Planning an overseas adventure travel is a magnificent experience it self. Here's a view of the village in the maldives I will be visiting soon!
The following post is a bit of a reflexion mixed with a small step by step guide of how i plan my adventures.
Sounds a bit obvious but, after doing a bit of research, I discovered there are a lot of you guys out there who are wondering what and overseas adventure travel really is and how to plan for it.
What we want first, is to define adventure!
The common definition is that an adventure is something exciting, daring and unusual. While this is not too far from the truth, the other definition of the term adventure says that, it is actually when something goes wrong.
Why would I want things to go wrong?
I’ve heard countless people say they want a life full of adventures and the instagram world has more than raped the meaning of the word by blasting at you, countless perfect sunsets and people holding hands in a constant feeling of perfection.
A true adventure is not this sense of perfection. A true adventure is a challenge. It should make you feel like you grow, like you have accomplished something to further improve yourself.
This, unfortunately, comes -most of the times- hand in hand with something going wrong.
Hopefully not wrong enough to have consequences you will regret the rest of your life but, for sure all adventurers are looking that brush with the limits to find adventure.
Risk is definitely not for everyone but, there are many levels of risk. Find the one you feel comfortable with.
But what if I don’t like risk?
Well, needless to say that some sort of risk is required to have a true adventure. However, this risk can be a controlled risk. This risk can be a small one, or simply put: something that pushes you out of your comfort zone.
Here is also when we start delving into the realm of that overseas adventure travel!
The first steps into adventure you will probably take near you. You will explore, play and discover the places or situations close to home.
There is an investment component intimately linked to reaching that far corner (doesn’t have to be that far) of the world that makes us dream.
Ok, but now explain me the whole overseas adventure travel part
Well, this one is probably the tastier part of it. Think about it… An adventure doesn’t start when you’re already executing it but rather when you dream, decide and plan on it.
I have spent way more hours preparing trips than actually living them and I honestly enjoy it. It’s the whole sensation of getting ready, knowledgeable and fit for the challenge ahead (even considering the things that could go wrong).
Good, now help me plan my next awesome trip.
So, just for you to have a piece of content that can help you beyond this reflexion, let me tell you what I do to plan my travels, from a big sponsored expedition to a weekend mission with friends.
Enjoy planning the adventure as much as you enjoy going into it!
How to plan an overseas adventure travel
Define your objectives (primary, secondary, etc.)
Define the time-frame (for research, planning and execution)
Define your budget (getting in and out, extra gear, unforeseen events, emergency, etc.)
Define companions (or is it a solo mission?)
Define the necessary gear (how big of a logistic point is it?)
Define your exit strategy (always have one or preferably more. Redundancy is key)
Search for experts in the field (even if you are one)
Have the necessary insurances (Duh)
Outline your weaknesses and strengths (Be honest about your weaknesses)
Find sponsors (If you need them or consider them necessary)
For those of you needing more than just a list. Let’s get into the rationale for the points above and why each carries a different type of weight when planning.
Define your objectives
Where to go, what to do, why to do it… Believe or not, these are difficult questions. I find inspiration in the most strange places but, above all, I try to do extraordinary things. I don’t want to do just about the same as everyone else.
However, this is a bit of a foolish dream because, unless you have unlimited pockets or you’re willing to step into the absolute unknown and participate in frontier expedition, you will -most likely- end up doing things others have done before.
I have also done that in Patagonia, where I have reached unnamed glaciers by kayak. I have done that by sometimes looking at a point in the globe with google earth and just decide: ok, I want to get there, just for the sake of standing where none stood before.
That, is material for another story.
It's easy to evaluate your skills higher than they actually are. This can lead to uncomfortable situations
Choose a realistic adventure, but something that makes you vibrate.
Hold the stoke. It is easy to get stoked about going somewhere and just book a flight. Then you’ll get desperate and you’ll start improvising.
The key to a successful overseas adventure travel is to first define why the hell you want to go there! With this in mind, everything else falls into place.
