Inspired Adventures

Trekking in Nepal – travel tips

Posted on May 24, 2011. Filed under: culture, Inspired Adventures, Nepal trek, personal leadership |

When travelling to a new country there are always lots of questions:

-what will it be like?

– what do I need to be alert for?

– what do I need to pack?

– what security questions should I have?

And the list goes on.

Luckily for me, my recent trip to Nepal was organised through Inspired Adventures who worked with a local group Royal Mountain Tours, so we got some pretty good briefing notes.

However there are always tips hat you pick up along the way and here are a few of mine – that should be applied over and above your own checks about security, medical advice and your own travel needs.

Take good socks and jocks – there is something to be said for comfy feet and comfy undies. I spent a lot of money on proper hiking underwear and it paid off. Despite lots of hours of trekking and walking through heavy rain I did not even get one blister or red mark on my feet. And there was no chafing from my undies either.

Use hand sanitiser – before and after every meal. And in between times. Germs are transmitted from hand to mouth and when you touch something you can pick up germs. No wonder I did not get even a slight tummy bug. Thanks for the tip.

Keep up the (bottled) water. In other countries, especially when exercising as hard as we were at times, maintaining water intake is vital.

Have a sip of a soft drink at each rest stop to get an energy burst but keep up the water. These regular little sugar hits along with energy bars and eating well were all part of me more than just surviving some tough days.

Check if you can use credit cards or need to take cash and your debit card. Too many of us assume that you can use credit cards pretty much anywhere you go nowadays – in most of Nepal that is not true. Cash is king. Check before you leave – and remember that carrying too much cash is not a good idea either. ATMs near our hotel in Kathmandu were secure to use – not all are that way.

Pack clothing for both your destination weather and your home weather – I used thermals when leaving and landing and for about 4 hours of the rest of the trip. It meant I was comfy at all stages and they really didn’t weigh too much. I also took a shawl that doubled as an extra blanket when I needed it.

Waterproof gear is not always waterproof – or should I say storm proof. We had some storm experience – get good gear, and pack your things inside plastic bags as well.

Always carry a clean and dry pair of socks and a shirt. When you get wet trekking you will appreciate the ability to put on a dry shirt and socks. Even when your shoes and pants are wet something dry picks up your spirits incredibly well.

Take extra plastic bags – they are great for packing wet or dirty items (including shoes)

Take extra big safety pins – they can be an emergency fix and also a portable washing line – several of us hiked with socks dangling off our packs.

If you journal – carry a clutch pencil as it saves running out of ink or needing to sharpen the pencil. Also carry a glue stick so you can glue in items as you go – saves work when you get home and keeps things in chronological order.

Carry toilet paper and tissues everywhere with you. You never know when you may need them and when you need them you need them!

Remember that it is a holiday, an out of the usual spectrum advanture. Things will be different to home – and not always in a good way. Accept it.

People will be different and may not speak your language – learn a little of theirs. Customs can vary – it is important to be respectful. For example, in Nepal always ask permission before taking somone’s photo. Always.

Fellow travellers may be tired, grumpy or missing home – be relaxed about it. You might be the same at times. Those moments pass. If you make a harsh or judgemental comment, the memory of your words will last longer than the ” spat”  that started it.

Hard times can make the best memories. Keep that in mind because the hard moments will pass but the memories will last.

Keep an open mind – you never know what you will experience.

Bartering is required and expected in many Asian countries. Embrace it and also be prepared to walk away if you feel you are paying too much. Do not compare what you paid with what someone else paid – ask yourself if you are happy with the item you bought and the price you paid. It is all relative.

Tipping is often expected – porters who carry your bag or waiters who do something extra for you (such as getting herbal tea rather than black tea) earn a tip. Have small notes with you at all times to be ready. Check in the country about what is a usual tip.

In Nepal many prices are quoted for food and drink excluding tax and tip/service chares – this can add almost 25% to your bill. If you expect it then you won’t be surprised.


