The Wild Pair

Archive for the ‘Adventure Travel’ Category

Get Fit For Your Trip: 5 Expert Tips To Get Your Body Adventure-Ready

In Adventure Travel on March 16, 2010 at 2:09 pm

We don’t know about you, but we seem to possess the adventurous logic-be-dammed attitude of  25-year-olds, the curiosity of a 6-year-old and here’s the rub, the bodies of  midlife computer geeks. It’s one hellofva wild combo.

Enter Marcus Shapiro, adventure traveler, fitness specialist and founder of the new website Shapiro and his team spent five years researching and producing adventure-specific workouts to prepare travelers for anything from rafting the rapids of the Grand Canyon’s Colorado River to summiting Kilimanjaro.

The Wild Pair recently spoke with Marcus about ways any traveler can get physically primed for their next adventure. Whether you’re a beginner preparing for a hiking vacation in the Canadian Rockies, a long distance runner booked to cycle the coast of Sicily or an elite mountaineer headed off for a multi-day kayaking vacation in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, here are five expert tips to help you get fit for your trip.

1) Change from a general fitness program to a trip specific workout

Within 8 to 15 weeks of your departure date, replace your general fitness program with a trip-specific program.  A general fitness plan is the perfect strategy for everyday fitness, but a trip specific program prepares you for the movements and stresses you will encounter on your trip.  It will also help you avoid the most common injuries associated with the activities in your itinerary.  For instance, if you are attempting to summit mountains, you will be trekking on steep grades, which really beats up your Achilles tendon and calf muscle complex.  A masochistic workout on the stepper (i.e. StairMasterÒ) will strengthen your thighs and gluteal muscles, but it will not sufficiently strengthen and lengthen the muscles in your lower leg.  Walking on an inclined treadmill, or better yet, hiking steep grades will decrease your chances of straining your lower leg on the trail.  Also, add some pack weight to your treadmill workout. This, and other trip specific exercises, will prepare you for long days of trekking.

2) Train for movement not muscle mass

Sticking with the mountain climbing example, you will need to train the muscles, nerves, and ligaments in your legs to work together synergistically to successfully hike the steep grade. Reverse lunges, for example, force you to use your quadriceps, hamstrings, calf muscles, gluteal muscles, and core muscles simultaneously.   If you are preparing for alpine scrambling, performing a machine chest fly, a tricep pushdown and a side shoulder raise will strengthen the necessary muscles, but push-ups will do better. The various parts of your body are learning to work together to accomplish the specific task you are setting out to do.

3) Train in phases – increase the intensity and complexity of your workout as your trip approaches

To prepare for a trip, you want to systematically change the exercises, level of intensity, repetitions and other elements of training over a period of 8 to 15+ weeks to ensure gradual improvements in your level of fitness leading to a peak level of optimal physical performance at the exact time you depart for your adventure vacation. Split your training into three phases – each phase made up of four-week blocks – adding intensity and complexity over time.  In the first phase, establish a base level of fitness working mostly on strength: perform basic squats, deadlifts and lunges.  In the second, add a little more complexity that involves the core muscles and balance: eliminate the two leg exercises (i.e. squat, deadlift) and include single leg squats and single leg step-ups to a high bench.  In the third phase combine strength, balance and add power and agility: perform single leg jumps, walking lunges with a powerful skip, single leg step-ups onto a bench jumping as high as you can.

4) Taper your workout the week before you leave for your trip

Tapering means a reduction in workload and intensity at the end of a training regimen.  If you’re an athlete, you probably already taper your workouts prior to a major competition. Tapering properly the week prior to your departure will allow your body to completely recover and heal from the demands you have placed on it over the course of your training program.  This does not mean stopping completely, but a reduction in volume, intensity and duration.  Your goal is to maintain mobility and joint movements but let your neuromuscular system fully recuperate.  A safe way to accomplish this is to return to basic exercises and reduce your resistance training workouts to one set per exercise, around a 12-15 repetition range where you feel no “burn” at all.  Additionally, reduce your endurance training to half the duration and 2/3 the intensity. It’s a good sign if you want more and it feels like you are not accomplishing much in your work out.  Just remember, it is better to under train the last week than overstrain.

5) Modify your diet slightly while you train for your trip

Your goal is to reduce body fat while not losing muscle so that it’s easier to paddle, trek, climb or cycle your way from point A to B.  One’s diet is personal and each body operates at its prime on a unique set of dietary choices, but generally the best way to reduce body fat without losing muscle is to replace some of your carbohydrate calories with additional proteins.  The most important thing to do before your trip is to feed your body the nutrition it needs.

