Important things to keep top of mind while you’re on a WHOA adventure
(or any adventure, really!)
Our golden rule while adventuring is to show respect to all the new people, places, and things we encounter. Whether it be a monument, a place of worship, spiritual land, crew members or fellow travelers, respect is an essential foundation at WHOA, and we expect nothing less from all our adventurers. Just because a place or thing has no significance to you culturally doesn’t mean it’s not sacred or important to someone else. Think before you act, and if you’re unsure, utilize your local guides’ knowledge- they’ll be more than happy to give you more insight into their culture and customs! A good question to ask yourself is, "Would I do/act this way in my everyday life in my city or home?" If the answer is "no" you might want to rethink your actions and approach.
This specifically applies to interacting with locals and photography. Of course, we encourage everyone to photograph their adventure, but when it comes to taking pictures of others, specifically children, we encourage you to ask for permission from the individual before snapping away. If they don't speak English, you can always use body language. There's a lot of non-verbal communication that happens when traveling in a new place, and that's part of the fun of traveling!
BEING SMART AND STAYING SAFE
Every adventure is full of unpredictable situations, and we value your safety above all else. Please be a smart traveler! That means NOT taking careless selfies or attempting yoga poses on the edges of cliffs. No “like” in the world is worth putting your life in danger! (In fact, we encourage you to put your camera down, and just enjoy the views with your own two eyes.) In the case of a true emergency, we utilize Global Rescue, and it’s something that is mandatory for all WHOA travelers to have. We hope that you’ll never need to use it, but having it is an important part of being a prepared and smart traveler.
GO WITH THE FLOW
Being flexible and nimble is essential in travel, especially in adventure travel. The bus is running late? No worries, or Hakuna Matata, as they say in Swahili! That just gives us more time to enjoy our surroundings and have conversations with new people. It’s so important to be prepared for anything and everything on a WHOA adventure, and not get tied to one particular outcome. Spontaneity is where the magic happens! Yes, it may well rain on your adventure, but look at the bright side; that’s what gives us lush green rainforests, thriving wildlife, fresh produce and rainbows!
ENJOY THE JOURNEY
We know this phrase may seem cliche, but hear us out! Most of our adventures involve hiking up a mountain to a summit or a point of interest, and it’s SO important to remember that a summit or a point of interest is just one small (very small) portion of your entire journey. It seems silly to only focus on the destination or the “peak” when every step to get there is equally important and deserves respect! We really encourage our adventurers to be present throughout the entire journey. Be in the moment, take in your surroundings, engage with your fellow trekkers, get to know the local culture, learn about the flora and fauna, and take time to really appreciate where you are! We know from experience, that when you look back on your adventure, these will be the moments that you treasure the most.
It can be hard to find the words to thank those who welcome us into their lives and homes, and who go out of their way for our happiness and safety while we’re traveling. We consider our crew to be family and that is why fair and generous salaries and tips for our crew are included on WHOA adventures. That said, if a guide, porter, or someone else from our crew goes above and beyond for you (carries your daypack, helps you if you’re sick, etc.) you are welcome to tip additionally to show your gratitude. It’s very much appreciated though never expected! We only ask that if you do tip additionally outside of the included WHOA tips, please do so in private to be mindful of other staff.
COMMUNICATE AND BE HONEST
There will be moments and even days that challenge you, however, there will be far more good times, smiles, and dancing throughout your adventure! When traveling in a group, it’s crucial to honestly and openly communicate how you’re feeling with your guides and GALs (Group Adventure Leaders). If you have a headache, we need to know, if you’re feeling the altitude, we need to know. Yes, our team seems superhuman, but they aren’t mind readers! Your GALs and guides will be checking in on you, but above that, please be proactive in keeping an open dialogue with them. This allows them to more effectively assess situations, and most importantly your health and safety.
We are an inclusive community. Period. We are uplifters, encouragers, and supporters. We don’t tolerate negative or disrespectful behavior or language. We keep our spaces body positive and judgement free. We are a family. We not only respect each others’ differences, we celebrate them. We are strong because we are always open to learning and sharing with one another!