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97 Adventure Travel Tips
Here are ninety seven adventure travel trips. Here you will find useful help in planning and what to expect on your next adventure trip.

Choosing the Trip That's Right For You | Pre-Trip Paperwork
Fit For The Road: Fitness and Health
The Right Stuff: How and What To Pack | Just Before You Go
World Temperature Table | Your Air Journey
Jet-Lag Busters: How To Reset Your Biological Clock
Arrival/Survival: Staging the City
What You Came For: The Trip Itself
Where the Wild Things Are: The Nature Trips
Coming Home Off You Go!


TIP 1: Understand what adventure travel really is
Adventure travel is an active, unique exploration of an exotic or remote destination with a small group of like-minded people, guided by full-time professional leaders. The typical object of your exploration is a beautiful landscape, unusual wildlife, or an intriguing foreign culture-often all three. You'll probably travel by foot, safari jeep, or dugout canoe and over rough roads or trails in all kinds of weather. Exceptional physical fitness usually isn't necessary; you can enjoy some adventure trips at a fitness level only a notch or two above that of a couch potato. But you'll almost certainly get sweaty, dusty, and tired at times, and you won't be eating much beef bourguignon.

TIP 2: Don't panic at the idea of camping
Accommodations on adventure trips range from two-person tents to small rustic inns to luxurious lodges. If you've never slept outdoors before, or if your previous camping experience wasn't much fun, remember that adventure-travel camping is ordinarily much easier than the usual do-it-yourself, backpack-style camping. Tented safaris in Africa can be downright luxurious, with huge stand-up tents, real beds, and hot showers. Even on more rugged camping-style trips, porters or pack animals usually carry the camp gear, your tent is often set up for you, and the camp staff does all the cooking and cleaning up. But if camping just isn't your cup of tea, there are plenty of trips that offer lodges, rustic inns, houseboats, or local homesteads.

TIP 3: First pick a destination.
The vast number of adventure trips to choose from can be a bit bewildering. To narrow down the choices to a manageable number, decide early what part of the world you want to visit. If you're new at adventure travel and not quite sure where you want to go, pick a trip that has a track record of broad appeal over the years. Instead of, say, hang gliding with cannibals in Irian Jaya, stick to the classics: a safari in East Africa, a trek in the Himalayas, or a visit to the Amazonian rain forest.

TIP 4: Decide how much physical challenge you want.
There's an adventure trip for virtually every level of physical fitness, from Woody Allen's to Arnold Schwartzenegger's. Companies usually rate their trips as easy, moderate, or demanding. Study the trip ratings carefully; different companies use different rating criteria, based on physical activity, altitude, and terrain.

"Easy" trips include African safaris and cultural/nature-oriented trips, where hikes are optional and the camping, if any, is in a luxurious style. Rougher overland trips with long driving days and more optional hiking might be rated "easy/moderate." A full-fledged "moderate" trip often entails at least four or five days of camping and four to six hours of hiking per day over not-too-difficult terrain at altitudes below 15,000 feet. A "demanding" trek typically involves longer days, steeper terrain, and altitudes up to 19,000 feet. To enjoy a demanding trip, you should have made exercise a regular part of your life. Even on a demanding trek, however, you usually won't be carrying anything more than a light daypack.

Certain activities may be rated differently. For example, river-rafting trips are rated not by their physical demands (you just hang on) but by the difficulty of the most severe rapid. Class II and III rapids shouldn't scare anybody, but Class IV demand great confidence in your guides. Class V commercial trips are rare and require extensive rafting experience.

Sea-kayaking trips in protected waters are physically easy but usually include camping, and they are generally rated moderate. Backpacking trips are more demanding than treks because you'll be carrying a heavy pack. Mountaineering trips, involving of ropes, ice axes, and high altitudes, call for the highest fitness level of all.

TIP 5: Decide how much variety you want.
Some people prefer to stay in one area so they can get to know it intimately, while others like to sample a wide variety of places and activities. Overseas Adventure Travel offers both kinds of trips: you can spend three weeks exploring one corner of Nepal; or you can go to Borneo and climb a mountain, hike in the jungle, watch orangutans and sea turtles, explore caves, go snorkeling and sea kayaking, and snooze on the beach-staying at a range of places, from a luxurious seaside resort to a jungle lean-to.

TIP 6: Decide on your price range.
At minimum, you'll probably spend about $2000, including airfare, for a ten-day trip. Longer trips to destinations like Asia or Africa cost $3,000-$6,000, including airfare. Truly exotic adventures-climbing a mountain in Antarctica, for example, or touring Africa by flying boat-can cost up to $20,000 or more.

TIP 7: Shop around.
Call several adventure-travel companies and request detailed daily itineraries for trips that interest you. For similar trips by different companies, compare trip routing and accommodations. Be sure to ask about potential extra costs like internal airfares, national-park fees, ore pre- and post-trip hotels and meals. Is there a surcharge for small groups? For travelers without tent-mates? Is discounted airfare available? This information will give you a feel for the level of service each company provides.

TIP 8: Compare cancellation policies.
Because of the more complicated logistics of planning adventure trips, deposit/cancellation policies are sometimes stringent. Is the Initial deposit refundable? Are interim payments required? (On most Overseas Adventure Travel trips, the deposit is fully refundable up to 61 days before departure,. and there are no interim payments). When is full payment required? What refunds, if any, apply if you cancel after that?

