Packing hints and tips for overseas adventures

Packing for an overseas expedition, particularly if it’s your first one, can be a challenge in itself. Thankfully we’ve picked up lots of advice over the years, when it comes to packing effectively. Erika, our Charity Account Manager, shares some of her top tips to make packing your kit as easy as possible…

USE YOUR KIT LIST
Every expedition has a suggested kit list, which outlines everything you need to bring for that particular challenge. Use this to ensure that you have everything you need to be able to complete your challenge, and tick items off when you’ve bought them and packed them.

ENSURE YOUR KIT IS CLEAN AND DRY BEFORE YOU START PACKING
Your clothing should be clean and dry, and footwear should be cleaned properly in advance too. Don’t place muddy trainers in your rucksack next to your clearn clothing (place them inside a carrier bag to protect your clothes from any dirty marks).

TAKE EAR PLUGS AND AN EYE-MASK
Whilst these are useful for any long-haul/overnight flights, they’re also handy to have if you happen to be staying in a noisy campsite or hostel. It’s important to try and get a good night’s rest and some decent zZzzs when taking on physically adventurous challenges.

ROLL, ROLL, ROLL (DON’T FOLD)
Rolling clothing takes up less space then folding clothes, and also prevents creasing.

MAXIMISE EVERY BIT OF SPACE
Fill every bit of unused space within your rucksack. Pack socks, tops and other small items inside trainers and shoes to utilise all the space.

WEAR YOUR HIKING BOOTS ON THE PLANE
Don’t pack your walking footwear in your luggage that is getting checked in to the plane’s hold. Whilst we rarely have any lost luggage disruptions, the last thing you will want to do is lose your well-worn-in, trusty walking boots if your main baggage goes missing.

PACK A BUFF AND/OR BANDANA
Whether you’re going somewhere hot and humid, or icy and cold, a buff or bandana will provide you with a variety of uses. In warm climates, you can wear it as a sweat band on your wrist to wipe away perspiration, or to tie your hair up and keep it off your neck/back. In cooler regions, you can wear it around your neck/face to provide extra warmth or as an extra layer under your hat for added protection from the cold.

FIND A HANGING TOILETRIES BAG
Sometimes washing/showering facilities aren’t always functional, so pack a toiletries bag that has a hook so you can hang it on a door or rail.

‘SOCK AND STUFF’ YOUR (DAILY) OUTFIT
(1) Lay all your clothing out for the day.
(2) Place on top of each other in a neat line.
(3) Roll clothing in to a very tight roll
(4) Stuff rolled clothing inside sock
(5) Grab a pair of socks, which will contain your entire day’s worth of clothing

 

Hopefully these packing tips will give you some useful ideas on how to pack for your upcoming expedition. If you have any other queries related to your kit, or packing, please don’t hesitate to contact the Operations Team who will be able to offer you some advice.

Work for us: Operations Manager – Americas & Indian Continents

Be part of an award winning UK based travel company which specialises in organising overseas challenge events in support of charity organisations.

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Charity Challenge is looking for an experienced, passionate, and commercially minded Operations Manager to join their highly driven, ambitious and dynamic operations team.  With your primary focus being on safety and risk management as well as improving and maintaining excellent standards of quality and customer experience, you will manage around 10 different itineraries with 40+ departures throughout the Americas and India.

Ideally you will have previous group/charity tour operation and adventure travel experience and knowledge of principles of safety and risk management. Knowledge of adventure travel in the Americas (North and Latin) and India would also be highly desirable yet not an essential pre-requisite.

For more information, please see the Job Description.

To apply please email your CV together with a covering letter outlining your relevant experience, skills and abilities which match the requirements of the role to Holmes Rogers at holmes@charitychallenge.com

Work for us: Adventure Travel Consultant

Passionate about adventure travel? Want to make a difference? Love providing exceptional customer service and support?

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This is your opportunity to shine as an Adventure Travel Consultant for Charity Challenge, a leading tour operator and event management company who specialise in tailored national and international challenges. We are looking for a passionate individual to join our dynamic Sales, Marketing and Partnerships Team and to help take this exciting part of the business forward whilst providing exceptional customer service. You will inspire, support and prepare participants and groups throughout their pre-travel experiences and become integral in preparing them for their adventure of a lifetime. To achieve this you will exceed in receiving excellent customer feedback, maintain a high degree of accuracy and never ceasing to go the extra mile our participants. If you have an appetite for travel, are driven by providing great service, have fantastic administrative skills, are results driven and genuinely enjoy supporting people, then we would love to hear from you.

For more information, check out the Adventure Travel Consultant Job Description.

