You are on your dream trip visiting the pyramids of Giza in Egypt. After spending the day gazing upon these ancient wonders, you rest your head on your pillow in your hotel in Cairo, tired, but excited from being able to experience something you had only read about in your textbooks in school. A few hours later, you wake up to a startling rumble outside of your hotel: you peek outside the window and you are witnessing a full riot. What do you do?
Traveling to politically unstable places could be an unplanned item on the itinerary for those who prefer adventure travel. With all the instability that is happening in the Middle East in some very popular travel destinations, some travelers who have set aside a big chunk of their time and money, have unfortunately been caught in the middle. While we urge caution, we actively encourage people to continue traveling to these places. The experiences these destinations offer can be extremely rewarding, but they do require some thoughtful preparation. So, here are some things you can do prior to your trip that can ensure your safety in case things go down.
Locate your Embassies and Consulates – prior to your trip you should print out maps of locations and contact information of your home country’s embassy and consulates. Technology is great, but if you are relying on internet access, the government often hits the kill switch (Egypt and Tibet). Carrying around a couple of slices of dead trees is certainly worth the price of your safety. Your smart phone, iPad and Laptop become a brick if you are without power. Bring the paper.
Also, spend some time on Google Maps/Earth getting look of what the buildings and the surrounding area look like. While a piece of paper and a map are helpful, getting a full visual can go a long way in helping you to get to safety faster.
You may be traveling to places far away from your home country’s embassy, or in the case in Middle East right now, your Embassy might not be a safe place. If so you should have a plan of what to do in case you need to get there.
Plan Alternative Exits - Many uprisings happen in capital cities or centers of political power. Before you leave, explore if their are alternative cities or borders that you could leave by plane, car, bus or train in case of emergency. Figure out what your geographical or political challenges would be and give yourself options. Many people who were in Lhasa in 2008 were able to drive and cross the Nepalese border in Nylam.
Make Sure Your Red-Tape is in Order – This one is uber-important anyway, but you should be very diligent to make sure that all your visas, passports and permits are in proper order. Sometimes authority figures will look for even the smallest reason to keep you from leaving as everyone is viewed with suspicion in these circumstances.
Buy Good Travel Insurance – Research the best options prior to leaving as travel insurance is often times a scam. You don’t want to find that out after everything is getting out of control. Travel Insurance Review is a great independent site to do your research. This can help you cover the costs of having to get out of Dodge quickly.
Global Rescue – while everyone else is waiting at the embassy for their name to be called in the lottery to get on a plane back home, Global Rescue is there to pick you. If, god forbid, you get injured, their plans cover a medical professional that will be deployed directly to you as your advocate. There are a few players in this space, but no one is even close to a more complete solution.
Familiarize Yourself with Local Culture, History and Current Events – Each situation is going to take a life of it’s own. The riots in Bangkok were much different than the ones in Egypt and Libya in their purpose and how the local government handled the violence. Knowing ahead of time what the climate is like will give you a better path to navigate if things go badly.
Knowing the local customs is always important, but even more so in a pinch. Being able to know how to conduct yourself around them will keep you from doing anything stupid unintentionally.
Stash Some Cash – Cash is always king; keep it socked away so it isn’t easy for anyone to get at it. Bribes can very powerful, however, this needs to done with the above recommendation of knowing the local customs. If you intend to bribe a local official, in some places it works (and may even be standard operating procedure), but in others it will land you in hot water. However, in the event that things get hairy, cash might be the only option for getting a car, train, bus or plane ticket.
Now that you’ve prepped yourself, what do you do when the @#$% hits the fan and you have to leave?
Contact the Airline That You Flew in on First – As mentioned above, a Global Rescue purchase would negate having to do this, but in case you don’t have it, here’s what to do: airlines are notoriously bad at helping with changes to itineraries, but in an emergency, they can still be the easiest and safest way of getting home.
In Egypt when the Mubarak Regime was collapsing, the US Embassy chartering flights for 1,200 people a day, but they prioritized for those that had medical conditions first. If you do get on a charter, you’ll have to reimburse the government the cost of the flight and the government isn’t exactly chartering Southwest at $99 one-way. However, if your only choice to bug out is a charter, TAKE IT.
Stay Away from the Windows - If you are in a hotel or residence and you have to hunker down for a bit, it might be tempting to take a peek outside to get a live view of what you’d be watching on CNN at home. Don’t. Stray bullets, molotov cocktails, rocks, tear gas, etc are not things that discriminate in the middle of fracas. If you can move to a room that faces an inner part of the hotel, that would be ideal.