TIP 9: Talk to people who've already taken the trip.
Ask each company for a list of previous customers on the trip you're looking at. The long-distance phone bills will pay for themselves many times over in unbiased word-of-mouth information.

TIP 10: Check out the trip leader.
The most important single factor on adventure journeys is the trip leader, who simultaneously fills the role of guide, interpreter, teacher, mother hen, drill sergeant, and group psychologist. A great leader can be an American expatriate or a well-qualified local citizen, but he or she should be a year-round resident of the country or region and speak both English and the local language well.

TIP 11: Ask about responsible travel practices.
We're hearing more and more about the effects of tourism on the environment and traditional culture. Many outfitters talk about "eco-tourism." Ask what it means on the trip you're considering. Will you get information on local customs and locally appropriate dress? On an ocean trip, is refuse dumped overboard or carried back to port? On a camping trip, how do the staff handle trash and garbage? On a mountain trek, are the porters provided with warm clothing? Let companies know that these concerns are important to you.


TIP 12: Check your passport.
International convention says that passports must be valid for at least six months after the date of entry into a country and should contain a full blank page for the visa of each country to be visited. Don't put your passport in your check-in baggage for flights.

TIP 13: Check visas requirements.
Unlike many European nations, countries visited by adventure travelers often require visitors to obtain a visa before arrival. Your travel company often will provide you with visa application forms, which you then send to the appropriate embassy or consulate. For some countries or areas, such as Tibet (governed by China), it's best to let a specialized visa service do the work for a modest fee. One of the best is Zierer Visa Service at 800-843-9151.

TIP 14: Make photocopies of important documents.
Passport, visa's, tickets, credit cards, traveler's checks, drug prescriptions, and other critical documents should be photocopied, and the copies carried separately.

TIP 15: Read your pre-departure information carefully.
Adventure travel usually requires more advance preparation than you may be accustomed to. Your trip organizer should send you a detailed pre-departure info pack with advice on on visas, inoculations, special clothing, medical tips, local customs, and the like. It's not just fluff. Let it be your bible and study it carefully.

TIP 16: Check to see if your regular health insurance policy covers illness or injury overseas.
If not, a short-term policy for the duration of the trip will provide peace of mind. (Overseas Adventure Travel offers one of the most comprehensive insurance policies offered by the travel industry at a low group rate).

TIP 17: Consider medical evacuation insurance.
An illness or accident in a remote area may require a very expensive helicopter evacuation. (An emergency airlift out of the Everest area in Nepal, for example, costs about $8000). Your travel company may offer coverage.

TIP 18: Learn the World Wildlife Fund's guidelines on importing wild-animal products.
In keeping with the spirit of ethical, responsible travel, you should not plan to bring back ivory, marine-mammal products, furs, coral, tortoise shells, reptile skins, feathers, and certain other wildlife products, For specifics, call the public information office of the World Wildlife Fund at 202-293-4800 and ask for the "Buyer Beware" booklet. And bear in mind that the U.S. and most foreign countries have laws banning the import or export of most of these items.


TIP 19: Get in shape.
Physical requirements vary greatly according to the trip, and you should follow the guidelines in the pre-trip information that your travel company supplies. But at a minimum, you should exercise at least 20 minutes, three times a week, for two months before departure. Walking or jogging is ideal, but an exercise bicycle or treadmill is a reasonable alternative. For hiking or trekking trips, stretch your walks to a couple of hours and spend extra time walking up hills, or join a health club and use the stairs machine. Wear your daypack (see Tip 33), and fill it with 10-15 pounds to simulate a typical load on the trail.

Another good exercise idea is the roll-up, or crunch, which strengthens the stomach muscles and thereby reduces the risk of back problems. Lie on your back, with feet flat on the floor and knees angled at 90 degrees. Then, with hands behind the head, raise your torso as far as you can. Repeat until you feel a good "burn" in your stomach muscles (it won't take long).

TIP 20: If you haven't had a dental checkup recently, get one before you leave.
A toothache caused by a cavity or a lost filling can turn into a painful ordeal when you're a five-day walk from the nearest town.

TIP 21: Thoroughly break in your hiking or walking shoes.
Many first-time adventure travelers buy new hiking boots for the trip. You must walk a minimum of 20 miles in them, up and down hills, before departure. This should be enough to get over the initial break-in blisters and to ensure that they fit properly. Wear your new boots or shoes during your get-in-shape hikes (see Tip 19).

TIP 22: If you wear contact lenses, consider disposables.
Removing and replacing contact lenses every day on a camping trip can be a very annoying chore. Extended-wear lenses can be worn overnight, which cuts back on the hassle factor. Disposables are even better for adventure travelers because you need not carry along cleaning or storage paraphernalia. Disposables have the additional advantage of being very cheap; it's no big deal if you lose one. All contact lens wearers, however, should be careful at high altitudes. The lower oxygen level can affect the cornea as well as the lungs. If you see hazy rings or halos around bright lights, take out the lenses for a while so that the corneas can reoxygenate themselves.

TIP 23: For advice on inoculations, consider visiting a travel clinic or a physician specializing in travel.
Your family doctor probably isn't up to date on the various strains of malaria or on whether you really need a yellow-fever shot for Tanzania. Travel specialists should have the latest scoop from the Centers for Disease Control. You may also call the CDC International Travelers Hotline (404-332-4559) for computerized briefing. You may also have information faxed to you.

