The following are our top 10 tips when planning to hike abroad:
1. Never travel alone, whether you are out hiking for the day or leaving your hotel for five minutes. Travellers are primary targets for muggers and other criminals, but travelling in numbers will always offer a significant level of extra protection against becoming a victim of such crime.
2. Ensure that family, friends and a local contact, if at all possible, are all informed as to the full plans for your journey. Get in touch to update them on your progress at regular intervals wherever possible. This way, if you are midway through a hike with no means of communication, people who may otherwise contact the authorities out of concern will be suitably informed.
3. Always carry an inexpensive mobile phone with spare batteries, keeping it concealed wherever possible when in public places. Keep a separate list of important phone numbers, including that of the British embassy, in case your phone develops a fault and you are forced to use another means of contact.
4. Leave inessential valuables such as MP3 players and jewellery in your hotel’s safe or another secure and trusted location. Whilst hiking, carry only a certified copy of your passport, available from the embassy.
5. Your wallet should contain nothing more than sufficient cash for your immediate needs and no more than one credit card. Other belongings such as personal details, photos and so on should be removed prior to your trip and left in a safe place; at home if at all possible.
6. Carry a good quality GPS system, topographic maps of all areas you intend to visit and a high quality, accurate compass. Refer to them all at regular intervals, marking your position closely and keeping a record of your progress. You should regularly check your current position against your intended route and make sure that you are sticking to it as closely as possible.
7. Make sure you are fully aware as to any climate differences and that you are physically capable of hiking in conditions which may be different to those of your usual hikes. Take extra care when hiking in high altitude, keeping to a slower pace than usual in order to allow your body to adjust gradually.
8. Avoid hiking near country borders. You run the risk of accidentally straying over the border and in doing so could easily run into serious trouble with border guards, security officials or other authorities on the other side.
9. Don’t rely on the advice of locals for security information. Always seek professional security advice regarding your destination from the British embassy and perhaps consider taking a skilled and trusted guide to accompany you; someone who has considerable experience of the area in which you plan to hike will always prove a valuable companion.
10. Pay attention to government travel warnings. If travel advisories feel it necessary to release these warnings, it is with good reason that they do so. This advice should not be dismissed as being over cautious and should make travellers seriously consider rescheduling or cancelling a trip.