The Easiest Guide to Planning Adventures in Steps — Nail the Research & Prep | Part 3

The Easiest Guide to Planning Adventures in Steps — Nail the Research & Prep | Part 3

A tested ‘how to prepare for adventures’ that covers everything in a no sweat plan.

This is it.  After step 1, where you nail they why and Step 2 where you select the activity and destination, you are on the final long step in the overall adventure planning.

Research gives you tools work around hurdles and with preparation you actually overcome them.

Consider each factors below, so that you have the best time and come back with fond memories. Don’t skip.

1. Season

What’s the best time of the year to do your adventure? Will weather — rain, snow, extreme heat — affect your success?

Consult the local embassy and travel forums; if you have hired an agency to guide you, they should be able to tell you this.

Picture this — your dream is to visit the Kamchatka volcano. You’ve been reading and mentally preparing for it for months. You have the time, the money, and you’re ready…but it’s February. The best season to visit the volcano is between May-Sep. The area is noted for its long, bitterly cold winters and a short, warm summer season. All that readiness was for nothing.

Like it or not, we can’t control the weather. Depending on what you want to do, you need to factor in regional climates to get the best shot and successfully complete your activity.

2. Exact Destination

Let’s say you’ve done everything local, attempted some demanding outdoor activities further away, and now you want to take a big bite.

There are two ways to begin:

  1. Look for a challenging adventure done many times before but with some extreme factor built in.
  2. This might be attempting Ama Dablam, going to the poles or cycling across the US. You have the advantage of well-documented, credible information because people have done it before.
  3. Look at something rarely attempted and spend time in thorough research.
  4. A client wants to cross the Indonesian archipelago on foot and take a boat between islands. Some islands have no human presence, and some have cannibals. Such a crossing has not been done before, at least not documented. But heck, he had his mind set on it.

Once you know where and when you are going, it’s time to plan the details.

3. Planning Your Day to Day

Let’s look at reaching the activity site and starting your Day 1 from there.

Google Earth is an incredible tool that’s constantly updated and shows you a ringside view of a place.

If yours is a land adventure, apps like Alltrails or fatmaps can help chart routes, elevations, daily mileage and pit stops.

You can create custom maps using this route mapper software too. As a precaution, carry paper backups of these maps. They might be the difference between life and death on a remote trail.

Some routes, like the Walkers Haute Route or the Glenn Way, are well-marked, which is a big help when you want to relax and not worry about losing yourself. Also, there are huts a day’s hike away.

Always book with reputed companies for more specialised adventures needing expertise, equipment and safety response. Ratings from travellers who have used their services are available on Google, TripAdvisor and similar websites. You can also drop me an email to recommend one for you.

4. Be Adventure Fit

The adventure’s difficulty and current fitness levels will determine how soon you need to get fit.

Mountaineering, cycling long distances, kayaking for days — all require top-class stamina, endurance and strength.

More leisurely activities like distance walking or horse riding can be picked up faster though not entirely without practice.

Here are some resources for mountain fitness:

  1. Chase Mountains
  2. The Uphill Athlete
  3. Justin Outdoors

5. Level Up Your Outdoor Skills

Being outdoors has its share of discomforts. Make friends with them BEFORE you go.

In most activities, camping, cleaning up after yourself, cooking with minimal vessels and ingredients, and packing light are all skills that will keep you organised, healthy and on schedule.

Start by doing these exact things in your backyard or on day hikes/rides. Unless you practice them repeatedly, it will only frustrate you on the trip.

Here are some excellent outdoor skill resources:

  1. Knots
  2. Survival
  3. Camp cooking

6. Manage Red Tape

Every country has its set of regulations. They become hazy, especially around access to the outdoors. Park permits, fees, and timings there is a lot to take note of and look up.

Visas are another thing. For someone like me travelling from India, a lengthy visa process to go anywhere beyond our neighbourhood is a given. How early can I apply, what supporting documentation, passport expiry — carefully consider all rules to make sure you tick the boxes.

Countries with unstable political systems might not make the best adventure destinations. Plus, no insurance will cover you. Speaking of which, it is best to get overseas adventure insurance so that medical care is the last thing to worry about in a pinch.

Hiring a travel agent for Visa might be helpful to cut through the tape. They may not be as conversant with outdoor requirements.