TIP 24: If you're traveling to a malaria-prone area, make sure to take the proper malaria medication.
The classic malaria preventive is the cheap, well-proven drug chloroquine, a derivative of quinine. Unfortunately, the most dangerous strain of malaria parasite has become chloroquine-resistant. The CDC currently recommends mefloquin (trade name Lariam) for this strain. Both pills are taken weekly (veteran travelers traditionally pick Sunday as malaria-pill day) and should be started one or two weeks before departure.

Which drug you should take depends on where you're going; most malarious parts of Asia, Africa, and South America have the chloroquine-resistant strain. And in a few parts of Thailand, mefloquine resistance has developed, necessitating use of the antibiotic doxycycline. Check with your physician, travel company, or the CDC for current recommendations and possible side effects and contradications.

TIP 25: Take along medications for travelers' diarrhea.
With the right precautions, many travelers can avoid diarrhea entirely - see our advice in Tips 75, 76, and 77. If these don't work 100 percent, Pepto Bismol tablets are usually very effective. But if symptoms, persist, switch to the prescription antibiotic Cipro. In some situations, you can seek temporary relief with Immodium. (Don't continue use for more than two days if blood is present, and avoid taking Lomotil.) Always check with your doctor for side effects and contraindications.

TIP 26: If you'll be traveling at high elevations, learn about altitude sickness and take along the prescription drug Diamox.
Altitude sickness often strikes travelers who venture above 8,000 feet, and it affects almost everyone who goes higher than 14,000 feet. Symptoms include headache, nausea, and a general feeling of malaise; some people compare altitude sickness to a bad hangover. More severe but rare altitude problems include pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) and cerebral edema (a swelling of the brain that can lead to confusion, hallucinations, and coma).

The key to avoiding altitude sickness is gradual, well-planned ascent, which allows the body time to acclimatize. Diamox may be taken prophylactically or for the relief of symptoms that appear in spite of a gradual ascent, but it must not be used to push beyond safe limits.


TIP 27: Instead of a suitcase, carry a big, soft, rugged duffel bag.
There aren't many bellhops on an adventure trip. Your bag will be in for some rough treatment strapped to a yak, tossed onto the roof of a jeep, squashed by tie-down ropes, or pelted by spray in the bottom of a dugout canoe.

Make sure that it's pliable enough to easily be handled by porters, who may lash two or three duffels into their own large packs. Pack duffels within duffels.

Four smaller zipper duffels can be neatly nested within the giant main bag. Sort the smaller bags roughly according to function: one for everyday stuff, one for cold-weather gear, etc. Cotton "city" clothes can be wrapped in plastic shopping bags within their duffel. Books, maps, notebooks, etc., can be stored in Ziploc bags, inside their own smaller nylon duffel.

TIP 28: Pack Light.
On safari or on the trail, you want life to be as simple as possible, and you'll best accomplish this by packing less stuff. If the clothing list your travel company provides seems impossibly skimpy, don't worry. Almost all first-time adventure travelers quickly realize they've brought too much. Fashion doesn't count much out on the trail, and modern outdoor clothing is so versatile that one garment can perform a variety of functions. So don't take more than the packing list advises; if you do, you and the porters will have to lug that much more around.

TIP 29: Plan to dress conservatively.
Traditional societies often have old-fashioned standards of dress, especially for women. Inappropriate clothing may not only offend your hosts, but cause you embarrassment as well. Your travel company will advise you about dress customs for your particular destination, but in general, men should always wear shirts and, usually, long pants. For women, it's ordinarily best to avoid shorts, tight-fitting or revealing dresses, and sleeveless blouses.

TIP 30: Women should consider making their primary travel garment a long, loose skirt.
Most experienced women travelers to developing countries and remote areas adhere to the local style of women's dress. A mid-calf, loose, comfortable skirt is the best way to identify yourself as a woman. A skirt is actually easier and more comfortable, even for hiking. In hot weather, a skirt is cooler than pants; in cold weather, you can wear long underwear underneath and stay just as warm.

Also you may be far from toilet facilities. If there are no bushes or rocks nearby, it's easier to make a discreetly modest "pit stop" with the tent-like cover of a long skirt.

TIP 31: Keep take-along trash to a minimum.
This not only lightens and simplifies your pack; it is environmentally responsible, too. Throw out film boxes and take new clothing out of its package. Pack a couple of bandannas instead of a dozen packs of Kleenex.

TIP 32: Bring along a medium-size day pack.
The right size is about 1,500 to 2,000 cubic inches, and it should have hip straps and several compartments. Use it on the airplane, as a carry-on bag for all your indispensable items (documents, toiletries, valuables, clothes to wear in case your checked luggage is lost or delayed, etc). It has the decided advantage of being easy to carry on long walks down airport corridors. Once you arrive and the trip begins, use it to carry all the things you'll need during the day-water bottle, snacks, camera, extra clothing. Your main duffel bag depends will most likely be inaccessible.

As you select clothing for a cool or cold-weather destination, your mantra should be: "Layers are good, cotton is bad."

Your choice of travel clothes obviously depends on your destination, but the general strategy is to dress in layers that can be quickly removed or replaced as the temperature and your activity level vary. The best basic combination: is an inner layer of polyester long underwear, such as Polartec, or Capilene, that will wick away perspiration; one or two middle layers of fleece, Polartec, or other quick-drying, warm-when-wet synthetic fabric (wool is okay, too); and an outer shell that is windproof and waterproof, preferable a breathable fabric such as Gore-Tex. Cotton (including jeans) should be avoided; it becomes instantly soggy from sweat or rain, loses virtually all of its insulating abilities, and takes forever to dry out.