When travelling you are typically on holidays or an adventure of a lifetime.

For me who has always wanted to go to Nepal this trip was so much more than even a bucket list item. It has been incredible.

Having a few tips and being prepared helped me keep smiling and enjoying the journey – even at the hard moments.

Life is short. Live it well.

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Trek to Nepal – six weeks to go

Posted on March 21, 2011. Filed under: culture, Inspired Adventures, Nepal trek, personal leadership |

Amazingly there are now only six weeks to go until the journey of a lifetime begins. Am I ready? That is a question that can inspire and terrify at the same time. It is a question that cannot really be answered fully until the journey is complete and the reflection and review occurs. And pehaps even then it may not be clear as I may have been ready for a set of circumstances that do not eventuate.

One area I am feeling far from ready with is the fundraising. Please support the great work of Plan Internationald and their Because I’m a Girl Fund by donating to my page here

Donations have been trickling in and I am well away from my target amount. That as I said is an area I am not ready in – I have been busy with work and not focused on setting up events. Lesson number one – the first thing to focus on and plan is the fundraising events when you are embarking on a trip like this. I focused initially on the physical challenge and getting myself fit – which in hindsight actually was, for me, the right thing to do. Because I have been so busy over the past month there is no way I could have managed a fitness campaign as well as the workload. My routine of exercise over the past month has been one of maintenance more than anything else. And of course me working on the blood type diet.

Visas and vaccinations are the order of the next week – organising and getting them. Making sure all is ready before the last minute. Or the last week – which is really approaching quickly now.

I’m continuing the work on steps and stamina – gave my quads a really good workout over the weekend and they are letting me know today. Short sprints uphill on rough ground. I know I am not running in Nepal however all of my research and conversations with people has really emphasised the need to be able to cope with lots of up and down work – and coping with uneven ground. That’s where the core strenght comes in. And of course we all know that going downhill is harder on the legs than walking uphill. I remember a school camp where many people got to the top quicker than I did but they had “jelly legs” on the way down so i caught up and actually arrived at the bottom sooner than quite a number of them did.

Not that Nepal is about a competition. It may well be a competition with myself and my frame of mind, yet it will also be a real test of our physical fitness and the legs are going to be key. I think I ought to book myself in for a spa and massage treatment the first week of my return. I have a feeling I am going to need it, or at least will want it as a reward or something.

All accounts suggest that the weather is going to be warm – like 30 degrees C during the day and down to say 10 degrees at night. Thank goodness our local weather has been similar so I’m a little used to warm days that cool down quickly. It presents a challenge for packing and the packs thoug – our porters will not carry more than 15kgs and I certainly do not want to be hiking with a 50kg pack just so I have enough clothes.

It will be all about layering and light clothing – of which I have plenty having bought lots of hiking wear over the years. It will be interesting to learn which fibres work best – merino is supposedly best for thermals as it does not sweat and smell like synthetics. It is hard to get and quite expensive. Yet worth it if it keeps me warm and does not smell out my room mate.

If you are reading this and enjoying it, please consider making a donation (if you have not already done so) because just $10 from each person I know on LinkedIn and Facebook will go a long way to helping Plan International.

Thanks for reading.  And thank you in advance for your support.

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Trek to Nepal – two months exactly

Posted on March 7, 2011. Filed under: expectations, Inspired Adventures, Nepal trek, personal leadership |

This week marks the countdown at eight weeks until departure. Amazingly it is only 2 months – getting easily into the realm of how milestones as motivation or notmany days to go (yet I’m not going to go there just yet)

Milestones are a funny thing – some people get really motivated by the approach of a milestone – especially if they have prepared well and are tracking development and progress. For instance, I am noticing some health benefits including my body toning up so that clothes are fitting much better than they have for quite some time. And the meditation is also having an effect although not as much as I had hoped because I am not practising as much as I had planned.
Others around me are counting down to different milestones such as major trips or events and I have been fascinated by the variation in approaches. One friend is excitedly counting down the number of days until his wedding – a simple daily statement of number of days to go. No more and no less is said yet his excitement and enthusiasm is clear. Another friend is counting down the days to a holiday and has been crafting new words to go with traditional tunes so the rest of us count down how many sleeps while humming the tune of a well known song. And yes I can tell you exactly how many days to go – she has effectively used multiple senses to lock the milestone into her mind and also into the minds of others.

