Packing for Your First Multi-sport Adventure Trip

Packing for Your First Multi-sport Adventure Trip

What to bring so you have an amazing experience

If you’re the type who usually packs for a trip the night before you leave, it’s time to change that habit, at least when you pack for a multi-sport adventure trip. The sooner you start pulling together the items for your trip, the better it’ll will go when you get there.

You’ll probably get a packing list from your trip operator well in advance, though the level of detail varies by company. While the location and activities on your trip will dictate the specifics, some considerations are consistent regardless of your destination.

If you need to get new footwear, clothing and/or gear, do your shopping at least 3 months in advance so you have a chance to test and exchange items as needed.

Clothing

Of course, the types of clothing you’ll need will depend on the environment where you’re going. Certain fabrics and features work well in various environments though.

Merino wool – You’ll see this in clothing from head to toe, from hats to socks and just about everything in between. This is not the itchy wool like your childhood sweaters – its fibers are finer, therefore softer.

Merino wool is warm yet breathable, which means that sweat escapes through the fiber. And it also doesn’t get stinky – yay! It does come at a higher price than other fabrics, though. And it’s not as durable as some alternatives.

Synthetic fabrics – Many companies have developed proprietary blends of synthetic fabrics, often made from forms of polyester and nylon, that provide warmth and breathability for less money than Merino wool.

Again, this is not the polyester you remember from years back – it’s soft and comfortable. Although some synthetics do get smelly, other versions include anti-stink treatments, like weaving in silver strands to trap the odor-causing bacteria.

Blends – Several companies make clothing with a blend merino wool and synthetics to take advantage of the properties of each.

Not cotton – As you peruse the clothing in an outdoor store, you may notice the lack of good old cotton on the racks. That’s because it has many qualities that can be problematic in the outdoors – the primary one being that it retains water, both sweat from your body and from precipitation, and that will make you feel cold and clammy.

Features to look for in the clothing you take on a multi-sport adventure include:

  • quick drying (especially for humid environments)
  • wicking/breathable
  • fitted yet flexible

Think about what clothing items you could wear in layers, which you can put on and take off as the temperature changes. Then try them on together – at home if you have them already, or at the store if you’re buying new items.

Wear the clothes you plan to take with you out on a walk or hike, and practice putting them on and taking them off. This will make you more comfortable and efficient on your trip!

Shoes and boots

This is literally where the rubber meets the road, or trail, or boat deck, or bicycle pedal. Again, what you need will depend on the types of activities you’re doing on the trip, so here are some general guidelines.

Go to a reputable store that specializes in the footwear you need, with knowledgeable staff and a good selection. Try to go during a time they aren’t busy (avoid weekends and sales) and spend as much time as you can trying on different footwear and walking around the store.

I put the staff at REI through their paces when I was shopping for new boots to hike the Inca Trail – and it was well worth it to find the boots I’d be wearing for 4 days in a row, for 8+ miles a day, over thousands of feet of elevation gain and loss.

Buy footwear at least 3 months before you go. This will give you time to get them broken in, and also give you time to figure out if you need to get something different.

If footwear isn’t feeling good after using it for at least an hour a few times, return it if you can. Even if you can’t return or exchange it, suck it up and buy something else – you’re spending a lot of money to have a great vacation, don’t jeopardize that fun with footwear that hurts.

Backpack

The size you’ll need will depend on how much you need to carry on your trip, but again, look for key features as you pick your pack. 

Materials – Seek out packs made with lightweight and durable materials, even if you just need a daypack. The less weight you start with for your pack, the less weight you’ll be carrying around for your trip.  

Pockets – Personal preference is a factor, as some people like to have things super organized. Then again, usually more pockets create more weight. Having at least a few pockets to have quick and easy access to key items – lip balm, sunscreen, snacks – can be handy.

Fit – Most pack styles come in at least two sizes, S/M and L/XL, and some have additional adjustment options in each size. Sizes are based on torso length, not overall height, and vary by manufacturer. Some manufacturers make women-specific packs – though don’t get too fixated on how a pack is “labeled,” focus on what fits.