If you're going on safari in East Africa, cotton is fine. But avoid white. You'll find it impossible to keep white clothing clean because of the dust. Khaki color is light enough to reflect the sun, but dark enough not to show the dust.

TIP 33: Bring along small toys to help break the ice with local kids and adults
An inflatable glove, for example, is entertaining and lets you point out where you live. Frisbees, wiffle balls, hacky sacks, magic tricks, finger puppets, and wind-up toys also enchant local kids. Avoid electronic doodads like Gameboys, however, whose high-tech allure will mesmerize the kids. The toys are supposed to open up communication, not close it off. At the end of the trip, you can give the toys to your guide or porter for his own children.

TIP 34: Slip in some snapshots of your family, house, and hometown.
These are great icebreakers. Take along a Polaroid camera this allows you to present locals with instant pictures of themselves. If you have an artistic bent, take along a small sketch pad or water-color set.

TIP 35: If you'll be camping, take along a Therm-a-Rest inflatable air mattress.
These wonderful devices have in the past few years revolutionized sleeping on the ground, and are now virtually standard equipment among veteran campers. The reason is simple: they are much more comfortable than the old-style foam pads. Therm-a-Rests are self-inflating, come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and are durable. They're available at most outdoor stores and mail-order companies.

TIP 36: Take along a generous supply of Ziploc plastic bags.
They are invaluable for storing items that must stay dry, for isolating wet and/or dirty clothes, and for organizing luggage. For the compulsive organizer, the sorting possibilities are endless: emergency pills-Immodium, Diamox, etc.-in one bag, daily vitamin pills in another. Or socks in one bag, underwear in another. A bag just for spare batteries. These see-through bags make it easy to locate items.

TIP 37: Take along a batch of trail mix.
Here's a recipe for an extraordinary tasty high-carbo concoction that provides instant energy and staying power along the trail. Simply mix dry-roasted peanuts and chocolate-covered raisins.

TIP 38: Remember the heavy-duty anti-sunburn gear for high-altitude trips.
Severe sunburn is possible at high elevations, because the thin air lets through more ultraviolet radiation. At only 7,000 feet, UV radiation is about 35 percent more intense than at sea level. At 15,000 feet, it is nearly twice as intense. And many adventure-travel destinations are in tropical latitudes, where the sun is higher in the sky than Americans are accustomed to. This intensifies UV radiation even more. Large areas of snow or water, which reflect UV rays, increase exposure still more. Be sure to take along a wide-brimmed hat, UV-blocking sunglasses with side panels ("glacier glasses"), and lots of sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher).

TIP 39: For men only: On a camping trip, take along a wide-mouth plastic water-bottle to pee in during the night.
Assuming you have an understanding tent-mate, this will save a possibly bone-chilling midnight trip to the toilet tent. Be sure to mark the bottle clearly with a skull and crossbones ore other warning symbol so that you (or someone else) won't mistakenly fill it with drinking water.

TIP40: Take along skin moisturizer, even if you don't normally use it.
High altitudes, dry air, and hot sun can combine to really dry out skin.

TIP 41: Take along a mini-tape recorder.
Audio memories-children giggling, porters singing around the campfire, the hubbub of a marketplace, the roar of a lion-can be more fun than photographs. And local kids are astonished and delighted to hear their own voices talking back to them.

TIP 42: Bring a pair of compact lightweight binoculars.
Even if you're not a bird-watcher, you'll get a whole new perspective on your trip. In addition to the obvious benefits for a safari or animal-oriented trip, it's fun to watch the snow blow off the summit of a 25,999-foot Himalayan peak, check out the porters' progress behind you, or just people-watch from afar. A 9x25 model is a good compromise among magnification, lightgathering power, weight, and size.

TIP 43: If photography is a major goal of your trip, bring along a spare camera.
You simply can't count on being able to repair or replace a malfunctioning camera on an adventure trip. A good combination would be a high-quality single-lens reflex (SLR) camera as your primary equipment and a small, lightweight automatic point-and-shoot camera as a backup. But don't bring a huge assortment of camera bodies, lenses and tripods; you'll find all that equipment a burden to carry and disruptive to operate. In fact, you may find, to your surprise, that you end up preferring the small, unobtrusive point-and-shoot to the fancy SLR.

TIP 44: For wildlife photography, use a 70-210 mm zoom lens.
Your best shots usually develop very suddenly and you won't want to be changing lenses constantly. Lenses longer than 210 mm are rarely necessary and difficult to hold still without a tripod, which you'll rarely have time to set up.

TIP 45: Take extra batteries for your camera
Cold weather takes a heavy toll on camera batteries, and you may be a week's walk from the nearest replacement.

TIP 46: Put a haze or sky filter on your camera lens.
In addition to improving the picture quality slightly, the filter will protect the lens from dirt, moisture, and dings. This is particularly important in Africa, where conditions are sometimes very dusty and where often you'll be scrambling madly for your camera after sighting animals.

TIP 47: Buy a lead-lined storage bag for your film.
Despite those reassuring signs, airport X-ray machines can damage film, particularly machines at small remote airports that may have old equipment. Even security people in "advanced" nations, like England, have been known to refuse to hand-check films and cameras, putting them through the X-ray machines despite pleas to the contrary.


TIP 48: Arrange your flight schedule to minimize jet lag.
If your traveling eastbound, schedule your arrival for morning, destination time. Westbound, shoot for a late afternoon arrival. This will help your body's internal clock get "in sync" more quickly.

