6 Tips and Tricks for Hiking the Inca Trail

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My flight was booked! My dream of hiking the Inca Trail, and walking through the sun gate to Machu Picchu was finally becoming a reality. But then, the reality hit me. I have never done an overnight hike before! What do I pack? How do I get into shape? Is it safe? Do I go alone or with a group? As excited as I was, I realized I had a lot of planning ahead of me, but every moment of preparation (and sometimes extreme anxiety) was all worth it. Here are a few tips and tricks that helped me not only survive the Inca Trail, but have the trip of a lifetime!

Tips for Hiking to Machu Picchu
1. Find an Incredible Tour Group

Before booking my trip, I was not sure how I felt about going with a tour group. I was worried that traveling with a group of strangers would take away from the trip. However, after plenty of research, I decided to go with Active Adventures on the Ultimate Peru Adventure.

Our trip leader was not only full of helpful and interesting information, but became a friend who gave local tips, and made me feel comfortable and safe. I became close friends with my small tour group of 10 people, and still keep in touch with them. Picking a quality tour group like Active Adventures not only helped take the stress out of travelling logistics, but is truly what made my trip an enjoyable experience. (And for all the foodies out there, our Inca Trail chefs were incredible).

2. Get Fit

On the Inca Trail we had people of all ages, sizes, and fitness levels. However, I highly recommend preparing your body a little, and familiarizing yourself with how your body reacts to high altitude. But, don’t worry, you don’t need to an extreme amount of training. To prepare, I went on one to two hikes a week, and did plenty of dog walking. My hikes on average ranged from 3 to 7 miles.

However, as fit as you are, everybody reacts differently to altitude. Try finding a hike in your area that has somewhat of a higher altitude. I only had the opportunity to do one higher altitude hike. It was not as high as the Inca Trail, but it still gave me an idea of how my body feels in high altitude. But don’t stress out too much! Your tour leader has helped many people hike the Inca Trail, and will be there to help you if you start to feel sick, or simply need a little extra motivation.

3. Technology Tools

I am a firm believer in digital detoxing when traveling, but when hiking in the wilderness, it is comforting to know that I have helpful resources at my fingertips if I ever need it. When hiking or traveling, there are always a few resources and apps I like to have on my phone or iTouch to stay safe.

As a traveler, we are more vulnerable to security threats or identity theft on public computers and Wi-Fi. I choose to use a VPN when traveling for Wi-Fi security in hotels, to avoid computer viruses, and to gain access to content that is geo-blocked. For my Inca Trail trek I downloaded the MotionX GPS app. The app supports GPS navigation without the need for cell service. Thankfully our guides kept us on track, but it was comforting knowing that if anything happened, I could use my phone as a backup for navigation help.

4. Make a Visit to Your Doctor

When traveling anywhere, it is important to check in with your doctor. Different regions of the world may require various vaccinations, or medication. Before visiting your doctor, it is also helpful to do a little bit of your own research as to what medications or vaccinations are needed for travel. Your doctor may be familiar with vaccinations needed for Peru, but you are the only person who knows what your trip will consist of. Be sure to mention to your doctor if you are going to the Peruvian Amazon, or high altitude.

For the Inca Trail I recommend packing the following medications:

-Altitude sickness medication (Acetazolamide)


                       -Antibiotics (Ciprofloxacin)

                       -Bug spray (not technically a medication, but important to bring as well)

                       -Ibuprofen (always good to have)

This list is most likely what your doctor will recommend, but be sure to do your own research as well. You may need malaria pills or certain vaccinations depending on where else your trip is going, or personal previous medical history.

5. Pack Light

The hardest part of my trip (aside from trekking up the stairs of the Inca Trail) was packing! There are several limitations on how much you pack on the Inca Trail in order to maintain that porters are being treated fairly and respectfully. Each porter is limited to carrying 20kg. This includes all blankets, clothes, and the porter’s personal belongings. Talk to your Active Adventure tour guide before leaving on your trip to find out up to date information on how much you are able to pack, and information on sleeping bags and pads.

Aside from packing light, there are of course certain items you will want to pack, depending on the time of year your trek is. I used Her Packing List, along with the information provided by Active Adventures to help me in packing everything I need.