Similar to footwear shopping, it’s best to go to a store with a wide selection and trained staff to get the right fit.

Contents – Bring what you plan to take on your trip with you when you’re shopping for a pack, so you can put it in and see how it feels before you buy. Walk around the store with the filled pack for at least 10 minutes.

Testing – Take the pack out on a few hour-or-more trial walks/hikes well before your trip – ideally, the same “test walks” you’re taking with your footwear. If the pack rubs you somewhere, feels awkward or otherwise isn’t working, return it and get another one.

Now you have some insights on what clothing and gear to pack. This really just scratches the surface, though, which is why there’s more detailed information on clothing and gear on https://trailblazerwellness.com (and, honestly, elsewhere on the Internet!).

And ultimately, what would be even more helpful is a customized version of this that’s specific to the trip you’re thinking about taking, or have already signed up to do. Contact me at becki@trailblazerwellness.com to ask questions and find out about getting personalized support for you and your travel companions.

Want to get regular updates from me? Join my email list by filling out the the form:

FYI: Blog posts by Becki Rupp and Trailblazer Wellness LLC are for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. Information included in these posts shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read in our blog posts.

Preparing for Your First Multi-Sport Adventure Trip – Physically and Mentally

Preparing for Your First Multi-Sport Adventure Trip – Physically and Mentally

Steps to take before you go, so you have an amazing experience

Now that you’ve decided to take a multi-sport trip, the fun is just beginning! If you haven’t decided on a specific trip yet, get some tips for that in “Picking Your First Multi-sport Adventure.”

You definitely don’t need to be a super-athlete to enjoy a trip that involves several hours a day of physical activities. Even if you have just a few weeks to prepare, though, doing as much as you can beforehand will make a difference in how much you enjoy the actual trip.

When I was preparing for my multi-sport trip to the Galapagos, I got a detailed itinerary and extensive pre-departure information from the company I used to book my trip, Detour Destinations. Knowing what to expect during the trip was really helpful for my husband and I to physically and mentally prepare for the activities we’d be doing.

The good news is, preparing is fairly simple – it’s mostly a matter of finding a bit more time to fit in additional activity. In fact, finding time may be the hardest part! The payoff for investing the time before you go is more energy, more confidence and, most importantly, more fun!

You may want to check with your doctor before increasing your physical activity (please see the special note at the end of this document).

Baseline fitness level

Yep, time to get real. How active are you and your travel companion(s) on a regular basis? If you’re “weekend warriors” that’s a start – though your trip will be longer than a weekend, so below are some tips on adding more “warrior” into your weekdays.

If you’re already pretty active, there are some ideas on tweaking your routine below. Because let’s be honest, most of us aren’t gearing up for a multi-sport adventure in our normal lives!

Baseline experience with each activity

Has it been a while since you’ve been on a bike? Will this be your first time on a SUP?

That’s okay, most trip operators and guides account for the fact that some of those on their trips may have limited experience with the activities. They will likely include some instruction for everyone participating in certain activities.

Building stamina

Whether you’re the weekend warrior or already active, add about 10-15% more activity into each week as you get closer to the trip.

If you’re hiking 3-5 miles on a weekend day, add a couple of 1-2 mile walks during the week and add about a half mile or so to each weekend hike. If you bike 10-15 miles on a weekend day, add some short weekday rides and a couple more miles each weekend.

If your trip involves much longer distances and intensity than what you’re doing now, find ways to add more activity to get as close to your trip’s conditions as feasible.

Do it gradually though, to minimize the risk of injury. And consider working with a personal trainer or coach to get a personalized plan that takes into account your needs.

If your trip includes an activity you aren’t doing regularly, aim to get out and do it once a week, if possible. Rent the equipment you don’t have, and take a class if possible.