TIP 49: Hold off on exchanging dollars for insider foreign currency.
The exchange rate is almost always better overseas than at U.S. banks, which take hefty commissions and don't like to trade in small amounts. Traveler's checks are safer than cash, but sometimes command a lower exchange rate.

TIP 50: Budget for tips to your trip leader, guides, and porters.
Like waiters and ski instructors, adventure travel company field staff traditionally rely on tips for a portion of their income. The amount is strictly up to you, but if you feel the staff did a good job, 5 percent of your land cost is a good ballpark figure. Keep in mind that what appears to be a trivial amount of money to you can be a big help to a local staff member. On treks, local guides and porters also appreciate surplus items of clothing, like T-shirts, fleece jackets, boots, and baseball caps.

TIP 51: Get used to the idea that you will be out of touch with the rest of the world.
Where you're going, there probably won't be telephones. If there are phones, they probably won't work. If they do, it will be 3 a.m. at home when you want to call.

TIP 52: If you're bring more than 30 rolls of film, pack them into separate containers.
In some countries, customs inspectors who find large quantities of film in your luggage may assume you are a professional photographer and demand extra fees or permits.

TIP 53: If you're susceptible to ear problems from rapid pressure changes during airline flights, take an antihistamine pill an hour before your plane takes off.
This should open up your eustachian tubes and make it easier to equalize pressure around your eardrum. If your ear begins to hurt on the way up, while the pressure is decreasing, try swallowing repeatedly or better yet, have a good yawn. If you feel pain on the way down, as pressure is increasing, hold your nose and try blowing gently. This will help equalize the pressure on the eardrum. Swallowing and yawning also help to decrease the pressure.


This table gives the average daily minimum and maximum temperatures during each month in fifteen adventure-travel destinations around the world. Maximum temperatures usually occur in early afternoon, and minimum temperatures just before sunrise. These are shade temperatures; you'll feel warmer in direct sunlight and colder when it's windy. Most of these averages were recorded at moderate altitudes; temperatures will be distinctly lower high in the mountains.

Month J F M A M J J A S O N D
Dodoma, Tanzania High 85 84 83 83 82 81 79 80 84 87 88 87
Low 65 65 64 64 61 57 55 57 59 62 64 65
Katmandu, Nepal High 65 76 77 83 86 85 84 83 83 80 74 67
Low 35 39 45 53 61 67 68 68 66 56 45 37
Prince George, Canadian Rockies High 23 31 42 54 64 70 75 74 65 52 38 25
Low 3 6 18 27 34 42 44 43 36 30 21 8
Christchurch, New Zealand High 70 69 66 62 56 51 50 52 57 62 66 69
Low 53 53 50 45 40 36 35 36 40 44 47 51
Cuzco, Peru High 68 69 70 71 70 69 70 70 71 72 73 71
Low 45 45 44 40 35 33 31 34 40 43 43 44
San Jose, Costa Rica High 75 76 79 79 80 79 77 78 79 77 77 75
Low 58 58 59 62 62 62 62 61 61 60 60 58
Izmir, Turkey High 55 57 63 70 79 87 92 92 85 76 67 58
Low 39 40 43 49 56 63 69 69 62 55 49 42
Rabat, Morocco High 63 65 68 71 74 78 82 83 81 77 70 65
Low 46 47 49 52 55 60 63 64 62 58 53 48
Quito, Ecuador High 72 71 71 70 70 71 72 73 73 72 72 72
Low 46 47 47 47 47 45 44 45 45 46 45 46
Seymour Is, Galapagos Is High 86 86 88 87 86 83 81 81 80 81 81 83
Low 72 75 75 75 73 71 69 67 66 67 68 70
Lhasa, Tibet High 44 48 53 60 67 75 74 72 70 62 55 48
Low 14 20 28 33 41 49 49 48 45 34 23 16
Borneo High 85 86 88 90 90 91 90 91 89 89 88 87
Low 72 72 73 73 73 73 72 72 72 73 72 72
Da Nang, Vietnam High 75 78 81 86 91 94 92 93 88 83 80 77
Low 66 68 69 73 76 77 77 76 75 73 71 68
Cairo, Egypt High 65 69 75 83 91 95 96 95 90 86 78 68
Low 47 48 52 57 63 68 70 71 68 65 58 50
Graham Land, Antarctica High 37 34 28 24 21 17 18 16 17 24 27 36
Low 27 25 18 14 7 2 3 -2 3 9 16 26
Santis, Swiss Alps High 20 20 24 29 37 43 47 47 43 35 27 22
Low 13 13 16 20 28 34 37 38 34 27 20 15


TIP 54: Make sure your baggage is properly tagged at the check-in counter.
Airline agents are not always familiar with the three-letter airport codes for exotic third-world destinations, and it's easy to confuse them. If you're flying to Delhi (DEL), your bags just might end up in Denis Island, South Carolina (DEI).

TIP 55: Walk around the plane to reduce travel fatigue.
The Boeing 747, the plane used on most long-distance international routes, has two aisles, which means you can do laps without disturbing other passengers or looking too foolish. If you walk the full distance from nose to tail and back, you'll cover about 400 feet per lap, 13 laps per mile. Be sure to wait until the flight attendants finish their duties and the aisles are clear of meal and drink carts.

