As experienced travellers, we like to keep things simple:
- There are airlines and airports we avoid using due to regular known problems that occur.
- We avoid unnecessary indirect flights or connection times that are too short for a comfortable transfer. No one wants a stressful flight wondering if your luggage is going to make the transfer!
- We use regional airports for clients if it’s possible and convenient.
Passport – specific requirements for your trip are contained on the relevant trip webpages (if in doubt ask). In general, when travelling, ideally your passport should have a min of 6 months validity on your date of departure and have 2 clear pages (available for stamping).
Flight tickets – paper tickets are rare these days; all e-tickets. All you really need to board your flight is your passport and PNR Reference No (which we provide you with). We either provide your Boarding Passes (by email) or you check in on line yourself (or at the airport).
Travel Insurance – make sure you have your travel insurance Emergency tel number to hand. Travel insurance is mandatory for our trips; we will ask for proof of cover.
Nothing will spoil your trip more than having health problems. Some careful thought is therefore recommended about what may happen. Knowledge of your own body should be sufficient for you to prepare a decent personal First Aid kit. You don’t have to be a Doctor or medical professional to be well prepared medically for an adventure trek, just a little thought.
Plan thoughtfully and ensure that you have:
- Adequate travel insurance
- A personal First Aid kit (see below)
- Up to date and appropriate vaccinations for your trip (see below).
- Considered having a dental check up prior to travel.
Food hygiene standards in third world countries are less than what you are used to. The change in diet and standard of hygiene is almost certainly going to lead to a change of bowel movement. The question is, to what degree! Travellers’ diarrhoea is very common, especially in hot countries. Be ready for it! Read more>>>
UK citizens should have been given the NHS vaccination schedule from childhood, which includes Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio. Some travel vaccinations can be obtained on the NHS FREE of charge and they include Hep A, Typhoid and Cholera.
For other travel related vaccinations such as Rabies and Yellow Fever, you should seek professional advice.
There are no vaccines for Malaria; tablets. Seek advice as what is prescribed very much depends on where you are going (and in some cases the region of that country). Preventative medicine for Malaria is constantly changing.
The following websites are excellent references:
FitforTravel – Vaccinations List (NHS)
Travel Doctor Vaccines (UK)
Personal First Aid Kit
This is a suggested list of what you might consider to carry. Build your own pack around your own known ailments. It is not exhaustive and you should adapt your kit to your own needs/wishes.
- Zovirax, cold sores
- Lip balm, preferably sun protective
- Crepe bandage
- Safety pins
- Cold/Flu capsules
- Imodium, diarrhoea
- Strepsils or similar, throats
- Ibuprofen, pain inflammation
- Paracetamol, pain killer/headache
- Asprin, sore throat/various
- Dioralyte, dehydration
- Gaviscon, indigestion
- Insect repellent
- Zinc oxide tape, for blisters
- Compede, for blisters
- Melonin Pads for injuries
- Diamox, related to high altitude (see High Altitude tab)
National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC)
Keep any medical kits (especially comprehensive ones) well hidden in your hold luggage when flying, especially on domestic flights in Asia, Africa and Southern America. Officials can often see them as valuable (which they are!) and they could be taken away from you for whatever reason they wish to make up; avoid the temptation.
If you want or need to take prescribed medicine out of the country, you should contact the appropriate authority in your home country for advice. In the UK, consult the Govt’s webpage https://www.gov.uk/travelling-controlled-drugs. It is also worth checking on any restrictions for those drugs in your destination country as well those you are transiting.
Fitness and Training
Fitness is subjective and the perception that you need or have to be super fit to complete some Challenges is simply not true.
Whilst this may appear an obvious statement, train for what you have taken on. Fitness centres and gyms are good places to increase your fitness but they cannot replicate much of what you do on the trip. Riding a bike on roads for example is far more beneficial and realistic than a bike machine in a gym unless the weather is absolutely rubbish! Similarly, treadmills will not replicate trekking up hills, on uneven ground with boots on and a 6kg daysack.