Let me illustrate this by using the example of the trip I am currently planning and the reason why I recently wrote this post about how to build a waterproof camera rig for under 1k.
The first thing that came to my mind was the fact that I wanted to dive with several big animals. I wanted to do one diving trip that would include at least a “big three” selection.
This already narrowed down the options of places I could go to due to the actual possibility of finding the three species in one place. The selection: The Maldives.
Define the time-frame
I don’t know about you but, the majority of human beings reading this will have to take vacations to go on an adventure so, this point will definitely affect your budget and options according to the place you have selected in relation to your objectives.
Transport is the first BIG thing. How to get there fast and hopefully cheap. In my case, fast is more important than cheap.
A student might be able to take the long and cheap road. I can’t afford that. However, a good way of estimating the best rate is to use google flights. You’ll get a good overview of price-to-dates.
Flying there is just one part of the deal. If it is a remote corner you will have to consider ground or sea transport to your final objective. Be sure to count this carefully in.
Define your budget
Sometimes a good way of forcing you to evaluate the appropriate options is to have a strict number in your head (and a % of tolerance for it). It’s like a healthy visit to a casino. If you go with a defined amount to lose, you will have a more pleasant experience.
That said, your budget should consider things like:
Transport in and out of destination (Is not just taking a plane)
The gear that you will have to buy, rent, renew, replace, repair and maybe lose.
Food and accomodation (many times I wanted to pitch a tent and just couldn’t)
Medical insurance (In will talk about this later)
Guides (No matter how good you are, locals are always better than you)
Porters (if it is a gear intensive trip you might even need animals)
Tips (sometimes the only way of getting beta or getting to your objective safe)
Location taxes (parks, protection fees, tourist tax, etc.)
Unforeseen or emergency (a 25% increase sometimes)
Cancellations / Connection Loss (air, ground, sea)
Define companions (or is it a solo mission?)
This is a critical thing to do. In the industry (outdoor industry) I know a lot of guys that love the whole “solo” thing. I have to admit I’m not such a huge fan of it.
To me, the right companion always bring something nice to the adventure.
No matter if we are talking about the weekend or the overseas adventure travel concept. But choosing this shouldn’t be something random.
My personal policy is to always choose someone who know -hopefully- a lot more than I do regarding the objective at hand.
I enjoy travelling with people more experienced than me as it is a perfect chance to learn and grow into that defined activity.
The right partner can simple make or break a trip.
If this is not possible, you can also be the leader if you feel comfortable with that. Nevertheless, I can’t say I would recommend the option of finding someone through a webpage and just jump into a full-blown adventure, half-across the world with someone I don’t know. I’ve done it.
It turned -most of the times- pretty well, but I just want to be sure I will enjoy a great time with someone I know.
If no one is available, inscribe to a local club and build a bit of a network or at least give yourself the time to screen for potential partners.
Believe it or not, is a huge safety component and, returning home safe is the most important thing.
Define the necessary gear
This is actually my own gear room. As you can see, I have a thing for accumulating toys!
I love this point. I’m a sucker for gear and I have no problems admitting I’m completely addicted to it.
I will even buy a full pro-setup from a sport I haven’t even tried yet just because the investment forces me to practice the activity harder and more committed that if I just rent some gear to try (I do that sometimes, also. I’m not THAT crazy).
But when it comes to planning, one has to be critical with these things. Sometimes it makes no sense to travel with all your gear and it’s ways more effective to rent it there.
If the gear is something highly safety-related, you might feel better bringing your own stuff no matter what. Let’s see the diving case (could be climbing also).
I am definitely considering acquiring a complete diving setup but, for the present moment and considering the amount of dives I put on a regular year (I do want to certify myself as a divemaster this year) I don’t need to have everything.
Nevertheless, I do have my own regulator. Why? Because Is the piece I consider critical within the whole thing and it’s the one thing I want to make sure works absolutely perfect! (I mean, you breathe through the damn thing).
