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Top50 shares some handy tips on how to ruin your dude ranch vacation (ie, do the exact opposite)

Some 'souvenirs' are best left at the ranch...

1. Leave the kids home alone

Tempting as it is to get away from the children and enjoy a dude ranch vacation alone, you can’t guarantee you’ll return with your house intact or at least one family heirloom broken after the raucous party they will – trust us – throw while you’re away. For your own sanity, take them with you on a family dude ranch vacation. Sign ‘em up on a teens’ program and you won’t even have to look at them.

2. Assume the weather will be great

If you go into hibernation at the slightest fall in temperature or drop of rain, or have a tendency to pass out in anything above 90 degrees, you’ll want to know what to expect before you a) sign on the dotted line and b) start packing nothing but shorts and bikini tops. Check the climate charts on your chosen dude ranch’s Top50 profile before booking your dude ranch vacation.

3. Go off the ranch website alone

Pretty website = best ranch in the world. Right? Well you could chance it, but we recommend checking out Top50 Ranches as well. Not only are all of Top50’s luxury dude ranches, guest ranches and working ranches carefully vetted to guarantee you excellence in riding, hospitality and accommodations, but comparing your chosen dude ranch to other Top50 ranches might throw up some options you hadn’t considered. Better still, get in touch with Top50 and we can recommend to you the best ranches that match your needs and expectations.

4. Assume horseback riding is easy (on your butt)

It’s not. Even the most experienced riders will find all-day rides, every day, a little testing on the derriere – not to mention every other muscle in your body. While riding like John Wayne can be taught on your ranch vacation, getting in shape for horseback riding takes time and effort prior to setting off for your ranch vacation. Whether it’s getting in some saddle time, hitting the gym or sitting on a big round barrel for a few hours a day, getting in shape for riding will avoid all sorts of embarrassing wheelchair/bed-bound situations.

5. Don’t pack a sports bra

What could be better than loping through tree-lined pastures with the wind blowing through your hair – and your ample cleavage bounding along with more enthusiasm than your trusty steed? While guys might be immune from chest-related trauma, we advise women to pack several change of sports bra. Heck, wear 'em all at once if you have to.

6. Don’t buy travel insurance

Save money to spend on cowboy boots by not bothering with travel insurance. Just remember losing your horsey wardrobe before you even make it to your dude ranch (cue spending the entire vacation swathed in your partner’s oversize jeans and shirts) might get a little tedious. Oh, and not being able to afford to save your limb after being bitten by a rattlesnake on your pack trip could prove inconvenient.

7. Forget your passport

Remembering you left the entire family’s passports on the sideboard in the hallway is THE way to kick-start your dude ranch vacation. And while native travellers might not need a passport for domestic flights, flashing your library card as ID won’t get you far past immigration officers.

8. Make jokes with airport staff

Test the humor of airport security officials by making witty remarks about what you’ve got in your bag – be it 50lb of cocaine, a rare strain of bird flu, or a small Mexican. They’re unlikely to find it as hilarious as you do. Likewise, we advise against making sarcastic comments regarding a bomb in your bag to an air steward – unless you’d prefer to stay in a prison cell than a cozy log cabin at your luxury dude ranch.

9. Take to the saddle all guns blazing

(Not literally, that would be stupid.) You’ve arrived at the ranch and you’re ready to ride the range – so you promptly sign up for a 10-hour horseback ride. Well make the most of it, because it’ll be the only horseback ride you’ll be taking this vacation – and probably this year. Starting out with a couple of 1-2 hour trail rides and building up to longer, faster rides and cattle drives will ensure you get the most out of your ranch vacation. Your butt will thank you for it.

10. Infuriate (and possibly injure) fellow horseback riders

Sitting astride your ranch horse as you ride through open ranges, you’re swept up in the moment and decide it’s time for an ad-hoc lope through the long grass. “Yeehah!” Not so much fun for the less experienced riders in the group, nor your wrangler guide who’s trying to give a history of the guest ranch. You might be capable of controlling your horse, but don’t assume the same goes for the rest of the group. Taking off unannounced isn’t going to make you particularly popular around the dinner table that night. Or ever.

For more information on all of Top50's great range of dude ranch vacations, guest ranches and working ranches, visit

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