-tech hiking trousers (not to mention plastic radio faces) turn to a gel is a compelling reason to avoid it. Read this article from the Appalachian Mountain Club:
    Buy a small spray bottle first (like Natrapel or Sawyers) and give it a try before committing to switch.
    -Jack KD4IZ

  5. Teri…I did not see a computer in your photo of supplies that you will be taking…how do you log your contacts?…also your portable power supply the jackery….does it cause you any interference when running your equipment?….Im looking for a new portable power source myself to run my computer from the AC supply but the one I have causes severe noise so I am wondering if you have any problems like that with your supply?….good luck to you..Joe

    1. Joe:

      Though I didn’t include it in my photos, I am bringing my Macbook for email and typing up my trip reports as I go. I am not bringing the Windows laptop I use exclusively for ham radio logging. I’ll enter my logs when I return home.

      The Jackery is quiet. I did have some interference when recharging the KX2 so I waited to charge that device until after my activation. I usually wait to the evening or between activations to use the Jackery so I don’t run into an issue with interference. So far I’ve been happy with it. But then I am using devices that do not draw a lot of power.

      The POTA Babe

        1. Mark:

          I prefer to have one logging program and am already invested in N3FJP. Thanks for the heads up though.

          The POTA Babe

        2. Thanks for the info on the MacBook program… I do use the HAMRS program for windows… I just got to St. Croix in the Virgin Islands. I will be activating a few parks here when I get a chance.

  6. This is a great article, Teri! It’s inspired me to get out my camping equipment and hit the field once again! Plus, your recommendations for camping items are quite helpful. My KX2 is telling me that she is looking forward to late Spring and Summer!

    John WI2C

    1. John:

      Oh, I bet she is excited! Glad the article is helpful and motivating. Have a great spring and summer in the field!

      The POTA Babe

  7. Next year, come to Ozarkcon, put on by the Four State QRP Group. Always first weekend in April. Lots of POTA and SOTA opportunities. We also do a group kit buildathon. This year is our new paddle kit!
    73 de K0NEB

  8. Teri, we’re just missing each another once again. I live in SW Florida, and North Fort Myers is where my home shed-shack is located. Last winter we almost crossed paths at some of the parks you activated during December. I followed you a few weeks later without knowing it. We activated some of the same parks here in SW Florida. My treks began in January after you headed back to GA. Later, I went on a five day POTA trip to Florida’s east coast. It was a great POTA winter for this activator!

    Now, as you head south again I’ll be driving north to a destination TBD somewhere within the path of the April 8 total solar eclipse. At least, that’s if WX permits. We’ll take a last look Friday before heading either west on I-10 to TX, or NW on I-75 to Arkansas, Missouri, or southern Illinois. This week’s WX up there would’ve caused me to stay put in Florida to see a partial eclipse. I’m hoping things improve toward the end of this week. I’m not going to travel 1000 miles one way to look at clouds! If, after breakfast on Friday April 5, we’re looking at WX maps in the Orlando Cracker Barrel parking lot and it appears we’re gonna be cloud-covered from Texas to Illinois, we might just bee-bop around your state of GA, up into TN and AL while visiting Lookout Mountain and the Huntsville space center. My 12 year old grandson is riding shotgun on this one, my first trip with a grandchild coming along. We made the decision last night to go “somewhere”, with him as my partner for a week of travel. Our first stop is LegoLand Florida up in Winter Haven. He’ll be happy if that’s our only official stop along the way! I’ll be happy if we get in a couple of POTA activations. Picture me tapping out CW while he is deeply engrossed in a Lego kit of 1000 pieces. In education, we call that “parallel play”. We’ll be “camping”, too, but in a comfy camper van parked in Cracker Barrel parking lots for 6 nights along the way. It’s a symbiotic relationship. We patronize them for breakfast or dinner, and they provide a 6×21 foot slab for our overnight stay.

