Smart Traveler: Five Questions You Must Ask Before Your Next Adventure
Planning your next adventure? Regardless of whether you’re going hiking in Chile’s Atacama Desert, kayaking in the Sea of Cortez or biking in Vietnam, there are five questions you should ask yourself before you commit with your credit card.
1. Is this the trip for you?
Read everything you can about the trip you’re interested in: the activity, the level of difficulty, the itinerary and the gear you’ll need. If there’s a blog about the day-to-day aspects of a trip, read that as well. And ask for the email addresses of some past clients that you can contact. You should prepare yourself mentally, spending some time imagining what it will be like to hike in the mountains or raft down an African river for days at a time. If you’re considering a bike trip, have you ever ridden with toe clips, cleats or bike shoes? If the trip calls for 10 nights in a tent and you haven’t camped since you were eight, you might be happier on a lodge-based adventure
2. How does the company rate their trips?
Adventure vacations are usually tagged with a word — “easy” or “strenuous” are classics –to describe the level of difficulty. But what do these words really mean? There are no industry standards, and one man’s “moderate” is another man’s “strenuous.” You don’t want to be bored on an excursion that’s too easy, but you may not want to push yourself to the limit each day in order to keep up. So ask the company to describe its ratings in detail, over the phone, if necessary. They’re not eager to see you get in over your head. This is especially true on multi-week trips in remote parts of the world.
3. Are you in shape?
If you haven’t ridden a bike in years, heading off on a 10-day trip through Tuscany might not be the best idea. Regardless of how delightful that Chianti is at lunch, the hills will kill you after day one. So do yourself a favor and start a fitness program far in advance of your trip.
4. What sort of safety equipment does the outfitter provide?
On a bike trip, you want to ask if helmets will be available. River rafting obviously requires life jackets, but helmets should also be mandatory. And find out how prepared the guides are to deal with an emergency, particularly on rafting and trekking excursions. This means asking about the type of training they’ve received, which can range from first aid and CPR to a range of rescue techniques.
5. What happens when it hits the fan?
Get travel insurance in case you have to bail because of work or a family crisis. Most adventure travel trips are non-refundable. The policy will also take care of that duffel that goes missing in Hanoi or the canceled flight in Manaus. And unless you think that recuperating from a fall or a virus in a grungy hospital is part of the adventure, consider an emergency medical evacuation policy in the event that something goes seriously wrong. These policies can get you home on a medical flight to the hospital of your choice. MedJet Assist is one of the leading companies.