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Adventure Travel Outfitters - Do Your Research

Using the Internet to hunt down an outfitter is a good start, but don't let a website be your only reference. If meeting them ahead of time isn't an option, give them a call and treat it like a job interview. Ask your questions and be clear about your expectations. If you're not happy with their answers, onto the next prospect. You're potentially giving them your only 2 weeks away from work - do you really want to take a chance?

Safety FirstSafety FirstSafety First: To determine an outfitters level of safety, read what they're saying about safety. If safety doesn't come up, start casting your net wider and searching blog posts and articles others are writing about them.  Questions to ask during an interview:

  • What kind of safety equipment do you provide?
  • What precautions do you take on excursions?
  • Does the staff have first aid training? How often do they re-certify?

If you think that the outfitter is just blowing smoke or telling you what you want to hear, end the interview and move on to your next choice.

The Gear: Outdated gear such as leaky tents, sleeping bags with holes or broken equipment can add up to a nightmare vacation. Be sure you know exactly what the outfitter is providing:

  • What equipment is provided for me?
  • Do I need to bring anything myself?
  • Is there a rental fee or is it included in the cost?
  • Is the equipment old or new? If it's old, how old? (Hint: Get the equipment model number and you can check out how old it is for yourself.)
  • Has the equipment been safety-certified? How often is it inspected?
  • Does everyone use the same brand of gear (Hint: the guide's gear should be the same as the clients, and if it's not, ask why).

Travel Details: Once you've narrowed the playing field, it's time to start getting picky:

  • What type of physical activity is involved?
  • How many miles will I be travelling in total daily?
  • Are there rules about the quantity of activities I participate in? Can I pass on a hike if I'm tired from the day before?

The Guide: The person on the phone may not be the outfitter, so it's important to get specific about who does the tours:

  • Who will I be placed with?
  • Does he/she have experience? How much?
  • What type of training background does he/she have?

The Company: Is this an accredited company or a member of a professional association? Are they open about their safety record and business reputation?

Policies: Read the fine print.  If they're offering you a dream vacation and bargain basement prices, they may have strict cancellation and rescheduling fees. Find out what they are and what your options are if your plans change.  

References: Testimonials on business websites are generally useless -there's no way to verify them. Instead, search blogs, magazines and news articles to see what the world really thinks about them.

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