6. Have the Time of Your Life

Last, but not least, be ready to have incredible experiences and memories that will last a life time. When I first booked my trip to Peru and the Inca Trail I had certain expectations and ideas of what the trip would be like. I was looking forward to seeing Machu Picchu, but what I found was that the most memorable and exciting parts of my trip were not necessarily seeing the big tourist spots like Machu Picchu, but the journey getting there, and the unexpected surprises that came along the way. Peru and its people exceeded all expectations, and opened my mind in ways I did not know were possible.

Hi, my name is Jess Signet. My parents were travelers since before I was born. Even in the womb, I was able to travel all over the place! Boy, did things NOT change as I grew older!
Knowing there’s more to the world than the bubble I live in made me want to travel even further. Traveling is my drug and I’m addicted. (Please, no intervention!)


Related Content:

Why Travel with Active Adventures?
5 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Solo Travelling



Online Service To Help Parents Track New School Term Dates

A one-stop shop for information on school term and holiday dates launches for parents

London UK, Thursday 28th May 2015 – An innovative web service, Term Dates (termdates.co.uk) is now providing parents with instant online access to the term dates and school holidays of every primary and secondary school in England, Scotland and Wales.

High Resolution Term Dates Logo

High Resolution Term Dates Logo

Parents no longer need to waste time searching through school web pages to find details of their children’s term and holiday dates because the website provides relevant information for every school and college across the UK, which the site visitor can view, download or print. TermDates.co.uk has been aesthetically designed to be user-friendly, highly functional and mobile responsive providing users with a simple system to search by region or school name.

New Legislation states that Local Authorities will no longer determine the duration and dates of school holidays. From September 2015 schools will have the power and freedom to set their own term dates, whilst still having to operate within a legal limit of a minimum of 190 school days each year.

The Department for Education commented “terms should be decided by heads and teachers who know their parents and pupils best. It is right that all schools are free to set their own term dates in the interests of parents and pupils”[1]

Following the change in legislation, Term Dates will play an integral part in keeping parents updated and will be particularly useful to parents with children at different schools, with different term dates. From September 2015, the website will also have the facility to show unexpected school closures due to bad weather, in addition to inset days, parent’s evenings and school sports days.

Parents can be assured that the website information is accurate and correct as every date added is checked by the Term Dates Verification Team. An additional level of verification will soon be available enabling schools to verify the dates themselves.

Having this information to hand, whether at work, home or on the go will help parents to arrange childcare, plan holidays and take days off work. Term Dates will also be a valuable resource for teachers, foreign visitors to the UK and those involved in travel and tourism.

About TermDates.co.uk
From September 2015 Head teachers in the UK will be given power to set their own term dates and school holidays. A study by Boston Consulting Group suggests that nearly 70% of Head teachers[2] intend to make changes which will lead to a variety of term dates across the country. Termdates.co.uk provides parents with an online service to track school dates and remain updated to any changes.


[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-23129472 – July 2013
[2] https://www.bcgperspectives.com/content/articles/transportation_travel_tourism_pricing_marketing_schools_out_but_when/ – Boston Consulting Group

Media Contact:
Contact: Jason Korinek
Email: info@termdates.co.uk
Website: www.termdates.co.uk
Telephone: 07792 071810

5 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Solo Travelling

Planning a little solo jaunt across the land? If this is your first time planning your virgin solo adventure, I understand completely how excited and nervous you are. I was once in your shoes.

Before you slap on your backpack and march out that door, here’s a small checklist of things you might want to do to ensure a better trip.

Solo Travelling

Image courtesy of bluetidalwave.com

Research, Research, Research


It doesn’t matter if you’re headed into uncharted territory or a bustling metropolis, it only helps if you already know what to expect when you set foot in your destination. A quick google search should give you enough information on things like the local culture, geography, weather and political climate to start with. Oh, and do not forget to check out the local laws, either-written and unwritten. People have in the past gotten into trouble for using the wrong gesture or for looking the wrong person in the eye. Did you also know that shaking your head can be interpreted as ‘yes’ in India?

“Hi, would you like to buy some drugs?

– Nervously shakes head –

“Great! Here’s two kilograms of cocaine!”


Learn a few words and phrases from the local language and the appropriate situations to use them in. You would be surprised at how much a ‘Yallah’ or a ‘Habibi’ can get people to warm up to you in the Middle East. Also, knowing the language makes ordering food that much easier. Just saying.