VISAS WERE A BREEZE when I visited Mongolia in 2011, but the agency that processed them for me had no clue about Gobi travel, stays or permits.

Thankfully a TripAdvisor user gave me up-to-date info. Forums like these are your best bet.

Start looking into these points early. They take more time than you think to assemble and make a workaround plan if needed.

7. Getting There and Getting Back

Many countries with scope for adventure activities usually have the infrastructure to support adventure seekers. But if your destination is offbeat, that may be missing. The Kamchatka Volcano, from our earlier example, is one such area in Russia which is underdeveloped. Getting to and from is not institutionalised and is usually arranged only on request. When private operators come into play, so do higher costs and dependence.

At places like these, stays can be tough to arrange, especially with language barriers in the way.

Your best bet would be local agencies operating that trek, rafting route or the walk.

But know this — if you spend enough time researching and familiarise yourself with the language, it can be done.

Travel guides like Lonely Planet offer some information on these particulars, but finding the best ways to travel to and from certain places often requires firsthand knowledge. Reddit is a treasure trove of authentic experiences.

I am leaving out flight bookings from this article as there is tons of guidance on that.

8. Sort Your Gear

The most challenging part of trip planning is often about your gear.

How much to carry, what to bring, can you wash and reuse?

Most land-based adventures have similar gear needs — clothing, safety kit, shelter, sleeping system, poles, carrying systems, warm clothing, sun protection, medicines, food, and water should do it. Electronics are both essential and optional. Similarly, for water-based adventures with a few exceptions like waterproof bags, bivis to keep weight down etc.

Where it gets tricky is the duration, weather and remoteness of the activity.

Start a spreadsheet with a list at the beginning. Once you have listed everything you can think of, you can keep adding as your research progresses.

Divide your list into SIX overarching themes:

  • – Clothing
  • – Safety
  • – Shelter
  • – Sleep
  • – Food & Drink.
  • – Electronics
  • – Then add a fifth — activity-specific item.

Some of these you may have, some can be borrowed and some you need to buy. Look up the ones you need to buy, as it may involve some savings on your part. Some of them, like high-ticket boots, may require a break-in period.

Here are kit resources:

  1. Backpacking TV
  2. Outside Magazine
  3. Mountain IQ

9. Solve Problems Ahead of Time

Do you need a vaccine before you enter your destination? Do you need time to learn how to use equipment, or does anything in your gear need repair?

You will face plenty of frustrations in the planning stage itself. Better now than later.

If something is mission-critical, plan for backups. Kit repair items, extra boots and paper copies of documents make this list.

10. Be Flexible

In 2017 I was planning to do the Snowman trek in Bhutan. It is a 40-day, arduous trek with only three pit stops in civilisation.

Two months before I left, I was refused a visa to Bhutan and access, especially to areas where the trek passed. It was due to geopolitical reasons beyond my understanding or control. I have never been able to reach the same level of preparedness after that, and my trek remains a dream.

But then I quickly changed my plan to hike the Tour De Mont Blanc in the French-Swiss Alps. I had two months in hand to make these changes and get the visas, so flexibility and planning ahead helped me enjoy a trek in another part of the world.

11. Adventure Involves Risk, Novelty, and Discomfort.

An adventure is taking a different path, building mental strength, is leaning into inviting the unknown. It might also mean drinking airag with the locals (I thought I’d die), putting one foot in front of the other when nothing familiar is in sight, and seeking to follow our nomadic ancestors as they travelled with their homes on their backs.

Remember why you are there.

We adventure to seek knowledge, satiate our curiosity and, in a small way, find ourselves.

So much goes into how you prepare for an epic adventure that it’s easy to get distracted — or even discouraged — by budget, logistics, travel, and mishaps. Don’t forget why you’re there in the first place. Those other steps are all part of the process, but once you’re out in the wild, it’s time to focus on being there. Get lost in the spirit of it all.

One of my biggest intentions in life is to fill it with adventures!

I want to spend my time doing cool stuff, seeing unique places, exploring, and generally trying to make the most of each moment.

You might like these activities, and I’ve shared links to folks who have done the extreme version of them. Stay inspired.

Here are quick links to the earlier 2 articles in the series:

The Easiest Guide to Planning Adventures in Steps —Nail The Why And Go | Part 1

The Easiest Guide to Planning Adventures in Steps — Nail the Destination & the Activity | Part 2

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