Floating on the Guadalupe River
Tubing, aka floating, aka “toobing,” involves floating along the surface of one of Texas' breathtakingly beautiful rivers in a giant inflatable inner tube. Traditionally, one takes in this magnificent scenery while drinking copious amounts of Lone Star beer. If you want a slightly more tame, less crowded float, I'd recommend the San Marcos River or the Comal. But to float “the Guad” is to join 10,000 co-eds, college kids, rednecks, hippies, and any combination of the above on a debaucherous floating shitshow through rapids, around boulders, and through fast-moving tube chutes that will likely tip you over and cause you to lose your beer and your sunglasses. It's heavenly.
Do as the locals do: Floating the Guadalupe mostly revolves around heroic levels of day-drinking. The last time I floated, a shirtless 400lb man in a John Deere trucker hat was pouring Jim Beam shots into the mouths of passersby using a giant leaf as a sort of funnel. It was awesome, but some of those giant leaves are poisonous. Be advised. Also, draw straws for who in the group is the DD back to town. This is probably the most important aspect of a tube trip. A DUI in Texas can cost you more than $10,000 in fines and legal fees, so take it seriously.
What to bring: Listen closely. 1) Cash, a driver’s license, and a credit card in a plastic bag. Some guides will ask for collateral for the tube rental, typically a license. 2) Another plastic bag for your keys and phone. Place this plastic bag inside another plastic bag and wrap it in a towel in a backpack. 3) Water shoes, sunscreen, snacks, and beverages, especially water. Consider investing in a floating cooler. The river will be full of idiots who brought 60 beers and zero water. Do not make this mistake or you will black out in the Texas sun. 4) Some outfitters will have mesh bags for trash that you can attach to your tube, but bring a trash bag or three just in case.
Directions: Good tube outfitters serving the Guad include River Sports Tubes, Shanty Tubes, Whitewater Sports, Tube Haus, and Armadillo Tubes. Call around to see which is cheapest based on your party size and tube needs. Personally I’m a tube with a bottom kind of guy; I like that I don’t scrape my bottom when it’s shallow and that my things don’t immediately sink if I drop them inside the tube. Though I understand some folks prefer a bottomless tube.