By Tiffany Clough
So you’ve decided to embark on the vacation of a lifetime. You’re set on testing your determination as well as your wilderness survival skills and you plan on doing so together with your family. That’s great! Living in today’s concrete jungles will have any city-dweller seeking a vacation that ensures a rush of adrenaline and a survival vacation is the perfect choice.
Think about it: there are basic survival skills that you’ll need, but you’ll be that much better off after having mastered them. The question is, how do you know which skills you need to master before booking such a vacation, and most importantly, what is it that you should have in your backpack before departing? This guide will answer both questions, so read on through!
Need-to-Have Survival Gear: Wilderness Survival Checklist
A wilderness survival vacation is a unique experience that you can take part in together with your family. It’s fun and educational and can generate powerful bonds between you and the members of your family. Nevertheless, such a vacation does come with a number of hazards that can turn a great idea into a very bad memory. That’s why you and your family members will have to master a number of wilderness survival techniques and to carry certain items with you.
Putting together a survival kit is no easy task. Now, you’re not planning for an end-of-the-world scenario, so the issue is to correctly prepare for your survival vacation. That means that you’ll have to strike the perfect balance between packing lightly and packing enough. There are some items that should be on any prepper’s checklist, but we’ve also added a few other essential items to ensure that you’re all set on your survival vacation:
- A comfortable, waterproof backpack;
- A good quality knife;
- Water or a reliable water purification system;
- Cords or rope;
- Signaling equipment: whistles, signaling mirrors, or, if possible, a radio;
- Fire starting equipment: this should include lighters, waterproof matches, magnesium bars;
- A compass (with instructions);
- Tarp (or any other shelter building solution, such as a tent);
- A sleeping bag;
- A first aid kit;
- A Raincoat;
- Duct tape;
- A flashlight or a rechargeable glow stick;
- A map;
- Appropriate clothing for the climate (including underwear and warm socks).
Prepare for what’s Ahead
Depending on where you’re spending your vacation, the weather, whether or not you may have hostile animal encounters or whether you may face other dangers, you’ll have to plan ahead. Your survival strategy will have to be based on careful planning so consider the following situations:
- Dealing with cold weather: focus on keeping your head covered at all times, adjust clothing to prevent overheating, sweating or being too cold; place your damp boots between your sleeping bag’s liner and shell; always carry fire starting equipment with you;
- Dealing with warm weather: warm weather can be just as difficult to deal with as cold weather, so make sure to take sufficient breaks, avoid over-exertion, wear a hat to protect your head from the sun, stay properly hydrated and learn to recognize the symptoms of heat exhaustion: headaches, dizziness, vomiting.
Key Survival Techniques to Learn Before Your Survival Vacation
Each member of your family will have certain tasks they will have to be able to perform. Of course, there’s an appropriate age for everything and you’ll have to factor that in both when choosing the location of your wilderness survival vacation and when teaching the required skills to your family. These skills include:
- Basic Navigation (here’s a great guide on using a compass);
- Water purification and collection;
- Fire starting and food preparation;
- Shelter building;
- Knots and ropework;
- Recognizing edible plants;
- Basic first aid
While your family members (especially children) may help you build a shelter or get a fire started, there are several skills that they can master by themselves. Using a compass and collecting water, for instance, are helpful things that ensure that they feel included and enjoy the experience as much as you do. It’s best to assign roles before leaving home, so that everyone knows what needs to be done.
Wilderness Survival Tips
Chances are that your vacation will go as planned. You’ll be sitting happily around the fire with your wife and children, roasting s’mores and feeling great. There is a slight chance, though, that something goes wrong. If so, remember the following rules:
- Never panic: having a clear mind is paramount so stay cool at all times. Your panic will only fuel the fear of your family members.
- Try to work out where you are. You have a compass, use it. If it breaks or gets lost, use moss, the sun or the northern star to identify your position. If all else fails, follow the course of a river, as populated regions are often found alongside rivers.
- Preserve energy: wandering around aimlessly won’t help so put safety first. Use flashlights if it’s dark, don’t climb trees and make camp while there’s still daylight
- Signal for help: three fires indicate a distress signal, so build three individual fires in a triangle. That’s bound to attract someone’s attention.
- If unsure, ration food.
For beginners who are interested in the great outdoors, note that there are countless sources for information as well as a number of survival courses to have you feeling safe enough to embark on such a journey. While no course, no matter how thorough, can serve as a substitute for an outdoor situation, there’s no denying the valuable skills that you will have mastered.
So we’ll leave you off with some great additional sources of information to help you better plan for the survival vacation you have in mind:
- Wilderness survival courses: Discovery has a great list
- An ultimate guide to starting a fire
- Surviving in extremely cold weather