Category Archives: Travel and Sports Advice

12 Outdoors Goals for 2019

We’re halfway through January, and by now the anticipation of a new year would have started to wear off. Supposedly it is by this point that many people would have already quit their resolutions for the new year.

If you’re anything like me, the time off over Christmas gives the illusion that I have ample time to do everything that pops into my brain. Run an ultra? Sure. Write those five books I’ve been mulling over? Of course I can squeeze those in. And so on and so forth.

But mid-January hits, and with it the reality check I can only pack so much in one day. So to make new year resolutions more attainable, I’ve created 12 ‘outdoors goals’ that can easily be completed in a month and are centered around having fun. Each goal will also inadvertently help towards any common new year resolutions as well, i.e. get fit, give back to charity, etc.

Pick up trash you find on the trail

Few things are more annoying than enjoying a beautiful hike or paddle outdoors, only to come across rubbish someone has fly-tipped over a gorgeous stretch of the countryside (okay, maybe bear attacks or snake bites would top this…). Not only is it unsightly, but it can harm the animals that live in the area and the flora that grows there too.

There are numerous clean-up events throughout the UK that anyone can join, but even small actions, like picking up a discarded water bottle or food wrapper, can help without requiring too much time or effort from others.   

This brings me to my next point…

Take your trash home with you when outdoors (even organic matter)

Discarded trash on the mountains, including organic matter, has been a long-term problem for national parks. Many hikers assume food items such as apple cores or banana peels will decompose over the course of a few days out in the mountains, but studies show a banana peel can take up to two years to decompose. Not only that, but they can also be poisonous to some animals.

Meanwhile with hundreds of people summiting Snowdon in a week, particularly during the ‘Three Peaks’ and peak summer season, some of the UK’s most popular mountains are dotted with the tell-tale ‘brown sludge’ markings of banana peels.

This year, commit to ‘leaving no trace’ and take the remnants of those healthy hiking snacks with you. I mean, no one wants to be the punchline in the old ‘banana peel slip’ joke, do they?

Drink more water

If you’re anything like me, this is both the easiest and most difficult goal. Obviously, having adequate water supplies while out hiking is important; it can affect your enjoyment of the outdoors, and your performance. Yet how often have you taken a hydration system or water bottles out with you, and returned at the end of the day with the bottles/system half-full (full disclosure, this is me most of the time)?

Aim to give yourself more regular breaks, and commit to drinking water whenever you stop. Those tell-tale signs of dehydration will fade, and you might find yourself capable of staying out a little longer.

Make getting outdoors part of your daily routine

Every January, countless studies and resolutions (including this one) are published, highlighting the benefits of exercise and getting outdoors. It’s been shown to reduce anxiety and stress, along with physical benefits such as decrease in weight and a healthier heart.

So while it’s no secret that exercise and outdoors is healthy for us, actually making the time to get outside can be trickier. If gyms are not your thing, and you can’t dedicate a whole day to hiking at weekends, why not try the #walk1000miles challenge?

By walking for one hour every day (roughly 3 miles a day) on your lunch break, from work, with the dog, etc., you will end up walking 1000 miles across the course of a year. Speaking of challenges…

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Push yourself with a (fun) challenge

A physical challenge can be a good way to motivate yourself to stay fit and get outdoors. The challenge doesn’t have to be gruelling, but it needs to be fun, otherwise you won’t do it, or make it a habit in the future.

Training for Everest Base Camp, taking on a marathon for charity, or even pushing yourself to go wild swimming, any challenge is good as long as it pushes you outside of your comfort zone and leaves you with a smile at the end.

If you’re struggling for inspiration, I normally find discussing ‘bucket lists’ with friends a good start.

Invite a friend along for the outdoors fun

Any activity is improved with good company. Camping, running, climbing; having a friend along for any sport can add a small competitive element that encourages you to push yourself, and enjoy it at the same time.

Not only that, but sharing favourite outdoors spots between friends can help everyone discover new locations and sports, which just might become your favourite as well.

Borrow, or try before you buy

Buying new gear is quite possibly the next best thing to being outdoors. The anticipation of new adventures, imagining the different trips you and your friends will use it on, plus all the fun of researching the different options available beforehand… in short, it’s great.

But hands up, how many of us have outdoor gear collecting dust at home (I’ve got both hands and legs raised)? Or even, how often have you spent a fortune on a specific piece of gear, and only used it a couple of times?

If you are already feeling a little guilty about the splurge, think of the environmental impact it took to make that item. Now, think of how many friends or family members you know that are probably in the same situation as yourself.

While buying outdoor gear is undoubtedly exciting, it is being outdoors while using that item that makes it enjoyable. If you and your friends enjoy getting outside, there’s a good chance someone else already has the item you’re looking for and would potentially be happy to lend it to you. Next time you are tempted to buy a piece of kit, try borrowing it from a friend or family member instead. It will save you money, and help you determine if you need this particular piece of kit.

