|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – March 2009
Don't suffer through a poorly planned trip: Use our tips to choose a destination and create a to-do list to begin your adventure.
Tuesdays and Wednesdays are usually the cheapest days to fly.
mapsource.com, longitudebooks.com, natgeomaps.com
Lonely Planet, Cicerone Press
Contact one of the member clubs (in more than 60 countries) on the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation's website, theuiaa.org.
Do I need a guide?
Some trips–the Inca Trail, Mt. Kilimanjaro–require guides. For others, it's up to you–outfitters can take care of logistical hassles, provide technical coaching and gear, and show you the best trails, campsites, and wildlife-watching spots.
If you decide to go guided, research options in advance at hireamountainguide.com or adventuretravel.biz/resources.asp. Look for someone with internationally recognized certification (the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations is a great place to start). When hiring a local guide at your destination, make sure he or she has first-aid certification, English proficiency, and client references. Henry Beyer, program director of the American Mountain Guide Association, also suggests asking to see valid permits and equipment use records (to judge gear safety), as well as asking the guide to explain your chances of success and risk of injury on the trip or climb.
How to be a good client
"Guides want to have a good time as much as the client does," says Beyer. Help them do it, and you might find yourself on the winning end of a few perks, like side expeditions, secret campsites, and post-hike brews at locals-only bars.