Get Ready for Good Times –Part II

By Linda Ballou
NABBW’s Adventure Travel Expert

In the first half of this piece I talked about preparing your body for adventure. Now, I will share a few tips about developing a mindset that will allow you enjoy your journey more.

(1) Remember who you are.
Don’t forget that even though you may wear the same jean size as your guide, they are used to the climate, and the pace of the activity. You are calling muscles into action that you haven’t talked to for a long time or maybe have never previously met before.

Pace yourself. Don’t be competitive with the group. On a recent river kayak trip I found myself consistently pulling up the rear. I felt guilty and frustrated about not be able to keep up until a fellow kayaker, a young man related to the energizer bunny, circled around me and said, “Someone has to be in the rear. Besides, you take the pressure off of me to perform.” How sweet! Apparently, being a caboose served a useful purpose on the journey.

(2) Invest in a helmet that meets ASTM (American Society for Testing Materials) standards.
I love cool winds blowing through my hair when I am physically exerting myself so I have a resistance to helmets. But, the new helmets available today are so lightweight I forget I’m wearing mine.

Helmeted Linda on her horse, Spook.

Horseback riders love to wear a Stetson just like the Sundance Kid, mountain bikers and motorcyclists pride themselves on having no fear of the unforgiving pavement and whitewater rafters swirl madly through bolder jumbles. Studies have shown that if you leave your helmet at home in your sports trunk, your trunk will experience fewer injuries.

(3) Let your guide know if you are having trouble.
They are filled with many tricks of the trade that can make the trip easier for you. Don’t let your pride prevent you from getting their advice.

While kayaking, I experienced tendonitis in my right wrist. My guide demonstrated how to keep my paddle very shallow so that I was placing very little pressure on my wrist.  “Follow the bubble line. That’s where the current is swiftest and will move you along with the least effort,” he said. “Cool your arm off in the water and let it rest between efforts.” I did what he told me to do and enjoyed the rest of the trip with no problems.

(4) Along with curtailing your drinking, watch your diet.
Loosing a few pounds before an outdoor adventure will allow you to indulge in the scrumptious meals prepared for you by your guides.

One of the most wonderful aspects of this type of holiday for me is that I don’t have to think about, “What’s for dinner?”  It never ceases to amaze me what marvelous brownies, cakes, and muffins come out of a Dutch oven on a camp stove. At home I don’t indulge in lumberjack breakfasts, but when a guide cooks and serves me breakfast, it’s hard to say no. Shedding a few pounds before I go on vacation lets me indulge myself without taking home more than great memories.

(5) Get the right gear.
Nothing hurts me more than to see a novice on a horse-pack trip wearing tennis shoes. I know that person will have purple calves at the end of the day and will be praying to go home that night. Half chaps are readily available, easily packed and will protect your legs and can be worn with any shoe. If only they had checked with someone who had previously taken the trip to know what was essential equipment.

Staying limber by doing stretches on the ride.

Outfitters often put previous guest testimonials, along with their names and address, as a reference in their literature. Don’t be shy. Call them and ask what you’ll need on the journey. Having the right gear for the right occasion is critical to your enjoyment. Read about the region you’ll be visiting, especially about the weather conditions for the time of year you will be there. A little research will enhance your visit to any environment on an emotional and intellectual level as well.

(6) Do a test run before you commit.
Before going on a week long point to point sea kayak adventure, I called a friend and asked them if I could try out their kayak.  I’d done a bit of white water rafting, but I‘d never paddled a kayak. It looked effortless from the shore, but there was a great deal of technique involved. I paddled around a local island in calm waters to see if I enjoyed the point of view, the speed of the craft, and if I could handle the physical demands. I tried to be honest with myself. The last thing I wanted to do was to find myself in the middle of a remote marine sanctuary on an uninhabited island calling for help on a two-way radio.

It’s no fun to go on a trip that’s beyond your abilities.  Quiz the outfitter, as well as those who have taken the trip, about the realities of the adventure, and then decide if you are taking the right one for you.

Good Grief!  I have to diet, stop drinking, exercise, do research and be prepared for surprises in the postcard settings that make my heart go pitty-pat. Is it worth it to see the incredible mind-bending beauty of the planet up close and personal?

For me the answer is easy. It is absolutely worth the effort to prepare for a once in a lifetime adventure. You decide whether getting ready for the good times is worth it for you.

Relaxing at day's end.

Sun salutation

Linda Ballou says her mission is to experience as many beautiful places on our planet as she can, before they are no more. “Travel tales relating my experiences while kayaking, horseback riding, sailing, birding and hiking about the globe have appeared in numerous national magazines. I had a great deal of fun collecting travel stories, and profiles of people I have met in “naturally high places” for my newest book, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales. For a complete bio as well as published on-line clips with photos go to my website www.LindaBallouAuthor.com.  Your reward, aside from learning about me and my work, will be to discover the secret to youth! Follow my blog to keep up with my latest adventures.”

Go to www.examiner.com and search for “Linda Ballou” to view my Great Outdoor Days in L.A.

Top Senior Adventures Blog Linda's mission is to experience as many beautiful places on our planet as she can before they are no more. Travel tales relating her experiences while kayaking, horseback riding, sailing, birding and hiking about the globe have appeared in numerous national magazines. She had great fun collecting travel stories, and profiles of people she met in “naturally high places” for her book, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales. Go to LostAngelAdventures.com for more adventures.