To apply please email your CV together with a covering letter outlining your relevant experience, skills and abilities that make you the stand out candidate to susan@charitychallenge.com. Applications close on 15th June 2017. 

Meet the team: Phili Newell

Operations Manager, Phili Newell, joined Charity Challenge in 2016 and looks after all of our adventurous expeditions in Asia.

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Name: Phili Newell

Location: London, UK

What’s your role at Charity Challenge?
I’m the Operations Manager for our expeditions in Asia, which includes looking after our events in Burma, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Mongolia and Vietnam. The expedition that keeps me the busiest is the Great Wall Discovery in China, as it’s our most popular and the visa application process can sometimes appear slightly overwhelming, but it’s always worth it.

What’s been your favourite Charity Challenge expedition to take on (so far)?
I took part in the Lombok Lava trek in June 2016, and that was a fantastic challenge. We trekked to some of Indonesia’s highest peaks, and were continually inspired by our amazing team of guides and porters who helped us complete the hike! (Read Phili’s blog about the expedition here).

Did you always want to work in the travel industry?
I’ve always been interested in the travel industry, but I am particularly interested in the NGO sector. Before I worked at Charity Challenge, I spent two and a half years working with an NGO in Borneo, implementing a series of sustainable community and natural resource projects. We took groups of young volunteers to the projects to give them insight into the development sector whilst providing them with transferable skills in leadership and team work. At Charity Challenge, there are many similarities; we offer people the opportunity to experience so many different things, including meeting new people, learning about different cultures and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. When your resilience is tested, you realise your strengths – and it is this that will get you through challenges that you may face in the future (whatever they may be).

What’s your favourite thing about being the Operations Manager for Asia?
Hearing back from participants who have completed one of our challenges – their sense of achievement is infectious and inspiring.

How many languages can you speak?
I would say 1.5… English, and some Japanese!

What advice would you give someone who is thinking about taking on a Charity Challenge?
Make sure that you train properly for your adventure. The more training you do before you go, the more you will enjoy the challenge. And pack light (follow the advice on our Kit Lists, and you can’t go wrong).

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
London – if I could also have a massive garden and a dog!

What three things can’t you live without?
A sense of humour, Marmite and sunlight.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself…
I hitchhiked on sail boats on the Canadian west coast and eventually got to sail to San Francisco after joining a yacht race. I then painted a house so I could get enough money together to leave the USA to get my return flight back to the UK!

5 Reasons to Visit Kyrgyzstan

We’re excited to introduce Kyrgyzstan as our latest challenge destination! A lesser-traveled part of the world, we asked Operations Manager Phili Newell for her top five reasons to visit this fascinating and beautiful country.

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1) Its rich history

Life in Kyrgyzstan is still very much nomadic despite various countries dominating it throughout its history, making it a melting pot of culture in Central Asia. Kyrgyzstan gained independence recently in 1991 with the breakup of the former USSR having previously ruled by Mongols; Chinese Manchus; and then Russia since 1876. Evidence of Soviet era is prominent in the giant statue of Lenin and the Soviet styled housing blocks of Bishkek, but as Central Asia’s largest mosque is completed and opens in 2017 you can feel the grip of communism slip away.

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2) It has 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

A landlocked country, Kyrgyzstan is home to 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites; the Tien Shan mountain range; the network of trading routes making up the famous Silk Road; and Sulayman Mountain the most “sacred” mountain in Central Asia.

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3) The scenery

Kyrgyzstan is a country less visited; the scenery is outstanding and as you trek through the rugged mountains you will wonder why you never thought of coming here before. Snow-capped mountains surround sweeping plains where herds of horses run wild and glacial rivers cut through the landscape, creating steep sided gorges where sheep and goats roam.

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4) The food

Try Kyrgyzstan’s interesting cuisine, starting with the much loved fermented mare’s milk, Besk Barmak, lamb with noodles and broth; Samsy a tandoor cooked meat and onion filled pocket and found at the road side stalls for a quick snack; and dumplings known as Monty.

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5) The challenge

The challenge itself will see you carrying all your own kit, including your tent, for the duration of your trek. You’ll be camping in gorges and trekking over mountain passes at an altitude of 3759m. Your average trek day will be about 6 hours before getting into camp where you’ll set up for the night, before gazing at the clear, star-studded skies.

Make sure you take a look at our Kyrgyzstan Trek challenge and maybe you could be ticking this exciting destination off your wishlist!

Work for us: Marketing Manager (Permanent/Full time)

Charity Challenge is recruiting a Marketing Manager to join the team in our London office. The role is a permanent full time position.

