Friday, February 21, 2014

Preparing for an Adventure Vacation

Adventure!! Just the sound of it makes me always giddy like a child! An adventure vacation is something I look forward to as a prize of hard work. 
Exploring Antelope Canyon, Page, Arizona

Why do I love adventure vacation? 

Adventure a lot of the times gives us "ohhh-ahhh"- when we connect what we had learned previously from reading or from school to what we see and experience. But what is more fascinating for me is the, "hmmmm, why is that????????" part of adventure, where so much questions are framed in our minds. We talked about it, we discoursed about it, and we would go back home searching for answers to our queries. If we could not find answers, it's time to set up an EXPERIMENT about it, if doable. An adventure in nature brings "WONDER". 

Now, how do we make most of our adventure vacation so that we go home inspired, stronger, and maybe wanting more?

I know, some of us pride about "little planning" vacation, or "spur of the moment" vacation, or being spontaneous. Somehow, I was kind of like that also before, when our vacations were still more about city and resorts. It's easier to play it by ear when you are going to a place with almost everything in it. Until...... the great outdoors lured us into "adventure vacation"

When we slowly transitioned into adventure vacation 2007, I must admit we were so much a newbie that we made a lot of mistakes. Thankfully, those mistakes were not bigger than our love for wandering that they did not stop us from exploring our natural world. Instead, they were mistakes that made us learn and made us more equipped for the next one, giving us more fun.

Here are some of the adventure vacation preparation tips that we have learned through the years.

1. Research for the best hikes that cater more to your interest.

Do you prefer challenging hikes? Or do you prefer easy hikes? Or do you have no preference whether it is easy or challenging as long as it is super awesome and scenic? Know which kind you would enjoy more. When you know your limits and interests, it is easy to search and prepare for it.

For us, it is about the scenic wonders. 
South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

We do not look down on easy hikes. 

We do not coward away from challenging hikes either because we know we could prepare for it.

It's about, "I really want to experience grandeur of nature there!" How do we know we wanted to experience the place?  Haha, by reading and watching featured places in National Geographic and other Outdoor magazines/channels.

Once we have found out the places we wanted to explore, we search for more detailed description, such as: mileage, change in elevation, type of terrain, weather, environment conditions, challenges, etc. Knowing a little bit some possibilities of what we will be into, we prepare for them. We prepare physically ( if it is challenging), mentally and emotionally ( if it is VERY CHALLENGING, as there are some hikes which are more mentally and emotionally challenging than physically challenging), spiritually ( praying for safety ), and materially ( appropriate clothing and gears). 

2. Plan your itinerary.

Planning for your itinerary will prepare you for full fun exploration of the place. That is when you will know the gears to bring, such as ice trekkers if trail is hard and icy, waterproof hiking shoes if hiking on watery or snowy conditions, what layered clothing are necessary and much more. Adventure is so much fun, only if you come prepared for the elements. 

Harding Icefield Trail, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

3. Choose the right car and car rental company.

Once you have prepared for an itinerary and have done research on the kind of road conditions and terrain, it is best to choose the right car to rent and car rental company. Does the terrain need high clearance vehicle? Does it need 4-wheel drive? Does the car rental company allows unpaved road driving?  Does the car rental company allows for drop-off at a different airport if flying out airport is different? Are you a big family, maybe you need a rental caravan? There are many factors to consider,  and only you will know these factors from advance research and careful planning. There are many car rental companies, but there may only be a few that would serve your needs. Click here to check some of the options that may fit your self-drive holiday needs.

4. Check for more interesting places that could be your scenic stop-over on your way to your major activities.

If you love scenic wonders and is into taking pictures like us, this is a must! :) You simply do not want to miss scenic wonders that though may not be part of your major adventure activities, but is perfect for a place to get awe and wonder.
Mono Lake South Tufa State Reserve, Lee Vining, California
One example I could think of is Mono Lake in Lee Vining California. This is one of my favorite places for awe and wonder, but it is not the place of our major adventure. This is a very easy hike, that maybe, a lot of hikers who prefer challenge would always pass this up because as they check on it, it is a level hike, ZERO CHANGE in elevation. Now, others would call that a walk, not a hike, haha! BUT, as I mentioned earlier, we go out for awe and wonder, not necessarily for physical challenge. If the awe and wonder would challenge us physically, we are up to it. However, if it is as easy as Mono Lake, well, it's time to bring the tripod and enjoy photography, haha!

