Lisa Owen

Flight booked. Check. Passport. Check. Ready for an adventure. Check.

So you’re off on an adventure exploring the world’s natural wonders. Whether you’re going trekking, kayaking, or camping, there are a few things to think about as you plan your outdoor adventure.

jumping into lake

Do your research

Do your research on your planned outdoor adventures to ensure they’re within your physical ability and if you need to bring any equipment. For example, check the grade and altitude of hiking trails and ensure they’re within your capability, see if there’s anything you need to beware of such as wildlife (bears, coyotes, snakes etc), and check to see if the trail is well sign posted or if you’ll need a GPS, compass or topographical map. Also check if there are any weather factors like if the location has a flash flooding risk or is it an area that receives snowfall?

Some adventure locations need permits or have a daily limit on numbers so you’ll need to plan ahead. I’ve found the limit on numbers a few times in the US, such as Half Dome in Yosemite National Park or the Subway Canyon hiking trail in Zion National Park. There’s a lottery offered for these trails, and you can enter three months before your planned date, pay the fee and select your preferred dates.  You’ll find out about a month before if any of your dates were successful.

view of lake and mountains

Keep your plans flexible

Some of my best adventures have been unplanned. Like in Oregon when a bushfire thwarted my visit to the Tamolitch Blue Pool, but then I found this incredible waterfall five minutes down the road that I never even knew existed. Or when my friend and I discovered the Canyonlands National Park en route to Arches National Park in Utah. We were one of only a handful of people in the park and had many of the trails all to ourselves.

Factor in days where you don’t plan anything – you just drive until you find an adventure. It’s also a good idea to have some flexibility in your plan in case of bad weather or you want to stay longer in a spot because it’s so beautiful!

usa national park

Be prepared with the right gear

Make sure you have everything you need for a great adventure. Items I recommend you pack at a minimum for your outdoor adventures are:

  • Day pack
  • Hydration pack
  • Water purification tablets
  • Water and windproof jacket
  • Dry bag and waterproof cover for your backpack
  • Muesli bars
  • Torch
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Hat

Consider buying equipment when you get there

If you don’t want to lug all your gear on a plane, think about what you can buy when you get to your destination. This could include items such as a tent, sleeping bag, utensils or camp stove.

Here in the States, I picked up a second hand sleeping bag and eating utensils for less than $10 from a Goodwill charity store in Lake Tahoe, and when I went hiking in Nepal, I hired a sleeping bag and trekking poles for $1 a day in Kathmandu.

outdoors in the usa

Consider booking a hire car

In destinations like North America, New Zealand and Europe, often the best way to get around for an overseas adventure is by getting your own wheels so you can design your itinerary and stop at places along the way. As a general rule from experience, the earlier you book a car, the cheaper it is.

Check the fine print before booking a car, consider things like insurance, one way fees, kilometres/miles allowed per day (aim to get a car offering unlimited mileage), any border restrictions and damage excesses. You can easily shop around for the best price on cars.

road through the mountains

Carry a distress beacon

If you’re going out in the wilderness, a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) is a worthwhile investment. A PLB is a distress beacon and can be activated in an emergency where there’s no mobile reception. When activated, the beacon sends a distress signal via satellite to a rescue coordination centre near you.

PLBs are a little bit bigger than a mobile phone so it’s easy to carry in your daypack. They will set you back a few hundred dollars but can be used worldwide and it’s an investment that could save your life.

A GPS beacon is recommended so your location can be tracked by satellite within minutes of activating.

grand canyon

Wear your shoes in before you go

Blisters can very easily ruin a hike so make sure you have well-fitted hiking shoes and they’re worn in. Make sure your shoes are suitable for your activity, such as water resistant and with sufficient tread.

One lesson I’ve learnt the hard way through very bruised toes (and painfully losing a few toenails) is that my feet swell when I’m hiking long distances (usually anything over 6 miles). So I needed to go up a size larger than normal to account for this and haven’t had problems since!

snowy peaks

Think about your accommodation options

Where you’ll be sleeping each night is an important factor as it will influence what you pack or what you need to buy when you get there.

Consider your travel style and if you would prefer to sleep in hotels or guesthouses each night or sleep under the stars? Also think about what season you’re traveling in as this may influence your choice due to heat or cold, and also your budget. If you’re traveling in high tourist season, prices may be beyond your budget for hotels.

The season you’re traveling in will also affect accommodation availability. Research if you need to book in advance or if you can just turn up and find a place to spend the night.

Countries like the USA, New Zealand and Canada are great places to camp and facilities may include toilets, showers and even laundry facilities. But you may also find there’s lots of hotel or motel accommodation on offer, often near national parks and other outdoor areas.

If you’re planning to camp, make sure you find out information such as how cold does it get at night, where are you allowed to camp, are there any wildlife concerns, and can you have a campfire?

For example, I just assumed that Lake Tahoe in California would be warm in August as it is summer. It was during the day, but at night the temperature dropped dramatically due to the high altitude and I had to buy an additional sleeping bag.

Also when you’re camping in places like the US and Canada, there are bears to think about. Most campsites supply bear lockers to keep your food and any fragranced items in at night.

Your accommodation will influence what you need to bring such as a tent, sleeping bags, and even items like a cooler bag to keep food cold.

Buy travel insurance

Whatever you do, don’t leave home without travel insurance. You never know what could happen in the great outdoors, and it’s best to have peace of mind that you’ll be covered if the worst happens. Check the fine print to make sure you’re covered for the types of activities you’ll be doing and also the countries you’ll be visiting.

 

Lisa Owen is a pint-sized Australian following her dreams to travel to as many places as she can, and loves to share her photography, travel hacks, hiking adventures, and food discoveries along the way. At last count, she has travelled to more than 60 countries in between working in public relations and discovering hidden gems in Australia's great outdoors. Instagram: @thelittleadventurer. Facebook: The Little Adventurer Australia.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the Policy Documents available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.