It’s now coming up to our favourite time of year: Departures! Seeing all of our wonderful students heading out on their adventures, looking a little nervous but very excited is always such a treat for us. And it’s even better seeing them all come back with beaming smiles and some amazing photos too. We know it can be pretty nerve-wracking heading off on a challenge, particularly if it’s your first time even leaving the country without an “adult”. With that in mind, we thought we’d put together a “final checklist blog” to talk you through all the things you maybe should bear in mind, or should try in the months leading up to the challenge.
First things first, let’s talk the important bits: Passports and visas. If your passport doesn’t have at least 6 months validity left on it at your point of departure, you won’t be allowed to fly. Check this now, right now! If you do realise in a last minute panic that yours is out of date, don’t worry, you still have time. Head to the government website here to find out how to renew your passport (usually you can head up to London for a day or two and get it processed pretty quick if you’re in a rush). You’ll also need to let us know you’re doing this ASAP, as we will need your most up-to-date passport number to confirm your place on the itinerary.
So, now you’ve checked your passport’s in-date, it’s time to double check the visa, please note the guidance below is for UK passport holders. If you’re heading out to Peru this Summer, good news! You won’t need to worry about a visa. For our Nepal & Tanzania trekkers, you will need to make sure your visa is ready to go in your passport. If for whatever reason, you haven’t managed to sort this yet, head to the relevant embassy website you’ll be able to find the costs of same-day and next-day processing. This’ll be the easiest way to get your visa processed quickly.
Now that you know you’ll be able to travel, the next important thing will be your kit. Have you got all the boots, sun cream, hats, gloves scarfs and everything else you may need? Check out your trips briefing pack (on your Facebook page or the FAQ section of our website) for a full kit list. Remember, if you’re heading out to Peru or Nepal and requested to rent some kit, you’ll need to pay for this & collect it when you arrive in-country. Our Interns and in-country staff will be able to assist and ensure you get all this together. If you’re heading out to Tanzania, you’ll be able to visit the kit rental shop in Springlands hotel the day before your trek. Everything in the briefing pack listed with a price next to it is available to rent. Speaking of kit, if you haven’t already, wear your walking boots in ASAP. This is probably the most important piece of kit you’ll own, and there’s nothing more likely to stop you completing the trek then having some nasty blisters.
Your Challenge Itinerary, you should be receiving this via email over the next few weeks. This’ll include your flights, in-country details and your trip itinerary. If you haven’t already applied for your visa, this information will be able to help you out. If your first or last name are incorrect on the pack, don’t panic, just call us in the office straight away! And don’t worry- we don’t need your middle name.
Now you’ve got your confirmed itinerary in place, it’s important you plan in how you’ll be getting to the airport. Whether that be booking a coach, taxi or lift with your rents, get it sorted now to avoid any last minute stress. A Choose a Challenge rep will be meeting you in the airport 3 hours before your departure time, make sure you arrange to arrive at this time to get checked in with your group.
Once you’re all dropped off at the airport, your family and friends will probably be asking how they can track you whilst you’re away to make sure you’re ok. We usually stick with the saying “no news is good news” for all of our trips, as there are many that often involve a lack of signal (which makes it very difficult for us to receive regular updates). If we do get an update, we’ll be uploading them regularly to our Twitter feed, so encourage your relatives to follow us @choosechallenge. We’ll also post updates when we can on our Facebook page: Choose a Challenge, so be sure to encourage people to like this too. Your trip will have a specific hashtag (given to you in your final checklist email) so this makes it a lot easier for your family and friends to track you.
So once you arrive, you’ll need to make sure you have some emergency cash. We always recommend having around $150-200 in emergency money just in case you get out in-country and find that there’s a problem with your card. And on a note of cards, make sure you’ve told your bank you’ll be travelling! Noone wants their card being declined just because you’re trying to buy a late-night Mcdonalds in Peru.
Hopefully, this has helped you get your final preparations in place, do make sure to read through your final information pack and briefing pack thoroughly to get any last minute questions answered. And if you’re still stuck, we’re only an email or phone call away.
We hope you are all excited, and we can’t wait to see you at the airport!