Check with your local parks and recreation district, and with outdoor gear retailers – they may offer instruction directly, or they may have a list of others who put on classes.

Also check your itinerary to see if your trip includes two activities on the same day, such as hiking and biking. If so, try to do both in a day at least once or twice before you go.

Building strength

If you belong to a local gym, consider getting a few sessions with a personal trainer or taking a group class that focuses on strength training to dial in specific exercises and the proper technique.

If most of your activities will be leg-powered, then building strength in your legs will help you keep up with the group. Doing just a few key exercises – squats, lunges and step-ups – a couple of times a week will make a difference, and you can even do them at home.

Also include some core strengthening exercises a few days a week. A stronger core –abdominals, back and gluteus – adds stability to virtually all movements, and will help you endure longer periods of being on your feet.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of core exercises you could do – so again, some personal or group sessions can help you find a few that work for you. 

If your trip includes activities like paddling or rappelling, add in some upper body exercises too. Good old-fashioned pushups – with their many variations – work your arms, chest and back.

With strength training, you can do all of the activities in one day and then space out the workouts to be every 2-3 days. Or you can alternate doing the leg exercises on one day, core the next day, and upper body the following day, and then repeat the pattern.

Building balance

Building balance is important too – many activities on multi-sport trips will involve uneven surfaces, and some may require body positions you’re not used to.

Simply standing on one leg for a minute or more at a time helps. Try doing this in different locations around your house, in your yard or a local park on the grass or dirt, and on a hill or incline (facing both uphill and downhill!).

Building confidence

This is the mental part, which is just as important as the physical preparation. You’ll likely get a confidence boost from activities above already as you go longer and get stronger.

Doing activities with friends or a local group (one that’s at your level) provides additional motivation and moral support. 

For more positive reinforcement, share your progress on social media. If you’re not big on social media and sharing, consider keeping a journal of your activities and reflect on what you’ve done. Or put a sticky note on the fridge or a mirror to remind you of what you’ve accomplished each week!

Having an amazing multi-sport adventure on the horizon can be a great motivation to change up your routine and get more active. As long as you’re investing the money to take the trip, you may as well invest the time and effort to prepare so you can make the most of it!

Want more personalized support on picking and preparing for a multi-sport adventure trip? Contact me at becki@trailblazerwellness.com to ask questions and find out about getting personalized support for you and your travel companions.

Want to get regular updates from me? Join my email list by filling out the the form:

FYI: Blog posts by Becki Rupp and Trailblazer Wellness LLC are for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. Information included in these posts shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read in our blog posts.

Picking Your First Multi-Sport Adventure Trip

Picking Your First Multi-Sport Adventure Trip

What to look for so you have an amazing experience

Maybe you’ve seen friends post on Facebook about their latest trip – hiking and sea kayaking in Alaska, biking and hiking in Italy, biking and snorkeling on Caribbean islands. The views are amazing, and everyone seems to be having the time of their lives.

Perhaps you’ve been thinking about doing a multi-sport trip for a while, but when you start looking at options, it seems overwhelming.

Multi-sport adventure trips have become increasingly popular and accessible for more people, including multi-generation groups from kids to grandparents.

I love multi-sport trips because they give me a chance to experience a location’s beauty and culture, while engaging all of my senses as I interact with the environment. 

You definitely don’t need to be a super-athlete to enjoy a trip that involves several hours a day of physical activities. The first step is to pick a trip that’s right for you and your fellow travelers.

Let’s start with the basics: who, where, what, when, which and a few hows, plus a couple of other key considerations.

Who is going

Is this a family trip, you and your partner, a few friends, or solo? Do a quick assessment of everyone’s comfort level with various activities that could be involved in your trip.

If you aren’t sure how your travel partners feel about an activity, ask up front. You’ll save yourself valuable research time and avoid awkwardness later.

Where to

For your first foray into a multi-sport trip, you and your crew may feel more comfortable being closer to home. Many parts of the U.S. have multi-sport adventure opportunities – from California to Maine, Alaska (of course) and Hawaii to Florida.

