General Tips for Safe Travelling
We often get asked for general travel advice in the office, so we thought we'd compile some general - hopefully common sense! - travel tips for all our travellers heading out to all our destinations.
1. Do your research
First things first, research your destination before you go. Many of our destinations are in the developing world, and have customs and cultures that may be unfamiliar to you. The more clued-in you are, the less likely you are to be caught by surprise in-country!
2. Back up your documents
Make copies of your important documents (passport, travel insurance, visas...) and save these somewhere in the cloud. Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud are all great services to make sure that no matter what, you will always have access to your documents when travelling.
3. Stash your valuables
Always lock your valuables in a safe place. Accommodation on our trips includes lockable spaces for your valuable items, so don't skip the opportunity to use them.
This also applies whilst out and about - don't flash your valuables around, and make use of camera straps, money belts and other accessories to ensure you have a firm grip on all your expensive belongings.
4. Pack light
The number 1 mistake that participants on our trips do every year is packing too much stuff. It's very difficult to pack light, we know - but there's nothing worse than getting home from your trip with a bag full of unused, clean clothes!
5. Leave excess items at home
Related to packing light - don't bring unnecessary items with you. This could be anything from the extra items that aren't required on your kit list, to unnecessary sentimental items, to excessive clothes... just leave it at home.
The more unnecessary items you bring with you, the more likely you will be to lug around things you don't need or won't use - and the more likely it is to get lost, broken or stolen.
6. Don't take unlicensed taxis
Be wary of accepting unsolicited help from people you don't know - and never take unlicensed taxis, no matter how short of a trip you're making.
7. Don't consume banned substances
Hopefully this is obvious, but taking drugs or other banned substances in-country can lead to serious trouble with the law. In some destinations, banned substances come with extremely severe penalties and long jail sentences. It's not worth the risk.
8. Tell your bank you're travelling
Most banks now make it really easy to inform them that you're travelling - even allowing you to do it via their banking apps or online banking sites. It takes 2 minutes, and can be the difference between accessing your money abroad, and being stuck without cash.
9. Always get a receipt
Perhaps a less intuitive tip - but make sure you get receipts for purchases and (especially) money exchanges when you're in-country. This is important in ensuring you're not being shafted, short-changed or a victim of fraud.
10. Stay in touch with others regularly
Remember to keep touching base with the rest of your group while you're out and about. This is to ensure your safety, but also a good idea to make sure you don't miss out on any important challenge briefings!
11. Carry emergency cash
Although most destinations have ATMs and bank branches where you'll be able to withdraw money, it's always a good idea to carry emergency cash with you when you travel - and keep it somewhere safe. You never know whether you're likely to get caught short.
12. Don't wander off
Try to stick to marked paths, stay in groups and don't go off on your own - especially at night.
13. Wear in your shoes
This is key. You should not, under any circumstances, arrive in-country for a challenge, without having worn-in your footwear. It is vitally important that you have worn-in both walking boots (for treks) and running shoes (for marathons) before you start the challenge - otherwise you risk severe discomfort at best, or serious injury at worst.
14. Look up from your phone!
Please don't spend the whole time out in-country observing the world and its incredible natural beauty through a phone screen. The world is out there - and while, sure, you'll want to take photos, you'll want to cherish each moment and put your phone away.