Tips For Planning Expeditions

There is nothing like an expedition to get the mental and physical juices flowing. Movies like "Indiana Jones: Temple of Doom" and "Journey to the Center of the Earth" inspire that inborn trait in mankind to seek answers and put oneself in the setting of greatness.

An expedition doesn't have to be some grand event in which people risk their lives or are gone for long periods of time in the wilds. 

An expedition can be as simple as a road trip, urban exploration trek, or survey of any area. 

Let me put into context the aspects for planning any kind of expedition - 


When plotting an expedition, the primary focus should be the goal.

Is the goal to document and archive? 
To discover what was lost? 
To make it to a destination and put that in your record books? 
To perform reconnaissance for a future trek?

The goal is the driving force for forming the right team, the right route, the right tools.

For our team that was formed for the "Expedition Hall of Giants," the goal was to find something that was lost to modern knowledge and access.

With goal in mind, we were able to form priorities.


Priorities can be set by things as simple as weather constraints (priority - get to the summit before winter storms break open) or as complex as limitations of expedition members (one has altitude sickness), or window of opportunity (perhaps the region is only open a few months a year). 

Let's say the goal is to find undocumented petroglyphs. 

With that goal in mind, the priorities should include - the determining the most likely locations of said petroglyphs where an ancient tribe might have utilized them in a rocky environment and adequate photographic equipment to properly archive them.

Once you know your goal and your priorities, it's time to pick the team.


Team members often develop by associations. One planner of the expedition might have a buddy that really wants to join, but a team needs to have some compatibility and complement each others skill set.

For instance, who can handle navigation? Maps? GPS? How about communications? Someone have a satellite phone? Who will document? Audio? Video? Photographic? Drone? Who has expertise in the subject? Geology? Archaeology? Paleontology? How about a medic? 

Once you feel you have people who not only can commit to the project, but contribute, it's time to start the list. 


Now, we come down to things like transport, tools, food supply, camping needs, backpacks, compasses, cameras, cell battery backup, etc.

That list is critical and breaking it down per person such as the photographer's needs to have batteries, photographic and video capability, etc.

To lighten a load, if you're team is concerned about rain, consider the use of lawn trash bags to work as rain coats and hats and be able to utilize them for trash, as well. That eliminates the need for one more bulky item in the pack.

The last point of concern is logistics.


Now planning begins to get the team excited. The time frame, the transportation, the communication equipment, letting others know where they are headed in case they don't come back when planned....

There should be alternative plans too, such as what the team will do if they get separated, if they are unable to complete their goal, and have plenty of maps, compasses, knives, matches, and other key items to give the best chances of survival.

It is helpful to give the team their own packets with information, maps, phone numbers, list of items to pack, and even some tips on what is edible in the area you are entering, how to get water in dry places, what the emergency plan is for being found if lost.

There are a lot of cool ideas for expeditions and here are just some - 

Finding and documenting abandoned buildings
Gold panning in a desired wash
Photographing and documenting petroglyphs
Exploring something unusual found on Google Earth
Searching for a long-lost treasure
Cataloging graves for "Find-A-Grave" site
Discovering caves that aren't documented
UFO hunting in the wilderness
Seeking out contact with Bigfoot
Following a hiking path through states
Looking for the supposed lost ship in Mojave Desert
Metal detecting in an abandoned town
Hiking one of the tallest peaks in your country

No matter what your expedition dream is, make it a reality, even if you are limited physically or time-wise. Utilize things like others accounts of these treks online, Google Earth imagery of the region, or write a fictional short story or book involving the dream goal location after researching its qualities extensively.

Anything can become an expedition. Heck, in the 1980s, going to the mall was our teenaged expedition.