Who we are: Charity Challenge is a multi-award winning adventure travel operator and event management company best known for organising the celebrity based BT Red Nose Day Kilimanjaro climb.

We aim to deliver memorable, dynamic and safe challenge events in both popular and off the beaten track destinations, creating tailor-made events for charity and corporate clients whilst providing personalised, friendly and excellent customer service, advice and support. Our brand is based on values of professionalism, transparency, excellence, safety and passion in all that we do.

We are looking to recruit a passionate, creative and analytically minded Marketing Manager to join our highly driven, ambitious and dynamic team. For more details about the company please visit: www.charitychallenge.com

Who you are: You are digital marketing whizz with a flair for creativity and analytics. You should have a strong grasp of current marketing tools and strategies and be able to lead integrated digital marketing campaigns from concept and design through to execution and analytics.

You excel in researching target audiences and creating data driven marketing campaigns. In addition you are confident in website management, optimising SEO/SEM and usability. You have experience with managing brand reputation and engagement and have a creative flair with design and copy writing.

SUMMARY
The Marketing Manager is responsible for the day to day marketing activities of the organisation and long term marketing strategy for Charity Challenge to meet the company’s objectives and targets.


THE ROLE
• Help define the consumer marketing plan; establish the optimal marketing mix; website usability and optimisation; and report marketing results to senior management team

• Participate in the establishment, implementation and measurement of the effectiveness of initiatives to help drive bookings for international and national events, including paid advertising, in-bound marketing process, email and social media marketing

• Work both at the planning level by generating bold and innovative ideas for growth and at the tactical level by helping to manage advertising campaign execution, creating and optimising campaigns, analysing traffic data and solving problems

• Manage and create the full life-cycle of smart, compelling, targeted customer journeys related to marketing automation for both B2B and B2C campaigns. Work with the Sales Team to identify and generate leads for New Business Development

• Planning and designing web, SEO/SEM, email, social media and display advertising campaigns

• Maintaining our social media presence in association with our social media agency

• Measuring and reporting on the performance of all digital marketing campaigns and website analytics against previous performance, ROI and KPI’s

• Identify trends and insights and optimise spend and performance based on the insights

• Plan, design, execute and measure experiments and conversions tests

• Collaborate with internal teams to create landing pages and optimise user experience

• Utilise strong analytical ability to evaluate end-to-end customer experience across multiple channels and customer touch points

• Help identify and evaluate partnership opportunities, which could include co-marketing with reputable industry experts and retailers and engagement with adventure travel and responsible tourism communities

• Grow and manage our video content with our partner, GoFilm and maximise digital marketing opportunities

• Build brand awareness, engagement and personality through social media channels together with reputation management

• Be responsible for our brand guidelines and management

• Evaluate emerging technologies.

Core competencies
The successful candidate will be creative, highly analytical, resourceful, customer focused, team oriented, and will have an ability to work independently under time constraints to meet deadlines. You will have a proven track record for leading successful marketing programs across multiple touch points. A passion and understanding of developing website usability and brand engagement through social media channels, a love of adventure tourism, and a highly energetic flair of copywriting!

Basic Qualifications:
• 4+ years of relevant experience in marketing or marketing communications; of which at least 2 years in digital marketing
• Demonstrable experience leading and managing SEO/SEM, marketing database, email, social media and display advertising
• Proven track-record of delivering online (including mobile) traffic growth from multiple sources including multiple social media channels, mobile marketing, organic and paid search, email marketing, affiliate marketing, social networking, referrals and banner advertisements
• Highly creative experience in identifying target audiences and devising digital campaigns that engage, inform and motivate
• Experience in optimising landing pages and user funnels
• Solid knowledge of website analytics tools ie. Google Analytics
• Experience in setting up and optimising Google Adwords campaigns
• Strong analytical skills and data-driven thinking
• Strong analytical and quantitative skills; strong bias towards data-based decision making and comfort with financial and operational analysis. Comfortable rolling up sleeves to perform quantitative analysis.
• Proven ability synthesizing full funnel analytics, testing (such as A/B and multivariate) and customer insights into successful marketing strategies
• A strong understanding of website development, optimisation, usability and analytics
• Budget planning and management
• Facility with Excel required for reporting purposes
• Database management experience including audience profiling
• Use of CRM systems and email marketing software
• Up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices in online marketing and measurement

Preferred Attributes:
• Passion for adventure travel, understanding of responsible tourism and the third sector
• Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing
• Self-motivated and highly results-driven in fast-paced environment
• Excellent attention to detail, communication, presentation and interpersonal skills
• Strong sense of brand and editorial voice; the ability to harmonize message across multiple channels and marketing vehicles
• Use of design platforms such as InDesign and Photoshop.

