How to Prepare For an Adventure Holiday
You are seeking an adventure holiday that will inspire your adventurous spirit and take you out of your comfort zone. That is wonderful! There are a few things that you need to think about before plunging straight in.
What kind of adventure holiday are you seeking? trekking in the Himalayas, white water rafting in Borneo, elephant riding in Sri Lanka, exploring remote villages in the Andes mountains of Peru? The world is an adventure seekers paradise, so to discover your limitless options, key in ‘adventure holidays’ or ‘adventure holidays for women’ on Google, invest in a relevant guidebook or magazine subscription, or visit an adventure travel agent or tour operator.
Before you settle on a holiday destination – regardless of whether you’re travelling independently or with a company,
some preliminary things to consider:
1. check Visa requirements for your destination and make sure your passport has at least 6 months of validity from the date of departure.
2. check vaccine requirements and that the country you’re travelling to is both safe and politically stable.
3. consider travel insurance options, this is mandatory if you are travelling with a company
An adventure holiday needs a little more thought than a beach break. You will need to be fit for the trip. Sport-specific training is key: mountain biking and trekking require leg and cardiovascular strength while kayaking and rafting rely on a strong, upper body. Check with your tour operator, or do your own research, to find out what preparation exercises are best for your chosen style of adventure. Being fit can – and often does – make the difference between having a wonderful trip or not.
Different activities and sports make specific demands on your body, so it pays to know which muscles you are going to need and how to make them stronger long before you leave home.
If you’ve booked an entirely new experience – rock climbing, scuba diving, surfing or horse riding, for example – it pays to get an introduction to the sport before you go. A taster session will give you an idea of the muscles you need to prepare, the clothes and equipment you need to pack and the skills you may want to hone before travel.
If your chosen holidays involves trekking, then the best preparation is to get out and start walking. Go for long weekend walks in hilly areas and gradually increase your pace. It is a good idea to walk with a backpack of a similar weight that you would be carrying on your trekking holiday.
Most adventure travel companies have their treks graded from easy that involves about four to six hours’ walking a day, through moderate with the occasional steep path to expedition grade. Different tour companies use different terms.
Only take what you need, but pack what is advised. Technical clothing, geared to your adventure, will enhance comfort and enjoyment, so is worth the investment. A rash vest or wetsuit will be necessary for water-based activities, padded cycling shorts are a must for mountain biking, and tried-and-tested hiking boots are essential for trekking, for example. Trip organisers should give you a checklist of compulsory items of clothing and equipment; pack them all to avoid regret.
It is amazing how much space you can save in your bag by rolling your clothes instead of folding. I have been rolling for years, clothes pack easier and crease less.
When travelling with your spouse, partner or best friend, split the contents of each travel bag/backpack so that you have some of their items and they have some of yours. Then, if one of your bags goes missing, you will have enough clothing to get by.
It is easier to travel light and take only one piece of hand luggage. But always carry a spare fold-up travel bag for additional purchases. On the trip home, check-in the spare bag with clothes and carry the treasured items onboard the plane. If your luggage is lost, the memorable souvenirs are still safe.
Zippered mesh inserts for the bags make packing and sorting easier. They come in various sizes and are suitable for a range of clothes such as underwear, T-shirts and so on. Keeping groups of clothes separate is great if you’re travelling through a range of seasons or temperatures. They make packing and unpacking very easy and keep you organised on the road, minimising travel stress.
The way you dress can affect your safety. It can affect your social interactions. It can make or break your travel adventure. (And, if you pack too much, carrying your bags can make you very tired, very cranky and very vulnerable!)
Remember that you are a guest where ever you go so dress like one. Be modest, elegant and comfortable. The locals have had generations to develop a typical dress that suits the climate and the culture of their country. Take your cue from them. A smile and an open mind should be your constant accessories.
Keeping warm with layers
Even if the weather calls for clear skies and warm temperatures make sure to pack at least an extra layer, usually including wind and/or rain gear. Weather can change quickly, especially in mountain areas.
The practicality of T-shirts and pants made from quick-dry material outweighs fashion in my traveller’s wardrobe.
When travelling abroad, always pack a very long oblong chiffon scarf. It is the most versatile item. It can dress up a simple black dress draped backward around the neck for evening; it is useful as a head covering for visiting shrines and temples and being appropriately respectful, even if you’re not quite sure of the local protocols and traditions; in a pinch it can be an evening wrap and it takes up no space in a bag.
Ladies, always take a sarong on trips, in your carry-on. It can be used as a sheet, towel, skirt, dress, headdress (for mosques, etc), beach coverup, curtain, just about anything. Use your imagination!
How to fit trekking boots
Reviews and product information can help in your search for quality outdoor footwear, whether you’re in the market for lightweight trail shoes or sturdy backpacking boots. But ultimately the most important aspect of choosing a hiking boot is a good fit.
