No matter the season in your part of the world, exploring the great outdoors can be an exhilarating and life changing experience. But while she is beautiful, Mother Nature is as fierce as anything you could imagine. And with the holiday season just around the corner, you are probably thinking that now is the perfect time to become one with nature.
You might be a weekend warrior who enjoys the outdoors in small doses or you might be an extreme explorer who can lose themselves in the wilderness for weeks at a time. Whichever one it is, spending time soaking up the sun, breathing in fresh air and sleeping under the stars comes with a few inherent dangers that you wouldn’t even think about if you were in or near a concrete jungle.
But as long as you’re prepared and you keep these 10 basic tips in mind, then you’ll be ready to deal with anything that the wild outdoors and Mother Nature might throw at you!
Top Ten Tips For Outdoor Adventure Travel:
Tip #1: Make sure you’re physically prepared
No matter what kind of activity you’re planning for your adventure vacation, you need to make sure that you are physically prepared for it. The last thing that you want is to end up stranded in the middle of nowhere because your legs or arms have conked out on you, and neither do you want to end up in the hospital because you’ve overestimated what you’re capable of!
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be fit enough to compete in a triathlon, but if you sit behind a desk all day and walking to the fridge is the most exercise you get in a day – then you’ll need to start doing some daily physical activity. Remember to start small and work your way up to the level of fitness you need to be to complete your planned adventure.
And focus on getting fit for the adventure you’re planning. You can start running or cycling every day, but that’s not going to help much if you’re planning on going rock climbing or kayaking where arm strength is important!
Tip #2: Research your entire vacation
Before you head into any unknown territory, it is important to find out as much about it as you can so that you can mentally prepare yourself for what to expect – from the moment you leave home until you eventually return!
Everybody has a different process for how they decide on their travel destinations, so there is no step by step guide for how to go about your research – but there are some ways to make sure your research is as in-depth as possible.
Although it is specific to traveling around the UK, the best article I’ve found about the TYPE of holiday destination research you should do is one on Hot tub Hideaways. The tips listed here mention things like:
- Your budget,
- the local climate,
- cultural differences,
- getting around,
- preferred activities,
- medical and physical safety, and others
Obviously, you’re going to be using the internet to find out about your destination but according to an article on Global Goose the best WAYS to find out about a destination include:
- visiting travel blogs,
- searching sites like TripAdvisor,
- browsing various social media platforms,
- watching documentaries,
- reading travel magazines and
- talking to people you know.
International SOS (ISOS) offers a specialized research tool that provides a pretty accurate overview of the medical and travel dangers you may encounter while traveling in a foreign country (not in a specific region or town, though).
Several national parks and other outdoor venues require anybody taking part in a certain activity to have a special permit, so make sure that you find out if any are necessary for your trip! You should also be looking for information on Visas, inoculations and so forth if you’re going to be traveling across borders.
Tip #3: Always carry the essentials
For every kind of adventure activity, there is certain gear that you’ll NEED to have. For example, white water rafting requires life jackets; rock climbing requires carabiners and harnesses, and cycling requires puncture repair kits! So to find out what you need for your trip you’ll need to do a search along the lines of “essential gear for activity in the destination.”
However, if you are doing ANY outdoor activity, whether it is a walk in a local nature reserve or a trek over a far away mountain, there is a list of ten essentials that are vital to ensuring your survival if any emergency happens. Originally compiled by The Mountaineers way back in the 1930’s, you can see a detailed explanation of the updated list on the REI co-op website.
Updated Ten Essential “Systems.”
- Navigational tools
This will include items like a map, compass, a GPS and possibly an altimeter (even a sextant will do the job if you know how to use one!)
- Sun protection
This will include items like high strength UVA/UVB sun block, durable sunglasses, a hat, and possibly clothing with UV filters
This refers to extra clothing that should include rain gear and thermal underwear (items that can be worn under normal clothing). However, petroleum jelly and even newspaper are effective at trapping internal body heat
This includes any items that provide light such as flashlights, headlamps, candles and even glow-sticks
- First-aid supplies
What qualifies as essential first aid items varies from person to person, but I would advise including surgical super glue (veterinary glues are an affordable alternative), surgical spirits, Vaseline &/ Vicks, pure salt (not table salt), needle and silk thread/catgut, material for bandages/plasters and cling wrap (you’d be surprised at how versatile these items are when it comes to wound care!)
This will include items like waterproof matches, a mechanical lighter, extra lighter fluid, kindling, and a flint with a striker
- Repair kit and tools
Your basic repair kit will vary depending on your outdoor activity but should include a multi-tool, super glue and duct tape (we’ve used duct tape for fixing snapped tent poles, making ‘rings’ so we could suspend a tarp from nearby trees for shade, and securing a splint for a broken arm)
This includes lightweight food items that are easily prepared or can be eaten as is, including emergency rations, freeze dried meals, trail mix, energy bars, as well as ‘instant foods’ such as cous cous, powdered eggs, porridge/cereal and powdered mashed potatoes
This will include extra water, as well as water purification supplies and a collapsible water bottle/bucket
- Emergency shelter
This will include items such as a sturdy rope (paracord is best), a tarp, a bivy bag, a mylar blanket, carabiners, tent pegs and extra strength twine
Tip #4: Be aware of potential dangers
When you are spending time in the wild outdoors the greatest danger, you will have to face Mother Nature herself. Every outdoor activity comes with its unique hazards that you need to be aware of and prepared for. This time your search will be for “hazards of activity in destination” (for general tips, leave out the destination!).