TIP 56: Do in-seat exercises as well.
Move your head back and forth, then side to side, to relieve neck muscle tension. To relax facial muscles, repeatedly make grotesque faces. Shrug your shoulders expansively. Sit up tall and contract your buttocks, hold, relax, then repeat several times. Wiggle your toes and raise your heels up and down ten times. Spread your fingers out wide, then make a fist. All of this fills the time, helps you sleep, and will make you feel more rested and relaxed at the destination.


TIP 57: Set your watch to the destination time as soon as you get on the plane.
This will get you thinking on destination time and serve as a reference for the following anti-jet-lag steps, which should be performed on a precise schedule.

Schedule your in-flight naps for nighttime at your destination. Your body's daily circadian rhythm is controlled by the hormone melatonin, whose release is triggered by darkness perceived by the retina. The idea is to start the new dark-light cycle as soon as possible. When it's night at your destination, try to keep your eyes closed, or wear a sleep mask, to keep outside daylight from shining into the eyes. At the very least, stay as quiet as possible during this period, and keep socializing to a minimum. Conversely, when it's daytime at your destination, try to stay awake and gab nonstop with your fellow passengers.

TIP 58: Eat smart.
If possible, eat a high-protein meal (steak, chicken, eggs, yogurt, tofu) when it's breakfast time at your destination. This helps reset the body clock. Likewise, when it's dinner time at your destination, eat a high carbohydrate meal (pasta, bread, rice, potatoes, pastries). This may require you to order special meals in advance, bring along your own food, or tap all your reserves of charm on the flight attendants.


TIP 59: Protect your valuables in transit.
In crowded, theft-prone areas like airports and train stations, keep your bags in sight at all times. Store valuable documents including your passport and your main cash supply in a money belt or neck pouch under your clothes. (Keep some cash handy in pockets so you won't have to go rummaging into the pouch constantly.) In particularly risky places, carry your backpack in front of you; thieves have been known to slit open backpacks with a razor blade and remove the contents while the victim walks along, entirely unaware.

TIP 60: Avoid exchanging money on the black market.
Dealing in the currency black market is a tricky ethical question. In most cases you'll be breaking the law, as well as contributing to the balance-of-payment problems that plague so many underdeveloped countries. Currency black markets vary wildly from country to country. In some places (Kenya for example), the discount is trivial and the risk of a slight-of-hand rip-off is high. It's not worth the bother or risk at all.

TIP 61: Hang on to your currency exchange receipts.
Countries with active black markets sometimes have strict regulations requiring you to exchange a certain daily minimum at official rates. Clearing customs on the way out, you may be asked to show official exchange receipts.

TIP 62: If you're a woman, buy a local wrap or sarong when you arrive.
In many developing countries, the local women use beautiful multi-colored pieces of cloth wrap for dresses, skirts, sarongs, and headpieces, as well as for carrying babies and food. In addition to being very useful around camp, after a shower, for sitting around a campfire, as ground cloth for an impromptu picnic, or just to wear while hiking , the cloth serves as a cultural bridge. Local people will appreciate that you are adopting their traditional dress.

TIP 63: If you don't know, just ask.
Wherever you go, people are pleased if you inquire about how things should be done. You don't want to risk being inadvertently rude, so just ask! Your group leader is your primary etiquette source, but hotel desk staff and managers are also excellent local cultural experts.

TIP 64: Don't make phone calls through your hotel switchboard.
Hotel surcharges can be outrageous, up to double or triple the cost of the call. Instead, find out your long-distance company's international access codes for a direct linkup. Simply ask the hotel operator for a local outside line and call your long-distance company's international access code. Or find the public telephone office in your staging city.

TIP 65: Learn tipping procedures.
On most adventure trips, your group leader will take care of tips for hotel and jungle lodge staff, waiters are included at meals, and luggage handlers at the airport and hotel. Don't short-circuit the system by giving individual tips; this can be disruptive. Of course, for a particular favor or service performed by a hotel employee, you are free to tip individually for that.


TIP 66: Be extravagantly friendly with your guides and porters.
Don't let a language barrier stop you. Ask them to teach you a few words, Learn their names. Gesticulate wildly. Make visual jokes. Buy them drinks. The idea is to break down the cultural and hierarchical barriers and really get to know these people. If you succeed, you may find to your surprise that the highlight of your trip was not a mountain or an animal, but a person.

TIP 67: Ask your trip leader about the local religious customs.
You don't need to learn every ritual, but a basic knowledge and respect for the most important religious customs will assure that you don't unwittingly offend your hosts. In Tibet and Nepal, for example, you should always walk around Buddhist shrines or structures clockwise, keeping them on your right. If you sit down to rest, pointing the soles of your feet at anyone is taboo. It works both ways; you shouldn't be offended if a Tibetan passerby sticks out her tongue at you; she is merely giving you a traditional friendly greeting designed to demonstrate that she is not a follower of Lang Darma, an evil ninth-century anti-Buddhist king who reputedly has a black tongue.

TIP 68: Keep a journal.
Snapshots are fine, but you'll find that a written record of your thoughts and feelings, will bring a knowing smile years from now. Adventure travel, because it removes you so completely from normal everyday life, invariably stimulates contemplation and triggers unaccustomed musings. Should I quit my boring job? Does it really matter who wins the Super Bowl? Am I really ready to settle down and get married? And does this guy Buddha really hold the secret of life and death? Write these thoughts down. Years from now, you'll be amazed at what went on in your head.