Here are some tips to help you properly fit hiking boots:
· Try on boots at the end of the day, when your feet are their largest.
· Wear the socks and any insoles or inserts you would normally use with the boots.
· One of your feet is probably larger than the other. Size boots to the larger foot. Better to have one shoe a little loose than the other too tight.
· Walk around in the boots for at least 15 minutes.
· Toes should have a little room to wiggle, and shouldn’t jam into the toe box.
· Heels should feel firmly in place with no heel slippage.
· Walk up and down an incline to check for heel slippage on the uphill and any toe jamming on the downhill.
· Try different styles and widths. You may be a different size in different brands.
· Women should consider footwear that’s built on a women’s last, instead of models sized down from a men’s last. · Boots should feel like they fit initially. Don’t rely on breaking them in to make them fit. If they don’t fit now, they won’t stretch to fit later.
· While you want to pick a boot that fits from the start, you can tweak boots with custom orthotics and insoles (to fill up extra space), professional stretching of the boot (to add space), and different lacing techniques (to reduce foot movement).
· No matter how well they fit, don’t forget to break in your boots around the house or on some easy day hikes before you embark on that weeklong trek.
How to care for your boots
Now that you’ve shelled out money for your new boots, you want to make sure they’ll support you for countless miles on and off the trail. Below are some steps you can take to help your boots last longer.
Periodically treat boots with a waterproofing treatment (like NikWax) appropriate to the boot’s materials (full-grain leather, Nubuck leather, suede, fabric, etc.) and according to the boot manufacturer’s recommendations and instructions. (Warning: oil-based products soften leather, which can lessen support.)
Dry your boots between hikes. Don’t try to rush the drying process though. Close contact or proximity with heat sources, like a fire, radiator, or hair dryer, can permanently damage boots.
Keep them clean. Yes, we know you’re going to take your boots outside and through rocks, mud, and streams. That’s part of the fun. But after every hike, brush that abrasive dirt and debris off your boots (preferably when dry). If your boots are otherwise in good condition, but need minor repairs or to be resoled, consider the value of getting them repaired rather than replaced. Check the warranty and repair services offered by the boots’ manufacturer, or head to an experienced cobbler.
The outdoor kit
Sunglasses, sunscreen (for skin and lips), and appropriate clothing is necessary for sun protection year round, but is especially important when on water, ice, snow, and at higher altitudes. The higher you go the more ultraviolet rays you’re exposed to, increasing your risk of serious sunburn and skin damage, including cancer.
Sunglasses protect your corneas from ultraviolet light year round. Sunglasses, glacier glasses, and goggles also can help prevent snow blindness from sunlight reflecting off snow.
Sunscreen should be at least 15 SPF (though 30 is preferable), block UVA and UVB rays, and be applied anytime you go outside, even on cloudy days. Reapply frequently, including lips, particularly if you’re sweaty or wet.
Clothes supply varying degrees of sun protection depending on their material, weave, color, and moisture content (a wet, cotton T-shirt is practically useless). Some clothes are treated to absorb more UV radiation and come with specific UPF ratings, which can be useful for desert hikes and other very sunny treks.
Hats are a must. A wide brimmed hat or at least a peaked cap for protection of your face from the sun.
First-aid kits range from the basic, suitable to treating blisters and minor cuts on a day hike, to expedition-worthy kits geared toward extended travel and large groups. You can make your own or buy a pre-packaged one, but at a bare minimum you’ll want: bandages in various sizes, gauze pads, disinfectant, over-the-counter pain medication, blister treatment, and any prescription medications.
Any first aid kit is useless without the knowledge to use it. Consider taking a first aid course and periodically brush up on your skills. Even if you’ve already passed a course, a small first aid guide inside your kit will help you deal appropriately with medical emergencies.
Personalize your first aid kit to your individual medical needs. Include a pencil and paper. Store all first-aid supplies in a waterproof container or pouch.
· Consult a travel health specialist before travelling to overseas destinations and ensure your vaccines are up to date.
· Take a medical kit which includes treatment for nausea and motion sickness, diahrea and gastric stop, take anti-malarial pills if necessary, insect repellent.
· Avoid mosquitos, flies and other biting insects.
· Don’t go near or touch local animals.
· Eat and drink safely – boil it, peel it, cook it … or forget it!
· Have a check-up on your return if you’ve been sick
· Take out travel insurance.
Many adventure travellers consider pillows a luxury, one usually left behind to save weight and space. But a good night’s sleep can be worth a little space. So if you, and your neck, want to move beyond that rolled up fleece or stuff sack pillow, take a look at the range of backpacking and camping pillows available.
Backpacking pillows come in two primary varieties: compressible and inflatable, and some that combine the two.
