June 2015

June 2015
Blog of Education
Summer Travel Tips

Kevin Estela hiking in Squamish Valley

Kevin Estela atop the Stawamus Chief in Squamish Valley, British Columbia

It is that time of year again, SUMMER! If you are like me, you have been waiting for this season since the first leaves started to fall last autumn. Summer is when I look forward to for the vacation time I’ve earned, the opportunities for travel and the unlimited adventure possible with the correct planning and drive. As eager as I am for summer, I’m always aware of the dangers of travel and I take steps to mitigate bad experiences. It may be the season for much needed time off but your survival sense should never go on vacation. Even in paradise, bad things can happen; tsunamis hit remote beaches, active shooters breach malls, civil unrest pops up in urban centers and natural disasters like earthquakes can impact the most remote mountain tops. Be ahead of the game with these tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years.

1. The faintest ink is better than the strongest memory
This is an old Chinese proverb and it stands true. Learn to take good notes about your travel, before, during and after. When you have the chance to pick up a map, grab one. If a map isn’t available, snap a picture of a diagram with your camera or smart phone. After traveling to some of the most remote places in Iceland and parts of Scandinavia, I learned it was far easier to show a picture of a street name with foreign unpronounceable combinations of letters to someone than trying to recite the name of a street you barely remember. Never leave your hotel room without grabbing that notepad and pen from the table. Have the means to record important information.

2. Live in the moment but don’t get caught up in it
Awe-inspiring is one of the best words to describe nature’s beauty. The first time you watch an epic sunset, the moment you realize you alone are witnessing a predator in wild in THEIR element, the time you forget you are the foreigner, these are when you momentarily lose track of your awareness. Seems ironic, when you are most aware of something, you lose track of everything. This tunnel vision can be dangerous as it doesn’t take nature’s panoramas to induce it. An attractive stranger, an unbelievable deal, a chance to cut corners blinds us to hidden dangers. Remember your place in relation to these moments. Don’t get caught up in the moment, live in the moment…with all your senses. Keep your wits about you.

3. Get prepared
Some destinations may make preparedness difficult. If possible, travel with your kit but if impossible, kit yourself up with what you can find locally. Ever consider how you could replace your kit on a budget if it were lost by the airlines? Could you do it with $10, $100, $1000? Never travel without the means to “re-up” yourself should you lose all your gear. That means you should have at least $200 in cash if your essential gear is valued at that amount. A fun exercise is to think about how you could meet all your survival needs in unlikely scenarios. For example, in a gas station, what items are commonly available to make shelter? To procure food through trapping, fishing, hunting? In a restaurant, in a moment’s notice, what do you grab to escape a fire? Get prepared with the gear you need by running mental reps. These make it easier to do physically if you actually need to.

4. Know your surroundings before you are surrounded
The first tip in this list was to take notes and that tip goes hand-in-hand with this one, know your surroundings. Use technology to find out what trailheads, the front of the nearest hospital and reliable transportation looks like. Since taxi hold ups aren’t uncommon in certain countries, learn what the licensed cabs look like if this is your means of travel. When you finally make it into town, you should experience a sense of deja vu as real-life versions of the mental images burned into your memory collide. Since we think in pictures, remember the pictures of important destinations where you’re headed. The most important picture to remember is the map of the major roads taking you in and around your base of operations. You don’t have to remember every street, start with the largest and those traveling East/West and North/South. Approach orienting yourself logically when all the data points are overwhelming.

5. Trust your gut
I’ve never regretted being safe than sorry. We have thousands of years of gut instinct to fall back on when our ability to logically discern our surroundings fails us. Often, in foreign countries and where language barriers exist, our gut is the best option since it doesn’t rely on language comprehension. Knowing this, make sure to keep your gut sharp by avoiding alcohol in excess and staying alert with proper sleep. Awareness cannot be overstated and when that “spidey sense” or “hair tingling” feeling kicks in, listen to it! When something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Trust your gut!

I hope you’ll take these tips to heart and apply them this summer in your travels as well as in your day-to-day living. There is more to staying safe than these 5 tips and I suggest ¬†you look into reliable travel guides and websites with regular reviews of outfitters, restaurants, hotels, etc. Make sure to take plenty of photos and document the lessons learned from your travels to recall the next time summer comes around and the travel bug hits you again.

For more tips and tricks, check out www.facebook.com/estelawildernesseducation and follow @EstelaWildEd on Twitter