The Wrong Way And The Right Way To Plan An Adventure Trip

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You've picked the place that you would like to explore. It meets all the criteria you are looking for - amazing scenery, well marked trails, good camping grounds, easy transportation links to the starting point.

You have a good understanding of what you can expect as far as terrain and are physically ready for the trip.

Now comes a critical decision point. Self-guided or guided trip?

Should you choose to plan and do the trip by yourself or in the company of some friends and family, or should you out-source the day to day logistics of the trip to an adventure travel provider?

Guided trip with an adventure travel provider

A good and experienced adventure travel provider brings a great deal of value to the table:

  • Experienced guides familiar with the destination, the trails and the environment
  • Clearly mapped out itineraries that hit the highlights of the destination
  • Taking care of all the trip logistics such as transportation to the trailhead and permits for camping grounds
  • Company of like minded travelers to share the adventure with
  • Food planning and preparation is taken care of for you

So, for many, the natural inclination is to go with a travel provider.

The challenge for those with food allergies is the shared nature of the food planning and preparation.

The food aspects are easier if all of the meals on the trail are under the control of the travel provider.

In such a case, you may be able to work with the provider to incorporate strategies to minimize cross-contamination both on the trail and during food preparation.

But if the food is out of the control of the provider, as is often the case of hut-to-hut treks or treks on which you stop at a remote mountain village, there are very real concerns that impact those with food allergies.

In all cases, early and clear communication with the travel provider, up to and including the guides who will be on your specific trip is critical.

Guides are the equivalent of a Captain of a ship, and have significant oversight and control over the way things are done day to day on the trail.

The travel companies often try to insulate you from speaking directly to the guides and you often end up speaking to the local office representatives.

This would be the equivalent of someone with food allergies going to a restaurant and speaking to the maitre d' rather than directly to the chef. I think we all know the potential pitfalls of such once-(or twice)-removed conversations.

Self guided trip

So while a guided trip has great benefits to many, for those with food allergies,  a self-guided trip should be a serious consideration for one particular reason- you have total control over the packing, planning and preparation of the food.

I do not want to understate the amount of up-front planning and research that needs to be done for a self-guided trip. But with the appropriate gear, planning and skills it is very doable.

In addition, the availability of web sites, blogs, and public information on the internet, on pretty much any national park or well traveled destination is extensive.

However, one of the biggest sources of concern for backpackers and hikers is food planning and packing.

I would make the case that those with food allergies, who have to do food planning and packing as part of their daily lives, bring a significant advantage to this topic.

Best of both worlds

I do think there is a way to get the best of both worlds as you go forth on this journey. And that should be driven by the answer to the very important question "Have You Done Something Like This Before?"

If you have not, there are a some options to consider:

  1. Have the folks in your party, who do not have food allergies, go on a scouting trip with a travel provider to gather the information needed on the trip to prepare for a future self-guided trip
  2. Directly hire a guide and work with them to plan a private trip
  3. Leverage the experiences of others with food allergies who have done the trip before you to gain insights and lessons learned

The key thing to take away is that food planning, packing and preparation is a concern for everyone who goes on an adventure trip to a remote location.

Those with food allergies are particularly well positioned to address this concern since food planning, packing and preparation habits are part of the daily habits of those food allergies.

SafeBites » Travel

Hiking Makes You Happier. This remarkable observation of the obvious is for sure helpful for those who really, really need scientific studies to motivate them to get outdoors... which I am sure is not you, dear reader :-)

» Now that we have established the benefits of hiking, may I add that going in circles is also a good thing!

» Of course, if you feel like increasing your happiness quotient by visiting middle earth (I trust there are some Lord of the Rings fans here?), here is a suggestion for you.

SafeBites » Food

There are some things a food allergy parent immediately understands... Love this!

» Portable antihistamine in a liquid form may not be the best type for outdoor activities given the temperature variations. Now it is available in a powdered form.

» Food substitutions are key to success when adapting trail food for those with food allergies. Just picked a copy of the the Food Substitutions Bible- unfortunately not available in kindle format.

SafeBites » Gear

Hiking is a family friendly activity, and if your thing is ultra luxe pampering at night combined with spectacular day hikes, there are definitely places that can cater to you in the Alps.

» But hey, if your thing is the other extreme, here are some suggestions for getting that weight down for ultra-light backpacking.

» And once you've done that, packing and adjusting that backpack for comfort is something that is a good skill to have.

Actively looking for a container 5-1/2" long x 2" diameter to keep two EpiPens between 68-77 deg F when backpacking. Suggestions?

Hope you enjoyed this journal entry... By all means feel free to spread the outdoor love by forwarding this journal to people looking for adventure! You are, right? :-)

Anil John
Founder and Curator

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