With traditional travel and vacation types unavailable at various points during 2020, hotel closures, and canceled flights due to travel bans and lockdowns, we have seen a rise in the number of us taking outdoor vacations. The issue is how to stay healthy and safe when enjoying the great outdoors. We have seen an increase in the number of ill-equipped vacationers requiring assistance or rescue from mountain rescue, coastguard, or National Park Rangers. Don’t be one who adds to these statistics. Read our concise guide to staying safe and healthy, and you’ll be alright.
There are fewer hazards that are more important to avoid than becoming too cold. Depending on your situation, the results can vary from being a little uncomfortable to a life-threatening situation. Staying warm is down to our shelter and clothing, and if we stay in a cabin, hotel, or RV then, we are fine, but if we are camping, it is essential to get the best tent for your environment. But when we are out and about clothing is our prime concern. There are two main aspects to consider, waterproofing and warmth, and each can be connected to the other. If waterproofing is not good enough and moisture gets in, this can cause hypothermia in cold locations. But it is also essential to let moisture out, and the issue with many budget waterproof items is that they are not breathable, so any sweat gets trapped inside the garment and can be a problem when it cools. For this reason, it is also advisable not to wear an absorbent base or mid-layers, such as cotton. Materials such as synthetic fibers or merino wool are more appropriate.
Don’t Get Lost
Many people who get lost are never found. The wilderness is a vast place, and getting lost is easier than getting found. These days navigation can be made easier by using a Sat Nav GPS, either a standalone device or an app on your smartphone. Do not be completely reliant on such devices, as batteries can die or malfunctions occur. Every walker or adventurer should be comfortable navigating using a map and compass as well.
For activities and locations where we are comfortable, it is perfectly acceptable to lead your expeditions. Where you are going out of your comfort zone and trying something new, you should consider hiring an expert guide or instructor to ensure safety. If you are attempting a mountaineering route where you would have only undertaken woodland walks in the past, it might make sense to have a pro show you the ropes (sometimes literally, depending on the route). Even areas you are familiar with in summer may require a whole different set of skills in winter.
Bugs, Infection & Infestation
Few of us are delightfully happy to be in the company of large numbers of bugs and insects. So, when vacationing in the outdoors how do we deal with them. Issues can range from irritation in terms of bites and scratches to destruction of food supplies, or even illness in some cases. If you are traveling overseas it is wise to check if any vaccines or inoculations are required. You can also use a variety of repellents or sprays to make yourself less attractive to certain bugs, even what colors attract mosquitoes can help choose attire to keep the bugs away.
It’s one of the things we rarely discuss in polite conversation but going to the bathroom is something we all have to do. Not considering it before heading outdoors can lead to a tricky situation. For short trips, you may well be able to plan a route that passes by indoor facilities. For more remote places there are a few simple rules, bury any physical waste, and keep away from public paths and water sources as much as possible.
Eat WellIf we are going to be on the go, outdoors, and being active eating well is going to be a must. However, chances are we are not going to have the full range of kitchen equipment at our disposal meaning we will need to keep it simple. If we are in a camper van or RV, we will have a simple kitchen, although this will still be more limiting, especially if we are cooking for the whole family. For those who are camping in the more traditional sense, you may be relying on a small camp stove, fire, or BBQ pit.