Mono Lake is one of the places where I could enjoy photography with a tripod, haha, because it is such an easy hike I could afford carrying an extra weight!

Where is our major adventure when we are at Mono Lake? Yosemite National Park
Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite National Park, California
 and the High Sierra!
Hiking @ Twenty Lakes Basin, Yosemite High Sierra

5. Don't only prepare for clothing and gears, also prepare for nutrition rich hiking foods and hydration pack.

Unlike city and resort vacations, an adventure vacation means to be in the wilderness during the exploring and adventure. You do not want to find a restaurant in your trail, you are there to enjoy, and explore nature in its purest form. However, not having the right foods may not last you long. I know some who got phobia from their first adventure simply because they either: did not have the right shoes, not appropriately clothed, were not physically equipped, or, DID NOT HAVE FOODS AND WATER! You could however enjoy hot meals during breakfast and dinner when you are back to your hotel or place of lodging.

6. Check for places of lodging or hotels that is nearest to your outdoor adventures. 

Although staying a little bit further or closer to nearby cities may be cheaper and/or have more luxuries, but you do not want to waste so much time on the road driving that you'd end up having very little time to explore because most of your day is spent on driving and nothing else.

7. Make hotel reservations first before securing a flight.

Most flights have no cancellation policy. If they have, the price is usually more than doubled. If you make flight reservations first because the air fare deal is so tempting, you may find out there are no more hotels or places of lodging available. Unless you are willing to go camping, you may end up cancelling your flight and lose some money. :(

Most hotels that are closest to places of major outdoor adventure such as inside National Parks need at least 6 months to reserve because rooms get filled in so quick. Planning is the key. Once you have made reservations, you can start looking for air fare.

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

8. Have a checklist.

Others have travel checklist. Keep also an adventure holiday checklist in addition to your travel checklist. A First aid kit is a must in your backpack, and more survival kits in the car.

Even though we may be hiking together, but hubby and I have first aid kits in our back pack, because we always do not know what could happen in the trail, and you do not want to be left alone without first aid with you. 

Of course, in addition to first aid kit, are some basic survival gears such as: compass, gps, thermal blanket ( this could be your reflector too if in case you get lost), etc.
Adventure Vacation? LET'S GO! can click on all the pictures above to enlarge~.
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  1. OMG these pictures are breathtaking! If I were in that cave, I would freak out. It's gorgeous! :D

  2. the memories you have in that place is magnificent. i like how you have great pictures of the wonders of nature.

  3. Spectacular! I'd love to see the Antelope Canyon someday.

  4. I really admire your undying love for outdoor adventure. I wish my penchant for travel comes back. I just don't have the desire to plan. Hope someday soon, I'll get that desire back.

    Great shots by the way, as always. i enjoyed viewing the spectacular scenery.

  5. Love, love, love your enthusiasm, betchai. So many colors in your pictures and so much of joy and insight in your learnings. There is only one thing I can say - Hats off, YOU inspire!

  6. Wow spectacular as always!! Love love love how you wrote this. You are the expert in travel adventure! And I shall never tire looking at those "bluetiful" shots!!!:)

  7. what we do whenever we are new to a country we're visiting is we're listing the places we wanted to visit first and then shopping lists is a must as well. then how to transportation and the none day to just unwind for a bit

  8. Sis, your idea of a vacation is a GRAND :-) I would not mind joining you and your husband. I will help you carry your cameras :-) it will take me forever to catch up on you guys 'coz I am sure I need to catch my breath right away :-)

  9. It is important to be prepared for hiking trip especially the gears to use, the cars that are suited in the condition and place. Gotta love the places though.. :)

  10. I want to join you in your next adventure.