Adventure vacations advice

Adventurous destinations


NOT COOL, JUST REAL

Sea kayaking


Xania Wear of Wear Active, one of our sea kayaking vacation suppliers in Croatia: “If you have not done any kayaking before choose a company that has a combination of different types of kayaks including doubles and sit on top. Then you need to decide if you want to kayak for mileage or if you want to a slower pace to explore Croatia's amazing coastline.”
Vedat Vural, owner of Alternatif Outdoor, one of our suppliers in Turkey:
“Stay clear of other traffic on the water. We don’t organise any sea kayaking trips in the busy routes, where there are jet skis zipping off left and right. On one day of our six-day trip, we do paddle through the glamorous Gocek area, but we check in with the port manager to see what traffic is happening, and we put our flags up so that we are visible.”

Walking vacations


Jonny Bealby, founder of our leading supplier Wild Frontiers: “Bring waterproofs. Not just in your main luggage, but in your daypack on each day that you are walking. In terms of boots, there are so many to choose from. I don’t even have a proper pair of hiking boots, but use a pair of Caterpillars, which I have used for years and walked all over the place in them. And then they don’t look bad when you are walking around Tblisi or wherever afterwards. But when I do a serious hike like K2, then I had to spend £150 on a serious pair of Meindls.”
Emma Garrick from our supplier Exodus:
“Layers are the way to go as opposed to big jackets, certainly for lower altitude treks; I would bring a couple of lighter fleeces and long sleeved tops and layer up that way.”

Climbing Kilimanjaro


Andrew Appleyard of our supplier Exodus, experts in Kilimanjaro, has climbed Kili many times: “Altitude sickness is a complete unknown. But I would say that if you give yourself time to do a longer route and, therefore, have longer to acclimatise, your success rates are higher. My top tip is that if you’re going to do it, do not scrimp on cost. Don’t try and carry tons of your own gear so that you can cut down on porters, It’s just not worth it. I did it a decade ago and there were 11 in our group – I took ten of those to the summit. The other group had 19 people and only three made it. They told us they came up too quickly, had altitude sickness, didn’t eat enough food, ran out of water… ”

Hiking the Inca Trail


Simon Forster is the co-founder of our supplier, The Beyond Tourism Co.: “Make sure you know if you're getting a private guide or if you're part of a bigger group. People sometimes don't realise they could be added to a bigger group, even if they've booked a tailor made tour. The nature of the trail means you will always end up walking with other people anyway, but it does mean you won't have a guide to yourself.”
Kathy Jarvis is the director of our supplier, Andean Trails:
“Make sure you acclimatise as much as possible. The more acclimatised you are, the more you'll enjoy it. You can suffer a lot if you try and force your body too high, too soon – as well as it being dangerous. So allow as much time as possible as you can before trekking. And then it's a case of having the right clothes - good kit, jackets, waterproofs, warm gloves, hats… It's also better to bring your own sleeping bag. There are some for hire, but it's quite a personal thing!”

North American national parks


Richard Hanson, Managing Director of our top supplier of USA vacations, Grand American Adventures: “It is amazing how many people don’t get out of their cars in the national parks. The average person visiting the Grand Canyon takes a few photos, goes to the visitor centre and spends 90 minutes there. Someone once pointed out to me that if you walk an hour down the trail you are walking with Americans, walk two hours down the trail you are walking with Europeans, and walk three hours down the trail, you are walking alone.”

Adventure vacations advice from our travelers


Recommendations FROM FELLOW ADVENTURERS

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful tips our travelers have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your adventure vacation.
“Don't worry that it will be too much hard work - the pace of paddling is suited to everyone. If you paddle slowly you have more time to enjoy the scenery while quicker people are can always do a few extra laps to burn off their energy.” – Lavinia Colley, on a sea kayaking vacation

“Make sure you take every opportunity to walk. The two long walks are both, for different reasons, outstanding experiences. They're not talked up in the notes nearly as well as they should be.” – David McRae on our Self-guided Walking Vacation, Nakasendo Trail in Japan

“Have patience, be open minded and willing to accept things that you do not see at home. Also be prepared to sacrifice a little comfort when not staying in hotels.” – Christopher Jones in Vietnam

“Go, be brave, leave the well- trodden tourist trail, go up the mountains ...live with the families...it's much more in tune with the pulse of the country. Trust people to plan for you.. it's India ..they will not betray your trust. Be sensitive, in your dress and demeanour, this is a culture with values. Enjoy its diversity...landscapes spiritual beliefs, culinary treats ...” – Mary Phillips in India

“First and foremost – LISTEN to the guide! He has so much local knowledge; he saved us money, time and hassle and his advice was worth its weight in gold! Take plenty of insect repellent. Don't feel obliged to buy goods, but tip well for good service.” – John Dodson in Sri Lanka

“Go slowly (pole pole) right from day 1. This helps your body to get ready for the hard summit day... and really believe that you can reach the top.” – Marlene James

Health & safety


KEEPING ADVENTURES SAFE

The majority of our adventure vacations are guided and in small groups, so you will be given detailed health and safety advice before you go and when you are there. So don’t panic, you will be in safe hands. Here are a few of our general pointers in the meantime. You can never have enough advice when it comes to keeping safe and well.

Sea kayaking & other water activities


Ask about the experience and training of your adventure leaders or instructors. A responsible adventure company will profile them in detail on their website. A good question to ask a sea kayaking company is “what are your sea kayaking guide’s ratios?” In other words, how many people they will take out on the water for each guide. This applies to boats rather than people, and anything from one to eight boats per guide is acceptable. Helmets, whether you are kayaking or white water rafting are a must when rocks and choppy water are going to be on your itinerary. For white water rafting, helmets are a must on rapids, but not always compulsory in some countries. And like most activities, stay hydrated, and protect yourself from sun damage.
See our sea kayaking vacations travel guide for more details.

Hiking & biking


If you are walking or cycling independently be prepared with maps, compass, rain gear, pocketknife, basic first aid kit, matches and a whistle. You can buy mini emergency kits on eBay for a tenner. And write down the local emergency numbers before you set out, including mountain rescue, if relevant. And always tell someone where you are going. Make sure your mobile phone is charged too. Stay hydrated even if the sun isn’t shining. And always treat altitude with respect. Watch out for ticks and inform yourself in advance about any dangers from wildlife, such as bears in the USA and Canada. Hiking or biking in extreme heat can be dangerous and deaths do, tragically, occur. In warm climates, walk early in the morning and late in the afternoon, cover up and drink lots. Consider adding rehydration powders to your water. In many countries, wearing cycling helmets is not compulsory, but we all know it makes sense.
See our walking and cycling vacation guides for more details.

Seeing wildlife


Always do what your guide says – it goes without saying really, as these are wild animals, and not to be cuddled or cooed over. And you may be desperate to get a photo, but trust us. Or, more importantly, trust your guide. Don’t use flash photography as it can disturb the animals, frighten them and make them react aggressively sometimes. And always be quiet around wildlife.
See our wildlife vacations guide for more information.
Photo credits: [Sea kayaking - Xania Wear: tororo reaction] [Walking vacations - Jonny Bealby: Douglas Scortegagna] [Climbing Kilimanjaro: mitchpa1984] [Hiking the Inca Trail: Lisa Weichel] [Kayaking in Alaska: Wildnerdpix] [Review 1 - Helen Perry: Zach Dischner] [Review 2 - George Turnbull: Tony Hisgett] [Sea kayaking & other water activities: Benjamin Hollis] [Hiking & biking: Grand Canyon National Park] [Seeing wildlife: Roderick Eime]
Written by Catherine Mack
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