Most of us recognize the benefit of having a positive attitude and positive outlook on life. Occasionally though, we must plan for the worst, and trips into the wilderness are one such instance. Most deaths that occur in the wilderness are caused by unpreparedness, so proper planning can be the difference between life and death. Reality TV gives us the appearance of being in a survival situation would be fun, but in real life there are no reward challenges, immunity, and team to help you out. The good thing is that with a bit of preparation you can be equipped to survive in case things go wrong.
The first thing you must do is learn about the location you have in mind. Ideally, you should spend some time training with a local expert, who will be more skillful within the local terrain than any guide book, but if that is not possible there are still many ways to prepare yourself. Get yourself a good map of the area and study it carefully to get a feel for the land before you ever set foot there. You should become familiar enough with the area's features that you can begin to visualize the terrain in your mind. This will limit the number of surprises you encounter. Also, learn how to use a compass so you can navigate, and find your way to safety in the event you get lost.
There are other important pieces of information to gather during planning:
-local vegetation. What is edible and what isn't?
-local animals. Which ones are dangerous?
-water sources and their locations
-the weather. Extreme highs and lows in temperature as well as the worst possible weather for the season.
-the people. If there are local people and so what customs should you be aware of?
Remember, knowledge is power, and the more you know about the region you'll be visiting, the better your chances for survival.
In addition to this prep work, it is valuable to spend time on your physical conditioning. Your body is your best survival tool, and the farther you can travel in a day and the stronger you are, the better your chances. Knowing your limits will help you determine the best course of action in any given situation. If you suffer from any chronic health conditions, make sure you bring along additional medication in the event that you get stranded for a prolonged period of time.
You want to choose gear that you are willing to stake your life on. Gear that will function under extreme conditions is more important than saving a couple dollars. The right equipment may vary greatly depending on your destination so it would be good to talk to locals or people who have experience with the location. Local stores can also be a good place to look, but remember their job is to sell you things, and it is the people that will provide you with the knowledge needed. Learn how to use your gear before your adventure. A survival situation could strike at any time, and that means at the very start of your trip, so don't assume you'll have the chance to get acquainted with your gear along the way.
Always inform somebody of your travel plans. Let them know what you will be doing, when you are starting out and scheduled to finish, the route you plan on taking, how to get in touch, and what to do if a problem should arise. You can also enter your travel plan on a website such as www.SendAnSOS.com, which will inform contacts of your choosing if you don't sign in to the site by a specific date.
If you do all of these things, you will greatly improve your chances in any survival situation.
If you enjoy this topic and are looking for more information, I highly recommend Survive!: Essential Skills and Tactics to Get You Out of Anywhere - Alive by Les Stroud of Survivorman fame.