Don’t Film or Take Pictures – I know it is tempting to film something to put on YouTube that might make it on every news network, but when people are doing bad things to each other, they don’t shrug off someone they see trying to document what they are doing. Leave the filming for the journalists and the locals. In these areas, pictures and videos can be just as potent of a weapon as bullets. Even unintentionally, you could find yourself on the wrong end of someone trying to protect themselves if they catch you filming them.
Move in Groups of 3 – 5 - If you are traveling alone, find some people to stick with. You don’t want to organize a 100-man group, but being alone can make you a target. If you are in a large group, break into “platoons” of 3 – 5 that can all get in one cab or car together. Communicate rendezvous or rally points.
Wear Earth Tone Clothes – If you find yourself wearing that neon-green I *Heart Florida t-shirt, switch it off for something that would blend in a little better. You don’t want to draw unintended attention to yourself and wearing clothing that blends in can help you keep a low profile.
Watch Your Mouth – Once you get home, you can wax political all you want about the injustices and horrors you witnessed, but while you are there, keep it to yourself. In fact, meddlesome foreigners are particularly held in contempt whether it is right or not. This isn’t the time to argue, it is the time to get away.
Traveling to politically unstable areas can be incredibly rewarding to adventurous types–most of the time you won’t have any incidents and you will be able to experience the great parts of these cultures beyond the nastiness you see on the news. However, in case something does happen, with just a little effort, preparation and some common-sense, you will greatly reduce your chances of something going wrong if you get caught in the middle.
Today we announced a partnership with a fantastic company out of Indianapolis: Formstack. So, what does Formstack do and why it is important to PathWrangler users? In short, it could change how businesses operate in our industry forever.
First a recap: PathWrangler is a platform for creating, planning, managing and then sharing stories about your trips. If you have the travel bug you’ll love it. However, there is a whole separate layer to PathWrangler that is focused towards to those businesses and other institutions that have made it their business to run trips. Our clients are tour operators, guides, educational institutions, schools, clubs and volunteer organizations. The PathWrangler platform focuses specifically on collaboration around all the elements specific to running trips, selling them and then using them to help capture referrals.
While PathWrangler takes a huge bite out of the trip specific problems, those that run a business have other problems to solve that are specific to running any business. In the two years we’ve been in business, we’ve received a lot of feedback from entities big and small who have said they struggle with a lot of business operations issues such as taking payments, gathering personal information from clients (like medical information, dietary preferences/restrictions), getting waivers signed, applications filled out and even requesting post-trip reviews and feedback.
We are getting into the stage of the digital age where people are starting to show physical symptoms (anywhere from a mild tic to a full-on pouring sweat fever) when PDFs and Word Docs show up in their inbox. In this age we can use technology to upload and share photos with the world from our phone, make purchases with the click of a button and know the exact number of times that our favorite Facebook poster’s children have eaten and taken bowel movements. Whether good or bad, this has made the tolerance for having to download an attachment, print it out, fill it out by hand, scan it and send it back almost an act of hostility. Not only do these issues cause tension for clients, those who have to manage the operations on the business side are engaged in an endless cycle of self-abuse.
Formstack solves all of these problems. Not just a couple. Not just many. ALL of them. Not only do your clients have a single place where they can go to interact with you about their trip, all the operational elements you require to get them going is right there as well. Formstack is designed to automate this collection process and, if you have other tools like CRMs, Accounting Systems and payment processors, it plugs right into those systems so you don’t have to do a thing. Those who run trips for a living can go about doing more of what they love and doing less office work.
So, here is how it works. Firstly, you need a PathWrangler Premium Entity account (you can get one here). This account is your business’s dashboard, where anyone who helps to manage your company can build trips, interact with clients, create libraries of your past trips, and capture referrals that come in from people interacting with their friends and family that have gone on your previous trips. This page, along with all of your individual trips, are integrated into your social media channels as well as your website, so you can distribute them more widely and sell more of them.
Located within this Entity page is a tab specifically for Forms. Through this page, you can sign-up for Formstack (they offer a 14-Day trial for new users). You’ll log into Formstack separately to build and manage all of your forms. By linking PathWrangler with Formstack, all the forms you create for your business are here for your clients in one place. They never have to send you another email, attachment or homing pigeon ever again.
Here are some links to all the different types of forms that you can build in Formstack. If you have a more evolved business with other tool sets that you use to manage your business, here is a link to all the different technologies that Formstack integrates with and how to link any of them to your third party apps.
