Adventure Travel Advice
Know before you go
Sometimes the difference between a great travel tale and a trip to the local hospital is blind luck. But our resident adventure-seeker, Charmian Christie, knows better than to rely on St. Christopher to keep her safe. After a few hastily thrown together treks, she's learned that good planning is the best protection, whether traveling a few hundred miles or crossing the ocean. When she arrived in Sydney, Australia without a hotel booked, she was able to find a room within minutes of landing. But when she headed to the former Yugoslavia on a whim, having missed the local housewives' nightly round up of newly arrived backpackers, she spent her first night sleeping on a park bench. There was no hotel booking agent.
While Charmian believes venturing into the unknown is all part of the fun, she's learned to be selective about her spontaneity. To ensure all her trips are noteworthy for the right reasons, she now invests as much time in her pre-planning as she does her itinerary.
A graduate of the school of hard knocks, Charmian Christie isn't shy about sharing the ups and downs of her intrepid travels. Her misadventures can serve as a warning to others, so read on or risk becoming the newest member in the Outdoor Adventure Hall of Shame.
Check Health Alerts
The only constant is change. Natural disasters can spread disease to normally malady-free zones. Likewise, the time of year can be the only difference between a bug-free hike in the woods and getting eaten alive by deer flies. Before you head out, do your online research. All Safe Travels offers a list of destination-specific health alerts around the world.
Check Travel Alerts
Because political climates are as unpredictable as the weather, be sure to check travel alerts if you're heading into shaky territory. The U.S. Department of State posts travel warnings by country and consular information sheets covering every topic from landmines to international adoption regulations.
If you're stalking wild nightlife in the concrete jungle of New York, your first aid kit might hold nothing more than a bottle of aspirin and some Pepto-Bismol. But if you're hiking the Appalachian Trail, your tensor bandage and antibiotic cream might as well be located on the moon if they're not in your pack.
Make sure you pack a first aid kit before you find yourself miles from a 24-hour pharmacy. Don't just empty your medicine cabinet - the contents of your kit should reflect your travel plans. If you aren't sure what to bring, ask an outfitter for tips. And don't rely on your tour guide to bring it for you, especially if you're picky about brands.
Bring All Required Travel Documents
Depending on your destination, a passport, travel visa and return ticket may be your only paperwork. But with increasing international security, crossing the border will be easier if you bring extra documentation. Some border guards might want proof that you have accommodations lined up. Other destinations require vaccination certificates. A few extra minutes spent sorting receipts might save you hours of frustration when you reach your port of call.