Select Trip Appropriate to Your Skill/Age Level
Choose your trip based on your skill level, physical fitness and swimming abilities. Don't sign up for a 10-day Class V trip if you've never been rafting, you are totally out of shape or you don't know how to swim. You will put the other people in your raft and yourself at risk. Likewise, choose a trip that is appropriate for the youngest person in the group. Whitewater rafting is a great sport for families. However, if you have young children choose a river trip that is more moderate. The outfitter you hire will help you figure out the most appropriate trip.
Make Reservations, Especially During Peak Season
If you make reservations with your chosen guide service beforehand, you are more likely to get the run you like and/or is appropriate for the people in your group.
Listen to People with More Experience
Your guide and/or the expert on board knows how to steer a boat and she understands safety skills, so listen to her at all times. Don't risk your safety, hers, or others on the boat by pretending you know more than you do. If you are open, your guide will also help you improve your paddling and navigation skills.
Watch What you Eat
Don't eat a heavy meal before you board the boat, especially if you're immediately going to be hitting big rapids. Remember the old rule to not eat a lot of food before you swim. Same thing goes here. You might find yourself with some bad cramps if you end up being thrown out of the boat.
What to Wear/Bring
Wear clothes that dry quickly, such as bathing suits and swim/surf shorts. If the weather is cool, bring some synthetic layers, such as non-cotton long underwear or wool. Also bring a set of dry clothes that can be stored in dry bags in the boat and/or left at your destination. If you do swim in really cold water, dry clothes will be essential for you to avoid hypothermia. Also, bring water, cheap sunglasses (they may fall off), sunscreen, a wrapped snack that can be tucked away in your pocket and old sneakers or strapped sandals. For longer day trips, the guide service will provide you with food and beverages. Leave your car keys back at the launch site, and don't wear flip-flops.