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How I plan an expedition

Posted in: Planning


I’m never home for long before I start to feel the urge to go on another adventure. Planning an expedition is a lot of work. These are some of the things that I consider when choosing my next big adventure and prepare for it.  

How I Decide Where to Go For an Expedition 

The biggest factor in my choice of location is what I am interested in; after all, planning takes months of research. I like to pick places that aren’t well known so I can create my own path rather than following the blueprint of other adventurers that go before me.  Being able to shine a light on some of the challenges a region faces is another big driver. Through my blog or media interviews, I can talk a little bit about what is going on in a local area. 

Biodiversity is also a huge draw for me. I love getting the chance to see unique wildlife of all kinds that I don’t get to see at home. as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by animals, and the chance to see wildlife up close is something I cannot pass up. The chance to see a fer de lance or a green anaconda up close is something not to be missed! 

Inspiration can come from many places; sometimes I’ll spend ages in front of a world map, sometimes my interest will be piqued from a documentary or a wildlife book.  Once I have been inspired, there is no stopping me; I become obsessed with knowing everything there is to know about the destination and planning potential routes. 

How I Learn More About a Location 

I do a little bit of online research about an area to narrow down exactly where I want to go.  One of the most important things to me about an expedition is that it challenges me, whether physically, mentally, or emotionally. I want to push myself to become a better person with more knowledge and resilience to be able to make longer and more strenuous expeditions.

I also want to take a route that will take me through significant areas, whether they are facing deforestation, or there are issues arising locally such as human rights or conservation issues, that strange to me is not attracting international attention as it should be. If my expedition allows me to document it or shine a light upon it, then all the better. 

Once I have an idea of which region I want to visit, I will contact local people.  Many of the locations I visit are not always accurately reported on in the media.  Therefore, tapping into first-hand knowledge and having local points of contact is important.  I reach out to local government, charities, and other local people who may be able to help me plan better and provide up-to-date information. They will be able to advise me about things such as: 

  • Terrain 
  • Recent climate and weather patterns 
  • Local issues 
  • Potential risks 
  • The local wildlife 
  • Any requirements for tourists visiting the region
  • Contacts to organise local transport 

How I Prepare For an Expedition

I regularly take courses to keep my skills up-to-date to ensure the expedition goes smoothly.  The skills I practice regularly are navigation, physical preparedness, and using equipment like sat phones. These skills ensure my safety on an expedition and make the trip easier. 

Another important factor in the success of an expedition is my physical fitness. I practice what I like to call functional fitness, which means I keep fit by practising fitness skills that will be necessary for expeditions. For the kind of expeditions I undertake, this is mainly long hikes with weight in different terrains. It can also include camping and sleeping rough to ensure my body is used to the conditions that I will face on an expedition. If I plan on doing an expedition that requires cycling or swimming, then I will regularly use those methods to keep fit.  I try to get out on long hikes with weight most weekends. Often, I will seek to make these multi-day hikes to train my body to keep going even when it is tired after a full day of physical exertion. The weight represents the equipment I carry on a trip, which will usually be between 20-30kg in weight.  I also try and train in my boots and try out new clothing to break in shoes and identify any issues with gear before an expedition.

How I Plan My Equipment For an Expedition 

I have my bare necessities equipment that will travel with me on all of my expeditions because they are necessary for a successful and comfortable trip. Things such as:

  • A sat phone for my safety
  • Power banks 
  • Comfortable, hardwearing, and quick-drying clothing 
  • A GPS tracker for my safety

There are many other items, but these are an example of the things that will be in my backpack for every expedition, regardless of where I am going.  These items are necessary for my health, safety, and morale.

Then there is the location-specific equipment I will take on each trip that is necessary for the local climate and environment. These can be things like plug adapters for my electronics, a hammock for when I’m visiting the jungle, or prescribed medication for the region (often malaria tablets). 

I will also make a list of equipment I might have to buy locally. I do this often for many reasons, but the two primary reasons are: 

  1. To contribute to the local economy 
  2. Because airport security won’t let me take things like machetes on a plane along with certain battery capacity.

Making a list in advance ensures I know what I need to procure beforehand, what I need to pack, and what I must buy when I land at my destination.  My local contacts help a lot with finding where to buy certain items; after all, it’s not as there are machete stores in tourist information guides. 


To learn more about what equipment I take on my expeditions, What I take 

To learn more about how I train for an expedition, How I prepare for specific