Making the most of holiday time should be a prime objective of any trip. After all, we can make more money, but not time. Ensuring that every minute of a trip is as of high value as possible, tuned-in, and ready to go, can positively impact the experience. But the importance of good arrangements and planning increases exponentially when building an activity-based trip. Equipment needs to be ready and working well, support needs to be considered, accommodations often need to be dialed in ahead of time, and lots of other factors need to be considered. On this episode, as long-time travel professionals and travelers, Trevor and Scott will share some planning and execution tips they’ve employed while arranging successful surfing and cycling trips, to help you get the most out of your next active holiday.

Scott offroad – Chiang Mai, Thailand December 2020

Introduction: Scott and Trevor discuss how often they plan trips and how much they prefer planning to being spontaneous. 

Scott: I’m generally more planned, likely from my history of running a travel company.

Trevor: I’d argue that it really depends on the trip: I was invited to go to the Maldives in a couple of months and I’d love to jump on board that boat without having to think of a plan. Otherwise, I’m super flexible. This surf and dive trip that I’ll discuss today I was going with someone who regularly planned his trips so I planned more than I normally would have, which was a good thing, I think. My experience at EXO, designing programs certainly helped. We found a great balance of planning and lack thereof on this trip.

Scott: Overall, whether it’s a mountain bike trip, on-road trip, motorcycle trip, kayaking trip, if there’s activity, you need to know that the routes are good, their current condition, supplies are secured, or can be, weather, etc. If one of these isn’t known or ready, the day or entire trip can end up being a bust. And the more people that are the traveling group, everything escalates in terms of time and complexity. But there are merits to planned and not, depending on the objective of the trip.

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Scott and Trevor give an overview of their trips:

Scott: I’m going to talk about a couple of kinds of bike trips:

  • Offroad trip for 3 days with one friend in Chiang Rai
  • Onroad 6-day trip with 1 friend in Uttaradit – Loei – Nong Khai
  • Onroad 5-day trip with 3 friends in Phrae – Nan
  • Onroad 3-day trip with 3 friends in Hua Hin – Prachuap Khiri Khan – Chumpon
  • A few days rides on and off-road.

Off-Road trip for 3 days with one friend in Chiang Rai:

  • I knew the area.
  • We took a car with our bags and rode out of each area.
  • I knew the routes and terrain, planned water, snacks, accordingly; that said some routes had been paved.
  • Far less to consider here when you know the routes, challenges, but that took years to figure out.

Day Rides

  • When planning to ride off-road at Doi Suthep/Pui in December 2020, I used Trailforks to get a sense for the trails, and also asked people on a Facebook group of riders there; linked up with local riders for my first ride too – great idea if going somewhere new
  • Doi Inthanon: trying to figure out where water and snacks were available
Nan, Thailand: Dan – Scott – Gary – Ruben

Onroad 6-day trip with 1 friend in Uttaradit – Loei – Nong Khai

  • Never been here – with one friend who is very skilled at planning logistics of trips – Dan
  • Used a friend who had been in the area and his Google map, then mapped out each day on Ride with GPS to have a very good sense of terrain, importantly vertical gain each day; download these routes/share from my phone
  • Using ‘walking’ on GoogleMaps gives you a good idea of vertical and secondary roads, but the vertical can be off by about 30%
  • Hired a van as we don’t have panniers and I don’t think we could have carried our gear – highly convenient; sits back a ways, has water and snacks, tools, and can zip off to get a latte when nearby!
  • We booked small rural hotels ahead of time as you know your distance, options are limited, and you want to know you have a place to sleep: Google maps is great for this – zoom in on a town and see what’s there
Prachuab Khiri Khan: Ruben – Gary – Dan – Scott.

Onroad 5-day trip with 3 friends in Phrae – Nan & Onroad 3-day trip with 3 friends in Hua Hin – Prachuap Khiri Khan – Chumpon

  • I’ll bundle these two together.
  • Wanted to share the costs of a van/room/meals and didn’t want a big group as someone always needs a toilet, to fix something, times get slowed way down.
  • Tricount app is great for sharing costs.
  • Work out who is doing what and bringing what before: first aid, pump, supplies, ensure everyone is getting adequate snacks, electrolytes, etc; want someone out there with none, then take everyone’s stuff.
  • One person to arrange hotels that has knowledge of what is needed; then no one complains about what they are like.
  • One person in charge of van/driver.
  • Agree on daily start times; ideally before; anything that requires agreement do before; a bit uncomfortable but way better than when on the trip.
  • Can decide what riding should be like all together as one pack; okay to blaze off on your own; what happens when someone gets off-course; if someone blazes ahead they need to realize the support van won’t likely be around as it’s with the last person
  • Plan those routes well, share them on apps.
  • Clarity on the trip, purpose, goals, and duties is key at the start; and only go with people you know can take care of themselves, and their respective fitness levels are good; ultimately you can only cover distances of the slowest/weakest rider, and/or they need to be happy to get in the van at points
Trevor surfing in Bali too long ago…

Trevor’s “Surf” Trip

  • Goals for the holiday: It wasn’t just a surf trip, and I was with one other friend who didn’t know how to surf and wanted to get his scuba certification. So it became the Dive, Surf, Party Khmer New Year 2020 Trip. 
  • Picking a spot: Not too far from Phnom Penh as we had maybe 8-9 days.
    • Dive – Indonesia, Thailand, Philipines
    • Surf – Indonesia, Philipines
    • Party – Bali, Gili Trawangan
    • Layover in Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur.
Manta Dive IG page
  • Planning and Pre-booking 
    • EXO template for itinerary
    • Outline with Google Earth Screenshots and links with options for Mark
      • Even down to Lombok & Gili T: had to balance Dive, Surf, Party
      • Diving was a bit more flexible but we needed to be close to the action
      • Picked Manta Dive Gili T because of their IG account and proximity to surf spot on south of the island. 
      • Mark liked the open-ended plan to stay or go back to Lombok and I presented options to him with a Google doc featuring screenshots of Google Earth and links to hotels, bars etc. in the area.
        • We really had three options for our last few nights.
        • Stay, back to Senggigi, or Kuta area.
Planning first night on Lombok: somewhere near surf.
  • Preparing for the trip (in the months leading up): 
    • Swim: target of 10,000m / week. 
    • Playlist. Need tunes for the beach, for pre-party, etc. 
    • Shop/pack. 
    • Questions: we still had a flexible back end to figure out well: what hotels were nearest surf breaks. Where could we rent bikes and boards. What hotel had the best access to these things, etc?
This is Kuta: 60k scooters and 15 min walk to the beach. Bar scene for Mark so Trevor can catch some waves.
Planning a surf trip to Lombok
Where the surf is in Kuta.
  • How well the trip went to plan & why good / bad
    • We didn’t do the trip. COVID. 
    • Cancelled / credit: hotels, flights, ferries, etc

Trevor discusses his plan for making this trip happen soon, with a greater emphasis on finding waves like this one below!

What Trevor’s really looking for…

Outro by Scott:

  • Where can you spend a bit of extra money if you can manage to make this experience even better?
  • Employ some digital tools and smart networks
  • Save maps locally on a few devices
  • Agreement on the ‘what’, who is planning route, hotels, riding how/together?
  • Ensure you all get what you want out of it as a group. Push yourself, but plan and prepare to have a ton of fun safely and finish with some water!
  • Developing world, transport can be quite affordable and a game changer


Learn more about Scott & Trevor

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