If you have the time, money and ambition to go a bit farther afield, some top multi-sport adventure destinations include the Ecuador (the Galapagos most famously), Peru, Costa Rica, Italy, Vietnam, Thailand, and South Africa.

What type of climate and environment

With all of the options available, narrowing them down by the type of climate and environment you prefer will help you keep your sanity.

At the most basic level, decide between warm and cool. Then factor in if you want to be in the mountains, on or near water, in the desert and/or in the jungle.  Want to experience all of those? You’re a multi-sport adventurer at heart already!

When do you want to go

Some destinations have more distinct seasons than others, and in some locations, tours only run at certain times of the year (corresponding with the “best” weather conditions, as a general rule).

If you have a specific time requirement, that may rule out trips in certain locations.

Which activities, and how many

The list of options is pretty long, and the possible combinations are almost limitless. Some of the most common activities are hiking, biking, sea kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), river rafting, climbing/rappelling, and snorkeling or diving.

A few of the unusual include spelunking (aka exploring caves), dog sledding, and fly fishing.

Pick one or two “must haves” and then prioritize a few others to help with your search. Most multi-sport trips will have 2-4 different activities.

How long

The minimum number of days is usually 3 for multi-sport adventures, and some are 3 weeks or longer. Most fall into the 5-10 day range, though.

Plan to have a couple of days in the area you’re traveling to before (often required) and/or after the organized trip to relax – especially if the trip is action packed!

How intense

Many trip organizers have rating systems and/or detailed itineraries available to help you gauge how much activity is really involved. The level of detail varies, though, so if the following isn’t specified for trips you’re considering, then ask:

  • Hiking and bicycling – How rough is the terrain? How much elevation change is there in the hardest day? What’s the highest elevation?
  • Sea kayaking, SUPing and snorkeling – How deep is the water? What is the typical temperature range? How rough is it during that time of year?
  • Unusual activities – How much instructionis provided? Is the activity adjusted based on the guests’ comfort and ability? 

Accommodations

Just because you’re doing a multi-sport adventure doesn’t mean you have to pack all of your gear in a backpack, traipse into the wilderness, and sleep on the ground – though that is definitely the experience for some trips.

Many trip operators offer “glamping” accommodations – such as huts, luxurious platform tents with restroom facilities, or campers. And certain trips – especially in water-intensive areas like the Galapagos, Greece and the Caribbean – offer sleep aboard ships/yachts, or boutique hotels for land-based trips. If you have a preference, make sure the trip operator offers it for your destination.

Trip operator and guides

Last but definitely not least, research the trip operator and guides you’re considering for your multi-sport adventure trip. Cost can vary widely, and so can the experience that you have – though those factors don’t necessarily correlate.

First and foremost, make sure the company you’re working with has trained guides, safety equipment and procedures. The Adventure Travel Trade Association has initiated the International Adventure Travel Guide Qualification and Performance Standard. Although it’s not regulated, companies that have signed it have indicated they’ll support it. 

If you work with a travel agent, s/he can help you sort through the various tour operators and trip options based on your preferences and personality. Even if you don’t usually work with a travel agent or company, these experts are especially helpful when picking this kind of trip since there are so many options.

When I was researching trips in the Galapagos, I realized that doing a Google search and checking TripAdvisor for ratings brought up far more options than I had the time and energy to research. I found a company that specializes in adventure travel in South America, Detour Destinations, that had already fully vetted tour companies in the Galapagos.

I told them how long my husband and I wanted to be there, what activities were important to us (snorkeling and hiking), what size group we preferred (small) and how much we wanted to spend. They hooked us up with exactly what we described!

Now that you know more about how to pick a multi-sport trip that’s right for you and your crew, go find some awesome options and book it!

Don’t just book and show up though. To really make the most of your trip, the next steps are to prepare physically and mentally for your trip, and to pack the right clothing and equipment.

