7 Adventure Travel Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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July 22nd, 2013

Research shows that over 30% of adventure travellers on guided trips report being dissatisfied with their experience. Often this comes down to some easily avoidable mistakes.

 

So, after 17 years of traveling the world with my mountain bike and learning the hard way, I've listed some of the most common mistakes adventure travelers make (particularly those going on guided trips) and some tips on how to avoid them.  Whether traveling with one of the many adventure travel companies out there, searching for the perfect mountain biking holiday, traveling on your own or with a group of friends, follow these tips for a  more enjoyable experience. 

 

*source: Adventure Tourism Market Report, Adventure Travel and Trade Association, 2010

What mistakes have you made while on your adventure travels? Let us know in the comments below!

1. HIDDEN COSTS

You've booked your trip; you've booked your flight; you've planned everything out carefully in a spreadsheet and know almost exactly how much your adventure is going to cost... and then you show up at your destination and all your careful planning falls apart: You have to pay an 'local administration fee' to your guide upon arrival; your hotel charges you an extra occupant fee; meals are twice as much as what you budgeted. And on and on. By the time you get home your budget is blown out of the water and all your careful planning has gone to waste.

How to Avoid This

Book with a provider that is upfront and detailed about everything that is included in the trip price. At Sacred Rides, we offer a Customer Service Pledge, backed by our industry-leading guarantee. We make every possible effort to anticipate and outline any additional costs you will face, so you don't have any cost surprises.

 

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2. LOST/MISPLACED LUGGAGE

Sadly, this happens all too often in the airline industry. Over 6% of airline luggage doesn't reach its intended destination at the same time its owners do. The good news is that most of the time the luggage and its owner are soon reunited. The bad news is that often it can take days, even a week, to reach the intended destination

How to Avoid This

Well, you can't really avoid this unless you can pack everything you need into a carry-on (pretty hard for your typical adventure travel trip), but you can at least prepare:

 

1) Pack at least one change of clothes in your carry-on, as well as any toiletries that you can legally take. That way if your luggage is misplaced, at least you have a couple of days' worth of clothing, and the ability to brush your teeth.

 

2) Airline reimbursement limits for replacing lost luggage are notoriously low. Buy additional travel insurance that covers lost or misplaced luggage. At Sacred Rides, we've partnered with bikeflights.com and worldnomads.com to offer comprehensive travel insurance that includes a lost/misplaced luggage reimbursement.

3. YOUR GUIDING COMPANY SUCKS

You show up for your trip and... the van picking you up at the airport is 23 years old and breaks down on the way to the hotel; it's the first trip your guide has ever guided and he clearly doesn't know what he's going; the 'hotel' is a no-star budget motel with dirty sheets and no hot water. A week later and your trip has been a total disaster and you've had a crappy time.

How To Avoid This

You're spending thousands of dollars on your adventure. Isn't your investment worth a little of your time to do some research? Before you book a guided trip with an adventure travel provider, do some research. Here are a few suggestions:

 

1) Do a Google search for "_______ (name of travel provider) reviews".
2) Search for the travel provider on Trip Advisor and check the ratings
3) Ask them if they will provide a list of people who have previously been on the trip you are considering. 

 

Want some more tips on how to find great guiding companies, and avoid potential disasters?  Grab a FREE copy of our "Amazing Adventures: 5 Critical Mistakes to Avoid and 5 Questions To Ask" guide!

4. NOT HAVING ANY RECOURSE IF THINGS GO WRONG

So after having the aforementioned crappy time, when you get home and call up the company to register your displeasure and seek some redress, they just say "Sorry. Not our fault." You're left with a bitter taste in your mouth and some crappy memories of your 'great adventure.'

How To Avoid This

Book your adventure travel with a provider that is willing to stand behind their product. At Sacred Rides, we offer a comprehensive, no-questions-asked guarantee: if you're not 100% satisfied, for whatever reason, we'll give you a free trip; and if, after your free trip, you're still not satisfied, we'll refund the cost of the original trip you booked.

 
 

5. NOT BEING PREPARED FOR THE CHALLENGE

Adventure travel involves physical challenge. Whether it's hiking a volcano, climbing up a mountain, descending steep singletrack, or sea kayaking a remote stretch of coastline, you're probably going to have your skills and fitness tested at some point. Which is sort of the point, but you don't want to be pushed to your limits all the time - that can get dangerous, and it's not fun.

How To Avoid This

Speak to your adventure travel provider candidly about the physical and other challenges on this trip. Find out how many hours a day you'll be biking/hiking/whatever, and how difficult it really is. Then train for your trip!

 

Even if you're already in good shape and feel confident about your abilities, extra training simply means being even better prepared and even fitter, which is never a bad thing! The best way to train is with a proper training regimen and a trainer to oversee your training.

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6. BROKEN EQUIPMENT

You pack up your mountain bike/tent/climbing rack/surfboard/whatever, fly it halfway around the world, and then take it out at your destination only to find it's been bashed around in transit and a crucial piece is broken. Or your rear derailleur hanger/fly pole/whatever snaps on day 2 of your trip. You frantically search around for a replacement part, but the local shops don't stock it - or don't even exist. And none of the shops have rentals available. Your exciting adventure trip that you've been looking forward to for 10 months... over.

How To Avoid This

1) Airline baggage handlers are notoriously rough with gear. Take the time to carefully pack your equipment, with lots of padding around crucial parts.
2) Slap lots and lots of 'Fragile' stickers all over your equipment so they get the point
3) Find out from your travel provider what local shops are available and how well-stocked they are. Bring some key replacement parts with you - such as derailleur hangers - that the local shops aren't likely to stock.

7. PEOPLE ON YOUR TRIP THAT SHOULDN'T BE THERE

You show up for your big adventure, ready and excited after having read point #5 and having trained and prepared for your trip. On the first ride/hike/climb you do great, as does most of the group, but there's a couple of people way at the back, struggling and huffing and puffing. By the time you reach the top, they're an hour behind, and you have to sit around forever waiting for them. This happens over and over during the week, frustrating everyone else who wants to pick up the pace.

HOW TO AVOID THIS

Book your trip with a company that has a rigorous pre-screening process to screen potential participants. At Sacred Rides, we have the following measures in place to ensure that you'll ride with people who are ready for the trip they've signed up for:

 

1) A detailed 9-point skills and 9-point fitness rating program
2) We offer  point-of-view videos of many of the trails you'll be riding on any of our adventures, to give you a first-person look at what they might be like
3) During signup, all of our Riders are asked to complete a detailed Rider History survey, with questions about their mountain biking experience, where they ride, how often, and more. This helps us screen for people whose answers do not match up with the particular Ride they've chosen.
4) If, based on answers to the Rider History survey, we're concerned someone may not be ready to handle one of our adventures, we'll call them and talk to them about the trip they've booked on and their suitability for it. If we feel they're not ready for the trip they've chosen, we'll suggest they consider a different trip or different company.
5) We provide free access to online training programs with our friends at Training Peaks, as well as access to affordable one-on-one training programs with a certified trainer who specializes in training programs for mountain bikers - so that everyone who joins one of our Rides can be prepared for their Ride from a fitness standpoint.

 

For your next adventure, make sure you do your research and follow the above tips to ensure a memorable, positive trip!  To read more tips  check out the following articles:

 

10 Tips for Adventure Travel 

10 Tips for International Mountain Bike Travel

5 Flight Hacks to Book Cheap Flights 

 
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