TIP 69: Maintain your normal hygiene routines.
Resist the temptation to play Neanderthal man (or woman) in the wilderness; your trek-mates will appreciate it, and you'll feel a lot better. Maybe you can't take a shower on a two-week trek or plug in your hair dryer or Water Pick. But you can brush and floss your teeth daily, take sponge baths, and wash your hair regularly. (Just ask the camp staff to heat you up a potful of hot water.) If there's a river nearby, so much the better. And don't forget to use biodegradable soap.

TIP 70: Drink, drink, drink.
Dehydration, which can make you more susceptible to fatigue, illness, and altitude ailments, is a common problem among adventure travelers. It starts with the extremely dry cabin air of your long airplane trip. Tropical and desert climates, exertion, and high altitude only make matters worse. Drinking enough water is especially important at altitudes above 10,000 feet, where dehydration can greatly exacerbate the symptoms of altitude sickness. So keep a bottle of drinking water with you at all times, and try to drink even when you're not thirsty. (By the time you feel thirsty, you're already well on the way to dehydration..) Check the color of your urine; it should be almost clear. If it's a bright yellow, you need to drink more.

TIP 71: But don't drink the tap water
In most cases, tap water in the lodges and hotels of developing nations is not safe to drink. Sometimes hotel rooms have pitchers of water set out that are supposedly okay to drink. To be on the safe side, though, drink and brush your teeth only with water that is bottled (make sure you uncap it yourself; some unscrupulous restaurants fill bottles with tap water) or treated with iodine. Water filters are only partially effective as they do not remove viruses such as hepatitis. But they help get rid of the taste of iodine-treated water.

Avoid ice; it's almost certainly made from tap water. Tea, coffee, and bottled drinks like soda and beer are generally safe to drink.

TIP 72: Food: Cook it, peel it, or forget it.
On treks and safaris, you shouldn't have to worry about the camp food. Responsible adventure-travel companies train their cooking staffs in modern sanitary methods. But local food, especially from street vendors and markets, is another story. Make sure that any meat or fish has been well cooked. Avoid lettuce and raw vegetables, which may have been washed with tap water. Eat only fruit that you peel yourself, and touch it as little as possible. Make sure that custard-type desserts have been properly refrigerated or are freshly made. Eat only street vendor-food that has been well cooked and is still hot or that can be peeled.

TIP 73: Wash your hands frequently.
Even if your food is properly prepared, remember that the general environment in developing countries is not as sanitary. Wash your hands or use a disposable towelette before every meal and after going to the bathroom. On treks and safaris, you'll probably be provided with a disinfectant soap to wash your hands with before meals.

TIP 74: If you feel ill, inform your trip leader immediately.
If you think the problem is food-related, he or she will need to know right away. Certain kinds of more serious illness, like malaria and severe altitude symptoms, also require prompt attention. Don't try to tough it out; it's important your leader be aware of any physical problems as soon as possible.

TIP 75: Get up early.
In mountainous areas especially, get in the habit of rising before dawn to watch the sky lighten and the sun come up. People who have not experienced high-altitude mountain sunrises are invariably bowled over by these extraordinary visual feasts. Dawn is also when local people start their day; shopkeepers opening up, farmers on their way to the marketplace.

TIP 76: On a trek or hike, walk comfortably at your own pace.
Don't worry if you can't keep up with the sprinters in the group or if you just prefer to sightsee or putter along the way. Treks are typically arranged to allow, or even encourage dawdling; the trip leader usually brings up the rear to keep an eye out for stragglers. Pace yourself and conserve energy early. In the long run, you'll get to camp sooner and feel better.

TIP 77: When hiking uphill, shorten your step.
Don't try to maintain your normal walking speed uphill. But instead of slowing your stride, "gear down" like a truck and take shorter steps while maintaining the same rhythm. Put your heel down first, rolling forward to the toe.

TIP 78: For the long or steep uphills, try the "mountaineer's step."
This energy-saving style of walking has long been used by high-altitude mountaineers. Who need to conserve every bit of energy. Step slowly and rhythmically, pausing briefly after each step to allow your rear knee to straighten completely and move over center. This lets the thigh muscle relax briefly while the leg bones take over the load during the pause.

TIP 79: On a cold-weather trek, keep your sweater inside your sleeping bag at night.
One of the little luxuries of trekking life, right up there with being awakened in the morning by a steaming cup of tea handed in through the tent flap, is getting into warm clothes.

TIP 80: Resist the urge to give out money, candy, pens, and other trinkets to local children.
It may seem tempting at first; the kids can be devilishly charming. But in the long run, it is a culturally destructive practice that creates a subservient "begging mentality" in an otherwise proud culture and perpetuates a shallow and stereotyped relationship between tourists and locals. One can already see evidence of this in some areas; groups of kids shouting "Pen!" often greet trekkers in Asia.

There are practical reasons to avoid this practice as well. Pens create jealousy among children who don't have them. Candy contributes to tooth decay in areas that saw virtually none ten years ago and have no dentists. Balloons can spread respiratory infections, and children have been known to choke on them. So play with the kids, talk to them, show them your stuff, do sleight-of-hand magic tricks for them. But don't give them things.

TIP 81: If you want to help the local people financially, contribute to organizations.
The idea is to support the community at large, not particular individuals within it. On the local level, ask your guide about schools, hospitals, health clinics, orphanages, or cultural and environmental groups to whom you might contribute. (A gift of $20, for example, to a rural health clinic in Nepal can have a major impact). Give a box of pens to the local schoolmaster, not the individual children, so that he can hand them out in a way that won't stir up greed and resentment.

