The Outside Guide to Adventure: Mastering the Basics

There are certain skills every Outside guy should possess. For this, the first installment of our four-part fundamentals series, we address the basics of adventure.

A graduate-level, four-part seminar to help you master the art of adventure in every facet of your life.     Photo: Illustration by Frank Stockton

NAIL THE LANDING

The first test on many international adventures takes place before you leave the airport

Just past the customs kiosk, you'll often find a mob of drivers, porters, and other assorted "helpers." The right move depends on the context. If you're heading someplace especially disorienting, like Indonesia or even some parts of Mexico, book your first night's accommodations from home, then ask the hotel to send a driver to meet you bearing a sign with your name on it. (Hotels used to catering to Westerners, and particularily those in developing countries, do this all the time.) It might cost a bit more, but it's worth it. "While it sounds very bourgeois," says Robert Young Pelton, author of The World's Most Dangerous Places, "it won't be any more expensive than a normal taxi."

If you've landed someplace mellower, like the Philippines or Kenya, and now you've got a scrum of young men buzzing around your huge pile of gear, the first thing you need to do is slow down and shop around. Trust your instincts and be wary of the most aggressive hawkers; you want the confident guy hanging back. Then hire someone. "Don't be the Westerner who's so afraid of being ripped off that he refuses to spend any money or who believes in the dogma of self-sufficiency," says author and filmmaker Sebastian Junger. "You'll just look like a jerk."

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