Photo Credits:  flickr by Xevi V ;by Kathy Dragon of


The Joys Of Foreplay

In Adventure Travel, Travel Tips & Advice on February 22, 2008 at 7:09 pm



You don’t need candles or low lights or glam lingerie from Victoria’s Secret. You do need to carve out a few moments to dream about your upcoming trip, or contemplate a trip you’d like to take but haven’t booked yet. If you’re in the former category, what would make it the trip of a lifetime? Would it be the thrill of rushing whitewater on a rafting trip? Catching your first glimpse of a lioness in nature? Hiking to Machu Picchu in the early morning mists? Meeting a Masai warrior? Dining in front of a picture window with Paris spread out before you? Picture it for a long moment. Relish it. Add as many imaginary details as you can. If you’re in the latter category and haven’t yet booked a trip, first do the dreaming and then do the booking.


Very often, in love making, if you wait for the right moment, life intervenes and the moment passes. The same is true of travel. Why postpone a trip until you get a raise or the kids are grown or you’ve upgraded the kitchen again? The perfect moment may never arrive, and the world will evolve without your having seen it. If you’re asking the question: “When is the best time to travel?” the answer is “Now.”


You may belong to an online community. If so, you have a group of linked-in people with valuable experience and input. Tell them where you are thinking of going, and ask for their suggestions. Or post the kind of vacation you’d like, and see who has ideas. This is very stimulating and increases pre-trip excitement. And most folks LOVE to be consulted as experts.


There are probably dozens of things that keep you up at night and make you frown during the day. If you are worrying about them, there’s no brain room to think about your upcoming trip. Go to your local bookstore, library, or hit Amazon or another bookseller online. Find at least one book about your destination. It can be a novel, a literary book about someone’s voyage, even a guide book. Crack it open and start to read. Watch how fast your other concerns recede. Bet you won’t read just one!


Researching your trip is different from reading a book. The latter encourages dreaming. You can put a book down in your lap and doze off. You can set it on your nightstand, so it’s the last thing you see before the sandman and the first thing you see before dressing for work. The net is great for information and ideas…..but nothing replaces a bound volume held in your hands.


Travel is a feast for the eyes, and films are travel foreplay. You can rent documentaries about your future trip, or you can rent films that take place in the destination you are heading for. If there are independent video stores where you live, the people behind the desk are a great source of information. Most of them don’t get to travel the way you do, but they are often film nerds and can direct you to the right films. Strike up a conversation with other customers in the store. Ask Mr. Google to come up with films about your destination. And then, settle back and enjoy an imaginary trip before your real one.


If you are heading for Mexico, go to a fave local Mexican restaurant. If your destination is Thailand, eat Thai. It will put your stomach in the mood for your trip…and also give you a basis of comparison after your voyage. You’ll be an authority when you say, “It was better in Africa…or the Amazon….or Armenia.”


If you know folks who have already been to where you are going, ask if you can visit them and look at their photos. If they are good friends, you won’t have to look at all of them. If they are your best friends, you can tell them you’d like them to go a little faster. But do not underestimate how many good ideas your friends’ photos can generate. They’ll help you decide which sites you must see and which ones you can skip. They’ll give you ideas for extending your trip or flying out a day or two early.


Sure, your desk and desktop will be a mess when you come back. Your fridge will be empty and something will need repair or replacement. That’s why a lot of folks get blue when they come back home. Plan in advance to invite friends over to look at pictures, taste food you’ve brought back, hear about your adventures. You can tell your buddies there will be a party, even if you don’t set the date. After the excitement of your trip, they’ll all want to know…”How was it for you?”


Travelers are people who LOVE travel. It’s no more logical than love is. Indulge in your love of travel. Travel every chance you get. With a little foreplay, it will be great for your heart, mind and soul. And, between us, even if you can’t do the foreplay, enjoy the act itself.

BON VOYAGE and love from The Wild Pair.

ABOUT THE WILD PAIR: Ellen Barone and Judith Fein,

They’re smart, sassy, savvy, award-winning travel journalists and photographers and now they’ve joined forces to become THE WILD PAIR, bringing you cutting-edge information and tips on how to turn your next vacation into a life-enhancing experience.

© Ellen Barone and Judith Fein. All Rights Reserved.

Choosing the Right Adventure Tour Company

In Adventure Travel, Travel Tips & Advice on January 22, 2008 at 7:13 pm

Here is the Wild Pair’s guide to choosing the right adventure travel company.

