OK, you checked your passport and it has a few years left on it. You’re taking the anti-malarial pills, you have read the guide books and even learned a few words in Swahili. In your mind you think you’re ready for adventure travel.
The biggest mistake adventure travelers make happens before they get on the plane because they inadequately prepare for the physical and mental rigors ahead.
The New You
If your body is not at peak efficiency the chances of your back or knee going out on the way up Kilimanjaro, or wherever your adventurous travels take you, are high. Put in the hard yards to get in shape. Months before your trip spend less time on the couch eating bad food and more time in the gym and in the mountains getting aerobically fit. Know your body and where it breaks down and strengthen those parts. Swimming and biking are excellent for buttressing those aging knees and backs. Yoga will stretch your muscles and ease your mind too.
Pass the Garlic
If you are susceptible to altitude sickness, bug bites or Montezuma’s revenge, do the research and figure out how to ward these off. Spend time in the mountains ahead of your trip acclimatizing with a full pack so you can breathe more efficiently in crunch time. Start seriously hydrating. No booze, but lots of water a month before the trip. Eat more garlic so your skin reeks of it. Bugs will love you less. Visit that corner Mexican restaurant you’ve been avoiding in your neighborhood to toughen up your stomach. By introducing different foods you let your natural immune system starting kicking in. Pack the Pepto anyway.
Pump Up the Adrenaline
Mentally you need to get out of automatic pilot. Living in America is easy, the lights work, people don’t over take you on mountain passes and your adrenalin seldom kicks in. It’s predictable, just the opposite of what you’re likely to experience overseas. If you’re living in Beverly Hills or Manhattan, spend a day walking around East LA or Harlem getting a feel for the way other people are living. If you’re going to Africa, start watching movies made by Africans to get a feel for the place. You can read about what a place is like, but seeing how the locals cope with less than ideal conditions gives you that necessary wake up call. Read travelers blogs on the Internet to see what they experienced and how they coped. Get it into your head that things are going to be different and you need to be flexible enough to adapt.
Beyond the Travel Gods
There are two ways to prepare for an adventure travel trip. Assume the travel gods are on your side and let the chips fall where they may. Good luck. Or you can take the trip seriously and prepare for it mentally and physically.