Fitness and Prep for Travel

Travel can mean anything from a leisurely vacation at a resort to climbing a mountain.  This means that different levels of fitness are required depending on what you want to do on your trip.

My last trip was to Sedona, AZ for a conference.  I knew I would be sitting and doing pretty much nothing for most of that week.  The most strenuous thing I had planned was an easy stroll down the street.  So I didn’t need to do any physical preparation for that trip.  However, my upcoming trip for this summer requires that I get prepared for it–my friends and I plan on doing some hiking, plus I need to get used to carrying a backpack instead of a suitcase.  So I need to prepare for this trip!

How do you prepare?

Obviously, this depends heavily on what you plan on doing, but I’ve tried to cover some of the main categories.

  • Leisure walking to mild hiking: Not much preparation is needed, though it may be advisable to do some walking around the neighborhood or on the treadmill before leaving if you think the trails could be more difficult than you think.
  • Mild to serious hiking (3-10 miles, medium terrain): Definitely get in some practice beforehand, especially if you are like me and haven’t been hiking in a while.  You can prepare by going on some hikes in your area of varying lengths.  Or, hit the gym.  The treadmill gets in the cardio and builds your endurance.  You can also climb stairs, if you can’t get to the gym–this also does cardio, and works your legs a lot.
  • Serious, strenuous hiking or activity (8+ miles, rocky terrain): If you’re going on a trip like this, I hope you’re already in shape and maybe just want a hike or two to keep yourself ready.  These kinds of trips don’t have much room for you to catch up while actually out there.  Serious hiking, rock climbing, heavy biking, etc., all require some level of built-up endurance and a body that can take the extended exercise.  To prepare for this kind of trip, I would say to engage in medium exercise or do whatever you’ve been doing that’s gotten you in shape for this trip in the first place.  Hit the gym for the treadmill to build endurance and cardio, both of which are important for serious activity.  For mountain climbing, make sure you have practice acclimatizing to different altitudes, otherwise you can get pretty sick if you don’t know what you’re doing.

For other types of trips, such as diving, canoeing, kayaking, rafting, or other such adventurous activities, unless you’re familiar with the activities already, then get as much practice in as possible before going on your trip.  Obviously, if you’re in a land-locked area and want to go scuba diving, it may be a bit difficult to get some practice in.  Use some common sense and book a learning trip in which you get training and practice for those kinds of activities before you book a trip on which you’re more on your own and need to have had practice.  The better prepared you are to handle the physical activities of the trip, the more fun you’ll have!

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Pet Considerations

One of the issues that causes the most barriers to traveling is pets.  Either you want to travel with your pet (or have to, if you’re moving) or you are leaving your pet behind while you go on vacation.

Either way, it can be tough. This is one of the things I’m facing right now while planning my upcoming trip.  I have one cat, a feisty little thing I love dearly, and who actually misses me when I’m away.  She yells at me when I’m gone for even one night, so imagine what kind of treatment I get when I’m away for a week or more.

I love to travel, but I have to consider how I care for my pet first.  I took on the responsibility to care for her, to feed her and love her and make sure she goes to the vet.  I made a commitment to her when I accepted her into my life and home to be there.  So I can’t rightly go away on vacation or travel for extended periods of time and be entirely without guilt at leaving her.  That’s my feeling on the subject.  In my mind, I made a commitment to this animal, and it’s as binding to me as if I had a child.

One consideration when planning travel is how long you can stay away from your pet.  If you can’t stand the thought of being away more than a week, don’t plan a two week vacation.  If you know your animal will begin to pine for you after two weeks, consider keeping your trip to two or two-and-a-half weeks.  Think about how long you can reasonably stay away from your pet and plan accordingly.

When leaving pets behind, make sure you leave them with someone responsible.  Please leave them with someone responsible.  Cats are more independent than dogs and, depending on your cat’s personality, may not need as much human interaction as a dog would need in order to be OK.  Still, a cat should really not be left alone for more than one day.

Make sure you have enough food stockpiled for the length of your trip.  If you’re traveling during winter months, it’s a good idea to have extra food available as well, in case your pet sitter needs to leave extra or you get delayed.

Make sure you leave the name and contact information for your vet with your pet sitter.  It’s also a good idea to leave a file of some kind with your pet’s medical information, in case there is an emergency and your pet can’t be taken to their regular vet.  Leave instructions for any medications and, if possible or necessary, show the sitter exactly how to administer.