    I’ll be thinking of you in that tent while I squeeze into a 46″ wide murphy bed next to my under-five-foot grandson! We tried it out over Easter weekend when we didn’t have enough beds for 4 extra bodies in our 2 BR mobile home. He announced to me on the first morning after sleeping next to me in our driveway, “That was my best night’s sleep ever!” That’s when I decided to take him along on my tentatively planned trip whether or not we see the eclipse. Up until then he had no idea grandpa was secretly planning a trip, with him as my possible copilot.

    I hope to do some hunting and maybe even a couple of activations, so I’m keeping fingers crossed you and I can connect as hunter-activator or even P2P! Either way, blessings on your travels, and I wish you good propagation for all your activations.

    72, Paul (N4FTD)

    1. Paul:

      Well, phoeey! Sorry we missed each other again. Thanks for the update. We did the Legoland trek with our son Sean when he was younger so you enjoy your trip. Maybe next time I head to Florida or you head to Georgia, we’ll meet up! Keep having fun on the air!

      The POTA Babe

  9. Teri, as always I’m thrilled to see a new report from the POTA Babe! And this is a great one. Due to personal issues that you are familiar with, I will be free to roam the world looking for POTA spots and camping, either tent or boondocking in the back of my truck with my dog Charli (Think of John Steinbeck’s “Traveling with Charlie”) . And reading your posts give me hope for the future. Little of this is radio oriented, but your blog isn’t either until part 2 so I guess it’s ok.
    Soooo…. thanks for the POTA camping blog!! I hope that it goes smoothly and is great fun for you and Daisy!! 73 de Gary NG9T

    1. Gary:

      One reason I wrote the article discussing my struggles is because we are human and make mistakes. Sometimes we think we are “terminally unique” as a friend likes to say. However, we have much more in common (including our struggles) than we think.

      I am glad my reports are helpful. I think it grand you and Charli have fun times to plan and put into action in the days ahead.

      Thank you for sharing your comment. Find and indulge in the things that bring you joy as you move onward and upward.

      The POTA Babe

  10. Teri, POTA Dude here, and 2021 Appalachian Trail thru hiker, all 2,202 miles including the approach trail to Springer Mountain. So, I know a little bit about survival in the woods. No matter how old your tent is, I would definitely seam seal the tent, and bring some tent pegs for tie downs as your tent is a freestanding tent. Don’t want your tent blowing away in a rain storm. You can purchase everything at REI. The Sawyer insect repellent is an absolute must, as I never go on a backpack trip with out treating my clothes, and shoes. I can assure you its the best tick repellent out there. I used to do stationary camping with my kids. We always set up a screen house around the sites picnic table. Food is always a tough decision, but your car camping not carrying it, so whatever. Can’t help you with power as I used an Anker 20 Amp rechargeable power pack for my phone, headlamp, and Garmin InReach Mini. I don’t think you mentioned a headlamp, but I used a rechargeable headlamp. Much better than using AAA batteries.
    Looking forward to your POTA activities. After my AT Thru hike I got full into POTA, so now I enjoy hiking and setting up a POTA activity in one outing.
    Looking forward to your upcoming activities.
    Good Luck, God Bless and Happy Trails.
    Ernie – N2DGQ

  11. Ernie:

    Thanks for your comment, including your suggestions from personal experience. I do have a Petzl and a Black Diamond headlamp. The Petzl (Actik Core) has a propriatary rechargeable battery (the reason I purchased that model) and in the Black Diamond, I use has three AAA rechargeable batteries in it. For some reason, I prefer the Petzl as it feels more ergonomic to me.

    Kudos to you for your thru hike of the Appalachian trail, not an endeavor to be taken lightly.

    Keep having fun on the air and I’ll try to keep those POTA reports coming.

    The POTA Babe

  12. Teri,
    Quite the Adventuress! I’m getting rather long in tooth and envy your willingness and ability to “get out there .”
    You’re certainly well prepared and knowledgeable on the camping and POTA aspects of it all.
    I will listen for you up here in Northern Virginia. I have been a ham for 14 years mostly CW and will try activating this year. My two radios are the KX3 and Mtn Topper 4 band.
    Thanks for the inspiration.

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