There is no better way to connect with the natural surroundings of your destination than a good, old-fashioned stomp through the wilderness.
But some travellers think they can trek out into the scrub without adequate preparation - big mistake. Even the most hardened hikers adequately prepare themselves, and you should too.
Before you set on your trek, big or small, it's important to set yourself up with the right equipment.
It's generally agreed that there are ten essentials to trekking: Map, Compass, Water, Food (Hi-energy), Wet weather gear, Fire Starter, First Aid Kit, Knife (or Leatherman/Swiss Army Knife), Flashlight, and Sunscreen/Sunglasses.
Once you have your essentials, there are a few extra bits and pieces that could help you along the way, depending on your dedication and also the length/danger level of the trip.
A good pack is vital for a safe trip – but it is also a question of equipment vs. mobility. You want a pack that will suit your requirements, but also allows you to enjoy free movement.
If you are planning a trek, short or long, you already have an idea of where you will be – make sure that at least one other person knows this too.
Let them know a rough plan of your journey – where your key stops are and when you plan to return.
If you do this, and don't return when planned, it will give your friend an alarm bell – which means that if you need help, it will be sent quicker.
And most importantly…stick to what you set out to do!
(It's not always possible, but if you can share your trek with a friend you will be far more relaxed and safer in an emergency situation.)
If you are planning on a hiking trek, it's important to be realistic about your journey. If you are fantastically fit, then you have a better chance of staying the distance on a two-week trek than someone who is out of shape and doesn't exercise. Don't reach beyond realistic capacity.
For longer trips, do a bit of training to prepare. Go on smaller walks to get your muscles acclimatized, or try cycling – it uses the same muscles you use for hiking.
If you are planning on wearing regular shoes on your walk, as opposed to thick hiking boots (which many trekkers prefer to do due to blisters), you'll need to strengthen your ankles – doing a range of pre-walks on rough, uneven ground.
Also, know the conditions of where you are trekking – weather, terrain, geographic and topographic. Are you going to be climbing up huge, slippery hills? Will you get drenched in a monsoon? Bitten by sandflies?
Do your research, know where you are going – and what you are up against.
Even if you are the most seasoned trekker there is still the chance that you could end up in the wilderness – metaphorical not literal. So it's a good idea to make sure you are insured.
If you get lost, and sustain an injury during your trek, you can make a claim for any medical costs.
However, if you require rescuing from emergency services, you could be up for a hefty bill for the trouble.
It depends on the country you travel to –for example, in Australia, emergency services are covered by the state.
But if you are in a country that hits you with a bill for search and rescue, your insurance wont cover this.
Check with the local authorities in your destination country to determine what their procedures are.
The best idea, if you want to travel for a longer period, is to organize your trip through an established hiking agency – they will have their own safety standards, and are a more reliable option for bigger treks.
You can buy at home or while traveling, and claim online from anywhere in the world. With 150+ adventure activities covered and 24/7 emergency assistance.