Who Ya’ Gonna Call?

It’s very useful to have in hand a bunch of contacts that you can get in touch with if-knock on wood- you should ever find yourself in trouble, eg: Your home country’s Embassy/Consulate(stolen passports are a thing in some countries you know?), local emergency numbers etc. If you have friends or relatives in the country/area, make sure you have their numbers as well. There’s no telling what kind of emergency you might encounter on the road.

Link Up With Other Travellers And Locals!

This is for many people, the single greatest reward of solo travel-meeting new people. There’s so much you discover from engaging with people from different cultures and backgrounds. Yes, I’m being captain obvious here, but it’s a point that just had to be reiterated.  Being alive in the internet age has its perks.

A slew of apps and websites have made it that much easier for travelers to get in touch with people at their destinations. It doesn’t matter if you’re just hanging out with your host from ‘AirBnB’ and ‘Couchsurfing’ or finding fellow travelers to share in your adventure from ‘Penroads’, you’re guaranteed to meet some cool people on your journey. As a matter of fact, Penroads is the best way for you to connect with international travellers coming in from all over the world, so it’s definitely a useful tool to have (It’s a shameless plug. I am so sorry. But it really works!).

Stay Healthy!

Last but never the least, take care of your body. Stay hydrated. It’s no good if your mind yells “Onward!” and your body groans “Hell no!”. Find out if you need to get vaccinated before setting off. Carry some basic medicines and bandages if you can, especially if you’re venturing into the wilderness. On occasion you might have to be careful about where and what you eat as well. Talk to someone who has travelled to India and you just might hear the story about how the delicious chicken Tikka from a street vendor gave them a bad case of ‘Delhi Belly’.

Happy tripping!

Parag Murali is the Marketing & Happiness Manager at penroads.com. He combines his love for travelling and people into a daily passion for bringing travellers together. You can contact him at parag@penroads.com for just about anything, so feel free!


AD: Top Rated Inca Trail, Lares Trail, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, Rainforest Tours

Photos North Korea didn’t want you to see

The photos N. Korea banned

Photos North Korea didn’t want you to seeA stern looking North Korean guard by the Chinese border customs office. This image was deleted by North Korean officials.

The photos N. Korea banned

Deleting the offensive photosWriter Johan Nylander and his guide, Ko Chang Ho, watch as a North Korean guard deletes 90 photos deemed unacceptable. Nylander was able to recover the photos with the help of an IT specialist — the images that follow are an edited selection.

The photos N. Korea banned

Hello, Dear LeaderThis propaganda monument of “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-Il by a countryside road, not far from the border to China, was deleted by authorities. North Korea required images of leaders be full body shots.

The photos N. Korea banned

Waiting for a trainPeople standing by the train track, while a guard is monitoring the bike race.

The photos N. Korea banned

Watching the raceIn the city of Rason, people are leaning out of windows to get a glimpse of the Western cyclists.

The photos N. Korea banned

Pedestrian peasantsA woman and a man walking by the side of the road lined with cornfields.

The photos N. Korea banned

Village lifeVillagers waving by the race path.

The photos N. Korea banned

Heavy securityGuards and custom officials by the border to China.

The photos N. Korea banned

Secret volleyball court?By the border checkpoint next to the Tumen River, North Korean customs officials can play volleyball. Officials prohibited any photos of North Korean military bases.

The photos N. Korea banned

Photos North Korea didn’t want you to seePeasants and villagers standing by the road to look at the Western cyclists

The photos N. Korea banned

Keeping watchGuard keeping an eye on the bikers next to a small village.

The photos N. Korea banned

Photos North Korea didn’t want you to seeKids playing outside village houses.

The photos N. Korea banned

Waiting for the cyclistsSpectators waiting for the bikers to reach the finish line. In the background the “Great” and “Dear Leaders” Kim Il Sung and his son, Kim Jong-Il.

The photos N. Korea banned

Standing on bikes to see cyclistsHuge crowds — some of whom standing on their own bikes — as they await cyclists by the race finish line in Rason.

The photos N. Korea banned

Document checkCustom official and tourist bureau guide checking foreigners’ passports.

The photos N. Korea banned

Water checkpointGuides from the local tourist bureau handing out water bottles to bikers, monitored by a guard in the background.