Want more personalized support on picking and preparing for a multi-sport adventure trip? Contact me at becki@trailblazerwellness.com to ask questions and find out about getting personalized support for you and your travel companions.

Want to get regular updates from me? Join my email list by filling out the the form:

FYI: Blog posts by Becki Rupp and Trailblazer Wellness LLC are for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. Information included in these posts shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read in our blog posts.

3 Reasons to Work with a Health Coach Before a Trip

3 Reasons to Work with a Health Coach Before a Trip

You finally booked that amazing trip that’s been on your mind for years – congrats! If you’re like me, you researched a bunch of options, read dozens of reviews from others who have been there, and carefully weighed the costs and perks before making reservations.

Now that you’ve got all the travel details locked down, the countdown begins! And now is your chance to prepare to make the most of your trip. 

Whether it’s roaming the streets of Rome, exploring the ruins at Machu Picchu, or helping others through a volunteer vacation, chances are it involves activities that aren’t a part of your daily life. So what can you do to get ready?

A health coach can help you make the most of your trip in three main ways.

1: Increase Your Skills and Stamina

By their nature, active trips include a lot of interesting, and some challenging, experiences. Most of us don’t have the time in our “normal” lives to spend several hours a day walking, hiking or bicycling like we’ll be doing on the trip. 

Yet you can build your skills and stamina over the weeks before you go, so when you get there, you’ll be ready to enjoy your itinerary.

A health coach works with you to design realistic weekly activities that fit into your life. You’ll learn what works well for you, and the strengths you can build on. You’ll try new things in the comfort of familiar surroundings. And you’ll have your coach to support you through the process.

After a few weeks of working with a health coach, you’ll look back at your progress and get even more excited for what’s to come!

2: Stay on Track

We all know the old saying, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. We have good intentions to do more activity, but then there are the detours, delays and distractions that derail us.

When you work with a health coach, you get extra support to stay on track. Your coach will hold you accountable and help you navigate alternate routes as needed.  

You never know what is going to come up before your trip, but you will know you have someone to keep you moving forward.

3: Improve your confidence and comfort

In the excitement of planning the trip, that little voice in the back of your head that asked, “Can I really do all of this?” may have been ignored.

Now as the departure date gets closer, it’s getting louder.

Your health coach will remind you of all the reasons to respond to the voice, “Yes, I can do this!” The reasons will come from the successes you’ve had, and what you’ve learned during your weeks of coaching.

When you show up at the start of the trip, you’ll be confident that you’re going to have an awesome time. You’ll be comfortable with the activities because you’ve been doing them. You’ll be able to focus on the new places you’re exploring and the memories you’re making.

You’ve invested a lot of time and money in your trip – now invest in getting yourself ready to make the most of it.

Want to talk about how this could work for you and your plans? Schedule a free 30-minute trip prep assessment call with me.

Want to get regular updates from me? Join my email list by filling out the form:

FYI: Blog posts by Becki Rupp and Trailblazer Wellness LLC are for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. Information included in these posts shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read in our blog posts.

Preparing for a Trip: The Honeymoon Meets Reality

Preparing for a Trip: The Honeymoon Meets Reality

My poor husband knows when it’s getting to be “that time” – when the travel bug is gnawing at my brain and I’m antsy to decide where we are going next. 

It usually starts with me asking him where he wants to go, to which he replies with the same question back to me. After 20+ years of planning trips together, he knows I usually have a few destinations in mind, as well as a starter list of what we could do.

It’s that honeymoon phase – the destination looks amazing, there are so many cool things to see and do, friends have told us about how great it is, the TripAdvisor reviews are glowing. 

Then, as the planning goes on, the reality sets in. We have learned the hard way that if we (okay, I) try to cram in too much we will end up cranky with each other, possibly skipping something one of us really wanted to do, and/or just not enjoying the trip as much as we had hoped.

