Planning and research are key to any successful adventure and should never be underestimated, especially if you are going somewhere a little sketchy. So I thought I would share my planning process with you. The following is the process I have used for several trips in the past and others I am planning now for the future.
Guide Books. These exist for all kinds of trips and adventures. From simple travel guides to extensive books on particular areas or trails and should form a core piece of your research. Typically I will buy a blue travel guide or a guide book for a trail. These are normally available but for some more rugged or obscure trips there may be nothing around.
Maps. These are available for most trips, even if I don't plan on taking them on a hike I always buy them for the planning and as a souvenir.
Forums/Facebook Groups. These can be useful but as with all information on the internet, treat some with a pinch of salt.
Google. The main tool. For those more remote regions or trails, sometimes this is the only tool available.
Google Earth/Maps. Sometimes very useful for looking at the satellite images of an area or terrain.
Youtube. Similarly for many remote areas where books or maps are not available you may find a Youtube video or two on the area or trail you are visiting.
Firstly I start by using the above research tools to gather the following basic information:
Trip Name: Type: Group/Solo
Distance: xx miles
Start/End Locations: Wildlife:
Country Call Code:
Now I have decided on the above information we can also answer the following
Time Of The Year: Maybe down to weather/temp or it could be wildlife related, e.g. when mosquito's are best Temp Range Day: xx Temp Range Night: xx
Equipment Considerations: Based on distance and terrain you may have some specific equipment requirements.
First Aid Modifications: Over and above the basic first aid kit, is there any extras or changes I need.
Duration: How many days
Create An Itinerary
Now we have all the information I typically create a full day by day itinerary for the trip and then book any flights, trains, buses etc. An itinerary is also vital to pass on to someone else together with any emergency contact numbers/details. It is essential for someone else to know where you are going and when you are expected to arrive.
Create A Gear List
A gear list is so very important. Sitting in your tent at the end of a long days hike realising you have forgotten something is not a pleasant feeling. A gear list provides a method of ensuring you take a specific item for each category of item needed and acts as a packing list. I cannot stress the importance, forgetting something on a day hike is a nuisance, forgetting something on a long trip could be very uncomfortable or at worst life threatening.
You have to plan for these. You should have emergency plans for yourself, alternative routes/options in case things get tough or don't go to plan. Remember to give your emergency details/instructions to a friend or family member too. It may be as simple as saying to someone if I don't get here by this date and contact you then phone this number and report me missing.
To allow everything to make sense, here is the information from my recent Australia trip.
Trip Name: Cooloola Great Walk
Government URL: https://findapark.npsr.qld.gov.au/parks/cooloola/cooloola-great-walk-track Distance: 100 km
Duration: 5 days Start/End Locations: Noosa North Shore Car Park - Carlos Sand Blow Car Park
Wildlife: Main danger is poisonous snakes and spiders, will see lizards, birds etc
Mobile Reception: Patchy
River Crossings: No
Country Call Code: +61
Popularity: Not many people
Search/Rescue: No helicopter access, not popular route, not advisable to just wait for another hiker
Time Of The Year: September (early spring), rainwater tanks should have water and cooler for walking.
Temp Range Day: 20C-30C
Temp Range Night: 10C - 20C
Equipment Special Considerations: Go lightweight, will be tough on sandy trail, gaiters needed. Trail runners are fine.
First Aid Modifications: Snake bite bandage and insect bite cream
Water Sources: No natural water sources on route, only rainwater collection tanks at hiker camps.
I used the above information to plan the trip and decide on my gear list.