Stretch and Tone

When we join an adventure travel tour, we want more than just calorie-burning and adrenaline pumping. We want to stretch the boundaries of our awareness. We want to come back home having learning something new. Maybe it’s a few sentences in a formerly-impenetrable language. Or, new cooking skills that we can utilize in our own kitchens. Perhaps we learn about the geology of the landscape we are navigating. Or the history of a country that didn’t even exist before the First World War.

We look for companies that are married to the concept that education is a fundamental part of travel. We yearn to learn.

Green is Our Fave Color

Aware that our very presence can erode the fragile environments and ancient cultures we have come to visit, we look for companies that tread as softly as possible in the regions they visit.

Never be afraid to ask an outfitter about personal philosophy and impact awareness. Inquire how a company’s practices benefit local communities and what they do to help protect the cultural and natural heritage of the places they visit. If they can commit to the betterment of the planet, you can commit to traveling the planet with them.

Putting a Smile on the Customer’s Face

Of course you want to seek out companies with a strong commitment to guest services and a rock-solid rep for looking out for the health and safety of their clients. But, you can go further. Check on an outfitter’s accreditation and its membership in respected organizations like Trusted Adventures, the Adventure Travel Trade Association, Sustainable Travel International, The Rainforest Alliance and The International Ecotourism Society. These are top-notch vetters that demand a high level of accountability and service.

Keep It Real

We like our travel to be authentic rather than canned. We love local flava. Whether you decide to you explore the African savanna with native Maasai warriors or ride the rapids of the Colorado River through the maw of the Grand Canyon, it should be a first-hand experience that is unique to your group and seizes on spontaneous events that occur during the trip. When you visit another environment or culture, it should be a catalyst to internal discovery that lasts long after your suitcase is unpacked and your passport is tucked away. That’s why we look for companies that not only offer innovative and compelling activities, but also demonstrate a passion for creating the conditions in which genuine experience can take place.

It is Counting on Them That Counts

Let’s face it, we’re all weighed down by responsibilities at home and on the job. We’ve got family, friends, pets, deadlines, emergencies, tragedies, complications we have to deal with. There is something truly liberating in planning nothing and enjoying everything, secure in the knowledge that every aspect of your trip has been carefully researched and developed for you. New can be exciting, but when it comes to trip commitment we look for outfitters with decades of experience behind them. We know they have remained on top by gathering the best local guides, pioneering exploratory expeditions to new destinations and devising innovative ways of experiencing familiar haunts.

Seek and Ye Shall Find

Surf the net, or, better yet, use your online and real life networks. Ask others who are into adventure travel which companies they swear by. As you undoubtedly know, people love to share their expertise and experiences. They will pump up their favorite providers and dump on the duds. Their honesty is invaluable.

Ask the Experts

We asked the always-available experts at Trusted Adventures what it takes to keep travelers returning year after year. With a minimum of 20 years experience under their belt – they have seen it all; from the infancy of adventure travel to its sophisticated and polished present…

If the Shoe Fits

Choose an adventure travel company like you’d choose a pair of shoes. You want the perfect fit and a relationship that is supportive, and not likely to create irritation and blisters! Ask questions about what their focus is. Hopefully they’ll ask you what you’re looking for. Is there a match? Ask them for examples of the kind of trip and experience you’re seeking. It is one thing for a company to say “sure we do that” and another for them to come up with credible and concrete examples. – Peter Grubb, ROW Adventures

It’s All in the Family

It really comes down to being a part of our extended family. We are a relatively small company and know our alumni well. It is all about building a rapport and knowing each individual for what they like or perhaps are not so crazy about. When someone calls you up for a recommendation for where to spend their precious vacation time, the worst thing you could do is just try and get them on a trip, any trip. It has to be the right trip. This only comes from years of personal service and getting to really know your guests. We have folks that come back year after year. They call up during the winter months and simply ask “where should I go this year?” Now that is trust.

We clearly understand that it is our alumni that drive the train. We have always had a solid alumni program, but this year we are taking a step further with the launch of our new “Adventurers Club”. This alumni-only club awards our special guests with a host of services; like personal concierges, 24/7 access to ALA experts, invitation to special trips and events, etc. We are also launching an industry first and in the fall of 2008 we will be rolling out our own “social networking site”. Each alum will be given access and templates to create their very own Adventures Club website. Here they can post pictures, track their trips, correspond and or invite others to join them, etc. This new site will further enhance that sense of community we strive so hard to accomplish. – Dan Austin, Austin Lehman Adventures

Promises, Promises…

It seems every company promises the best guides, the best food, the best service. What should really matter is the unique experience that one takes home with them long after the flight home. The flashback to the delicious smell you followed around the corner and into the bakery in an Italian village you can’t pronounce. The mushroom farmer you met on the trail wearing that little hat and the apron where he delicately gathered the mushrooms. A place you could never find on your own and something about that moment that touched you forever! It’s the experience that makes the difference! – Judy Allpress, The Wayfarers

BON VOYAGE from the Wild Pair!