The photos N. Korea banned

Writer and his minderJournalist Johan Nylander and his North Korean guide, Ko Chang Ho. EDITOR’S NOTE: This image was not among those deleted by North Korean officials.

New framework to help tenants pay their rent to be introduced in Wales

A framework to ensure that tenants who are struggling to meet their rental costs are able to access fair and consistent financial assistance is to be introduced by the majority of Welsh local authorities.

20 Welsh local authorities have been working in partnership with the Welsh Local Government Association (www.wlga.gov.uk) and consultants from the Welfare Reform Club (www.welfarereformclub.net), to develop the new framework for awarding Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs).

Paul Howarth, Welfare Reform Club

Paul Howarth, Welfare Reform Club

Discretionary Housing Payments enable tenants to apply for temporary financial assistance if they have a shortfall in their Housing Benefit. Applications have increased significantly but there are insufficient funds available to make up all the shortfalls in Housing Benefit. Therefore local authorities have to carefully manage their limited DHP fund to ensure that support is directed to where it is needed most. The local authorities, who administer DHPs, will use the new framework alongside existing DWP guidance to ensure that an equitable and consistent approach is applied when deciding who has a priority for a DHP award. The framework will give priority to people who are doing all they can to help themselves and also focus on ensuring that local authorities assist tenants with the underlying problems causing their hardship. This could include the provision of advice, referring people to other appropriate agencies and protection for disabled people.

The development of the framework, by the 20 councils, aims to maintain flexibility and discretion for local authorities to meet local demands. It has received the full support of the Welsh Government, which has described the new framework as ‘ground breaking’.

Commenting on the introduction of the framework, Nick Jones, Service Director (Operational Finance) at Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council said, “With the challenge of the recent welfare reforms including the ‘Bedroom Tax’, there was a significant pressure to define a fair and effective approach for administering Discretionary Housing Payments. So it is really very pleasing that 20 local authorities have come together to agree that they needed a more consistent framework to help tenants, but one that also continued to allow local discretion. To convert this impressive level of agreement into reality, supported by the Welsh Local Government Association and the Welfare Reform Club, the councils have successfully developed the new framework. The result is good news for the local authorities and even better news for the tenants who they aim to help.”

Paul Howarth, Policy Director of the Welfare Reform Club, echoed Nick Jones’s comments adding, “The Welfare Reform Club was founded to build local welfare delivery and we aim to provide expert policy advice to local government clients on a range of complex issues. Discretionary Housing Payments are one such area as they play an increasingly important role in helping smooth the impact of the Government’s welfare reform programme. Whilst there have been large increases in the budget made available to local authorities for DHPs, this budget has been reduced by nearly 25% for the 2015/16 financial year. In addition, the situation is made even more challenging by the criticism authorities will face should they either under or over spend or if there is too much variation from one authority to another.

“Naturally then, we were delighted to have been asked to help the Welsh Local Government Association with this innovative framework that will deliver a more transparent and equitable system for the Welsh public. It needed to help councils improve outcomes for people, manage the budget successfully and place greater priority on those who are making efforts to help themselves. The new framework meets these needs and is a reflection of and a tribute to the collaborative drive of the 20 local authorities acting in unison to help Welsh tenants as a whole. We look forward to exploring other areas where we can work with them in the future.”


Note to Editors

The Welfare Reform Club worked successfully with 20 out of 22 of the Welsh authorities to develop a Policy Framework they could all agree. The Welsh authorities themselves working with the Welsh Local Government Association instigated the project, which was fully supported by the Welsh Government which has described the Policy Framework as ‘ground breaking’.

About The Welfare Reform Club www.welfarereformclub.net
The Welfare Reform Club was founded by Malcolm Gardner, Paul Howarth and Deven Ghelani. Each of the founders recognise the important role that local, face to face support has in the lives of constituents. The Welfare Reform Club aims to help local authorities and other organisations manage transitions in the welfare system and to understand their long-term role in making welfare work.

The Welfare Reform Club specialises in policy and strategy relating to service delivery for vulnerable people and linking wider strategic objectives together including those relating to: welfare, economics, housing, social care, health and education.

For further information please contact:

Paul Howarth,
Policy Director
Welfare Reform Club
07854 773164


Jon Rae
Director of Resources
02920 468620


Leigh Richards
The Right Image