7+1 tips if you plan a longer adventure

Valuable advice based on the experience of a kayak trip of 2,850 km

With the good weather arriving, nothing can keep you from going on an exciting trip. Klaudia and Richárd departed from the shore of the Black Sea on 4 March to kayak to the Black Forest on the Danube against the flow. They plan to arrive at their destination before the middle of the summer. Reaching the last leg of their ambitious 2,850-km-long expedition, they’ve collected some useful advice and experience they consider indispensable for anyone heading for a longer adventure. Read 7+1 tips from real experts.

1. Know your limits

When you plan a long or challenging trip of any kind, you should definitely be aware of your capabilities and limits. You should count with 50% of your maximum performance when calculating the distance you can cover a day on average. You have to prepare not only for the journey, but also for camping, cooking and potential emergencies – not only by watching videos but also by practicing in real-life.

2. Be well-prepared, but don’t overplan your daily schedule

The longer the trip, the more likely it is that your plan will be affected by weather and other challenges. As a result, you should have buffer days or even buffer weeks for your arrival date in the case of a longer adventure. In addition to rain and wind, you may be prevented from realizing your plans by a variety of obstacles. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to specify every detail in advance. In addition, the information available on the ground or on the water is not always accurate which gives ample room for improvisation. Klaudia and Richárd compile their final daily schedule every morning and they try to predict their route, camping and berthing places only for 2 or 3 days ahead.

3. Pack sparingly but never save on spare items and quality

The “sometimes less is more” rule applies only partially. Too much gear will hinder you on a longer trip but you should always have a repair kit and spare items for the most important devices and garments. On a hiking tour, you should consider the weight of your backpack in the first place, but if you go kayaking or canoeing, volume is the decisive factor when selecting your gear. As a general rule, you should always focus on quality. Your gear should be reliable, your sleeping bag should be warm enough and your tent should be really weatherproof. As for the latter, Klaudia and Richárd recommend a tent with a separate front porch where you can dry your gear while you are having a rest in the sleeping area.

4. Smartphone is your new Swiss army knife

Your phone is essential not only for keeping in touch, but also for planning your route, monitoring the weather forecast and tracking unexpected obstacles. Water resistant handsets are suitable for hiking, but if you plan a trip on the water, you should use an additional water-resistant cover for your phone. For power generation, Richárd recommends a solar panel: “If you want to use only USB devices, a 10W to 20W model is enough. 2A is sufficient to charge your smartphone and external batteries during the day. For kayaking or canoeing, you will definitely need a water-proof version and you can also make good use of a VHF radio to follow traffic and locking information.”  Good field strength is a must when you are far from inhabited areas. The kayaking couple is supported by Telenor Hungary in this regard.

5. Have enough water and food

You won’t find food stores in the forest and on the riverbank. And even if you do, they may be closed because of local holidays or unusual opening hours. Therefore, you should always have plenty of water and food to last at least 2 days. If drinking water is not available, a water cleaner can be of valuable assistance.

The couple suggests that you should take space-saving, non-perishable and slow energy release foods of a high nutritional value with you. Examples include couscous, bulgur, red lentils and cereals for breakfast. You should eat oil seeds, dried fruit, raw marzipan or even chocolate throughout the day to maintain your energy level.

6. Trust people

“Try to anticipate the challenges for which you may need assistance. For us, one of them was the transit through the Iron Gates on the Danube where you cannot cope yourself with a kayak. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, we contacted the authorities of every country in advance for which they were very grateful. It was a major advantage for us when crossing borders and having inspections. Google Translator was also very useful when communicating with the locals who were always very helpful and friendly. You should definitely trust the helpfulness of people”, said Klaudia.

7. Nothing is really water resistant on the water

When you go on kayak trip, put all your gear in several layers of water-resistant packaging to be on the safe side. It is better to have many small packages than few big ones because they fit in your kayak more easily. Every evening take the trouble of removing every item from its packaging and dry them in the open air. Humidity can penetrate the most unexpected places. While rowing, you shouldn’t put a pillow under your butt because it will elevate your centre of gravity increasing the risk of your kayak flipping over. Your body will get used to the sitting posture in a few days and it won’t ache any more.

+1 Safety is first

When you are far from inhabited areas, even small problems can become huge ones. Therefore, you should do everything to keep safe. You should always wear a life jacket while on the water, no matter how professional you are. You should monitor the weather forecast, as strong wind or a storm can be a major source of danger both on the water and in a forest. When preparing for your trip, it is essential to learn the rescue procedure in practice. The most effective way of doing so is to participate in a training course in advance. You should also prepare for potential illnesses and have medication in store because they may be difficult to purchase along your route, especially abroad.

Richárd and Klaudia report on their three-month challenge also on their Facebook Page. Currently, they are bear Melk in Austria and expect to reach their destination, the source of the river Danube, in the middle of the summer. Their mission has a noble purpose: they are raising funds for charity foundation Bátor Tábor and the PET Kupa initiative campaigning for clean rivers in Hungary.