I don’t want to get a regulator which I don’t know who serviced it or one that has been into multiple mouths (that’s just me thinking it’s gross).
But I’m perfectly comfortable renting a BCD or using rental fins and wetsuits. That being said, in this case there’s only one piece of critical gear, while for example, in climbing, I would rather carry most of my personal gear and leave some heavy stuff I can rent on destination.
Define your exit strategy
I can’t stress this point enough. You need to give this part a lot of thought, especially if you plant to get into places with difficult access or where the possibility of rescue is remote.
This point is far too complex to take this as everything you need to know about but, in my case, I always want to think of the following cases if we are talking of adventures that consider remote areas.
Bring a GPS locator ( A Garmin -former Delorme- InReach ) that transmit your positions and has an SOS service.
Leave detail plans with someone you trust and if necessary task him with monitoring different milestones of the trip. If you don’T reach one, he will contact emergency services.
Have a schedule for reports. Respect the report schedule
Have a complete medikit and for f***sake learn how to use it.
Do a first responder course.
Have your partner do the same. Always be the partner you want to have next to you.
Have a way of charging the electronics you depend on (extra power bank or solar)
Always have the contact for local emergency service and leave notice at the correspondent police station or emergency service, when entering a complicated area.
There rule of thumb to this point should be: If you’re getting in it, know how to get out if it. If you think you can’t then simply don’t go.
Where you would otherwise be lost, a local guide can help you navigate a complicated terrain with ease.
Search for experts in the field
No matter how good you think you are in a certain sport or activity, if you’re doing an overseas adventure travel, chances are you know jack-shit about the location.
Sure, you have done your due diligence and studied a lot of posts and pages and charts, etc.
Well, you will never have the knowledge or insight of a local guide or expert. Be sure that part of your plan is contacting them beforehand to get the necessary information to make your plan bomber.
If possible, include them in your trip budget and pay for their services to ensure you will get the most out of the experience and in the safest ways possible.
No matter how confident I feel about an activity, I always bring a local. Unless I am the local, in which case I bring a buddy with more experience (see the “buddy choosing” point).
Have the necessary insurances
If you spend enough time outside and -especially- in high consequence environment, chances are things will go wrong eventually.
Being prepared for it is one thing and having the proper network of insurances is another. No matter how skilled you are, you don’t want to pay for that heli-rescue you needed because you lost a front-point in the middle of your climb.
Or in more simple situations, you don’t want to pocket another 300 euros just because you missed a flight because of traffic and then you will lose all other connecting points further down the trip.
Insurances are necessary and they give you a good chunk of peace of mind to enjoy your activity without worrying about these things.
Always do keep in mind one thing: the best insurance is the one that you never have to use :)
Outline your weaknesses and strengths
This one is another critical point. Whether you talk to yourself while planning or you plan something with a buddy, talk about what you don’t feel comfortable.
Be honest about your experience and skills, because once you’re in the situation, your level (or lack of it) will turn into a serious problem.
I had situations where I was in the middle of a climb and we couldn’t move forward because the person told me he could do something he actually couldn’t.
Luckily we just rappelled down and nothing major happened other than me being overly frustrated and uncomfortable with this person.
However, this could have turned into something terrible, given the right ingredients for disaster.
Always speak the truth and be conservative. Get into situations where you know you can maintain control and you are a component that brings safety to the equation.
If you feel like you want to push the limit a bit, get the adequate training and let your partner know so he/she can evaluate whether he is able to cope or solve a potential threatening situation alone.
Last but not least, reaching out to sponsors and brands that can make your trip come true is always a good option.
Some brands are open to work with people that have small names or no names at all in search of organic, user-generated content that will improve their brand presence.
Think about this topic if you believe your trip could potentially add value to a brand and a brand could add value to your trip.
Well, that’s about as comprehensive as it gets to guiding you on planning an overseas adventure travel.
If you need more specific help with a given topic or a destination that I have already been to, don’t hesitate to leave a comment and I will be glad to give you more insight.
See you on the next adventure!