Another consideration is how much your pet is going to miss you.  What I’ve found helps my cat is if I lay on an extra blanket overnight and then put it in her favorite sitting spot.  Then the blanket smells like me, she has my scent, and it’s comforting for her to have that there.

Pets are a big consideration to have when planning travel.  You are responsible for this other being, and you took on that responsibility when bringing the animal into your home and agreeing to provide care.  This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go away on travel–it simply means you should consider your pet when making plans and makes sure you can provide care even when you are physically away for a bit.

Sponsored Travel

Last week I had been musing to my mother, “I wonder if I can get someone to sponsor me to travel and then write about it?”  Shortly thereafter, I ran a Google search on sponsored travel.

Lo and behold, there is was.  A whole host of sites about sponsorships for travel writers, bloggers, and photographers.  I found two that looked particularly helpful, which I’ll share at the end of this post.

If you’re short on cash (or even if you’re not), sponsorships for travel can be a great way to pay for all or most of a trip.  It’s likely that more than one sponsor would be necessary, especially if you go to smaller or start-up companies who may not be able to contribute more than a little bit.

It’s certainly a system worth looking into.  For someone like me, who doesn’t have a steady job at the moment or enough income to justify extended vacations overseas, a sponsorship could be just the ticket.

Of course, that means you’re not just getting money to travel.  You have to give something in return.  You could write reviews of the company or its products, or promote the company/product on social media, and of course blog about the company that’s sponsoring you and what they’re doing.  It helps the company to get the word out about them and their products, but it also helps you in that you’re getting money to travel, you’ll get hits on your blog/profile, and you may even score free or cheap stuff if you’re, say, promoting travel gear and the company gives you free samples or something.  It’s a win-win situation if you go about it the right way.

The Planet D has an excellent post, “A Travel Blogger’s Guide to Sponsorship,” that lays out exactly what sponsoring means and how to go about it.

The Travel Blog Exchange looks to be a good way to meet potential sponsors and also to meet other bloggers and writers looking for sponsors.

What Kind of Traveler Are You?

While trying to think of what I would write for my first real post, I kept going over where to start.  Should I start with packing tips?  Or budgeting?  Or maybe choosing a destination?  How does a person get started on preparing to travel, anyway??

And then I had the thought: go back to where it begins.  Give the simple advice first.  My simple advice starts with a question.

What kind of traveler are you?

Seriously.  What kind of traveler are you?  Are you the kind of person who can’t stand to do anything by a schedule or itinerary?  Or do you have to have a plan?  How detailed does your itinerary need to be for you to feel comfortable and confident?

Figuring out what kind of traveler you are can really help you in the planning stages.  It will help you figure out how early you need to buy tickets, how much research you need/want to do, what kind of timeline you need or want, and will help you make decisions.  If you’re the kind of person who can leave on a whim and likes doing it that way, then great!  That’s all well and good, as long as you can feel comfortable and confident in traveling that way.

I’m the kind of traveler who needs some kind of itinerary, some kind of plan, in order to travel well.  I need some idea of where I’m going to be at what time on which day in order to enjoy myself.  Not that I have to have everything planned out down to the minute–that’s a bit much–but I need to have an idea of whether I’m going to see Westminster Abbey on Thursday or if I’m going to go to Greenwich on Thursday.

Figuring out how much planning you need to do beforehand and what level of planning you’re going to want on your trip will go a long way to relieving some of the stress that can go with traveling.  It will also help you relax.  Remember, if you’re traveling for pleasure, then you want to enjoy yourself!  If you show up in a new place with the intention of just winging it when you’re the kind of person who needs a plan, then you’re not going to have much fun, are you?  You’re not going to be able to get around with much confidence.  On the flip side, if you’re the kind of person who works best when doing things on a whim, then going with a regimented itinerary would not work best for you.  You would probably get very frustrated and bored if you tried to stick to it.

The ideal is to have the best of both worlds, with enough planning to give some structure but enough leeway in the plan for some spontaneity.  Sadly, many of us don’t quite work that way!

So figure out what kind of traveler you are!

My First Post

Hello!  My new blog is officially online and running.  My first post!

This blog is meant to chronicle my personal travel adventures and to share my experiences and tips for others on their own travels.

I plan to post one a week, at the minimum.  I may be able to post more often, but for now, I’m starting off with only once a week.

I hope you enjoy my blog!  Please feel free to comment on things and send me feedback!