Sinead Mulhearn, web editor for_ Canadian Running _magazine, is herself a committed active traveller. If you're looking to embark on a trip where fitness goes hand-in-hand with life-changing fun — but are a little apprehensive about your trek, cycling route, or summit — here are her six top tips to keep in mind. (Experienced hikers, take note: these are for you, too!):
1. Throw a pair of flip-flops into your day pack
This piece of advice is easy to overlook, but all it takes is a day spent in sopping wet sneakers, toe-pinching climbing shoes, or sweltering hiking boots for an athletic traveller to realize the magic of open-toed shoes. Whether you’re chilling at a trailhead checkpoint or grabbing a beer after a day in the kayak, having footwear that’s dry and airy is a must. We worry so much about getting the technical gear right that most of us have missed this practical detail. For many physical travel activities, sneaking a pair of sandals into the pack is no big deal. If it’s too much of a squeeze in your pack, keep an eye out for adhesive stickers that can be applied directly to the soles of your feet. These guys barely take up any space and offer grip and protection from some of the elements, all without the bulk of shoes— a dream come true for those who live barefoot.
2. Electrolyte tablets are a godsend
If, after a tough, long ride, reaching for a sports drink is the first thing you do while your sweat still runs hot, toss some electrolyte tablets into your luggage. Packing heavy bottles of your favourite sports beverage is impractical, but skipping electrolytes altogether doesn't have to be an option. With, say, two canisters of flavoured electrolyte tablets, you’ll be bringing 20 post-workout beverages that take up less bag space and weight than one bottle of Gatorade. Plus, there's benefit beyond the workout: If your worn-out, jet-lagged body needs a little revitalization after a patchy night’s sleep, electrolytes can offer a welcome boost.
3. Be outspoken about your lifestyle
Bragging about your athletic capabilities and mentioning your interests in conversation aren’t the same thing. Are you really into running? Do you need a daily yoga fix, or a place to swim a few laps? Mention this while chatting to locals or guides, and there’s a good chance they’ll offer you an insider tip or hook you up with like-minded individuals.
4. Invest in a multi-purpose pack
If physical endeavours play a large role in the way you travel, you may need to pack a diverse roster of gear. Before you hit the road, think seriously about the backpack you’re taking for your adventures. Is it functional for more than one activity? For example, if you’re planning on trail-running and getting into a wet canoe, opt for a narrow dry-sack pack. Or, if you’re a runner and a trekker, skip the hydration bladder to make room for a jacket, first aid kit, and snacks. Having a multi-use pack to cover you for multiple activities is key (bonus points if this pack can work as your airport carry-on).
5. Develop a relationship with Vaseline
This might sound weird, but if you’re an active traveller, a tub of Vaseline is your best friend. This lubricating lotion is versatile enough that it can solve so many irritations: Hikers coat their feet in the stuff to avoid blisters from debris, paddlers can use it to soothe chapped hands and runners apply large quantities to avoid chafing skin on the armpits, inners thighs or — yes — nipples. Use it as balm on dehydrated lips, to avoid rashes from surf wetsuits, and to protect the face from windburn when hitting the slopes. Some even debate whether or not it can be used to grease a bike chain in a pinch. Seriously, Vaseline is the outdoorsy person’s life hack.
6. Get out of your comfort zone
Travelling isn’t the time to hold back. If there’s something you’re curious about trying, go for it. In fact, making a point to get outside of your comfort zone at least once while away from home will probably only going to lead to a positive experience. And don’t fret about showing up to that surf lesson, yoga class or bungee jump solo — be gusty and jump in, and you'll make some friends in the process. Your future self will thank you.
Ready to strap on your sneakers and hit the road for an active adventure? G Adventures can get you there. Check out our roster of small group Active tours here.