But very few people realize that one of the most dangerous natural hazards is, in fact, the sun, which can cause everything from a slight sunburn to severe heat stroke, and even cancer! You might think that an overcast sky or the environment protects you, but it doesn’t. So learn to practice the kind of Sun Safety habits suggested by KidsHealth.org.
Tip #5: Be aware of the wildlife
Us humans may believe that we are at the top of the food chain, but the truth is that if we are not properly prepared, we are at the mercy of EVERYTHING in the animal kingdom! From the tiniest little bug to the largest animal, when you’re traveling outdoors they are all a risk that needs to be avoided!
So even if the whole purpose of your trip is to observe various wild animals in their natural habitat, make sure that you are doing so safely. It is also a good idea to create a handbook of dangerous critters (poisonous snakes, bears, insects, predatory animals, etc. personally ) you need to be aware of, how to deter them, and a basic guide to treating any bites or wounds.
Tip #6: Watch the weather
If you read the article that I mentioned is a great list of the TYPE of things you need to research when you’re planning your adventure tour, then you might remember the tip about the climate of a destination. Now obviously local weather sites and even general info sites are a great way to find out about the general climate of a destination.
But when you’re outdoors you’re usually at the mercy of the elements, which means you need to have detailed info about what type of weather you can expect to deal with. In regards to this, the Wunderground Travel Planner is an excellent tool that provides historical weather data, as well as a predicted forecast for whichever dates you choose
Search for news articles about extreme weather or natural disasters in the area you’re headed to so you’ll have an idea of the worst that could happen!
Tip #7: Don’t try to go it alone
And whether you’re traveling with other people, or you’ve opted for the solo adventurer route it is essential that you create a travel itinerary then share it with friends and family. That way if you don’t check in at scheduled times because of an emergency or something, there is someone to provide authorities with the information they need to track you down.
Just remember that any adventure trip should be designed with the weakest member of the group think that TripIt is one of the best apps for automatically creating and sharing a travel itinerary, while Rome2rio is great for actually planning every step of your journey. Test it out by plotting a route from your house to Aconcagua Mountain in the Andes!
Tip #8: Make sure you know some basic survival skills
I keep telling you this, but venturing into the unknown is dangerous – especially if your venturing is taking you out of your comfort zone and into the wild outdoors. And no matter how well you have prepared, how experienced you are, or how many precautions you take – things go wrong.
But according to the Wilderness Awareness School, there are just 5 basic survival skills you need to make it home safely (all of which are a little easier to do if you have the 10 essential items mentioned before!).
The 5 Basic Survival Skills:
- Basic first aid
- Water & food
Tip #9: Leave no trace
While looking for tips and advice about outdoor adventure travel, you will probably come across the phrase “Leave No Trace.” This policy, developed by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, was developed to implement practices that protect the natural environments we invade in our travels
The following 7 core principles of the Leave No Trace policy, explained in detail by the outdoor experts at REI.com, can be adapted for any outdoor environment and used by anyone participating in any recreational activity:
- Be prepared by planning ahead
- Don’t travel or camp on surfaces that are prone to erosion
- Get rid of litter, leftovers, waste water, etc. properly
- Don’t remove anything from its natural environment
- Adhere to safe campfire practices
- Respect the wildlife around you
- Remember that other people want to enjoy their outdoor adventure as well
Tip #10: ALWAYS have fun!
Although it may seem like the least important tip, the MOST important thing you can do when going on an outdoor adventure tour is always to go with the flow and HAVE FUN! Things might not go exactly how you planned; you might have to deal with some unpleasantness or miss out on something you wanted to do.
But if you spend your entire trip moaning about all the things that are going wrong, then the chances are that you’ll miss out on so many things that are utterly amazing. You might even decide that you never want to head for the wilderness ever again, and while concrete jungles have a unique beauty all their own – nothing can beat the wonder of Mother Nature in all her glory!
My last piece of advice
I have been a lover of the outdoors for as long as I can remember, and my outdoor adventures have included hiking, open water swimming, rock climbing, RAP jumping, abseiling, camping, mountain biking, canoeing and a whole long list of other activities. Over the years I have used all of these tips multiple times and regretted every single time that I ignored them.
It is by no means a comprehensive list, but it is a list of what I think are the MOST important things an outdoor enthusiast needs to know before they head off on their next adventure. So if you agree then share this article with anyone who might be interested, and let us know if there are any essential tips that you think the outdoor adventure traveler needs to know!