World Expeditions is sponsoring my advice on preparing for a fun adventure trip.
When Alan and I plan a fun adventure, choosing the destination and tour provider is just the beginning. Once decisions have been made about what to do, where to go and which adventure company to use, the real work begins. The key to a successful adventure depends on us. We start by asking ourselves the following questions:
Have we been honest with ourselves?
Even though we’ve tentatively committed to the adventure, Alan and I do a second gut check. When traveling to a place that’s on our adventure bucket list, it’s easy to gloss over realities. So we take a hard look at the trip itinerary one more time, asking ourselves:
- Is the adventure too advanced for us?
- Are we capable of keeping up with the group?
- Do we have health issues that would make this trip difficult?
- Did we overestimate our capabilities?
- Does the tour company have a good safety record?
- What is the tour company’s refund policy?
- Is this something we really want to do?
We answer these questions before making any payments.
Are travel documents in order?
Well before beginning a fun adventure, we check our U.S. passports to make sure that they’re up-to-date for at least six months from the date of the trip. Some countries won’t allow entrance unless your passport is good for six months beyond the date of entry. We also thumb through the passport to make sure there are enough blank pages to cover our trip. And we do this well ahead of time because obtaining a new passport can take six weeks or more.
While we’re checking our passports, we also ask the tour provider if visas are required and who is responsible for getting them. Usually, that’s a chore for the traveler to accomplish. But if we’re traveling on an adventure cruise, the cruise company may purchase blanket visas for all guests. Obtaining visas can take time so this is a task for early in the planning process, just like renewing our passports.
Do we need to get in better shape?
Well, duh, getting in better shape is always on our to do list. But when an active trip is on the horizon, Alan and I work doubly hard to make it happen. We do our best to match our current activities to the same ones that we’ll be doing on the adventure. It’s important to build up both endurance and strength; so we combine activities like hiking, walking, swimming or cycling with weight training and stretching.
If the destination is at high altitude, like the Annapurna Circuit hike, we work on increasing lung capacity. I once prepared for a hiking trip to Glacier National Park by walking the steepest hill in my neighborhood over and over again—with stops for deep breathing exercises—and it helped.
Do we have concerns to share with the tour provider?
Now’s the time to alert the tour provider of any dietary needs, food allergies or health concerns. I usually discuss my fear of heights and repeat the discussion again with the destination guide.
During my discussion with the tour company, I ask about any special equipment that might be needed, depending on the activities included in the trip, and confirm who supplies what. Will I need to bring my own hiking poles? Does the company rent wetsuits or waterproof boots? Finding out before we go eliminates an unpleasant surprise on the trip.
What should we pack?
Tour operators usually provide a packing list, which we consult before buying any clothing or equipment. Waterproof, breathable clothing that serves a dual purpose keeps the luggage light. Think safari pants that zip off to make shorts or a lightweight rain jacket that doubles as a windbreaker. And comfort is key so break in any new items, especially hiking boots, to avoid turning a fun adventure into a miserable one.
Since Alan and I have both experienced skin cancers, sun protection is vital. We pack hats, clothing with SPF protection and sunglasses but wait to purchase sun block at the destination. And we bring our own medical kit filled with items that we know and trust as well as any personal medications.
Because I eat small portions, I tend to get hungry in between meals on a fun adventure. So I bring packages of energy bars for healthy snacking. Packing a jar of peanut butter is another energy boosting option.
How can we make the trip more meaningful?
Learning about a destination’s culture is a fun way to anticipate the trip as well as providing a deeper experience once we’re there. We consult the tour operator’s suggested reading list for books to read. Researching the Internet to find first-hand experiences from travel blogs also shows us know what to expect. And we especially enjoy browsing maps and photos for a sense of place.
Traveling on a fun adventure inspires us to try new activities. By asking ourselves questions, and answering them honestly, Alan and I are prepared for a trip filled with good experiences that will inspire us to go again.
Disclosure: World Expeditions has sponsored this article. However the opinions are my own.