Travel Tips

The ABC of desert traveling

Many exotic locations around the world would need you to go through some desert, big or small, and for the explorer in you, there’s no bigger pleasure. But for the non-explorer in you, here are some tips while traveling through such an area.

First of all, you have to know your limits, and start easy. When planning the trip, especially if the area is not too populated, inform someone of your destination and route. Thus, if something happens, people will know where to come and look for you. Also, It’s very important that you check if you phone is working, and refill your battery.

What you should do, is search for a very reliable guide. He can get you out of a lot of problems and you can also learn from him, but once again, make sure he’s reliable. Also, there’s a big chance he’ll want to ask you a whole lot of money, so bargain with him. It shouldn’t be very expensive and you’ll also get the chance to work your social skills and there’s a good chance the guide will actually be insulted if you don’t bargain.

If traveling by car, make sure it is in good condition and check that you have the following:

• cell phone
• a spare tire
• tools (which you should know how to use)
• reserve gas and oil
• water (lots)
• a good battery
• hoses
• spare fan belts

While driving, keep an eye on the sky because flash floods can happen when thunderheads are in sight, even though it doesn’t have to rain at your location. If a dust storm happens, get off the road and turn on your emergency flashes, while backing into the wind. When going through washes and sandy areas, it is better to get off and test the footing so that the car won’t get stuck. These things happen in inhabited parts and even some urban areas.

If you will go by foot (these are useful when you go by car too), check that you have the following:

• lots and lots of fruits, tea (especially green or black, which when drank hot, is very good for you), and generally speaking light foods
• cell phone
water, about one gallon per day / 1 person
• a map showing the nearest populated areas
• sunscreen, hat, warm clothes and blankets
• a pocket knife, compass, first aid kit, compass
• waterproof matches, lighter or flint
• a signaling device, like a whistle, aluminum foil or a mirror

Periodically look back and take a mental picture of what it looks like. This will help you get back. Don’t stray off established paths and, if possible, leave some markings on the trail.

See also: How to Travel in the Desert

Now, let’s talk about what to do if something happens ( you get lost and / or the vehicle breaks down)

In the event the vehicle breaks down and you can’t fix it, stay near it and wait for rescue. Don’t attempt to leave on foot unless you are positive of the route to help. But better think about it: you have supplies, not to mention that a person is harder to be seen from a distance than a car.

If you are on foot and get lost, don’t panic, especially if people know where you are. Try to retrace your steps. Use high elevation to look around and get a sense of your bearings. Rest frequently to avoid heat prostration. Make sure you sit at least twelve inches above the ground in the summer by using a stool or branch. The ground temperature is hotter than the air temperature.

See also: The Top 10 Desert Getaways

When walking, do it slowly and rest frequently. Breathe through your nose, try staying in the shade and wear clothes. It will help ration sweat. If you see someone, use some aluminum foil or mirror to signal for help.

I really can’t stress the issue that you shouldn’t go unprepared enough. Start in very easy areas, ask the locals, and don’t do anything stupid, no matter how romantic or easy it would seem. If you want to be a man, think first.

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