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Adventure Travel Boot Camp

Basic Training For the Adventure Traveler

Before making a holiday reservation sun-seekers and theme park fans fully research a destination, asking for input from friends and family, scanning brochures, reading newspaper reports and checking US government advisories for crime and weather conditions. Adventure travelers, however, are more trusting souls believing that the online information and sports gear shops bulletin board recommendations are absolutely accurate and require no further work, other than presenting a credit card for payment.

The adventurer may not bother reading the small print, and quickly fills out the registration form for a hike in the Alps, trekking in India, or deep-sea diving in remote areas of Indonesia. Unfortunately, not sweating the small stuff can be the beginning of a vacation disaster which can run from a mild but redeemable fashion faux pas — such as packing spike heels and a black cocktail dress instead of hiking boots and poncho, or taking diamonds and rubies instead of fleece and water bottles to larger catastrophes that include the rental of unsafe equipment, taking lessons at unlicensed and uninsured dude ranches and horseback riding centers, extending all the way to selecting locations infamous for tourist kidnappings and killings.

To make a travel adventure both physically and financially sound, the following is sure to help in both the preparation and enjoyment of the exploration of a new sport and exciting destination:

What to Know Before You Go

Government advisories
- Read the travel advisories published online by the governments of the United States, United Kingdom and Australia to determine crime, terrorism and other risks.

Tour companies - Check out the tour company/outfitter before you submit your credit card. Make sure the organization has an excellent service and safety track record, as well as liability insurance. Contact former clients and get their honest feedback.

Tour guides - Select a company that employees experienced and environmentally ethical guides.

Read - Carefully comb through the brochures. Give particular attention to the small print: Are you sleeping in hotels, or huts and tents? Will you be carrying your backpack, sleeping bag, cooking pots, and food supplies? Is the tour company providing a van to move the heavy equipment from site to site? Will the company address your dietary and/or medical restrictions/preferences?

Pre-trip directions - Do you need anti-malaria drugs, vaccinations, and water sterilizing and snake bite kits? Will you be met at the airport by a company representative or do you have to find your way to the hotel on your own?

Age/ Activity appropriate - Select an age and experience appropriate adventure. If you are not sure where you fit, call the company and discuss your abilities as well as your limitations and expectations. Listen carefully to the responses to your questions. Remember, the tour operator is motivated to get your business, and may not have your very best interests at heart.

Bring the right equipment - For example, if you are going whitewater rafting and kayaking, pack waterproof gear. For horseback riding and hiking, break in the boots before you leave for the trip. If you are not sure what you need, ask the Tour Operator and speak with other people who are will be part of your group.

Get in condition - Increase and direct your workout regime to meet the demands of the adventure. Hike, bike, walk the number of miles each day that you are expecting on the trip. If you don't have the stamina at home, you will not have it on the trip!

Insurance - Purchase the appropriate travel insurance plan for the type of adventure you are planning and the number of days you will be engaged in the activities.

Primed and Ready to Go
Adventure travelers are a hardy bunch so don't complain. Bad weather is just weather"and sport enthusiasts don't let rain, sleet, wind or cold prevent them from climbing the mountain or hiking the planned 15 miles. Prepare mentally, physically and emotionally for the "great adventure". By doing so your time outdoors will not only be memorable, it will likely become an addiction.

Must Haves
For the newbies to the great outdoors, the following lists will help to insure both an excellent and safe experience:

Sleeping bag
This is not a time to compromise. The best sleeping bags are available through Wiggy's. Bag selection is based on the temperature and conditions expected on the trip. Tell Wiggy where you are going, and the anticipated weather and he will guide you toward the correct investment. For a comfortable trip, include the pillow, sleeping pad and booties, as well as a storage sack.

Walking sticks
It is hard to image that a walking stick is necessary for climbing a hill, and actually eases muscle strain on straight terrain, but it does. Do not even think about mountain hiking, or country walking tours without a stick for both your right and left hand. Select a stick with a leather handle and sturdy grips, so that they do not slide out of control from sweaty palms, or drift away if you trip. If you select a model that folds, the walking sticks can be tucked into backpacks when they are unnecessary.

