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Tips for beginners

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+Before leaving on a trip, don’t write on your Facebook wall that you’re in Thailand for the next 3 weeks. Thieves read this and will pay you a visit. Write when you’re back. Luckily, the experience is not personal, but it happened to a person I know.

+If travelling by car, prepare or buy some food that’s easy to consume (potato salad, pies, fruit, yoghurt, etc.), definitely some water and other drinks. This will buy you a lot of time in the first 2000 km because you don’t have to stop to get food or search for shops and places to eat. At once you’ve arrived you’ll have more time to enjoy local food and drinks.

+When you’re planning to go into mountains, trim your toenails as short as possible. Then you will have them on you when you get back. Descending puts great pressure on the tips of your toes and longer nails will simply peel off in a while.

+Always have some cash with you, because you may need it in the most unexpected situations. So unexpected that I can’t even give an example.

+If you’re climbing a high mountain without a group leader, choose a person among you, who will decide what to do in a crisis situation when people completely disagree with each other. And this rule (i.e. his or her word) must be obeyed in a crisis situation.

+Even when I reach a well-marked and frequently visited one-day peak, I have some warmer and waterproof clothes in my backpack, another pair of socks, gloves, a headlamp, painkillers, a roll of bandage, plasters, some food, energy-rich snacks, matches, grey tape, a knife and a communication device. In case of higher-difficulty peaks the list gets considerably longer. YES – I HAVE REALLY NEEDED EACH ONE OF THESE AT SOME POINT.

+Don’t assume that if camping is forbidden, you won’t be able to camp. You just need to search better. In the Nordic countries, for example, there is the “One night right”, according to which you can easily spend one night on anyone’s land. In Norway I think your tent must be visible from the owner’s house, not hidden.

+You can’t count on having mobile phone signal in the mountains. Find alternative communication devices besides mobile phones.

+On a longer trip it’s worthwhile to switch tent partners. So that the same people wouldn’t be together all the time. Or just men’s and women’s tents. I also recommend separating spouses and partners from each other from time to time. It works well. However, forcing people who hardly stand each other into one tent will not work that well.

+If it’s unbearably cold when you get back to the camp in the evening, first put on warmer and drier clothes and then busy yourself making some food, securing the tent or packing your backpack. Be active and you’ll get warm.

+If you don’t have direct debit, pay your mobile phone bill before the trip. Then you’ll be able to use your phone throughout the trip.

+Don’t be afraid of places not listed in Lonely Planet. You’ll experience something other people haven’t, which makes it more special.

+Communicate with the locals. That’ll give you information only available for them, homemade food and often also a place to stay the night.

+If you’re afraid of heights standing on a 4th floor balcony, it doesn’t mean that you can’t hike around in the mountains. People with a fear of heights in my groups have always conquered their fears. With one exception in a situation where some serious rock climbing was necessary.

+The temperature falls approximately 1 degree per 250 metres, depending on the mountain range. This means that at 3000 metres it’s 12 degrees colder than at sea level. This is considerably magnified by a strong wind, and the perceived temperature at 3000 metres may well be 25 degrees lower than at seal level.