Rest assured I am not about to start throwing punches, but I came across this quote recently.
And it is quite sobering, especially given it was from Mike Tyson.
Could there be anything worse than being on the receiving end of a Mike Tyson punch?
Mind, you I suspect he is correct in the assessment he makes about plans and it got me thinking about the topic and how it might relate to remote area travel.
And can I confess upfront, I’m a “planning nutter”…
Many of you will be aware we spend plenty of time Out and About in the great Southern Land, Australia, exploring its natural beauty and wonders and much of this is done in very remote locations.
And if it isn’t the Outback we might be on the side of a mountain somewhere in the world…
Climbing Sweet Dreams – Blue Moiuntains
So what about planning and what considerations should be taken into account?
Whilst the degree of planning may vary from one person to another, I am sure that almost all of us have one in mind, whether committed to memory or in written form…
Mind you, everything has risk attached to it, right?
The question is whether the risk can be managed to a level that is acceptable, firstly to you and secondly, broadly acceptable to those who may be called upon to provide assistance if something goes wrong.
And I use the word broadly because it is subjective to make a judgment on what others might find acceptable.
To get around this, I use the reasonable test and ask myself the question – would, on average, reasonable people find this a reasonable assumption to make?
In my view planning is one of the most important aspects of any trip and should be approached as a risk management exercise. I put planning at the top of my list…
Whilst in the stress free environment of your living room at home you can assess all aspects of the expedition without the pressure of things crumbling around you out in the field and for which you have not developed a response.
When it comes to remote travel in Australia I find many place a lot of focus on equipment, and vehicles, communications; how much food and water needs to be taken along with the required fuel.
And for sure these are all important aspects to any trip planning, falling under the heading of trip logistics.
But what about your health and fitness and that of your travelling companions?
Are you in suitable shape both mentally and physically for this specific expedition?
What about expected weather conditions and how will you respond to changing conditions?
At what point do you call the trip off – what decision criteria have you established for this both in the time prior to departure and once it is underway?
This is an important one; more than one person has died from the “press-on-regardless” mentality.
We’ve planned this trip and we’ll complete it at all costs…regardless!
How can this type of thought trap be avoided?
…Establish criteria to prevent it from happening!
No one wants to call off a trip once under way, but it might be the best decision despite the disappointment. Having guidelines decided and agreed upon in advance takes much of the angst away from this type of decision making it easier to arrive at if faced with a particular circumstance.
And what about a point of no return decision?
How many people consider this when travelling from point A to point B in remote and arid countryside, crossing the Simpson Desert, for example or other remote areas?
Prior to arriving at this equi-distance point consideration should be given to whether the destination can still be reached, or might it be wiser to return to the previous checkpoint whilst you still have sufficient fuel and supplies to do so.
There could be any number of reasons that might affect your decision; weather would be an important one for example. But there could be many others that should be assessed at this critical point before continuing on your journey.
Once the point of no return is crossed the decision has been made and you are now committed to it regardless, possibly with dire consequences if not well thought out, or even considered.
Planning for a trip begins and ends at home…
By the time you head down through the front-gate you should be confident in your endeavours and that you have thought out potential issues and how you will deal with them. By now you and your travelling companions should have committed to some form of template as to how you will respond to specific and non-specific situations.
Once under way the expedition progress should be evaluated against what you expected and anticipated in your planning – and if it doesn’t align consider the impact it will have on your objective and how you should response to these changes…
And for sure, there may be issues that crop up that you didn’t have a specific plan for, but you can still have a response for these situations along the lines of how it might affect the successful completion of the trip and what is the implication of continuing or not continuing?
Consideration should also be given to the well-being of the group or others that may be called upon for assistance especially if things are going as planned.
Problems often arise not because of a primary occurrence, but the impact it has as it cascades down through a number of scenarios and usually we receive plenty of opportunity to address these before they manifest into a much larger issue.
Have a plan, have a plan, and have a plan – that is my pre-trip mantra regardless of the undertaking or where in the world I am planning an adventure…!
It is one thing to be confronted with an issue and making the incorrect assessment or choice, but it is almost unforgiveable to not act and make any decision at all when something goes wrong…
…History is littered with the deaths of people who simply failed to act, having a plan is a good way to avoid being in such a predicament!
And hey, planning needn’t rob you of the spontaneity that travelling can bring, to the contrary, hopefully it enhances the experience by giving comfort that you have considered how you will respond to adverse and changing conditions as the trip progresses.
How much time do you put into trip planning and would yours withstand that…
“Punch in the face”…?
Photo, Baz – The Landy