Preparing for Active Travel

Active travel comes in many forms- biking through Italy?s wine country, white water rafting in Costa Rica, hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro and everything in between. Despite the variation in intensity, these trips they share a common bond. Whether your a novice adventurer taking a several day walking tour or a virtual pro who lives for your next adventure, you must adequately prepare for your trip or its likely to take its toll on both your body and your adventurous spirit.

Gathering Information

The first step in preparing is to gather as much detailed information about your trip as you can. If you are creating a customized trip, this is slightly easier as you can tailor it to your needs and preferences. For instance, you can start off with easier routes and work your way up to the longest walk or the most difficult rapid. If participating in a group tour for which the itinerary is predetermined, you (or better yet your travel planner) can contact the tour company regarding these details. A few important questions to ask include:

What is the breakdown of distance and intensity each day? For tours that include walking, biking, hiking and the like, this includes both the mileage and the terrain (pavement vs. ?off road? as well as inclines vs. flat or downhill). For water activities such as rafting and kayaking, check on the the level of rapids as well as the distance.

A-frame accommodations at Pura Vida Spa in Costa Rica

What type of accommodations will you have each night? The quality of sleep and relaxation you get on your down time might be quite different if you?re camping out as compared with a quality hotel or a nice B&B. Knowing this ahead of time can help you prepare mentally and practically in knowing what to bring.

What will the temperatures be like at this time of year and what type of clothing and footwear (if applicable) do they suggest?

Do you need any special equipment? If so, do they favor specific brands or types? Where can you purchase these, and what critical information do you need to know when choosing the one that best suits you?

Climbing gear

Preparing Your Body

As important if not more so than having the right clothing and equipment is being physically prepared. Knowing how rigorous each day is going to be provides have benchmarks for a starting point and ultimate training goal. Below are a few tips to help maximize your training:

Start slow – With excitement about your trip, it’s tempting jump into training with gusto. This might make for an exhilarating first training session, but will probably result in blisters, painful muscles, exhaustion and possibly injury afterwards and may slow down your training in the long run. This is particularly true if the activity is not something you often do (or do as a form of exercise, in the case of a walking trip).

Map out a plan and track your progress – create a tracking sheet that includes each week leading up to your trip with activity goals throughout the week. These goals should gradually increase in intensity. Track your progress. It may be helpful to enlist the services of a personal trainer in setting up your program.

Muddy terrain

Practice with a variety of terrain and weather conditions – You may well encounter rain, wind, fog and undesirable temperatures on your trip and you need to be prepared. If you?re walking, biking or hiking, you may be traversing through grass, gravel, dirt or mud and should create training routes that include these.

Cross-train – Make at least one workout per week something that does not focus on your core activity. This allows you to keep building your cardiovascular activity while giving key muscles a bit of a break. Perhaps this means a trip to an aerobics or dance class or the local pool. (Swimming is a great counter balance to walking, biking and hiking as it is a non-impact activity and can actually help your joints and leg muscles recover from the stress they?ve been undergoing).

Stretch, stretch, stretch– This can?t be stressed enough. Tight muscles often lead to injury. Start your workout with a light five minute warm up and then stretch gently to prevent injury during the rest of your session. Stretch after your workout for flexibility. Yoga is a great way to keep limber and cross-train for those who are likely to slack on their stretching.

Train with the equipment and clothing you?ll be using on your trip – Though its tempting, do not buy brand new footwear or clothing right before your trip. If not broken in, footwear an cause painful blisters and clothing could be uncomfortable or inhibitive.

Give yourself at least one to two days without training each week and lower your intensity the week before your trip. Doing your most intense workout right before your trip could result in muscle burnout and physical exhaustion for the start of your journey.


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