PathWrangler and Formstack together have just given travel industry the biggest leap in technology since the invention of the airplane. No more wasteful business processes, double/triple/quadruple data entry, offline transactions, email attachments or waiting around the fax machine. In fact, you can take your scanners and fax machines out into an isolated location and beat them into pieces with a bat (send us photos, if you do this, please!).
If you have any questions or would like some further information on how we can help you change the way your company does business, contact us via our cool Formstack contact form below: CONTACT PATHWRANGLER HERE!
The new and improved PathWrangler is here! With one CLICK, you can sign up and put this integrated travel planning and selling solution to work for you.
PathWrangler helps you run better trips & grow your business.
For 15 years of my life, I had a horrendous case of insomnia. Sleeping in the comforts of my own bed (which was during my high school years was a water bed), a restful night of sleep regularly eluded me. I memorized the Presidents backwards and forwards. Didn’t work. I memorized the Roman Emperors backwards and forwards. Didn’t work. I used to sit up reading Greek Mythology in the hopes that I’d be bored to sleep. Didn’t work. Turns out, I just needed to eat less carbs and start watching Sex in the City with my then girlfriend. I’ve slept like a baby ever since.
So, as I’ve become an adventurer, and especially as a mountain climber, I’ve found that there are places that are you are required to lay your head that are less than ideal for stretching out and getting some quality shut eye. Here are my two favorite insomnia inducing camp sites:
Camp 2 – Ama Dablam (20k ft): the Southwest Ridge on this 22,525ft/6,812m is technical, but the best route to the top. It is a clean ridge free of avalanche and rock fall danger. For a mountaineer, this is an epic trip. However, knife edge ridges often form wonderful pinnacles that are fun to climb, but can be uncooperative when it comes to nice flat, clean places to pitch a tent. In this case, it is the only place to camp between the relatively benign Camp 1 and the much higher Camp 3 in the snow. The 45-degree slope with thousands of feet of cliff on all sides requires one to be roped in at night.
Ledge Camping on El Capitan: not all of us have the skills to be as good as Alex Hanold to bound up El Cap ropeless in 2 1/2 hours. On the classic Nose Route, the rest of us require around 31 pitches to get to the summit, which can take 2 – 5 days. That requires hauling up and anchoring a ledge to sleep in.
What are some of your craziest campsite experiences?
Here’s a great way to get your morning off to a flying start!
With the picturesque Swiss Alps as a backdrop, the Royal British Legion Extreme Human Flight Team, the Jump4Heroes, celebrated the British Armed Forces by jumping off an edge of The Eiger’s north face, otherwise known as the Mordwand or “murderous wall”. And they do it to support charities! Check out the cool video below.
I think it’s safe to say that all of us seem to have a travel bucket list for the future filled with things we want to do and places we want to visit. As the years tick by we wonder if we will have the time, money and desire to check all these off the ever-growing list.
But what about what you’ve already accomplished? That’s got to be a pretty impressive list as well. In my mind I’m always in the future, rarely dwelling in the past. But, sometimes it’s good to reflect on the past and where I’ve been.
Through Trek Tech I learned about Rebecca Tracey’s Reverse Bucket List, the concept of remembering past achievements to remind yourself how amazing you are. I would hope that’s a pretty long list for most of us. I found the idea intriguing.
But what about a Reverse Bucket List specifically for travel, a topic near and dear to us all? I set out to make my own Reverse Travel Bucket List of things I’ve done in some places I’m glad I’ve seen as a traveler and came up with just a few of the more adventurous accomplishments…
You’re adventurous travelers! If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be reading this blog. What amazing things have you done or seen in your travels that would remind you of your amazing travel achievements?
We received a testimonial from a client yesterday that knocked our socks off. Tyler Kivland is Program Coordinator (which basically means he’s the guy that runs it) at Indiana University Outdoor Adventures. It is such a cool organization. They are supported by Indiana University, however they support the community and offer all kinds of great trips, gear, activities and, most importantly, Leadership Programs to develop the next generation of those serving the Outdoor Community and beyond. it isn’t just for Indiana University students, they also support their surrounding community.
Here’s Tyler explaining exactly how PathWrangler is taking their organization to the next level:
If I could describe Pathwrangler in one sentence I would say that it is “A dynamic approach to trip planning, execution, and customer retention.”