‘Breaking in’ clothing and equipment (such as a daysack) is as much a part of physical preparation as the body is.
The majority of people who exercise regularly in some form will be well on their way to being ready for most trips. It is a simple case of stating that your training should be relevant. The fitter and stronger you are when you go, the more likely you are to find it easier and therefore more enjoyable. No collapsing at the end of the day in a heap!
To provide a training programme for each individual is unrealistic given the infinite variety of starting fitness levels, experience, ages and ability. That said, by all means call us for advice. 01529 488159 or 07725 943108.
Interested in our Training Walks in the Peak District? They are FREE of charge.
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Advice here is unbias – we do not sell travel insurance.
TIP! As soon as you book any trip, investigate, decide and buy your travel insurance.
Why? Because even half decent policies will cover you for cancellation of your trip from the date of purchase, not just the period of your cover.
Adequate travel insurance should be considered an integral part of your trip. It is mandatory on our trips (we do not sell it) and we will ask for proof of cover. It should never be a case of ‘you can’t afford it‘ but a case of ‘you can’t afford to be without it‘; accidents happen. Some of our personal experience Case Study facts.
To be adequate, your policy MUST cover you for:
- Medical emergencies including rescue and repatriation to UK.
- Trekking or trekking peaks or other appropriate activity and to the maximum altitude that you are trekking to even if you are only there for just a few minutes!
- Make sure that your ‘missed departure’ section covers the cost of a one way flight home from your destination. If it doesn’t, consider increasing it, using a policy that does or be prepared to pay the extra!
- Insurance companies are unlikely to send you money. Unless you are in hospital, they are likely to expect you to pay and claim. Therefore, make sure that you have the means to fund (or at least have access to funds), for example, a flight home. Credit cards are an obvious choice for this. Always carry one that has adequate funding capacity even if it is only for emergencies.
- If you do have cause to make a claim, call your insurance company immediately (or as soon as possible; don’t delay). They will give you advice. Phone calls (even from a mobile) are generally a claimable cost. Keep all paperwork and receipts related to the claim, take photos if appropriate, videos/images of delayed flight information, etc…you are highly likely to need them to support any claim.
- Purchase your insurance policy as soon as you can after booking a trip. Insurance usually covers you for cancellation of your trip prior to departure due to injury or illness. It starts as soon as you have purchased it, not just for the duration of your trip! The vast majority of travellers leave their insurance to the last minute!
- Consider an annual policy if you intend to travel more than once in a calender year; cheaper.
- Check policies you may have with banks or building societies; some are not geared for adventure travel.
Here are some companies that some of our previous clients have used before and found their cover to be adequate for their needs. Make sure that you check the policies yourself for what YOU want it for:
Easy site to use, set up by travellers and a good place to start.
Add sections onto the policy, step by step, and see the premium change as you do.
Adventure Pack and Extreme Adventure Pack cover just about anything you need for our trips.
The annual multi-trip policy is excellent value; worth a look if you’re likely to travel twice in a 12 month period.
British Mountaineering Council
5 levels of cover, right up to climbing Mt Everest!
Need to be a member of the BMC (additional cost).
Less flexible in its approach to what’s included but provides good cover.
Insure and Go
Another easy site to use. Different levels of cover with add on’s if you want/need them.
Removing the excess payments looks good value as does the Annual policy verses a single trip if relevant.
We would suggest the Silver cover as a minimum depending on where you’re going.
Trekking To High Altitude
Trekking to high altitude is hugely rewarding. If conducted responsibly, there is absolutely no reason why anyone should not trek safely to destinations such as EBC, Kilimanjaro and numerous trekking peaks over 6000m. Can you train for it?
As experienced trekkers at high altitude (as our Guides are), our treks have tried and tested acclimatisation programmes. We aim to ensure that our clients are well versed in the effects, signs, symptoms and treatment of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). It can, and does in extreme circumstances kill, and by being aware you could easily save your own and/or someone else’s life by acting in the appropriate manner.