There’s a tip I guess – use as many of your senses as possible to lock something into your mind and focus. If I just visualise it then that is one sense, whereas if I visualise along with sound (like music or people speaking the language) then my brain gets the message on two channels which gives it a higher impact.

So my training has been physical and mental – for obvious reasons – and I have been practising my meditation and focused attention while hiking. Attending to the feel of my feet on the ground, noticing the smells and the sounds – which I know will be very different in Nepal yet still something I treasure about hiking. I especially love the smells after rain. It’s fresh and clean. Almost as if the world has been cleansed.

A bit spiritual in a way. Just like a trek in Nepal has a spiritual element for me. It’s a chance to connect with a place of beauty and astonishing scale, that has at least the percpetion of being untouched. I am under no illusion about how hard this is going to be – and in fact the past 2 weeks as I have found it hard to fit my target level of fitness training into my schedule I have begun to feel some doubt about how I am really going to cope on this trip.

Will I make it or will I need lots of help? Am I going to enjoy it while I’m there or will it be a struggle that only becomes a positive on reflection?

These sort of thoughts have some similarities with the way we celebrate the approach of milestones. If I feel ready and prepared then I am excited. When I feel under prepared and concerned about my capability to do it then I feel nervous and may even think about delaying or denying it. Of course that is one of the reasons why a group trip is so powerful – the external drivers mean that no one person can defer the trip. Of course an individual can withdraw however the trip will still go on. Now it is about how I use those nervous feelings – to spur me into action or to generate a sense of lethargy.

Can you see the parallel with work or a personal goal (such as getting fit)? Often a small setback or variation to the plan becomes the seed that puts the whole thing off kilter.

physical and mental challengesSo where am I? Still feeling a little nervous about my level of preparedness yet turning that into a motivator to stick to my fitness plan or revise my focus – so the last 2 weeks where I have not done as much physical work as target, I have focused on mental preparation (ie some meditation) and also the logistics (ie vaccinations and visas) and my diet (yes I am following the Blood Type diet) as well as making the most of what opportunity I do have. Last week I had to be outside for 6 of the 7 days standing around. So I made sure I did lots of walking to and fro, along with squats and lunges and stretches. Building some strength in the quads and working my knees – because they are going to get a workout in 8 to 10 weeks time.

The other lesson is learning to forgive myself for not being perfect. Accepting that I can only do my best and that one bad week does not a failure make. (I will have failed if I give up now)

With eight weeks to go I believe that I have the equipment I need, and have tested it all out – with success. Vaccinations and visas are next. And then it will be keeping up the good work.

And being prepared to take lots of photos and sharing them when I return.

My journal is ready for me to make notes while I am there.

The photos will tell a picture story.

And perhaps the greatest story of all will be the one that I live while I am there and what I learn about myself and my fellow travellers.

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Trek to Nepal – 11 weeks to go

Posted on February 15, 2011. Filed under: Inspired Adventures, leadership response, Nepal trek, personal leadership, Plan Fundraising |

Well another week has flown by. Still working on the plan – no pun intended (remember that this is a fundraising activity for Plan Australia). Getting more and more people saying how close it all is. And also receiving offers of support and help.

I guess that is really what this sort of trip is about – realising that there is only so much that you can do alone. Sure I am responsible for planning and my personal, physical and mental preparation. The support and encouragement of others is really important to that too. And the support of others in terms of financial support to help me reach the fundraising target is unquestioned. It is also the support of others who are encouraging and positive that really helps when you have a flat or platreau week. Those weeks two to three months out where it still feels far away yet not really and where the training has stabilised and is almost a routine of its own. That is really when the support of others kicks in significantly.