TIP 82: Don't take pictures of the locals without their permission.
They may be shy or have real fears about being photographed. You can often earn their trust by showing them your camera, letting them look through the viewfinder, or even letting them snap a picture of you first. Keep in mind that the lack of a photo doesn't make the experience less real.

TIP 83: Take your photos during early morning and late afternoon.
Low, slanting sunlight brings out the shadows and details in all kinds of scenic shots. Professional photographers don't even think about shooting after 10 a.m. or before 4 p.m. They particularly like the light right around sunrise and sunset, which bathes the subject in a soft golden glow.

TIP 84: On an adventure cruise, don't forget your rubbers.
On trips to places like Antarctica and the Galapagos, which can only be reached by ship, you'll be going ashore in small inflatable boats. Sometimes you may have to play Gen. MacArthur and splash onto the beach. Above-the-calf rubber boots, will keep your feet dry and warm, particularly in Antarctica, where the water temperature is around 29 degrees.

TIP 85: If there's rough water, wear a Scopolamine skin patch to combat seasickness.
These thumbnail-size prescription skin patches, worn behind the ear, are extremely effective for most people. The accompanying drowsiness and a dry-mouth feeling are a small price to pay for relief from a malady that can ruin a trip very quickly. Remember to apply the patches at least two hours before your ship ventures into rough water.


TIP 86: On a wildlife trip, don't wear perfume or cologne
Animals can sometimes detect unusual scents literally miles away under the right wind conditions. Animals in popular game-viewing areas are probably accustomed to diesel fumes by now, but a whiff of Obsession just might spook them.

TIP 87: The world's fastest tripod
Is a small beanbag you can instantly place on the edge of your safari vehicle's sunroof. Besides being very fast to set up, the "tripod" cuts motor vibration and puts the camera at eye level. You'll find it at pro camera stores.

TIP 88: For wildlife photography, remember to turn off the autoflash.
If your camera is controlling the flash, it may trigger one unexpectedly. This can startle animals, causing you to lose further shots and making you extremely unpopular among your safari-mates.

TIP 89: Keep a species list.
Take along a small notebook and record the kinds of animals and birds you see on the trip.

TIP 90: Wear subdued clothing.
The more you blend into the scenery, the closer you'll get to the animals. But don't wear Rambo-style camouflage clothing; the local people will probably think you're a soldier or a guerrilla and in either case avoid you like the plague.


TIP 91: Think carefully before buying antiques.
Counterfeits are common and very difficult for the average buyer to spot. Even if the antique is genuine, the seller might have obtained it illegally, many countries have restrictions on the removal of cultural artifacts, and you may have it confiscated at the airport. But on a more philosophical level, think about whether it's right to remove genuine historical artifacts from their country of origin. In the past, many temples and archaeological sites have been looted buy unscrupulous art dealers, who sell them to foreigners. An unsuspecting antique buyer may unwittingly encourage this behavior by contributing to the profits of the looters.

TIP 92: Pool your tips for the trip leader and staff.
This encourages the staff to work for the good of everyone in the group, not just certain individuals. Traditionally, tips are given when you say good-bye. For example, a group will usually pass the hat for the trekking staff and porters on the last night of the trek and present it to them the next morning as they leave. Likewise for the trip leader, usually at the "last supper" farewell group meal. Remember that tipping is an individual decision. It's entirely up to you how much to put in the hat.

TIP 93: Send yourself a postcard home.
Just before getting on the plane back to the U.S., send yourself a postcard from your last exotic destination. Global mail service being what it is, the card usually takes a few weeks to get back home. By then, you're back in the normal routine of job and family, and the sudden arrival of a brightly colored postcard from a faraway country is always a delightful reminder of your trip.

TIP 94: Beware of duty-free shops.
Most do not offer any real bargains. A few exceptions: cameras and jewelry at Schiphol Airport, and jewelry in Tel Aviv. Duty-free shops in Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Rio de Janeiro are good.

TIP 95: Bring home as little local currency as possible.
You'll probably get stuck with it; U.S. banks don't really like to deal in foreign currency, and they often have poor exchange rates and high minimum amounts.

TIP 96: Fill out your travel company's post-trip questionnaire.
Be candid. Report the lows as well as the highs. Overseas Adventure Travel has learned that thoughtful comments from trip participants are the best form of quality control, and pays very close attention to feedback from its travelers.

TIP 97: Give something back.
Many adventure travelers return home deeply touched by the people and places they've seen, and are inspired to support them. Among the many international cultural and environmental agencies very deserving of your support are:

  • Save The Children (800-243-575)
  • Oxfam America (800-426-3282)
  • African Wildlife Foundation (202-265-8394)
  • American Himalayan Foundation (415-434-1111)
  • International Campaign for Tibet (202-628-4123)

Virtually anyone can enjoy an adventure-travel trip. Age hardly matters; 65 year olds climb Kilimanjaro, and 75 year olds have the time of their lives on safari. Physical fitness and athletic prowess hardly matter; there are adventure trips for virtually every level.

But some things do matter; your spirit of adventure, your flexible attitude, your sense of humor. Not everything goes according to plan on an adventure trip. Are you the kind of person who cheerfully takes in stride, or even relishes, the inevitable delays and frustrations of off-the-beaten-path travel in a third-world country? Can you shrug off minor hardships like a blister or a rainstorm or a less than sparkling bathroom? If so, you've probably got the spirit of adventure that makes this kind of travel so exhilarating.

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