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Backpacker Magazine – March 2009

Travel Like a Pro: For the Extreme Traveler

Bound for one of the globe's most exotic locales? Thrive in any environment with these tips.

by: Berne Broudy

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Illustration by Tavis Coburn
Illustration by Tavis Coburn

Beat Bacteria
Avoid salads and raw vegetables, which may be washed in contaminated water, and any fruits you can't peel.

What to Do Before You Leave | Tips for En Route | When You Get There | How to Stay Healthy | Etiquette On the Trail | For the Extreme Traveler

Hot
Brazilian Amazon, Sahara Desert
  • Make like the locals and take a break midday, when the sun is hottest. Set up your tent fly like a tarp for shelter, or chill under a shady tree.
  • Replace fluids and electrolytes lost in sweat by sipping at least one liter of water or sports drink (we like NUUN) per hour.
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals, and avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • Wear light-colored clothing that reflects heat and a wide-brimmed sun hat. In the rainforest, keep clothes dry by packing them in zip-top bags.
Cold
Antarctica
  • Keep extremities warm by swinging arms and legs to force blood into your fingers and toes, and pack chemical hand- and foot-warmers.
  • Don't forget to drink; you're losing more fluid through respiration and sweat in the cold than you realize. Use wide-mouth bottles and store them upside-down inside insulating sleeves so the tops won't freeze over.
  • Bump up your calorie intake by at least 25 percent on a cold-weather trip–more if you're doing strenuous hiking or skiing. Have a snack high in unsaturated fat, such as peanut butter, before bed to keep your metabolism fired up.
High Altitude
Everest Base Camp, Aconcagua
  • Stoves can get balky in cold, low-oxygen locales. With multifuel stoves, like MSR's XGK ($125, msrgear.com) or the Brunton Vapor ($225, brunton.com), release pressure from your bottle by unscrewing the cap, screwing it back, repressurizing with the pump, then lighting it. Ditch the windscreen to let in more oxygen. With canister stoves, (we like the MSR Reactor; $140, msrgear.com), warm fuel in your sleeping bag or a pocket, then put the canister in a shallow container of water while cooking.
  • Take a day or two to acclimatize over 8,000 feet. Take a rest day at 10,000 feet, and again for every 3,000 feet gained. A safe trek up 20,320-foot Mt. McKinley takes 12 to 14 days.
  • Pace yourself–you should be able to talk and hike–and take a 10-minute break every hour.

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