What you can expect from us:
• We are a small business with a friendly office, full of people with passion for what they are doing. It is a lively and busy environment. We can promise that you will be challenged in your role! This is a chance to do something special, and work not only in the travel sector but also do something to help worthwhile causes
• The potential to travel and experience a challenge
• Monday to Friday, 09.00 – 17.30 hours
• 24 Days holiday per year (plus bank holidays).

Competitive salary dependent on experience.

Applications close Thursday 25th May. Please send your CV, along with a covering letter detailing why you are suitable for the role, to susan@charitychallenge.com

Meet Ash Dykes

We’re thrilled to be working with adventurer Ash Dykes on an exclusive challenge in Madagascar this September. Ash was the first person to traverse the length of Madagascar, covering 1,600 miles in 155 days. Now he’s heading back, but this time with Charity Challenge, giving you the opportunity to join him on this incredible adventure challenge.

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What inspired you to first visit Madagascar?
At first, it was the fact that I hardly knew a thing about the island, I was curious. I then started to do my research and I was hooked by not only the beauty and diversity, but equally by the fact that over 80% of all wildlife and plant life is found nowhere else in the world. I knew that this would provide such a unique and exciting experience.

What was the toughest part of your journey through Madagascar?
Hmm there were many tough sections, but maybe in the Northern section where I faced at times impenetrable jungle, as I used my machete to try hack my way through. I’d cover only 1.5 miles in a 12 hour day at times!

You’ll be returning this September with Charity Challenge, what are you most looking forward to?
I’m excited to be leading an expedition in one of the most beautiful valleys in Madagascar, to showing people the big landscape and different species of Andringitra National Park, some species that are found nowhere else in Madagascar. Pic Boby is beautiful and I truly look forward to returning.

What kind of training would you recommend for people preparing to join this challenge?
I’d recommend they work on their cardio, do a few treks with a backpack to help your muscles adapt to the endurance. I do a lot of calisthenics, where I use my own body weight to train, from push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups, it’s not for everyone, but you become more in control of your own body and feel not only physically stronger, but mentally stronger too, which is equally important.

Madagascar has a unique and diverse ecosystem, what can participants expect to encounter on the challenge?
They could expect to see wild lemurs, chameleons, different species of birds, bats, snakes and spiders (not venomous). Andringitra is known for its biodiversity, including 78 species of amphibians, 50 species of reptiles, 54 species of mammals, 108 species of birds, and more than 1,000 species of plants.

What kind of weather can people expect in Madagascar?
Overall, September is a great time to travel to Madagascar. The wildlife is rich and active, it’s warm and sunny – perfect temperature for walking, most probably with a cool breeze the higher up we climb. Night time can be cool and towards the peak, it will be quite possibly fleece and woolly hat weather.

Any key items you’d recommend people bring with them?
I’d recommend a (Water-to-go) filter bottle, which can be used on the go but also even used to collect tap water during travel days. Comfortable footwear, I personally just wear trainers, as they’re lightweight, breathable and quick drying. Sunscreen, mosquito repellent, blister plasters, a hat and shades.

Lastly, what’s your message to anyone thinking about joining this challenge?
This trek will be unforgettable and I mean that from the heart, you’ll love the country, the people, the wildlife and it’s beauty. It’s a country that features in many peoples mind, but very few actually go there. Be the few people that are fortunate enough to say “I’ve been to Madagascar”!

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Secure your place on the Madagascar Trek with Ash Dykes this September.

7 Inspiring Mountain Quotes

Everyone loves a good inspirational quote on top of a nice photo, so to inspire you to get your walking boots out of the cupboard and head out to bag a peak, here are our top inspiring quotes about mountains!

1.

John Muir

2.

Muhammad Ali

3.

Theodore Roethke

4.

Barry Finlay

5.

David McCullough

6.

Dr Seuss

7.

Edmund Hillary

Which is your favourite? Feel free to share with a friend you’d like to bag a peak with.

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Dave’s 11 Top Mountain Tips

 

 

Resident mountain expert Dave Sculthorpe has seen a peak or two in his time, having climbed to the heights of Kilimanjaro, Everest Base Camp and Oman. We asked him to come up with his top mountain tips to help you prepare for your next challenge.

