(ARA) - Mom zip-lining, Dad mountain biking, a sibling hike at sunrise - for many travelers, a vacation isn't just for relaxation, it's the perfect opportunity for adventure in the great outdoors. The summer travel season is ideal for camping, hiking and biking - great travel activities for couples and families alike. With a little pre-travel planning, you can help ensure that the elements and the unforeseen of outdoor travel don't derail your good time.
The easiest way to avoid any mishaps is to adequately prepare before your trip. Follow these tips for a healthy, safe and enjoyable outdoor vacation:
Pack the right clothing
Mother Nature is a fickle beast - meaning that even during warm seasons, weather can be unpredictable and temperatures can plummet after nightfall. Packing clothes that can be layered is wise so you can add on or remove as necessary. Because you'll be active, a good pair of supportive shoes is crucial as well as several pairs of light socks to keep feet dry and blister-free. If rain might be an issue, pack rain gear, or at the very least, an emergency poncho. When deciding what to wear for your outdoor adventure, plan for comfort rather than fashion - you'll be sorry at the end of your half-day horseback ride if you wear shorts and flip-flops.
Remember sun protection
When spending long hours outdoors, the sun can be intense, especially if you're doing an activity on the water or away from shade. Always pack plenty of sun block at SPF 30 or higher - remember to spread all over your body including often-forgotten areas like feet, ears, hands and knees. Make sure to pack sunglasses for the whole family to protect the eyes and face. It's wise also to bring hats and light, cotton long-sleeve shirts too, which can provide additional protection from the sun and from bug bites.
Buy travel assistance
Whether you are traveling 50 miles or 5,000, both domestic and international travelers should get emergency medical and travel assistance from a company like On Call International. Membership includes unlimited coverage any day at any time for emergency medical evacuations to the hospital of your choice, expert medical monitoring, worldwide medical referrals and family travel costs related to the injury/sickness. With a deluxe travel assistance membership you get additional benefits such as protection and assistance during natural disasters and civil unrest, and even assistance with the care and return of your pet.
Be water wise
Your body always needs adequate hydration, but when you're doing physical activities outdoors, it's even more important to have a plentiful supply of water. Make sure that wherever you are going has a source of safe drinking water. Even if the hike you planned includes a rest stop where a drinking fountain is located, it's still wise to bring a water bottle because you never know when a fountain might be broken or unavailable. Avoid water from lakes or streams - no matter how clean and pure it looks, it likely contains water-borne parasites and micro-organisms that can make you ill. If necessary, use a chemical treatment to purify water.
Make a plan for the unexpected
Whether you're taking a causal hike or trying a new activity like rock climbing or kayaking, it's smart to bring a companion. In case of an emergency, you don't want to be alone. If you'll be out for a while, pack a portable first-aid kit for minor injuries. Talk with your travel companions ahead of time and develop an emergency plan should someone get lost or a medical emergency occurs. On hikes or during camping trips to more remote locations, parents often give children whistles to blow in case they become lost.
A little planning and some smart thinking means adventure travel outdoors can be safe and full of memory-making potential. Consider these tips and you'll be well on your way to having a great vacation.