Being an active traveler means eventually understanding that your safety on some types of trips can be jeopardized. High–intensity hiking, cycling, and climbing can be very physically demanding and it takes some preparation in terms of building up shape and stamina. If you have always dreamt of backpacking around the world make sure you consider at least some of these factors that can influence your trip quality and safety.
The best time to physically prepare for your trip is now. The sooner you start working on your stamina, the better. Even if your trip is a year out, you can start building your fitness now. It’ a better and safer approach to start working out slow and steady over a many months. Injuries become more likely when you try to make up for poor strength and fitness in the last month. Also, there is a possibility of a physical burnout which is the last thing you need on your long-awaited and expensive trip.
THE RIGHT TYPE OF EXERCISE
Since active trips mostly involve a lot of day-lasting hiking and walking, the thing you need to work on is your physical stamina. Probably the worst feeling you can experience is finally making it to a place, mountain top, or any other dream spot and not being able to fully enjoy the experience because you’re exhausted and just thinking about having a nap in the nearest hotel. The best type of activity for boosting stamina is moderate to high–intensity cardio exercising. This kind of aerobic exercising, like jogging, running, swimming, walking on the Stairmaster machine, dancing, kickboxing, and others are perfect for enhancing body strength and endurance.
Taking up running, for example, a few months before the trip can be a great way to get in shape and also have some fun in the process. Jogging is great for beginners, since it doesn’t require any previous physical strength or athletic skill. It is suitable for any age and practical for any lifestyle to be incorporated in. What’s more, it gives you the opportunity to meet new people, other running enthusiasts and sports lovers. Running communities are big and are great support in terms of offering advice, sharing people’s experience or just being there for motivation.
PREPARE FOR THE UNEXPECTED
An active trip can bring along more inconveniences than expected. For example, cycling or climbing while preparing for a trip is not the same as actually experiencing the endeavor with all of the baggage, backpacks or additional gear. Small changes in your everyday routine can help you build up strength in your leg and shoulder and abdominal muscles to help you carry whatever you need.
The last few weeks before heading off travelling, try walking around with a bag filled with a couple of bottles of water. Start with short distances and less water, then slowly increase the distance and the amount until you feel strong enough not to be burdened by what you are carrying. Simultaneously, try thinking about your posture, which is very important for strengthening all of the supporting muscles in your back. When walking, running and just moving around, lift your head up, pull your tummy in and consciously keep your body straight and firm. This small change can make a big difference after a long day’s hike on your travels.
BE PRUDENT AND MAKE A PLAN
One of the positive sides of physically preparing for a trip is that it involves a clear and tangible goal. Not only do you know the exact date of your departure, but there’s a lot at stake if you miss out the opportunity to truly experience travelling.
The best thing to do is use this motivation and make a realistic and achievable training plan to keep you on the right track and disciplined. It depends on your preferences and abilities, but the best advice is to make a combination of cardio exercising interspersed with anaerobic activity, finished with relaxing and stress – relieving activity, like yoga or stretching. Organizing yourself at least three months beforehand will also help you keep track of your progress and give you a bigger picture of the overall success you’ve achieved.
PICKING THE RIGHT GEAR AND EQUIPMENT
For active travel, proper footwear is essential. No previous physical preparation can replace the comfort and safety of hiking trainers, proper clothes, or other additional gear (like hiking poles, daypack or a backpack). There are resources like Jogging Addiction, or other sites of similar content, which offer useful information on proper running and hiking equipment, depending on your needs and preferences.
A common mistake is buying everything just before your trip. Make sure to actually wear and test any of your travel equipment long before travelling to avoid any possible blisters, chafing, or other uncomfortable side effects of wrong fitting, which can literally ruin your holiday.
Thinking in advance is always a smart choice in any case, and in case of active travel, essential for turning it into a wonderful and memorable experience. Understanding problems you may encounter and dealing with them beforehand may be crucial for creating a dream-like, effortless trip you will remember for it’s beautiful moments, not struggles and pain.