ABOUT THE WILD PAIR: Ellen Barone and Judith Fein,

They’re smart, sassy, savvy, award-winning travel journalists and photographers and now they’ve joined forces to become THE WILD PAIR, bringing you cutting-edge information and tips on how to turn your next vacation into a life-enhancing experience.

© Ellen Barone and Judith Fein. All Rights Reserved.

Luggage Lore

In Adventure Travel, Travel Tips & Advice on December 22, 2007 at 7:01 pm


Here are a dozen suggestions on packing, luggage and what to do about the weight thing.

1) If the Shoe Fits, Wear It

When you go shopping for shoes, do you ever fall in love with the softness of the leather and the cool trim and say to yourself, “I’ll break it in?” We can almost guarantee that the shoe will break you before you break it. It is a very bad idea to buy new hiking boots or walking shoes right before a trip. You haven’t had time to check them for the blister factor. You don’t know if they are really water proof, or if they’re too tight when your foot expands from hot weather. If you want to avoid shoes blues, use your oldies but goodies or buy a new pair well in advance of departure.

2) Two is Better Than One

More folks than ever are traveling, and the airlines are misplacing or losingluggage at a startling rate. The groans of missing luggage are louder than ever before. You can almost assume, if you are a frequent traveler, that sooner or later you will arrive but your bags won’t.If you are traveling with a friend or mate, a real insider tip is to mix and match your clothes–between two suitcases. Put two of your shirts in her suitcase. Let her put a pair of pants in yours. Give each other a few pairs of socks and underwear. This way, if one of you loses a suitcase, the other isn’t stuck looking like Lady Godiva.Sadly, the chances of you and your bags being separated is increasing. To be on the safe side, you can avoid the baggage blahs by shipping your luggage ahead. More and more travelers are opting to do that. You can choose from a burgeoning list of luggage delivery companies like Luggage Concierge, Virtual Bellhop, First Luggage, Baggage Quest, Luggage Free and Universal Express.

3) There’s No Place Like Home

If you are on the road and your luggage hasn’t shown up, most airlines will give you a minimal amount of money to replace essentials after the first 24 hours. Be sure and keep the receipts for anything you buy. Generally speaking, your luggage will show up after a few days. If not, the airlines will tell you what your daily allowance is as you continue to buy essentials. It really helps if you put a copy of your itinerary inside your suitcase. When they find your suitcase, they can arrange to have it catch up with you on the road. However, if you arrive back home and your suitcase doesn’t, most airlines will not reimburse you at all for your immediate expenses. If you have to buy makeup or replace your electric toothbrush, you won’t get anything. In the long run, if your suitcase never shows up, they will reimburse you, but it’s no shoe-in. You have to provide receipts, lists, prove what is lost and its worth. You can’t count on getting full value back.

So even though it’s a horrible inconvenience, it’s better to have your luggage missing when you’re on the road. If your luggage is really lost, fight for your rights but know that it can take months to be reimbursed and you will never get back all that you paid for the contents of your luggage. Now pour yourself a stiff drink or lace your mineral water with strong cranberry juice and read this: it is estimated that 30 million bags are mishandled each year. The culprits are airport congestion, reduced flight availability and mounting baggage volume. One way to protect yourself and your belongings is to purchase travel insurance; it’s possibly your best bet for recouping any losses. Companies that offer policies which cover incidents of lost, delayed or damaged luggage include Travel Guard and, Access America and Travelex.

4) Lists, Lists, Lists

You get an A plus if you have a list of what’s in your suitcase. If it is ever lost, you just pull our your list and submit it. One way of doing this is to make a list each time you depart. Another way is to have a general packing list for all trips on your computer–and just print it out and modify it each time you travel.If you don’t have a list, and you make one up when your luggage is lost, you can be very embarrassed when it shows up. You’ve claimed a rolex watch, but inside your bag is a Timex.

5) Speaking of Timex

Travel with inexpensive jewelry. That black jade necklace you just bought looks great, and it’s very tempting to itchy fingers on the road. Leave it home. Buy a nice beaded thingie for travels. Timex watches have glow-in-the-dark features that allow you to tell what time it is when you wake up in your tent or hotel room, or want to check the hour during an opera. On the road, cheaper is better. Another option is an Oakley D5 watch–basically indestructible, waterproof to 100 meters, with dual times zones, a large backlit LCD display, and an alarm that will wake you so you don’t miss your flights or sights.And why not buy something unique and inexpensive from local vendors? It will look great on the road and make the perfect gift for your cat sitter.

