When it comes to planning an adventure, peeps generally fall into one of two camps – the avid planners and the more spontaneous souls. There’s no right or wrong. But depending on how far away or complex your adventure is, sometimes a bit of a plan can be useful.
So here are our 20 steps for how to plan an adventure.
1. Choose an activity
Is there something that’s sparked your curiosity? Maybe hiking a long-distance coastal path in the UK or munro bagging, cycling in the Americas, SUPing through the Greek Islands, kayaking in the Scandinavian fjords or ellipti-go-go-ing your way around Australia.
Find a method of travel that suits your style, and begin your planning around that.
2. Pick a season
Do you like to escape winter and keep your vitamin D levels topped up, or are you a snow bunny? Deciding what temperature you like to adventure in is one of the first things that will help you narrow down when to go, and where.
3. Choose a country
Is there somewhere that’s renowned for the activity you’ve been eyeing up? Is there an existing trail that you want to follow or, create your own (where there’s a will, there’s a way on this one)? That place you spend the most time reading about online… that’s probably the place to go.
4. Suss out how long you want to (or can) be away for
Most peeps get a certain amount of holiday a year, so ask yourself whether you want to keep a bit of it back, or go for the full hog and use it at once? If you’re short on time, consider how much time you want to spend travelling vs how much time you’d like to be exploring. Don’t forget to allow any time for adjusting to jet lag and altitude etc.
5. Check visas
Check out whether you need a visa for where you’re going. Make sure any visa needed will accommodate the timeframe you want to be away for, and that if you need to pay for them, they won’t blow your budget before you’ve even headed off.
6. Check other red tape
Although we generally don’t take the media hype too seriously (they have a tendency to exaggerate things!), make sure there’s no reason you shouldn’t visit (e.g. political issues, medical scares). And if there is and you decide it’s just not worth the risk, then don’t throw any research away! Instead, save it safely in your adventure file and see if you can do the same activity and season you’ve chosen, but in a different country instead.
7. Research logistics
Get your research hat on in more detail – from flights to in-country travel, injections, accommodation, food. Knowledge kills fear… so squash any fears by being aware of everything you need to know to get you to the start of the journey. That said, don’t overplan and freak yourself out reading about the rare form of disease which there is a 0.0000001% of you contracting.
Before booking your flights, do a sanity check on trip costs and daily budget required to check you can afford to go. If you find that it’s going to cost more than you’d originally anticipated, DON’T let this be a barrier to going! It might just mean that you need to be more creative with finding some extra funds before you go – do an overhaul and sell anything lurking in the back of your wardrobe, consider borrowing kit rather than buying it, if any birthdays coming up then see if friends or family would generously consider contributing to your trip (rather than getting you something you don’t need!).
9. Announce that you’re going
If you haven’t already, then announce your trip on social media, to family & friends….whatever works for you, but tell enough people that you’ll then feel more accountable and it’s harder to back out.
10. Get booking!
Wahooooooo, do it! Book your flights and the first couple of nights’ accommodation to get you on your way.
11. Sort any visas/injections needed
You’ve done the research but now it’s time to get it all sorted. Make sure you do this well ahead of time so there’s no crazy frantic antics just before you go!
12. Create your kit list
Once your kit list is created, buy, borrow and beg as needed – and remember you’re part of an incredibly generous and supportive women’s community (that’s us, FYI) so start here! And check out your local Adventure Queens group too.
13. Plan your route
Depending on what your trip involves, you might not need to do this in crazy detail, but for some of you this will be crucial! Either way, do a shout-out to the group to see if others have been where you’re going in case they’re able to help, or knows someone that might.
14. Safety & communication
Consider how you’ll keep in touch with people and who will be your main point of contact on the road. If you’re going on your own and for a longer trip, this will be hugely important for those times when you need a friendly voice. And it’ll be how you’ll call for help if needed in an emergency.
15. Set up profiles
Consider setting up profiles on sites like Couchsurfing and Warmshowers. They’re a great way to meet people in the local area, keep your accommodation costs down and have a warm shower, if you’re mainly planning on camping.
16. Skills sessions
Depending on what your trip involves, and if you’re on your own or with others, consider whether you need to brush up on any skills – first aid, water safety skills, bike maintenance course, how to repair kit etc…
17. Documenting it all
Whether you want to share your adventure with others, or just keep it for yourself to look back on, think about how you want to document the journey. And what will be feasible when you’re on the road. It might be as simple as posting on social media, setting up a blog, creating daily videos for yourself, writing in a diary…. again – there’s no right or wrong, just whatever works for you.
18. Name it!
If you’re on a human-powered trip that involves something more than just you (like a bike), make sure you name that ‘thing’. It might sound odd, but when you’re having a bad day and bordering on breaking up with your bike (or whatever it might be) then this will help you bond with that object, and see the light on the other side.
19. Test ride
Before heading off, try to do a test ride if possible, to check that everything works and feels right… largely that all of your kit fits into your bag(s)! Go for a night under the stars with your camping kit. It’ll help with your confidence and help you see and deal with any immediate kit issues.
20. And it’s time to GOOOOOOOO…..
Even for the avid planners, there’ll be some things that you just can’t plan for. Do a sanity check that you’ve got the main things ticked off, but always be open to changing your plans if opportunities come up (e.g. you meet others that are going in a different direction). Know that you will never feel ‘ready’, so just be ready to learn from the unexpected, HAVE FUN, and GOooooooo!