As an organization that staffs upwards of 50 trip leaders at a time, Pathwrangler makes the trip planning process better and easier to learn. The overall benefit of Pathwrangler seems to be that it allows a trip leader to begin a dialogue with trip participants, organizers and leaders before the group ever meets for the trip. Participants can ask questions, share their excitement, and stay up-to-date on any trip developments with ease.
I’ve always supported the idea that a trip should start as soon as a participant signs-up, if not sooner. Pathwrangler allows just that. For example, each summer I bring a group to Quetico Provincial Park for a 10-day canoe expedition. It is vital that I make sure each participant is packing the correct type of gear and that they have a passport in their hands. Pathwrangler’s personal gear checklist allows me to track the progress of my group without having to make phone call after phone call to each participant. Furthermore, the conversation feature allows me to answer important questions once rather than each and every time I make a call or send an email. And if someone new joins the group they can easily catch up on all the action without me having to send them a copy of every email that has previously been sent.
Pathwrangler takes all the components of trip planning and collects it into one dynamic space.
One of the more useful benefits, from a management position, has been the itinerary feature. This is because the interactive nature of the itinerary and map simply cannot be matched on paper. The technology allows us, as an organization, to pinpoint the exact location of each activity and allows the participant a more accurate depiction of where they will be traveling. We are currently using the itinerary feature as a sort of travel action plan for several of our spring break trips which aids in managing the risk inherently involved in any outdoor adventure.
I’m excited to see where Pathwrangler will go next. It has already begun to change the way our leaders approach trip planning and I see it becoming a necessary tool for our program in the future. The more I learn about the site, the more excited I get. It has truly taken trip planning into a new era.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA | MARCH 12, 2013 – PATHWRANGLER has been selected by Outside, America’s leading multimedia active-lifestyle brand, as a recipient of its second annual Active Travel Awards. PathWrangler was honored as an Honoree. The full list of award winners will be published in the April issue of Outside magazine, available on newsstands March 12, 2013, and at Outside Online.
To select this year’s awards, Outside tapped our global network of correspondents, who spent months on the road traveling from the Philippines to Switzerland to Namibia and then some, to report a definitive roundup of the best new adventures, secret paradises, mountain epics, stunning beaches, airline deals, gorgeous islands, and more. The result is 42 fresh trips that we guarantee will change your life, plus smart travel strategies, the best travel gear, and five exciting new frontiers.
PathWrangler is proud to be awarded honoree of Outside Strategies to “Plug-In.” With all these beautiful destinations and incredible activities to do, PathWrangler is the tool that brings it all together and makes these dream trips a reality.
“Outside magazine has long been one of the world’s most trusted advisors for active and adventurous travelers,” says Outside Editor Christopher Keyes. “In addition to truly award-worthy destinations and travel providers, this year we unearthed a handful of amazing new frontiers in active travel. Our annual edit franchise honors the year’s best trips, hotels, lodges, luggage, islands, and new destinations that will be an invaluable travel resource for years to come.”
Simply put, PathWrangler makes creating experiences and telling those stories easier than ever before. Planning an adventure trip or an outdoor excursion is like herding cats. It is maddening to get everyone and everything prepared. Our web app brings the conversation together in an interactive place designed specifically for adventure and outdoor enthusiasts to dream and organize their trip together, and then share their stories after. Over 100 Tour Operators, Outdoor Clubs and Outdoor Wilderness Programs and thousands of outdoor enthusiasts are using PathWrangler to run better trips and share them with their friends.
In celebration of the Outside Active Travel Awards, PathWrangler is offering its award-winning product for free in preparation for a new premium rollout in the upcoming months. That means unlimited trips and users for any individuals or business that sign-up now. Please sign-up here to take advantage of this offer. Please contact us at email@example.com if you’d like any help in getting you or your organization started.
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Outside is America’s leading active lifestyle brand. For more than 35 years, Outside has covered travel, sports, adventure, health, and fitness, as well as the personalities, the environment, and the style and culture of the world Outside. The Outside family includes Outside magazine, the only magazine to win three consecutive National Magazine Awards for General Excellence, The Outside Buyer’s Guides, Outside Online, Outside Television, Outside Events, Outside+ tablet edition, and Outside Books. Visit us on www.outsideonline.com and www.facebook.com/outsidemagazine.
For further press inquiries or other requests, please contact CEO Doug Heinz at firstname.lastname@example.org and 415-309-2242. Please visit us online at www.pathwrangler.com, www.facebook.com/pathwrangler and @pathwrangler.