Personal Rain Cover
This means a poncho for cover from head to ankle. Raincoats are not useful outside the city, and usually do not have enough repellant to keep bone dry in severe weather conditions. Under the poncho the smart adventurer will wear a water proof jacket and water repellant shirts, pants, socks and hiking shoes.

Backpack Rain Cover
A backpack is one of the most important items that adventure travelers carry as it holds survival gear, including water bottle, walking sticks, flash light, first aid bandages, sun block, etc. A rain cover for the backpack will ensure the stuff inside stays dry.

In the Backpack:

  • Water bottle - Do not leave anywhere without at least one full water bottle or a hydration system. Depending on the planned route, and anticipated conditions, supplemental water bottles may be necessary.
  • Pocket knife with locking blades - The Swiss Army knife is a wonderful invention and all the included options are delightful to have; however, with a limited budget, a good hunting knife from the local Army/Navy surplus store will be sufficient.
  • First Aid Kit - Available in sports gear shops at a premium, the traveler can put a first aid kit together at a minimal cost.

- Ace bandage
- Alcohol swabs
- Alka Seltzer
- Antibiotic cream
- Antihistamine tablets
- Aspirin tablets
- Band-Aids
- Bug repellant
- Dr. Scholl's foot products, from mole skin to inner soles
- Duck tape -6-12 feet
- Flash light
- Gatorade or electrolyte tablets
- Kleenex tissues
- Nylon cord -30 feet
- Pepto-Bismol
- Phillips Milk Magnesium
- Plastic bags
- Safety pins
- Sun block
- Sun glasses
- Sun hat
- Survival whistle
- Watch
- Wind goggles

In the Duffel Bag:

The duffel bag holds all the things needed throughout the trip, from basic hygiene products to frills and fluff:

- Aluminum foil
- Antibiotic tablets
- Bandana/ Hair clip
- Bath towel (with absorbency)
- Bathing suit
- Batteries for flash light
- Binoculars
- Camp shoes: sandals, flip flops, water shoes
- Candles
- Cell phone
- Clothes pins
- Clothing: pants/ t-shirts
- Comb/brush
- Compass
- Corkscrew / bottle opener
- Cutting board
- Day or Fanny pack
- Deodorant (unscented)
- Dish cloth/ sponge
- Dish washing detergent, low phosphate
- Disinfectant cleaner (Lysol)
- Disposable cameras
- Drinking cup
- Emergency space blanket
- Food, spices, salt/pepper
- Hand cream
- Leather and/or cotton gloves (waterproof)
- Laundry detergent (low phosphate)
- Lighter - Matches (Waterproof)
- Pocket magnifying mirror
- Nail file/ emery board
- Needle/thread/buttons
- Pan for barbecue
- Paper toweling
- Pencil/ paper
- Mess Kit
- Pot scrubber/ steel wool pad
- Razor (disposable)
- Sack for dirty clothing
- Safety pins
- Shampoo in plastic bottle or tube
- Shorts/ long pants
- Soap in plastic container (glycerin) unscented
- Socks (light/ medium weight and water proof/resistant)
- Spare contact lenses or glasses
- Sweat shirt
- Tarp (footprint or drop cloth)
- Toilet paper in Ziploc bag
- Tongs/ spatula
- Tooth brush/paste in plastic holder
- Towel(s), wash cloth
- Trash bag
- T-Shirts (short/ long sleeve)
- Underwear
- Weather radio

For Cold Weather
- Mountain Tops
- Snow Cap
- Crampons
- Glacial glasses
- Hand warmers/ wool gloves (waterproof)
- Heavy socks
- Hiking boots
- Neck scarf
- Ski mask
- Small pot/container for melting snow
- Trekking poles

Cooking and Eating
-Camp cookware
- Camp stove
- Coffee, tea, hot chocolate
- Collapsible fresh water jug
- Condiments
- Cooking oil
- Cooler
- Food
- Fuel for stove
- Honey, sugar
- Measuring cup
- Metal skewers
- Reusable tableware
- Tongs
- Trash bag
- Ziploc bags

Nice but not Necessary
- Board games
- Books
- Dice
- Disposable underwear, socks, hand towels
- Frisbee
- Magazines
- Playing cards

(Source: eTurboNews)