The importance of good walking shoes/hiking boots cannot be overstated. They have to be comfortable enough for long treks, big enough for thick socks, waterproof enough for mud and rain, study enough to withstand a battering, and warm enough to protect your toes on cold nights.
- If you are worried about money, you can find good footwear around the $50 range. For someone strapped for cash, that may seem like a lot - but it is absolutely worth it, especially if you are headed somewhere cold or wet. Invest a little, and the boots/shoes will last you for a long time.
- If you do not have good walking shoes, your toes will get wet, pinched, and cold, and you may explode and die midway along the southwest coast path to Tintagel.
One thing that tends to screw over first-time cold-weather campers is the ground temperature.
- You may prepare for wind coverage and heat insulation, but forget that if the ground freezes, it will be like lying directly on a block of ice. The cold will seep up through the floor of your tent, into your sleeping bag, through your blankets, and drag you screaming into oblivion. (Literally.)
- Blow-up air mattresses are not just for comfort or show. Even a small, thin, light, and inexpensive one can do the vital work of keeping you from direct contact with the frozen earth.
Stay in contact with people that you know, both in and out of the country you are visiting.
- Keep a cell phone with you. It can not only help you with information, travel plans, and emergencies, it can potentially keep you safe. Always try to have a way to communicate with people, especially if you are traveling alone.
- Make the fact that you are regularly in contact with others known wherever you go. Never, ever give anyone the impression that you will not be missed for a few days if you go missing. That way, if dragons swoop down from the hills and carry you away, you can always call your Khaleesi for help.
It's pretty important to both your energy and happiness level to bring food with you.
- Energy bars are expensive but effective; if you can't afford them, you can try making your own with granola and high-protein-content foods.
- Dried fruit and nuts will also do the trick.
- As will sandwiches.
- Don't forget water.
- When you do have a break, eat up. Your meals don't need to be remotely expensive, but they do need to be hearty. Keep up your energy.
- Really. You do not realize yet exactly how heavy your bag will feel at 11 PM, after a day of walking for hours, weary from hot sun or cold wind, on aching feet, after skipping out on a meal to catch your train.
- Pack your bag, then put it on and walk around your house thirty times with it on. If you feel even the slightest discomfort, you are in trouble.
Have fun when everything is going wrong.
- Seriously, this could be the difference between an amazing adventure and a complete disaster.
- Take bad things as they come; take them with a sense of humor, take it as an adventure, pretend zombies are on your tail or you're hiking to destroy the One Ring.
- If you decide a trip sucks, that's when it starts to suck.
You can never have too many pairs of underwear.
- This also goes for socks.
- And panty liners.
Bring something to do.
- Not all of your journey is going to be adventure-filled and scenic. There may be long hours on planes, trains, buses, or cars. Getting to where you want to be might take time, so bring something to work on.
- If you have something with a lasting battery and easy access to a place to charge it, that's fine - cameras and iPods can provide plenty of entertainment.
- It's just as likely that you will not. Think about what situations you plan to be in, and bring along the proper distractions.
- Books, notepads, sketchpads, and travel-size games work fairly well.
Realize that if you have been trekking and toiling for more than a day, you are gross. Accept this, and embrace it.
- Don't feel shame in the fact that you are gross, because you are an adventurer.
- But realize that it's happening, and take steps to counter it.
- Breath mints/gum, wet wipes/deodorant, and a hair brush can work wonders. Keep them in the little outer pockets of your pack, and use them before entering establishments and scaring everyone in the vicinity.
- But still don't feel any shame in your grossness, because Frodo was probably covered in more grime than you by the time he reached Mount Doom anyway.
- Actually, Aragorn was always covered in more grime than you ever will be, and he was still bangin'. Take that to heart.
Be nice to people who don't understand you.
- If you are in a foreign country, someone's (insert your native language here) is not perfect, or they are unable to understand your attempts at theirs, remember that they are not here to cater to you. You are in their territory, not vice versa. Don't be a butt.
- If you get annoyed at the 'locals' for their language skills, or the country you are in for being inconvenient, take a moment of quiet solitude to solemnly reflect on the fact that you are a butt.