Adventure travel can encompass many things, from kayaking in Milford Sound, New Zealand to hiking the Inca Trail in Peru. When planning an adventure, winging it can only get you so far. You'll want to be prepared to make the most of your trip.
By following these seven tips, who knows? The locals might welcome you into their secret club and show you hidden gems that most tourists never get to see.
1) Sort out visas, currencies, and other requirements for international travel
Adventure planning starts well before you leave your home country. Make sure your passport is valid and that it won't expire while you're away. Go to Project Visa to find out which countries on your itinerary require a visa to enter. Apply for visas well in advance, as the process can take weeks or months to complete.
Some countries may have other barriers to entry. Others won't let you leave with certain products and souvenirs. Hawaii, for example, has strict biosecurity laws, so don't pack any fresh fruit or vegetables in your carry-on. Other countries like the Dominican Republic will charge a small tourist tax when you enter a larger amount upon exiting (if you stay longer than 30 days). To find out which countries charge a tourist tax, check out this list from Insider.
2) Learn a few local words and phrases
Learning a few key words and phrases in the local language of the country you're visiting can go a long way in opening new doors for your adventure travel. At the very least, know how to say "hello," "thank you," and "please" before you learn to ask "where is the bathroom?"
Apps like Duolingo, Babbel, and Memrise can make it easy to learn new phrases and vocabulary when adventure planning. You can also get by with a few internationally-recognized gestures. For instance, pointing and making an X with your hands means "no" in most languages.
3) Look into local laws and customs
Whether it's taking your shoes off before entering a sacred place or covering your shoulders and knees to avoid offending locals, it's important to be aware of local customs when visiting countries that have a very different culture than your own.
Some countries have laws that can shape your overall experience. For example, it's illegal to drink alcohol in Saudi Arabia and Singapore has strict laws against public littering (you can be fined $2,000 or more). When planning an adventure, stick to sources like Wikipedia or browse the country's official tourism website to stay up-to-date on local laws.
4) Sort out travel toiletries before you depart
Adventure travel doesn't quite scream "Walmart" or any other well-known megastore for that matter. So, unless you want to spend hours looking for the right shampoo, conditioner, and sunscreen in a foreign language, it's best to sort out your travel toiletries before you leave.
We'll do you one better: pour your liquids into travel size bottles that are leak-proof and pack them in a toiletry bag that hangs. This way, you can prevent messy explosions of product in your bag and save counter space in the bathroom for your daily grooming or skincare routine.
5) Try packing light for easy travel
This one goes without saying for most adventurers. The less you pack, the easier your travel will be. Plus, you'll have fewer things to keep track of and avoid hefty baggage fees.
To pack light, make a list of everything you think you might need and then cut it in half. Yes, half. Chances are, you won't miss half the stuff. If you're struggling to downsize, consider investing in some multipurpose items. A packable travel blanket, for example, can double as a pillow. And a travel backpack system designed to save you space can act as your daypack, sling pack, and luggage all in one.
6) Leave room for souvenirs
We all know that one person who brings back a little piece of every country they visit. And while we're not suggesting you bring back an entire living room set from Morocco, we recommend leaving some extra space in your luggage when adventure planning.
But don't go overboard. You'll still want to be able to move around once you've collected some treasures along the way. And if you're flying, check the weight and size restrictions of your airline to make sure you're not going over the limit.
7) Know the best time of year to visit your destination
This is an important one when planning an adventure. Depending on where you're going, the time of year can make a big difference in your travel experience.
For example, the monsoon season in India runs from July to September. If you're planning a trip during that time, be sure to pack your rain gear and mosquito repellent. Also, don't forget that summer in the southern hemisphere is winter in the northern hemisphere. So, if you're looking to escape the cold in January, consider a trip to Australia or New Zealand.
The Bottom Line
When planning an adventure, it's important to do your research. This includes choosing the best travel accessories to enhance your trip and weighing your options when it comes to travel insurance. But don't get so caught up in adventure planning that you forget to enjoy the experience. After all, that's what adventure travel is all about.
Have fun and be safe!