It’s a great big world, and you want to experience every inch of it, from South America to Africa and everywhere between. Here are some considerations to bear in mind when enjoying an outdoor adventure abroad.
Consider a Tour
Tackling unfamiliar terrain becomes a little easier when you have resources on your side. Signing on with a good tour removes the guesswork from your itinerary without sacrificing the excitement and spontaneity you crave. In fact, a well-planned tour gives you much greater freedom than you would have as a solo vagabond. For one thing, you get to pass on the logistical hassles to the experts and focus exclusively on enjoying the natural wonders you journeyed so far to see. For another, many of the best climbs and hikes can be accessed only via guided tour.
Learn Some Language Basics
It’s considered a courtesy to learn some standard phrases in the native language of the place you’ll be exploring. It’s also a smart safety precaution and, sometimes, a gateway to unique experiences.
Should you become separated from your crew, you might need to communicate with locals outside the tourism sphere. Know the basic directional phrases of the region’s language at a minimum. Bear in mind that each culture express distances, directions, and relational terms in its own way. And even if you are a native speaker of the language, each country—even each town—may have its own dialect. Brush up to avoid bafflement.
The better acquainted you are with the local worldview, the better off you’ll be. In addition to directions, make a list of those phrases you would need in an emergency. Look these up on your own before traveling, and confirm meanings with the tourism officials you interact with once you arrive at your destination.
Best of all, the more you attempt to immerse yourself in the local culture, the more likely the locals will be to help you explore off the beaten path.
Observe Customs, Show Respect
Wherever you go, you need to treat wild spaces with care; but cultural etiquette varies with region. Some sites, while open to the public for hiking and exploring, are sacred to indigenous cultures. Treating these places as recreation zones may be considered offensive, so tread carefully.
Know the proper decorum for all situations you might encounter on the trail. What is the protocol for emergency outdoor potty breaks? What table manners should you demonstrate at meal times?
Although most people who cater to international tourists will not expect you to abide by local custom, attempting to do so will distinguish you as a traveler, not just a tourist.
You don’t want to miss out on the climb of a lifetime because you were holed up with food-related illness. And it’s not just foodborne pathogens that invite tummy trouble. When we’re trying exotic fare for the first time, our uninitiated digestive just systems might not be up to the task. Try to keep a low culinary profile before heading out for the wilderness.
On the other hand, sampling local delicacies is an important aspect of travel. Just don’t schedule your dining adventure right before your backpacking expedition.
Know the Wildlife
Having good environmental awareness will improve your trip on two levels.
First, it’s easier to appreciate the flora and fauna when you’re able to identify it. Imagine the sights you could pass by unaware if you’re not informed and attentive.
Second, knowing what you might encounter along your route will help you to be prepared for it. Whether venomous snakes or allergy-inducing plants, you’ll want to manage these encounters as safely as possible.
Schedule Some Cultural Experiences
Navigating the world’s wilderness is an amazing pursuit. All the more so within the context of a little cultural enrichment. Plan to spend a few days checking out the urban area before you hit the backcountry. From museums to street fairs, from Thailand to Mozambique, take every opportunity you can to become a citizen of the world.