The Explore General Information Booklet 9
Airport security Even the most seasoned of travellers manage to pack forbidden items in their hand luggage. ‘Don’t get it confiscated!’ is our mantra, and check the airport website for the latest regulations.
What to pack ‘Travel light’ is invariably the best advice – especially as many airlines will now charge for baggage. As a general rule, Explore trips are completely informal and clothing should be kept practical and appropriate for the area visited. Bear in mind, however, that on occasion a degree of formality will be expected (e.g. dinner on the last day or visiting a holy shrine). The range of items listed below is intended as a guideline only to packing for a trip. There are obviously important differences in the tours themselves, and requirements will not be exactly the same for a trip based on camping as for one which stays at hotels. Summer or winter departures, desert, jungle, cities, altitude, Mediterranean sun or tropical conditions, all influence what you pack. Common sense will help you select the items of clothing and equipment necessary for your tour. The secret of packing and dressing while travelling is to be able to ‘layer’ clothing to cope with the variety of temperatures and weather conditions one might encounter on Explore tours. More specific details are mentioned in the appropriate Trip Notes.
Individual medical kit You should include any drug prescriptions or medicines habitually used, as obtaining local supplies can be difficult. Store items in a protective pouch.
Sleeping bag/mattress Sometimes Explore trips involve camping, staying in modest accommodation or in village huts. Very often, in these cases, you will need to provide your own sleeping bag and mattress. If you are required to bring these items on your tour, this will be specified in the Trip Notes. An inflatable pillow also makes travelling or the night more comfortable. The sort of sleeping bag you’ll need is also suggested in the Trip Notes, and we have used the following method to help categorise the different types.
Seasons Rating (Valley Level): 1 Season Summer use only (down to 10°C) 2 Seasons late Spring to early Autumn (down to 0°C) 3 Seasons* early Spring to late Autumn (down to -5°C) 4 Seasons* late Autumn to early Spring (down to -15°C)
*Ensure that the quality of your sleeping bag is adequate if travelling to an area requiring a 3 or 4-season rating. Old or poor quality bags may not be as effective as you think. However, the rating of a sleeping bag may be boosted by using a fleece “inner” or simply by wearing thermal underwear.
For summer tours or hot conditions, a light cotton sleeping sheet is nice to climb into when it’s too warm in your bag. Any lightweight air mattress (not too easily punctured) is OK, but a foam-mat (thin closed cell foam mat) is often easier to use in practice. Slightly more expensive, but very compact and extremely comfortable, are closed-cell self-inflating sleeping mats. Camping shops offer a wide selection of bags and mattresses for all climates and conditions.
Clothing Should be casual, hard-wearing
and easily washed. With varying temperatures and conditions, it is wise to have several layers of thin clothing, often changed, than one thick one. A windproof and waterproof outer shell (such as a cagoule or rainjacket) is essential on the majority of tours in case adverse weather conditions are encountered. Whether you select a hi-tech breathable fabric such as Goretex or a lightweight cagoule is a matter of personal choice and depends on how much subsequent wear you feel you will get out of it. (The sky’s the limit as far as price is concerned – choose something appropriate to your needs and budget!) In hotter, more humid conditions, breathable fabrics do not perform so well. In winter or at altitude or in cold conditions, a warm sweater is essential. Occasionally, waterproof overtrousers are necessary – on trekking and some walking tours. Jeans (especially if tight-fitting are uncomfortable for riding, walking or scrambling). The new varieties of wash and wear, lightweight poly-cottons are the best choice, if close-woven they are windproof and quite rugged. Thermal underwear is low in bulk and weight and can be useful in a variety of countries visited by Explore – there is often a marked difference between day and night temperatures, especially at altitude. If you feel the cold, it can make the difference in ensuring a good night’s sleep in cold conditions when camping. On hot or humid days, cotton clothing is much more comfortable than synthetics.
Think layers! Slip them on and peel them off as you go. A selection of T-shirts, fleeces, sweatshirts etc. is more versatile than just one thick jumper or coat that you may only use once.
For the latest UK Foreign Office travel advice check fco.gov.uk
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