How to Prepare For a Group Trekking Adventure Abroad
The most beautiful locations in the world will show you different environments you may not be used to. When preparing for a trek within foreign locales for adventure travel, it is important to know exactly what to bring to ensure success for yourself, but it is even more essential to know this information if you are planning a group trek.
Though many people believe that group travel is easier, it is more like comparing apples and oranges. Because you are surrounded by other people who have similar goals and ambitions, it can be a relieving thing that ultimately is more inspiring than it is cumbersome. However, in many ways you also take on the responsibility of more people with each person that is added to the trek, making it potentially more difficult than it’s worth. Most adventure travel trekking trips boast some of the most beautiful sights you can see, so most likely it will be undoubtedly worth it if you prepare properly.
To help you prepare for your group travel through foreign territory, we’ve prepared a list of things to keep in mind so you can prepare effectively and efficiently to ensure you have both a good time and a successful trek.
Preparing For the Unexpected
One of the first things to consider if you are going to be hiking in a mountainous region is your experience with altitude sickness and the potential effects of it. While it is safe to assume that many people are able to travel to about a height of 8,000 feet without experiencing any symptoms of illness, this depends on the person and can vary heavily based on who is trekking.
For those who have never climbed or hiked to a high height ever, it may be worth looking into nearby mountain ranges to have practice hikes on. This is especially useful for getting your body used to the effects of altitude sickness, as oftentimes people are thrown off-guard by the physical illness that may result from being at an altitude that is especially out of one’s comfort zone.
How Can You Be Sure You are Experiencing Altitude Sickness?
Some of the most common symptoms are nausea, shortness of breath, and mild headaches. Unfortunately, these symptoms will only increase in intensity if they are ignored, so it is advised to pay careful attention to the potential effects of altitude sickness and to quickly descend if you or anybody else in your party begins to experience them.
Because of how everybody reacts differently to different environments, having many people in your party who don’t have experience with high altitudes can increase your group’s chances of being held back in the trip to receive medical care regarding illness. When deciding who you will be traveling with, it is advised to learn more about your trek mates and encourage them to take similar precautions to prepare for things that might otherwise come unexpectedly.
Make Sure You’re Traveling With a Good Group
One of the most important things to consider when planning a trek is the crowd with whom you’ll be traveling with. This can be a small group or a large one, but it’s advised that you travel with people who you’re familiar with and get along with, if possible.
For those who are signing up for a trek via an organization or some other sort of pre-configured situation, the tour guides you are trekking with are likely trained in conflict de-escalation and other methods to temper the mood of a group of travelers. However, even then it can be strenuous.
These types of conflicts that may happen don’t necessarily happen because people dislike each other or are aggressive; no, it’s typically the result of extreme weather and traveling conditions breaking down people’s endurance to the point where they feel reduced and agitated. Trekking trips and adventure travel are exhausting and often put your emotions and physicality to the test, meaning that you will only find success through staying prepared and being communicative. This is often in the middle of conflicts, the feeling of exhaustion that so often plagues trekking experiences.
Ensuring that you all stay hydrated and healthy is just as important as making sure the dynamic throughout the trip is consistently healthy. This is why you might want to meet up with the people you’re trekking with beforehand, if possible, to see what they’re like and prepare yourself for any dynamics that you might need to be in a certain headspace to interact with.
No Matter the Chemistry, People are Different
Another thing to consider when planning a trek with other people involved is that everybody has different needs and reacts differently to events and circumstances. To avoid conflict within your group trek, you must acknowledge this and be prepared to accommodate for everybody’s needs in your group—if you fail to do this, you leave your group trekking open to conflict and potential fallbacks with timing and efficiency. This can also put more strain on your group as a whole if you’re not prepared for it.
To promote transparency within your group travel initially is essential, so try to meet with your group before you leave on the trek or (at least) have a phone call to discuss any sort of accommodations that will need to be taken for certain individuals. Things such as mental illness and other conditions may have special procedures to be treated with that you may not know about, so coming in with the knowledge to help will promote an environment and overall dynamic of togetherness and fluidity.
Begin the Trail Before You Arrive
What do we mean by this? Well, it’s simple: if you’re somebody who does not actively pursue exercise and walking, it is helpful to give yourself a warm-up before heading out on an extensive trek. For some, this can mean taking daily walks in the park beginning two months before your trip or exploring your local area to find trails and mountains to hike as test runs.