Support from others in offering to help set up and run fundraisers. There is only so much you can do on your own – especially if aiming to hold a large event. Other people have ideas about what to run and where to go and have experience from doing it before. So you learn from the experience of others and leap frog your own learning curve.

It also becomes reciprocal – if we share experience and lessons learned then we save others the same sort of pain and they are also encouraged and more likely to return the favour. That is what a community spirit is. When we are willing to share insights and information to help each other.

For me that is one of the essential elements aout Nepal. There is a sense and a spirit of community and sharing. It may be very different when I am there, however my knowledge and to some degree my expectation is that I will find and experience for myself a strong community. A group of people who are gentle and willing to help. No I don’t have to go to Nepal to find that – such support and encouragement is all around. I guess it is just not what first comes to mind when I think of Australia.

With less than three months to go, (and really close to two complete months because we are almost at the end of February) I am having some thoughts and possibly doubts about how ready I really am.  I am working on different things – still my cardio and strength are a big focus with some core work in there as well. The fundraising hurdles seem close and high yet I’ll get there. And that’s probably the theme for this post. Holding that internal unshakeable belief that I will do this, and do it well.

It’s also about variety – keeping a mix of things going (multitasking some would call that!) so that I avoid falling into boredom – a personal challenge – and also so that I am tracking progress on a number of different fronts. From a fitness perspective it is more than counting reps and assessing stamina – although those are important and still improving – it is also had me trying on old clothes that have been a bit tight and seeing how they fit again. Or wearing different tops and pants that I am once again happy to wear.

The next two weeks are occupied with speaking engagements and volunteer work so the training routine is going to need to vary. More core work and static fitness. It needs to be mixed up as gym fit is different to hiking fit. They are linked yet very different. When anyone is thinking of preparing for something I always encourage them to tyr the activity itself as that requires a specific set of fitness that is hard to gain from any other activity. Hence why my preparation is so varied.

Let’s hope it works – I’ll know in just over 11 weeks when I am there.

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Trek to Nepal – 13 weeks away

Posted on January 30, 2011. Filed under: expectations, Inspired Adventures, Nepal trek, personal leadership, Plan Fundraising |

Another week has flown by and it has been a really interesting observation and opportunity for reflection. Every day really is important. If we do not take action every day and be mindful of our wider purpose on a daily basis then the days just get away from us. The days become weeks and they quickly become months. I have maintained my focus on exercise this past week and looking back feel really proud of myself because it would have been so very easy for this week to have slipped by without any physical effort.
And herein lies one of the reasons I am keen to raise money for Plan – because I and others like me in this country have the opportunity and environment to relax and to enjoy our first world living conditions.


Yes I have made the choice to do something to help others. And like every choice there will be some benefits that I believe I will gain. There will be costs and trade offs to me having made this choice to go to Nepal – some of them quite personally significant, yet none so significant as the living conditions others experience as their norm. Some of my friends have made the choice to donate to my fundraising efforts and to make a difference.

I have been scheduling other commitments around my exercise and preparation – how lucky am I? To be able to do this is a luxury. It has not been easy yet so many people are not able to live easy lives. And as I keep saying and feeling – this effort and this trek is going to have a number of positive effects for me. These are what I am planning to share in my blog posts over the next couple of weeks to remind us all that there is a mutual benefit to be had when you step outside your comfort zzone and do something for someone else. The benefits may not be immediate however they are there especially if you look for them.

Perhaps most obviously is the opportunity to explore a country that has quite frankly held a high level of mystique for most of us. We have all read of and seen footage and images of assaults on Everest – and in fact many people have asked if I am going to base camp. No I am not. There is no way I am fit enough physically or emotionally to tackle that kind of effort let alone to tackle the great mountain herself. This does not diminish what I and the other 19 women will be doing, however it does put it into perspective.