Alternatively, you big spenders can also give Arc’teryx’s Gear Library programme a try.

Plant something for bees

The plight of bees has been covered worldwide for a couple of years now. Habitat loss, climate change, pesticide use; all this and more has contributed to their overall decline.

Given we rely on bees to pollinate some of favourite foods, such as avocados, pears and wine (yes, you read that correctly, WINE), it seems only right to give them a little hand. The folk at RSPB have provided a handy guide for plants that feed bees for all seasons, and how to care for them. Perhaps 2019 will be the year you discover you have ‘green fingers’?

Try a new activity

Sometimes learning a new skill or sport is the perfect way to break out of routine. It can even help give you the confidence to make bigger changes in your life.

Trying a new activity or skill can be daunting though, particularly if you are doing it on your own. Luckily plenty of businesses cater for women more often, such as climbing centres offering female-focused classes or drop-in sessions. It is also worth checking meetup groups on social media. Many are happy for additional members, and organise trips or weekly classes for new members to meet and learn from one another.

Learning a new skill or activity can have a benefit on other parts of your life. For instance, learning yoga can help improve your flexibility for climbing or running.  

Read a book about the outdoors

Staying inside and reading a book might sound like the opposite of an ‘outdoors goal’, right? There is some entertaining and informative literature out on those shelves in the world that can help improve your experience, or give you inspiration to venture to new places.

For instance, an author’s account of their hike across South America might give you inspiration for your next big trip, or even a coffee table book of beautiful landscape photography will help you find new places to explore in your own backyard.

Explore somewhere new

A new year is a time for new adventures. Break out that map and draft a list of places you’ve ever wanted to see or explore. Whether it is the year of backpacking around the world, or squeezing adventures into weekends, any adventures big or small are worthwhile if it leaves you excited, happy and wiser than before.  

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Learn about some of the natural history/heritage of your favourite outdoors area

Initially this outdoors goal might sound odd. How can reading history books improve my understanding of nature?

Humans have been shaping their landscape for thousands of years. We’ve been quarrying mountains, building lakes, constructing roads and more since before written records began. Time and nature has reclaimed some of these spaces and can make them difficult to detect, but knowing a few tell-tale signs can completely change your perspective of landscapes.

OS maps are good place to start, but if you want to delve deeper then I would recommend Hidden Histories by Mary-Ann Ochota, The Old Ways by Robert MacFarlane, and Ancient Tracks by Des Hannigan and Simon McBride to start.

Have you got any outdoors goals for 2019? Share them below and inspire others!

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2018 New Year Resolution in Review: Being More Eco-Friendly

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Yes, I am one of those people that make New Year resolutions. Nothing too unrealistic, such as ‘I will become a millionaire by March’, but I like to set myself challenges and goals to strive towards throughout the year. Of course, 2018 was no different.

This year, after watching Blue Planet and growing increasingly frustrated at the amount of rubbish I kept finding when hiking around the UK, I decided to make a change. I would break several bad habits to be more eco-friendly and reduce the amount of waste I was producing each day.

In all honesty, it seems convenience and waste go hand-in-hand, and forcing myself to practice more organisation and time management in my own schedule helped me reached my resolution to be more eco-friendly. The past year taught me it was habit more than anything else that prevented me from making most of the changes, and actually after making them I found other improvements in my life were made, such as stressing less about money that was usually wasted on takeaway coffee and snacks.

So guys and gals, listed below are the biggest changes (for me anyway) I made for 2018 in my goal to be more eco-friendly:

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Kepler Track Pack List for the Summer Months

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New Zealand’s trails and national parks are renowned for their pristine condition and rich and varied wildlife. Part of the reason why they are in such good condition, despite the thousands of visitors they receive each year, is due to the strict restrictions they place on hikers entering the parks.

For the Kepler Track in particular, all rubbish and items brought into the park must be carried out by hikers (no garbage bins or tips are provided), and there are no stores available in the park to buy food or any hiking supplies. With this in mind, check out the pack list for hiking the Kepler Track in the summer months (approx. January to March) below! Continue reading

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Avoid These Pitfalls When Drafting your Perfect New Zealand Itinerary

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It is easy to see why New Zealand always features on the lists of must-see travel destinations year-in, year-out with travel publications. There are a range of activities to suit every taste, the people are friendly and helpful, the scenery is stunning, the food and drink is sublime – the list goes on. However, New Zealand is also a remote destination and can easily take over 24 hours to reach by plane for many. In addition to this, its lack of extensive public transport and relative expense for some products can make it an expensive country to travel around.

These obstacles needn’t get in the way of your dream trip to New Zealand however; with some careful planning and realistic understanding of your budget, you can easily create a dream New Zealand itinerary!