6)The Fateful Moment

As soon as you realize your bag hasn’t arrived with you, go right to the airline youπve been traveling on and make a claim. Sometimes they will tell you to wait until you get home to make a claim, but this isn’t always good advice. A paper trail will serve you well. Have the airline personnel note the loss, and give you a copy to keep. Be sure to ask for a complimentary overnight kit from the airline rep when you file your claim. Too often, the airlines only offer these kits to those who ask for them. You’ll appreciate the toothbrush, deodorant and other goodies when you want to flop into bed and not scour the streets looking for an open pharmacy.

7) Weighing In

When the airline says you have a 50 pound limit, they mean it. If your luggage weighs in at 51 pounds, they can either charge you $25 or more for excess weight, or ask you to take out a pound of clothes at the airport. Weigh your luggage at home before you leave to make sure it is under 50 pounds. Take a large enough bag with you as carry-on luggage to stuff in the extra poundäor five..or twelve. Or pack a duffle in your suitcase. Pull it out and stuff the extra items in it. Ship it as an extra piece of luggage. We have done this many times.

8) Why a Duffle?

On the eighth day, God created the duffle. You can lay it flat on the inside of your suitcase and it makes an extra piece of luggage when you are traveling back home with acquisitions and souvenirs. Duffles are made in sturdy, lightweight material now, so they donπt add much to the weight in your suitcase. Be sure to put luggage tags on your duffle before you leave home so that if you use it, it’s ready to ship through.We love Eagle Creek duffles.

9) Not Your Mama’s Polyester

All the well-known travel clothiers like Magellan’s, Travelsmith , Patagonia, Royal Robbins, Ex Officio and Sierra Trading Post offer clothes from synthetic materials that don’t have you sweating like a boxer. The key word is BREATHABLE. Make sure you buy fabrics that allow your skin to breathe rather than sweat. Also make sure they are fast-drying. If you have to sacrifice style to breathability and rapid drying, do so. These are garments you can rinse out at night and wear the next morning. Sometimes they dry in two or three hours. And, unlike the rest of us, they don’t really show their wrinkles. Remember to wear your washables when you travel. If you arrive in Bali and your bags are in Boston, you’ll be happy to have fresh clothes when you wake up the next morning.

10) Sunny Side Up

We all love the sun. If dermatologists weren’t breathing down our necks, we would probably lie in the sun all day. But they are, and we don’t. Sunscreens with a high SPF are helpful, but the latest research says you have to re-apply them every few hours. Companies like Solumbra and Coolibar sell hats with 4 inch brims, and Ex Officio has clothing with a high SPF factor. We are noticing that the styles are getting better, so you don’t have to feel like a sunproof geek. Wear your SPF clothes proudly. They are often wrinkle-free or wrinkle-resistant –which makes them very packable. The jury is out on the clothing saturated with insect repellent. It may not be a good idea to have such intense exposure to repellents hour after hour. Repellents you apply yourself can be washed off. But a shirt stays on your back after the bugs are gone.

11) The Light Side

Everyone tells you to pack light, but do you listen? If you’re a smashing dresser, it’s hard to wear the same rags day after day. Even if they are washed and drip-dried. So make a joke out of it. Announce to your traveling companions that they will be seeing the same you over and over. Laugh, and let it go. What everyone has told you is right: lighter is better.And here’s a toe tip: Onesole’s lightweight, fashionable line of interchangeable shoes. Each Onesole shoe features tops made of soft, stretchy neoprene that can be snapped on and off to change the shoe’s look.

12) Like a Scout, Be Prepared

It can be 90 degrees outside, but the inside of the plane may be freezing. And the airlines are not so generous with blankets and pillows these days. In your carry-on bag, pack a shawl or jacket that can double as a body-warmer in a cold plane. Always try to pack things that do double duty when possible. Your camera’s monopod makes a wonderful walking stick. The ziplock bags you use to pack your vitamins can make a laundry bag for your clothes when the vitamins are gone. And when you have read the book you took along with you, give it to someone you meet on the road. It will leave more room in your luggage for newbies you buy on your trip.

Bon voyage!

ABOUT THE WILD PAIR: Ellen Barone and Judith Fein,

They’re smart, sassy, savvy, award-winning travel journalists and photographers and now they’ve joined forces to become THE WILD PAIR, bringing you cutting-edge information and tips on how to turn your next vacation into a life-enhancing experience.

© Ellen Barone and Judith Fein. All Rights Reserved.