Compressible pillows are filled with down, synthetic fibers, foam, or a combination, and come in a range of outer fabrics, such as fleece, cotton, and nylon. Just like in sleeping bags, down and synthetic fills each have their merits. Down is lighter, softer, and more compressible (both for packing and under your head). Synthetic fills are firmer, bulkier, and more affordable. Hybrids, which use both down and synthetic fill, aim to combine the best attributes of each. Inflatable pillows offer the advantages of weight and space savings for a relatively large surface area, and their firmness can be adjusted. Both compressible and inflatable pillows are available in a variety of sizes and shapes.
Backpackers, hikers, and climbers have always relied on reusable water bottles. As the general public becomes more aware of the negative environmental impacts of commercial bottled water, they’re turning to reusable bottles too. But, with health concerns about some plastics making the news, many are left confused. In what should you store your filtered or tap water? And is that old polycarbonate plastic bottle safe, or is it leaching chemical compounds?
Whether it’s for a trek into the wild or a trip to the shop, there are a growing number of aluminum, stainless steel, and BPA-free plastic alternatives to choose from, beyond the popular, but potentially problematic, polycarbonate water bottle.
Like most outdoor gear, choosing a backpack depends on what you plan on doing with it primarily. Consider how long you will be gone on trips (a day, overnight, a week?), how much gear you’ll need, or want, to bring along (are you a minimalist fastpacker or deeply attached to your creature comforts?), and when you’ll be out (winter requires more and heavier gear).
Answering these questions will help you determine the first factor in selecting a backpack.
Pack sizes vary between manufacturers and capacity needs depend on the individual. However, in general the following ranges are a good starting point: 30-40 litres – for hiking trips with a daypack 50-80 litres – for overnight and multi-day backpacking trips up to a week 80 litres and more – for trips longer than a week or winter overnights
Choose a backpack that will fit the greatest amount of gear you’ll need to carry. That said, don’t buy a pack that’s bigger than you need. You’ll be tempted to carry more than necessary or will end up with a floppy, half-filled pack. Depending on your range of activities you may need more than one backpack. Perhaps a large pack for multi-day backpacking trips and a small daypack for day hikes.
Fit and Comfort
You can select a pack with the right design, size, and features for your activities, but if it doesn’t fit comfortably you’ll regret your purchase in the long run. Most important, your pack should be adjustable to fine-tune the fit to your individual body. While nothing beats the expertise of a knowledgeable pack fitter, below are some tips to help you choose a backpack that fits you well.
Size a backpack to your torso length, not your height. Don’t assume you need the tall (or the regular or the short) model just because of your height. To find your torso length, have someone measure from the iliac crest at the top of your hipbone to the prominent bone at the base of your neck (the seventh cervical vertebrae). The sizes of different manufacturers’ frames may correspond to different torso lengths, so check the pack’s technical specifications. For example, a 20-inch torso length may mean a regular size in one pack and a large in another.
Since it will be supporting your pack’s weight, make sure the hipbelt provides adequate padding. Some pack makers offer interchangeable hipbelts in different styles and in sizes for both men and women for a better individual fit. During a fitting, load up the pack with weight (an amount you typically would carry) to see how well the pack carries. Then walk around with the loaded pack, practice taking it on and off, make sure you can look up without whacking your head on the pack, and climb up and down stairs.
Shoulder straps, which control the fit of the suspension system, should be well padded and adjustable. An adjustable sternum strap, which connects the shoulder straps, helps bring the load weight forward, and off your shoulders.
Women and others with short torsos, like kids, should consider backpacks sized for them. Many pack manufacturers produce women-specific or short torso versions.
It was supposed to be a short day hike with you at home before dinner, but somehow you found yourself out after dark. A torch or headlamp can make the difference between an inconvenient nighttime walkout and an emergency situation.
Headlamps are extremely useful for their hands-free design, compact size, and light weight. Even on short day hikes a light should be carried; small emergency ones can be easily stashed in a pack. Always bring spare bulbs and batteries that fit your model of light.
When on holiday, leave those formal business cards behind. Instead carry colourful postcards from home and give your new acquaintances a glimpse of where you live. Relevant contact info can be printed on the reverse.
Carry ball-point pens and small note pads for the kiddies you meet. In some Third World destinations young irresistible children will beg you for sweets. Why help to rot their teeth?
Keeping in touch
A small net computer is extremely useful when travelling, it is light and fits into your daypack comfortably. With a wireless Lan connection, it is possible to connect to the internet in may hotels and hot spots. It also comes in handy as a word processor to take notes of your travels while the memory is still fresh in your mind.
Public email services with large storage capacities, such as Gmail, are a useful resource. Mail yourself copies of all your travel documents and plans – that way you can access them from anywhere in the world from any internet-linked computer.
Pack a USB thumb drive. It’s good for backing up digital information and you can take it to an internet café and post home some photos.
Shopping Without Guilt
Conveniently forget to pack certain necessary clothing – that way you will not need an excuse to buy it when you reach your ‘end’ destination. It then becomes a necessity. It eliminates any guilt feelings. A bit abstract, but it works for me!