Active travel has never been more popular than it is right now. In these increasingly (digitally) connected times, more and more travelers are wanting to disconnect from and escape the city life. Many are seeking active adventures to pristine natural landscapes around the world.
There’s no denying the fact that witnessing the world’s natural beauty and indigenous cultures first-hand makes for unforgettable travel experiences. Whether it’s hiking Peru’s Inca Trail or Chile’s Torres del Paine, our planet offers some incredible adventures to remote destinations that have become more accessible than ever.
Although many of us may have an explorer’s spirit deep inside us, we may not realize everything that goes into preparing for an active travel experience. If you’ve ever watched a NatGeo or BBC Earth documentary, you know that Mother Nature can be just as harsh as she is beautiful.
So it’s essential that you plan and pack for your adventures appropriately. To that end, check out our helpful list of active travel packing tips to guide you through the process:
With any travel experience comes the need to gather all the required documents you may need. This includes things such as special visas and immunization certificates that may be required in order to enter your final destination.
You should always make sure your passport has at least 6 months left before its expiration date, and that you have plenty of room for entry/exit stamps. It’s always wise to carry both a physical and digital copy of your passport ID page as well, just in case your passport gets lost or stolen along the way.
You’ll also want to print out your flight, accommodation, and tour confirmations, along with all necessary contact details and addresses. Having written addresses can assist taxi drivers in foreign countries with getting you to the correct place. It’s also a good idea to leave a copy of your itinerary with a family member or friend so they’ll know your plans in case of emergencies.
Bring your driver’s license as a secondary ID. But also note that you may be required to obtain an International Driving Permit if the country you’re traveling to does not recognize your home country’s driver’s license.
Plan on bringing along more medication than you think you’ll need, just in case your travels last longer than intended. Flights can get delayed and accidents can happen, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry
Always carry a copy of any prescriptions you have, just in case you need to refill a prescription abroad. Also, check to make sure any medications you’re taking are allowed to be brought into the country you are traveling to.
If you wear contacts or eyeglasses, it’s wise to carry an extra pair, just in case of loss or damage. Enjoying your travels will be difficult if you can’t see clearly. Remember to bring contact lens cleaner or saline solution, as these may be difficult to find in some countries.
Make sure to bring all the toiletries you’ll need during your active travel adventure with you, as opposed to purchasing them when you arrive at your destination. You may find that your preferred brands are not available abroad. And other countries may not have the same quality standards when it comes to offering safe, effective healthcare products.
Traveling in natural environments will often require you to use eco-friendly toiletries. For instance, you may need to choose biodegradable products when it comes to essential items such as insect repellant, soap, and sunscreen. ALWAYS take sunscreen: Even in winter in Iceland, the sun’s rays are intense and potentially damaging to the skin.
You may want to bring along a small kit that includes detergent and a clothesline, just in case you don’t have access to laundry facilities or services. Be sure to pack a universal adapter for your electronics, such as shavers or curling irons.
Pack all your toiletries in Ziploc bags in order to avoid unwanted spills and damage to your other travel items.
Active travel adventures can always bring the possibility of minor injury. Whether it’s bee stings, ants, or poisonous snake bites, or simple scrapes and sprains from uneven terrain, accidents do happen.
So it’s always a good idea to bring a first aid kit along, just in case of emergencies. The Red Cross offers an excellent guide to the basic necessities your kit should include.
If you have any allergies, always make sure your guide or tour company is aware of them. You may also want to carry an EpiPen along for good measure.
Outdoor adventures will often require you to wear a backpack (or a larger daypack) for your daily activities. The main things you’ll want to consider when selecting a bag are its holding capacity, size, intended uses, and features.
The most important thing is to choose a bag that’s right for you. This means going with a bag that fits your body shape and size so that you can you comfortably carry it all day.
If you’re planning multi-day treks where you’ll need to carry camping gear, you’ll want to be sure that your backpack can accommodate all the items you’ll need. A waterproof pack will help keep your gear dry.
Search for the level of durability you think will be required for your intended activities. And try to avoid getting a bag with features you may not need, which create added weight or limit available storage space.
Staying hydrated is one of the most important things when it comes to staying healthy in the great outdoors. Especially for active travel adventures in warm, humid climates, such as Belize.
Pack water bottles that you can refill along the way to help the environment, and carry either purification tablets or filters to make sure the water you’re drinking is safe.
Always plan to carry more water than you think you may need. Active adventures along with climates you’re not accustomed to can equate to you needing more fluids.
If you’re prone to heavy perspiration, you may also want to consider packing hydration tablets such as those made by Hydralite or Nuun. These are filled with electrolytes, which help replenish your body during heavy periods of activity.
Active adventures require you to think more deeply about your destination’s climate. Be sure to bring a quality rain/wind jacket to help protect you from the elements, along with suitable pants and shirts.
Pack comfortable travel clothing that doesn’t require much maintenance, such as ironing. In general, we recommend choosing moisture-wicking clothing made from quick-drying materials that can be washed in the sink or shower and easily dried overnight.
Make sure to choose culturally appropriate clothing for the region you’re traveling to. Some areas may ask that you cover your legs and shoulders, or may require you to wear a sarong over swimwear.
Don’t forget accessories such as sunglasses, hats, and gloves. But avoid bringing expensive sunglasses along, as they can get lost or damaged easily while traveling. Just be sure to bring a pair with 100% ultraviolet (UV) protection. Wearing sunglasses along with a hat will protect you from damaging your skin and vision.
When it comes to active footwear, you want to select the right styles for the activities you plan on enjoying during your trip. Durable waterproof hiking boots are essential for long day or multi-day treks, while a lightweight athletic sneaker would be more suitable for runners or bikers.
The most important thing when it comes to selecting footwear is to find the right fit and comfort. You should plan to purchase your hiking boots or athletic shoes well in advance of your trip to allow you time to break them in. This will help avoid the risk of blisters during your travels.
Wear your heaviest and most bulky shoes on your flight, in order to save weight and space in your luggage. You may also want to bring along spare laces, just in case the current ones become damaged.
We all want great photos through which we can remember our travels. But not all travelers want/need to invest in expensive camera gear, such as tripods and large lenses. Don’t be talked into buying something you don’t need, and make sure you select a camera that is right for what you want.
If you simply like taking photos of picturesque landscapes, you like won’t need a large telephoto lens. You may even be able to get away with using your camera phone, assuming it has a decent image resolution.
If you’re an avid birdwatcher and/or wildlife photographer, you may want to invest in long-range lenses. These allow you to get good shots without negatively impacting the animals you’re trying to photograph.
All camera gear should be carried in your carry-on luggage in order to avoid theft or damage. You should also protect yourself with quality travel insurance to cover your camera gear and other belongings. This policy should also provide you with a wealth of other travel protection, covering things like overseas medical expenses and travel delays.
It’s wise not to fully pack your travel bags, which won’t leave any room for souvenirs you may purchase during your adventures. Purchasing handmade products from local communities is a great way to support craftspeople and their traditions.
If you find that you have little space left after packing essential items, throw in an empty collapsible duffel or tote that you can use for bringing your souvenirs back. It’s not always easy to find bags during tours to remote areas, and you’ll want to avoid paying hefty shipping costs to get your goodies home.
When purchasing products abroad, be sure to avoid products made from animals, as they may encourage the poaching of endangered wildlife. Many animal products are considered illegal to sell or possess and may be confiscated by customs.
Megan Jerrard is an Australian journalist and the founder and Senior Editor of Mapping Megan, an award-winning travel blog bringing you the latest in adventure travel from all over the globe.