The Hobbit on a trip: A guide to adventure travel
Bilbo Baggins was leading a simple and agreeable life, enjoying books and mead and humble pleasures – until an adventure was thrust upon him. Like most adventure travelers, Bilbo came to enjoy himself despite the barrage of beastly creatures and uncomfortable bedding arrangements. And so with Mr. Baggins (and his new film “The Desolation of Smaug”), in mind, we present a Hobbit’s Guide to keeping safe and healthy during all your daring explorations.
The journey of the Hobbit is all about traversing rocky cliffs and scaling great, grassy heights. Many human travelers, too, enjoy a vacation where the climb is just as important as reaching the destination – be it hiring a Sherpa at Everest Base Camp, hiking for three days to reach the top of Machu Picchu, or getting up Mount Kilimanjaro.
The health risks of mountaineering are many, but with a bit of careful planning, it’s easy to stay safe during the climb. Bilbo is constantly falling into caves and crevasses, and although this often proves useful to the Hobbit (his clumsy antics being a fantastic method of finding secret passages), humans will probably prefer to keep both feet firmly underneath at all times. Pack proper gear such as crampons, strong boots a helmet and an ice pick.
Also, consider clothing. Hobbits are quite hairy, meaning that the weather outside won’t put a damper on their journey. Humans, on the other hands, might like to invest in waterproof, breathable separates, wool socks, and a sun hat or a wool hat. Suitable clothing can protect from frostbite and sunburn, and keep every part of the body comfortable and healthy while on the trek.
Wherever your adventure may take you, chances are you’ll be making your way on foot. Hobbits enjoy simple footwear and foot care regimen thanks to their hairy feet and thickly-skinned soles. As humans, we have to work a little harder to keep our feet in good shape and carrying us to one exciting destination after the next.
Firstly, you are not a Hobbit, so avoid walking barefoot when possible. Small scrapes can grow into big infections, especially if the wound is on the bottom of the foot and being irritated with every step. Walking barefoot can also expose feet to the plantar wart virus which is both uncomfortable and difficult to treat. Wear rubber flip-flops while using communal showers, and keep your shoes on outdoors.
Adventure seekers in need of specialty footwear are recommended to do plenty of research before embarking on the journey. The right water shoe is essential to a white water rafting trip, while serious hikers and bikers will likely seek a sneaker that offers support combined with an appropriate level of weight. An expedition will be no fun if it’s marred by bruises and blisters, so bring along a back of moleskins, and break in your new shoes before you hit the road.
Surviving the transit
Traveling to a less-touristed destination often involves a variety of vehicles: planes, trains, buses, tuk-tuks and more. Maintaining your sanity and physical health while in transit is an important way to keep you focused on the adventure, and not the cramp in your left leg. Bilbo knows a little something about this – he did once travel from an Elvenking prison in a very bumpy, river-bound barrel.
There’s not much you can do about potholed roads and rough bus rides, so give yourself time to recover from long haul transit. You don’t want to fall asleep in your scuba gear because you didn’t schedule a buffer day between reaching your secluded Philippine island and diving in. Taking time to sleep will keep you alert and safe during your adventures, and rest is also a great way to stave off sickness.
Even if the only vehicle you ride is an airplane, be attentive to your muscles and immune system. Just as Bilbo eventually exits his barrel, you too should exit your seat and move around during the flight, to protect muscles from deep vein thrombosis as well as general soreness. Taking an extra dose of vitamin C before boarding couldn’t hurt either – you’ll be thankful when your seatmate turns out to be snottier than a goblin.
Insects & Beasts
Middle Earth is not the place to go if you’re squeamish about critters big or small, and here on regular Earth, we’ve got plenty of animals to be wary of as well. Read up on where you’re traveling too, what insects and beasts you’re liable to encounter, and find out how to maintain health and safety in the face of whatever creatures you might meet – be they the giant spiders of the Mirkwood Forest or a herd of hungry, ugly trolls.
While the monsters of this Earth are hardly supernatural, they can be dangerous. Protect yourself from spider bites by wearing long pants and long sleeves, and spray on a leech repellent if you’re trekking around in damp, wooded areas. As for bigger beasts, learn the protocol before you start your trip. Make lots of noise and stand your ground if faced with a black bear, but play dead and be silent if you’re looking at a grizzly.
One of the most dangerous critters you’ll encounter on adventure travel is also one of the smallest – the mosquito. (As Gandalf said: it’s the little things that are important). Mosquitoes can carry malaria, yellow fever, and dengue fever; diseases that will make you ill in the short term and could cause permanent health damage in the long run. Find out about the mosquito risk in the area you’ll be visiting, but get a preventative vaccine, if it’s recommended. Use a DEET mosquito spray and cover exposed skin, especially at night.
The most important thing to take: Travel insurance
While common sense and careful preparation can spare you many inconveniences, random accidents can happen anytime. Situations that are not your fault such as getting sick, or being involved in a motor accident would usually require you to visit medical facility abroad, and in some cases, medical emergency transportation. All those measures can be extremely expensive, and hence securing travel insurance is one of the first steps every globetrotter should complete before starting any adventure. As the saying goes, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t really afford to travel at all.
And unless you want coverage for specific adventurous sports or countries with expensive healthcare costs (such as the US), the cost of travel insurance is affordable – best, check for yourself in this travel insurance quote comparison tool, or contact us for an impartial and free insurance advice!