Our trips always include some physical activities – hiking, biking, snorkeling, kayaking, walking city streets or the beach – and usually more than one. We both love exploring in cities and in nature, experiencing the real local culture beyond the usual tourist spots, and sampling new foods and beverages.

While we’re both pretty active – when you live in the mountains in Colorado, it’s almost mandatory to get out and enjoy the beauty – we still need to physically and mentally prepare for our trips. The fact is, we spend more time sitting in front of computers than we do outside on our feet.

A few years ago we decided to go to Peru, including a 4-day trek on the Inca Trail. We normally hike a few times a month, and have done a few multi-day hikes/backpacking trips over the years. So we probably would have gotten through the hike with no major issues, especially considering we were going on a guided trip that included porters to carry the food and tents.

We didn’t want to just “make it through” though – this was a big trip, and a big investment, and we wanted to really enjoy it as much as possible. 

We amped up our usual hikes over the months leading up to the trip so they got to be at least as long as the trip’s longest day. 

We went to places where we could do higher altitude hikes – the maximum altitude for the Inca Trail route we did was around 13,000 feet. We’re lucky to be a short drive from trails near that altitude to get used to those conditions. We carried heavier packs than our usual day packs since we’d be carrying more gear on the trek.

When we showed up in Cusco to meet our guide and group before dawn on our first day, it was clear that we were the oldest people in the group. The ages ranged from late 20s to my husband at 50+. 

As we started up the first stretch of the trail the group quickly spread out. Up front was the younger guide and the younger members of the group. 

My husband and I set out at our usual pace on the steady uphill grade – pretty similar to trails we hiked regularly. The older guide was behind us and a couple of others. 

We chatted as we walked, learning about our guide’s life growing up in Peru. He pointed out a few birds and unusual rock formations along the way.

After we stopped for lunch, the group order shifted a bit. Now my husband and I were in the middle – still keeping our steady pace. As we got closer to camp, we ended up passing some people in our group. 

And as we reached camp, we realized we were with the lead guide, the first ones there! That wasn’t the goal, of course, though it did mean we got first dibs on camp spots. 

At dinner that night we chatted about the hike up. I was a little surprised how worn out a few of the members of the group were – and I knew the upcoming days were going to be longer and steeper, so I wondered how they’d feel at the end.

Everyone made it, though each night it was clear who was feeling pretty good, and who was exhausted. And throughout the days when there were options to explore additional ruins or hike out to a viewpoint, certain people always skipped it.

On the last night we were talking to the older guide about what a wonderful job he’d done, and what a great group of people were on our trip. I mentioned how badly I felt for one person who had suffered from altitude sickness and another who was the last person into camp each night. 

The guide admitted that he scans each group he takes out to see who he’ll need to watch for fatigue and other symptoms. And he admitted that in his initial assessment, he’d mentally flagged my husband as one to watch!

We laughed and told him we’d prepared by hiking a bit more than usual with this trip in mind. He told us that many of those on his trips don’t really prepare at all.

As with our group, he said most complete the trek (the alternative is returning to the start riding a donkey – yikes!). But those who have physically prepared often enjoy the trip more.

His words have stuck with me over the years. Now I notice when we travel – and among visitors here in the Colorado mountains – that in any given group there are people enjoying themselves and those who are barely keeping up.

As I prepare for each trip, I think about what we’ll be doing and how to make the most of it. I adjust my routine to do more of the activities that we’ll be doing on the trip, and start my packing list pretty much as soon as I book the tickets!

I love helping others get prepared for their trips too – offering them tips about what to expect, and what they can do in the months and weeks before they go. I travel vicariously this way – envisioning what they’ll be doing, and anticipating how they’ll feel. And then when they get back and tell me what an amazing time they had – that’s the best part!

If you want some tips on getting ready for an upcoming trip, just send me an email at becki@trailblazerwellness.com!

Want to get regular updates from me? Join my email list by filling out the the form:

FYI: Blog posts by Becki Rupp and Trailblazer Wellness LLC are for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. Information included in these posts shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read in our blog posts.