Travel Tips

Top Adventure Travel Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

July 3, 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!


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.


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 and to offer com­pre­hen­sive trav­el insur­ance that includes a lost/misplaced lug­gage reimbursement.


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. 


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.


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.


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 dérailleur 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 dérailleur hang­ers — that the local shops aren’t like­ly to stock.


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.


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!