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Why You Should Give Cycling a Try – with Cycle Republic

I think it would be fair to say that the UK is a nation of cycling enthusiasts, of sorts. In between our success in the male and female cycling divisions at the Olympics to our strong presence in the Tour de France, we have a constant drip of cycling inspiration to spur us to give it a try. And judging from the countryside roads that are chock a block with both cars and weekend riders, to parks and nature reserves heaving with families on their own cycling jaunts, even the queues of cyclists on the cycle superhighways in London, many of us have taken up the sport with full zest.

For other people though, cycling simply stops at the screen and news reports.  

To understand what makes people take up cycling in the first place, and offer my own experiences in cycling, I have teamed up with Cycle Republic, who sponsored this post. Continue reading

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Tips for Having the Best Hogmanay in Edinburgh

Hogmanay is one of Edinburgh’s biggest celebrations of the year. For three straight days Scotland’s capital turns into one giant stage with raucous street parties, music, cultural festivities, not to mention a couple quirky traditions thrown in for good measure.

Having attended this year, take a look at the following tips and recommendations to help you make the most of your Hogmanay trip.

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Beginner’s Essential Equipment for Climbing and Bouldering

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With the days getting darker and winter setting in, now is the perfect opportunity to learn to climb or boulder. Indoor climbing gyms offer the perfect opportunity to nail basic techniques and gain confidence – just in time for the advent of outdoor climbing in the spring.

Before hitting the crags though, there’s just a few things every climber needs to get started. Take a look below to make a start on your climber’s kit. Continue reading

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Fitness Apps to Make Exercise Fun

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If you’re anything like me, you tend to get into an exercise rut. Trying to organise your schedule around work, family and social commitments often ends in you treading the same running routes, or doing the same series of weights, movements, etc. You name it, you’ve done it a hundred times.

To be fair, it is not necessarily bad if you’re doing the route faster or more efficiently, but your body needs to be pushed to get results and increase fitness, and over time completing the same routes over and over will offer diminishing returns, particularly if you are training for a particular event or race.

To help you get out of your exercise rut, here’s some flashy new apps that will make you forget you’re exercising. Continue reading

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Tips to Remember for Beginner Snowboarders

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Prior to my week snowboarding in Belle Plagne, I had never been snowboarding before, and wasn’t sure what to expect. After asking various snowboarding friends, checking websites and speaking with store staff and imparting me with loads of information, I found myself discovering even more tips and tricks along the way. Listed below are some of the top pieces of advice I collated about learning to snowboard – feel free to post your own tips in the comments below!

  1. Make sure you are given the correct type of board. It should come up to your chin, and the bindings should be shoulder-width apart. After spending hours in the squat position, you will begin to appreciate how much difference a couple of inches makes when it comes to binding spacing!
  2. Bring painkillers. It’s true what they say: snowboarding is more difficult to learn at first, but easier to improve! When you first learn snowboarding, you will fall a lot, as it seems every technical skill goes against your mind’s instincts. Expect lots of bruises on your knees and tailbone! Which brings me to my next point….
  3. Don’t be afraid to fall. Falling repeatedly means you are continuously pushing yourself and improving, which means you are one step closer to nailing those impressive jumps and flips!
  4. Save yourself the time, money and bruises and take lessons at a snowboard school. Resorts almost always offer lessons, and are cheaper if you book in advance. Learning the basics early will stop you forming bead habits that will be more difficult to break as your progress.
  5. Keep your body relaxed. Easier said than done when you’re hurtling yourself down a mountain at high speed, but the more tense your body gets, the more difficult you will find it to make turns and more likely you are to fall over.
  6. Make sure you maintain good posture; keep your knees partially bent, your back straight, and your weight in the middle of the board. Bend too much and your weight will be unevenly distributed; stand too straight, and stiff, and you’ll find turns impossible.
  7. Invest in good gloves! For boarders hitting the slopes in the middle of the season, a good pair of gloves is essential. Not only will it stop you getting chilblains, but it will make adjusting your bindings off and on the ski lift much quicker and more manageable.
  8. Guide the board with your eyes: Wait, what?! I hear you say, but here me out. One of the (many) quirks in snowboarding is that if you turn your head to look at the direction you want to go, your board will follow. That is because your board can pick up on the smallest changes to your posture and weight, and so when you move your head, you move your chest, legs, and finally your board.

Most important to remember though, is to not take yourself too seriously, and to have fun! For more information on gear and a rundown of snowboarding essentials, check out Travelettes’ Guide for Beginner Snowboarders.

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Champing is a thing now and you should definitely try it

For the past few weeks you might have heard whisperings of a strange new phenomenon on the internet. Mentions of #champing hashtags on Twitter, random pictures on Facebook, and arguments on various newspaper websites as to whether ‘champing’ is just another term for ‘glamping’ have gradually popped up. If you aren’t curious or excited about it you probably should, because it is a great and inexpensive idea that helps promote the outdoors and heritage at once. Continue reading

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