Nepal is a small country with amazing geographic features and a public profile around the world. The weather conditions will be warm to hot in May when I am there which in some ways are more pleasant for trekking than rain – especially when you consider the amount of ascending and descending we will be doing on uneven surfaces – dry is better than wet. Part of me is assured that the challenge will not be too tough given that it is a group of 20 women going – not being disrespectful of women, more about the fact that if we were a group tackling the summit of Everest then the entry criteria would be tougher and higher than they are.

One benefit I am really excited about is the development of my meditation skills. It has been recommended to me that being able to meditate and find peace while hiking is an important success factor and so I am developing and honing skills that have previously been lower on my priority list. With Nepal just over 3 months away I am excited to be returning my focus to meditation. And of course it is something that will have huge benefits and payoffs before I go and after I return.

Well, I will post again next week and feel sure that there will be a continued emphasis on day by day effort. I will also include a focus on another of the benefits I expect because effort needs to be balanced with benefit or else it can become a grind rather than a joy.

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Trek to Nepal – 14 weeks to go

Posted on January 24, 2011. Filed under: Inspired Adventures, Nepal trek, personal leadership |

images of hiking in Nepal Another week has passed by and the countdown continues – relentlessly in many ways. This past week has been very busy work wise and I have pushed myself to maintain the exercise that is so necessary to a successful trek in May. I have found less hours to go walking and so I have focused on core stremgth and cardio work. Then the weekend arrived and I realised that two whole days of being at the Australian Open tennis was not going to be conducive to exercise.

What about my goal? What about balance I responded. And so I have had two full days with no exercise. The week ahead allows (or perhaps more correctly I have made it allow) more space for the exercise plan. This is the fourth week of my preparation – a time in many change plans when things can go awry and I wonder if it is because we all need a rest sometimes. A rest without giving up or going backwards. A brief respite that allows some focus and perspective on the bigger mission and goal. That’s certainly how I feel. Progress is still being made and I am pleased with myself, however the journey still lies ahead.

My physical fitness is progressing and I need to keep on keeping on with it.

My mental and emotional preparation has been more of a focus this week as I can focus on mindfulness while travelling and have even begun practising a mild meditation while walking. One tip I heard was to build the strength and ability to meditate while hiking as it will assist with those times when the body is struggling. My intent is to use this as a toool that will certainly be useful while in Nepal and will also be of great value in daily life especially with regard to stress management.

I have a book on meditation by Ian Gawler and it is proving helpful so far. The next couple of weeks will see a focus on physical and mental preparation. This journey is about building a framework and having the pieces of the puzzle come together. The blog will capture the pieces and I hope when I read back over it and reflect that it will also be a journey and guide for me – so I can see how far I have come and perhaps also learn a lesson from the approach. Reflection and mindfulness can only be of value and benefit from where I sit right now.

Keeping my eye on the end goal – that photo at the start of the blog is my online and onscreen reminder. I also have a picture taken in Nepal on my bedroom wall. Picturing how I am going to feel when I am there for myself is keeping me focused. Even when there are many distractions this goal remains constant. And that is something we all can manage – we can get busy with other things yet never distracted from our goal.

Another week closer and another week fitter than when I started.

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Trek to Nepal – 16 weeks to go

Posted on January 9, 2011. Filed under: Inspired Adventures, Nepal trek |

Well the first week of my preparation and training is over – and I feel great! I am wondering if that is about the increased exercise I’ve been doing and all the resulting endorphins that are charging around my body. Or it could also be about being goal focused and having something specific to work toward always inspires me. Maybe it is the modifications to my diet – less alcohol, potato and pasta and more protein and salad. I also had a little bit of work downtime over Christmas too to recharge and refresh. Probably a combination of them all.

