Congratulations! You’ve decided to take a break and see nature the way it was meant to be seen—outside of a backlit screen. It may seem intimidating to exchange your work bag for hiking boots and a backpack, but we’ve got you covered with some basic tips to help you prepare for an adventure of a lifetime.
Whether you’re planning a several day intensive trek or a beginner’s mountaineering adventure, the first steps to preparing for your trip is to increase your endurance and aerobic capacity. On the expedition, your days will consist of constant movement, usually with some additional weight on your back through changing inclines. This will vary drastically from your typical daily routine when you only carried your laptop bag on your back.
Start with easy, long walks to prepare your body for days of physical activity. Other types of cardio exercise like swimming, biking, and running should be mixed in with the long walks once you start adjusting to the non-sedentary lifestyle. If possible, these exercises should be completed on an incline. If you don’t have access to hills, you can substitute with stairs or a treadmill set at a steep incline. Depending on your physical fitness levels, your training plan and prep time will vary. You can find sample training plans from experts on REI.com or from the American Alpine Institute
Outside of aerobic exercise, you should also prep your body with basic strength training practices to target lower body and core muscles, especially if your trip requires carrying supplies for the duration of the expedition. Exercises like lunges and squats target the muscles you’ll be using to trek up a mountain. Your core will also be an important muscle to strengthen to protect your back from the additional weight of your pack. You can find some videos and recommendations on Backpacker.com.
Getting your gear
Before you embark on your journey, ensure that you have the proper, comfortable gear for your trip’s activities. This could mean everything from breaking in your hiking boots to testing your loaded backpack. Temperature could be a major factor in your trip, especially since weather will tend to fluctuate as you ascend and descend elevation levels. Items likes non-cotton, sweat-wicking clothing, fleeces, and jackets can be carried to account for chilly nights or high-altitudes. Socks are also an important piece of clothing to overpack—after all, with hours of strenuous activity on your feet, you probably won’t want to rewear pairs. Finally, check and see if you need any other miscellaneous gear. Hiking poles could be helpful for maintaining balance and a headlamp can come in handy for early sunrise treks. In fact, we’ve compiled a must-pack list and it’s got some great advice from our frequent travel family.
Elevation and altitude
Chances are you don’t live in a city thousands of meters above sea level, which is likely what your adventurous vacation will entail. As air becomes thinner, physical activity becomes significantly more difficult. Thus, slow and steady climbing will become necessary to adjust your body during the trip, regardless of your fitness level. This key change also emphasizes the importance of ensuring your training includes enough aerobic exercise. If possible, training at higher elevation levels or carrying additional weight at lower elevation can help with acclimating your body to the upcoming changes of oxygen levels.
The lack of oxygen can also lead to altitude sickness as your body adjusts to higher levels. Give yourself enough time to acclimate, even if that could mean arriving in a higher elevation city first. If you’ve booked an expedition, time for acclimatization will most likely be built into your itinerary, but you’ll want to confirm. For more specific tips and suggestions, reach out to our team.
During your training and your trip, ensure you stay well hydrated and properly fed. Your diet does not necessarily have to change, but you could incorporate more protein as muscles strengthen. Although most expeditions incorporate healthy snacks and meals so you stay in great shape to complete your adventure, it is worth it to bring some of your favorite snacks that can be packed easily – like protein bars, nuts, trail mixes, and, of course the most important, chocolate!
As when all challenging tasks loom closer, you may begin to feel nervous and excited. You will already have prepared to push your body past your normal comfort levels during your training, so your mental endurance will be ready for your actual expedition. No matter how you feel before going in, just know that your guides will be there to ensure you have the best possible experience and help you along the way. Trust your guide, they are knowledgeable about the places where they work and, most likely, have completed the trip many times before.
If you want to learn more about what to expect for each type of adventure and find a great fit for your level of experience, check out our expeditions offerings. Or, take a look at these 3 hikes perfect for the intermediate-level trekker.
Photos taken from: unsplash.com