Trip Plans and Why You Need Them

Two men are hiking with their backs to the camera across frozen ground. The sky is blue and the landscape is red-brown with snow.

What are Trip Plans?

Trip plans let someone know the location, length, and nature of your trip in the wilderness. Should something happen to you, this information is vital for search and rescue. This is why Adventure Smart and the Search and Rescue Volunteer Association of Canada recommend that you always leave a trip plan with someone you trust. 

What’s in Them?

Departure and Return Times: Your trip plan should include your departure and return times. When you get back from your trip, one of the first things you should do is contact the person you left your trip plan with. This lets them know that you are okay and no further action is required on their part. Make sure you give them an estimate of when they will hear from you. This might differ from your return time if, for instance, you are out of service range.

Where You are Going: Your plan should include the location(s) of your trip. If you are visiting multiple locations include a breakdown of your movement for the duration of your stay. For example, if you are staying at multiple campsites list them all and what days you expect to be at each one.

What You are Doing: List what activity you are doing in the wilderness. Are you foraging, camping, canoeing, rock climbing, fishing, or doing something else? Each activity comes with its own risks and equipment needs. This information is valuable if you need help.

Equipment and Supplies: It’s a good idea to include a list of your supplies. This includes essential and activity-specific equipment. Adventure Smart recommends that you always carry these essentials: a flashlight, fire starter, whistle/mirror for signalling, food, water, extra clothing, map, compass, first aid kit, emergency shelter, pocket knife, and sun protection.

Miscellaneous Information: It can be useful to list your medications, allergies, emergency contacts, and any other important information. 

Help Making a Trip Plan

If you want help designing a trip plan, Adventure Smart has released a great app. The Adventure Smart Trip Plan app allows you to easily create, save, print, and share trip plans.

Do You Use Trip Plans?

I’d love to hear any comments or suggestions you may have for creating trip plans. In the meantime, get outside and stay safe! 🙂

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