In my 30-plus years of experience leading adventure vacations for women, I’ve encountered raging snow storms in August, boated through crocodile-infested lakes, I have been “robbed” by marauding bears and slept with 25 pounds of cameras around my neck to ward off hotel thieves.
These experiences have prompted me to write my best tips to travel “savvy” and to avoid common pitfalls and inconvenient issues on your adventure vacation with AdventureWomen.
Tip #1: Travel Light!
On adventure trips, there is often limited storage space on the sailboat, camel, raft, llama, helicopter, and other vehicles of transport we use on our trips. Therefore, try to limit your luggage to one (yes ONE) manageable suitcase and one small carry-on bag. Remember you are often the one carrying your own suitcase and therefore, be good to yourself. The test: can you run up the stairs with your bag?
Tip #2: Plan for the Trip Home!
Wherever we travel, we find amazing keepsakes and souvenirs that allow us to remember our AdventureWomen vacation for years to come. Bring an empty lightweight nylon or canvas bag in which to carry home a beautiful kilim rug from Turkey, a carving from Africa, an Icelandic sweater, or a boomerang from Australia.
Tip #3: Carry-On Your Essentials!
What should you pack versus put in your carry-on? Medications (with labels on), which you might not find easily in overseas or wilderness locales… toiletries, all your camera equipment, one full change of clothing, cash, trip itinerary, important papers, and your passport and visa. It’s also a good idea to wear any items that are essential to have for your trip, such as your hiking boots if you are on a trek.
Tip #4: Tag Your Bags!
The fact that luggage manufacturers make almost every bag either black or red is one of life’s great mysteries. Don’t let this deter you. Mark your bag with identification tags both outside and inside, and use your yellow AdventureWomen luggage tags. Bring TSA approved luggage locks to use, especially if you are storing luggage during a trip.
Tip #5: Be Clever, Make Copies!
You will speed up logistical delays if you make several copies of your passport (first 2 pages only and relevant visa page), airline ticket, and credit card numbers and distribute these between your luggage and carry-on bag. Always leave copies at home. I once had my passport, group visa, money, and ALL my identification stolen in Shanghai. This one tip saved me from days of delays. You cannot get a new passport, if yours is lost or stolen, without 2 passport photos. Bring extras! When my documents were stolen in China, the Consulate had run out of film and it was a Sunday – my trip was leaving at 6 AM Monday morning. Don’t leave home without these!
Tip #6: Find a Friend! Tell Your Family!
Leave a copy of your trip itinerary with friends or family. Make sure you include fax, phone numbers, and email addresses where appropriate.
Tip #7: Confirm Your flights!
Always call the airline at least one day in advance to check schedule or flight changes.
Tip #8: Leave Your Jewels at Home!
Especially when traveling to developing countries, please don’t wear or bring expensive jewelry. Gold necklaces, earrings, and rings are often an irresistible temptation to those less fortunate who live in less wealthy economic circumstances.
Tip #9: Barter Basics!
It’s fine to bring along “for trade” items such as pens, bandannas, T-shirts, or hats to exchange for in-country artifacts and souvenirs. In some developing countries, these are sometimes considered more valuable than cash and you can often get some great deals by making them available. Don’t be afraid to barter. This is a very time-honored custom in many countries.
Tip #10: Be Open to Adventure and Use Your Sense of Humor!
Any adventure vacation necessitates being a good-natured realist, able to laugh at new situations which may not be expected, and that you can later turn into memorable stories which make your trip truly unique. Try to remain open and flexible to new situations as they occur, and remember that laughter is the universal language of all travelers.