 

 

Choose the right mountain, be realistic!
If you have never tried on a pair of walking boots, then Stok Kangri may not be the one for you. Here at Charity Challenge we’re all about being inspired, but we also want you to achieve that goal. It may be best to start with a UK challenge like our Snowdon Triple Challenge. Once you have the mountain bug then you can look at going farther and higher. Most of the best UK mountaineers cut their teeth in Scotland or Snowdonia and still keep coming back!

Choose your route and plan
Some of our challenges have different routes or seasons that you can ascend them in. Your first job is to do some research and see what will be best for you. Once signed up its time to start learning! Look at the history of the region, flora and fauna, myths, legends, language. This will heighten the experience when you get there. For me, reading about the mountaineering history of the Khumbu region made my trek to Everest Base Camp that bit more atmospheric.

Train
This is universal for any challenge. If you do not have the physical ability then the challenge will be much harder than it really needs to be! This is not to say you need to be an Olympian and everyone will still struggle at certain points. All it means is that you will not need to suffer unnecessary discomfort and you will really be able to enjoy what is all around you! We provide full training plans and advice for how best to maximise this.

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Let people know where you are going
More applicable to going out alone in the UK than one of our overseas challenges, but we have all seen 127 Hours…

Gear up
Along with training this is the one thing that can make or break a challenge. Most leaders will have seen waterproofs that aren’t water proof, soles falling off boots in the first 45 minutes, horrible blisters or just generally unusable junk. Firstly, do your homework, Don’t worry if you don’t know your boots from your Berghaus, there are plenty of reviews online, or go into a shop like Cotswold and ask the staff. Here are a few key things to look for in kit:

  1. Fit for purpose – do you need warmth, waterproof, sun protection, breathability?
  2. Good quality – Does it do what it needs to?
  3. Lightweight – You are going to carry it, so make sure you aren’t loaded more than the pack mule.
  4. Inexpensive – Kit can be expensive, but don’t always go for the most expensive kit. You can get good bargains when you know what to look for!
  5. Worn in – Try before you buy, then wear it whilst training so that you have worked out any problems. The last thing you want is for you to discover something catastrophic when you get to the mountain.

Dealing with altitude! Pace yourself
Altitude can affect anyone! It does not discriminate between how fit you are, how good your kit is or how old you are! No matter which mountain you are attempting you can bet the local guide will have a phrase that roughly translates to ‘slow down’. ‘Pole Pole’, which means ‘slowly slowly’ in Swahili, often becomes a mantra when climbing Kilimanjaro. And for good reason, the slower you go the better chance you have to let your body adjust or acclimatise. This will ultimately make the whole experience more pleasant and avoid the worst symptoms of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness).

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Hydrate
Sounds simple, but staying well hydrated will solve so many problems it is a wonder to think it’s so underrated. Whether you are in the desert and mountains of Oman, the Cairngorms or the Andes, it is so important. Being hydrated makes our body’s performance better and ultimately the challenge easier, but it also helps prevent heat illness and aids acclimatisation to altitude.
Top Tip: If you really hate drinking water try and take concentrated squash or isotonic powders to make it more interesting, or mask the taste of your water purification tablets.

Prevention and protection
You only have yourself to blame…
Mountains can be harsh environments despite the amazing scenery. UV levels are much stronger at altitude due to the sun’s rays passing through less atmosphere. This can really surprise people so you should wear high factor sun cream and lip balm with SPF protection. Similarly the weather can be tough and very changeable, so the correct kit, hydration and attitude will help you prevent everything from hypothermia to heat exhaustion depending on the environment. Don’t be scared – all of this is easily avoidable!

Enjoy the journey
This sounds simple but is important. Often, if people aren’t used to walking on uneven terrain with walking poles and with a backpack on, they spend a lot of time hunched over looking at the floor. Remember to pick your head up and take in everything that is around you. Chat to the guides and your fellow trekkers, play games and take lots of photos and videos. Remember this is what you have been building up to for months so make the most of it.

Bring a treat
Sometimes it is incredible the morale boost a little home comfort can bring. Whether this is a sachet of cuppa soup or hot chocolate, your iPod or a comfy pair of shoes for around camp. It can make the difference in reminding why you signed up and why you are pushing yourself to the limits.

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Be ready to adapt
This is true of all expeditions but especially mountain treks. Things will change, plans will go out the window and the heavens will open when you really wanted that bucket list photo. This is just what happens and if you can take this in your stride or even learn to enjoy this inevitability of expeditions, then your time will be all the better for it.

 

Now that you’ve got the tips, we bet you’re ready to bag yourself a peak! Head over and choose your challenge today.

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Bag A Peak: Mountain Summits Infographic

Mountain infographic

Head on over to our website to pick your next mountain challenge.

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