One thing I have done that I would recommend is contact someone you know who has done something like this before. I am fortunate enough to live in Bendigo and to know (albeit not all that well – yet) Linda Beilharz. Yes the lady who was named adventurer of the year in 2010 and who has walked to both north and south poles. A serious walk training buddy and she was kind enough to have me tag along on one of her light afternoon walks over a local area. Nepal trek training

The One Tree Hill area is peppered with walking tracks that wind around the tarred road giving access from Mandurang to Flora Hill and the university. It was a lovely day when Linda and I walked and we enjoyed a mix of on and off road hiking – as we went late in the day we were conscious of not breaking spider webs in the bush and so stuck to the road for most of the 90 minutes. Silly me forgot to wear my pedometer so I have no idea how far it was – only that it was hilly and steep in parts.

And that is a good tip about Nepal – when you ask a local porter what the day’s walk is going to be like they may well respond  “a little bit up” or down. That should not be taken literally as in there will be some ups and downs. You see the locals apply an average to the walk ahead so a little bit up means by the end of the day we will be at slightly higher altitude than we are this morning. It has nothing whatsoever to do with how hard, easy or steep the day ahead may be. I thought this was a very useful tip especially for the midset.

My training is blending walking and getting used to my hiking gear again with cardio and core strentgth work. In week 2 I aim to continue what I did in week one at a slightly higher intensity and add some step training. One day of the trek mentions climbing some fabulous stairs and the number of steps is more than 3000. So I thought it would be good to get the legs used to up and down steps.

Another tip for ladies hiking is to wear a skirt over trousers or thermals. That way when you “go” in the bush you don’t expose bare skin when downing trousers.

Nepal communityWeek 2 of preparation will maintain week one as best I can as it includes an interstate trip – this will be the test of my planning. How well I can maintain the physical conditioning needed with other demands on my time – including sleep!

It is all so exciting though: the benefits of being physically fitter are numerous, the mental preparation including meditation will be great too (I have not seriously attempted meditation before) and of course I am really looking forward to doing something to help other people.

And of course the fundraising component needs to kick off this week also. I have some plans in place although need some additional detail to turn the goal into a reality.

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Nepal Hiking May 1 to 16 2011

Posted on January 4, 2011. Filed under: Inspired Adventures, Nepal trek, Plan Fundraising |

Well I have done it now. I have committed to a fundraising trek in Nepal with Plan Australia and 19 other women. WE fly out on May 1st and return on the 15th so although it is a short trip it’s going to be an amazing journey.

Great scenery and hiking

 Why would I, a business woman in my early 40s decide to go to Nepal?

 Good question. Some might say it is an impulsive move however I have been talking about hiking in Nepal and doing the Milford Track in New Zealand for several years now. They have been ideas, dreams even that have never managed to take shape or translate into action.

Until Now.

I received an email late in December asking what I was going to do in 2011 to make a difference. It was about a fundraiser being run by Plan Australia to help women and girls in Nepal – – and I decided that it would be a fantastic idea for me to do it. The trekking part is 5 days and there is a physical challenge to get fit as well as a fundraising component to raise money to help others.

Both of those challenges appealed strongly to me. And so I signed up.

This blog will be updated periodically to update my progress as I get fit – I have started walking 5-6km every day and will increase that, along with my cardio fitness and core strength. There is work to be done building a plan to raise money and it will be interesting to see how I go with that.

Nepal as a country has always been a drawcard for me – many say it stands for Never Ending Peace and Love because the people have the reputation of being friendly and peaceful. Even if they are poor the enduring image we all have is like the picture at the right.

This is not about making people financially wealthy because the appeal of Nepal and her people for me is their spirituality. And I do not believe that any amount of money can buy peace of the spirit or that deep inner contentment. It can however help fight disease, improve education and provide access to basic facilities that allow people to be more self determining. 

Part of me is excited and eager. Another part is wondering how I will cope with the altitude and being away from technology for 14 days. And I’m sure I will have access to technology – the question may be whether I want to!

Welcome to the beginning of my Nepal journey. For 5 days of hiking the preparation has begun already.

January 4 2011.

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