We highlight some information here but more importantly, link to several trusted resources that we encourage you to read and understand.
Essential reading: FitforTravel Altitude and Medex – travelling at high altitude.
If you are travelling to high altitude, make sure that your travel insurance covers you for medical evacuation/repatriation up to at least the max altitude you are travelling to.
Some general notes:
What is AMS?
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is likely to occur to someone who is ascending without having fully acclimatised: in short, ascending too fast. AMS can strike anyone regardless of age, gender, fitness or experience. No-one is immune, not even those that were born and live/work at higher elevations such as the porters who work in the Everest region.
Can I train for altitude?
No. You can use a chamber to experience a reduced oxygen level but all it proves is that it is more difficult to breath with less oxygen! What it can’t do (in a single day at least) is to replicate the effects of being at altitude for a number of consecutive days.
It’s the process of allowing the body to get accustom to the thinner air. Everyone can acclimatise although some people take longer than others. The vast majority of people acclimatise well on tried and tested trek programmes. You won’t know until you do it.
In general, the altitude you sleep at in relation to the previous night should be no more than 300 – 400m higher and every 3rd day, rest (go no higher).
What are the effects of altitude?
When you ascend to altitude for a sustained period of time, your body undergoes some physiological changes. Feeling fatigued, vivid dreams, a loss of appetite (and possible nausea) and a change of bowel movement are all common experiences. These symptoms are not life threatening as such but should be treated as early signs.
If any of the above are accompanied by a headache, then it should be taken more seriously.
If you continue to ascend with the symptoms, there is a real risk that it will progress to either High Altitude Cerebral Oedema (HACE) or High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema (HAPE). Both are considered emergencies and any further delay in treatment could be fatal.
The most effective treatment (and probably quickest) is to descend. Rapid recovery is often experienced by descending just a few hundred metres in altitude.
Diamox is a well known drug within the mountaineering/trekking fraternity to aid acclimatisation. It can be prescribed by your GP or Travel Clinic. It can be used to aid prevention or as a cure. It does have side effects (intense temporary pins and needles is the prime one) but affects different people in different ways. The Travel Doctor’s webpage is a good source of information to decide if it is for you.
Our itineraries all have built in tried and tested acclimatisation programmes that will not be broken (shortened). They conform to the internationally recognised guidelines for safe ascent. Some trekking days may appear short when ascending. This is purely to stay within safe ascent guidelines.
Experiences at high altitude vary enormously. It is not an exact science and everyone is different. Guidelines are there to help you avoid putting yourself (and others) in danger. Summit Fever is a strong emotion but remember, the mountain will always be there. You may not if you continue to ascend when your body tells you not to. Common sense should always prevail.
Please trek to high altitude safely and responsibly
As the explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes once said ‘there is no bad weather; only inappropriate clothing‘. People fear the arctic simply because of the cold temperatures. Perhaps their real fear is that they would be ill equipped?
The arctic environment is beautiful, exciting and if embraced, a real adventure in wild, remote unspoilt terrain. Our arctic adventures and expeditions are run in northern Norway (Finnmark and Svalbard) within a safe infrastructure (invisible to the client) and yet certainly adventurous.
You will need to work as part of a team, be robust both mentally and physically and be willing to learn from the experts who will guide you. Most of the specialist equipment you will need is either supplied as part of the trip (ie touring skis, boots and poles, sleds, tents, etc…) or available for hire (sleeping bags). All of our trips involve the adorable Husky dogs in one way or another; they are incredible.
If you have ever thought of heading for the North or South Pole, try our Arctic adventures. At 7 days long, they immerse you in this white wild space at a fraction of the cost! One of life’s experiences.
Terry Crosby (founder of Travel and Trek) is a former Arctic Survival Instructor, trained in Norway.