Regardless of how you put this tip into practice, it’s important to be self-aware in your cardio. You’ll find that practicing exercise before committing your body to a long-term commitment will not only make the trek easier but less painful in the long-term for your body. Simply put, humans are not meant to do absolutely nothing before exercising our complete force, so be sure to inch your way there so the contrast is not as jarring.
If you don’t have the opportunity or resources to commit to exercising or other forms of preparation, try smaller things, such as riding a bike or walking to work instead of your daily commute. Both of these will require some planning in advance, but will largely help you in preparing for any trekking trips and group trekking you have planned.
Begin Using Walking Poles and Carrying Your Weight
An important distinguishing factor between daily cardio and trekking groups is the materials you’ll need to carry and utilize along the way. For example, walking poles and hiking bags are two things you’ll likely be carrying with you throughout your journey, so be sure to begin familiarizing yourself both with the weight of each of these and how it feels to use both while walking around.
Packing in advance can be helpful as well and using the bag and walking poles you have to walk around a local park. This might look funny, but it can be incredibly helpful for being able to exercise your foresight and see how much this added dynamic may change your trekking experience.
Overestimate the Difficulty
When familiarizing yourself with things such as hiking bag weight and terrain difficulty, it’s advisable to put extra things in your bag and make the road you’re traveling harder than the one you’ll actually be trekking on. This way, when you actually have to take the journey, you’ll be pleasantly motivated by the ease that you’re greeted with, making the overall hike not as tumultuous as you might have expected.
Have a Separate Bag of Essentials
Aside from the general packing that you’ll be doing (which we’ll elaborate on later in this article), you should have an extra bag with essentials that you can use in case of emergency.
What constitutes essentials? Water, energy bars, toothbrushes and toothpaste, aspirin, deodorant, a spare pair of clothes; anything that you would absolutely need if nothing else was available.
This separate bag will definitely help you when you’re between a rock and a hard place, providing you with your essentials no matter where you are. That way, in the event that a true emergency happens, you’ll be prepared for the worst and still be able to sustain.
Encouraging those in your party to also carry an extra bag with these essentials is incredibly helpful to make sure that everybody is prepared for the unexpected in different ways, an aspect of your trip that has the potential to save you in a moment of crisis.
Knowing What to Pack is Key!
Making sure that you’re packing the right things for your trip is of importance among all different types of trekking groups. Trekking groups will often collaborate and share a list between each other to make sure that everybody packs the same things and doesn’t forget anything super important. This may be a good practice to begin in your group if you want to make sure that everybody comes prepared.
Packing lightly, but efficiently is a must when you’re intentionally putting yourself among potentially harrowing conditions that can result from a trek.
To keep you and your group well-prepared, here’s a list of some essentials we recommend packing for a group trek:
- Good Shoes: You shouldn’t plan to bring just any pair of old shoes on your trek. Instead, you should be focusing on purchasing a pair of durable shoes specifically made for hiking. The specific needs you have may change from person-to-person (i.e. I need shoes that are easy on the foot because of my experience with arthritis), but you must do this research in advance. It may not seem like a big deal, but even after a few days of trekking, you will appreciate this tip above all else.
- Water Bottle (of at least 1L): You’re going to get thirsty on your trek and you will regret not bringing enough water. To ensure that you stay hydrated throughout, be sure to bring a water bottle that can contain at least 1L of water. Camelbacks are good for those who prefer the ease of just drinking from the tube, but they can put on extra weight that may not be necessary. It’s also advisable to couple this water bottle with a filter so you’re able to drink from any place you might end up in—the last thing you want to do is expose yourself to polluted water that may contain things that aren’t healthy for you.
- Sleeping Bag and Accompanying Sheets: Because you’ll be traveling quite high up in the mountains, you’ll want to make sure that not only do you have a sleeping bag that is well-insulated, but one that also pairs with solid sleeping sheets in case of harsh, cold temperatures. Oftentimes brands will specifically advertise these benefits, so be on the lookout for brands that fare well in harsh conditions.
- Many Pairs of Socks: You’ll likely be planning to bring many different types of clothing that provide you varieties of comfort depending on the situation, but don’t forget to pack plenty of socks. Many people make the mistake of not bringing enough pairs of socks and are dismayed to find out how wet their socks will get. Wet socks can lead to unwanted foot fungus which could definitely make your trip more unpleasant than it needs to be!
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