Planning trips

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Assorted information and links that may be of use when planning trips.

  • Remember that your main resource when planning a trip is fellow club members
    • Check the previous club trips and contact people who went on something similar.
  • The steps may not proceed in the order stated below
    • Many steps are dependant on other steps.
    • The answer to a question in one step may force the re-evaluation of a previous step.
  • Use the Trips forum to post questions and discuss the details
    • People who are not included in the trip may have information and comments to offer.
    • Remember that different people will check the forum at different intervals.
    • Remember that some people may not be able to check or post to the forum from where they work.
    • Exchange e-mail addresses and use direct e-mail too.
    • Post a summary to the forum after big changes or big decisions.
    • If you don't hear from somebody, don't assume that they are just agreeing with everything.


Sorry if much of the following seems rather obvious, but trips do have problems because the obvious is not actually done.


Decide that there will be a trip.

  • Do not underestimate the importance of this step. Many trips never progress beyond the good idea stage.


Decide what level of experience the trip should need.

  • Is the trip for 4 star paddlers or for 1 star paddlers who will use it to qualify for a 2 star?


Agree who is the Trip Coordinator

  • The Trip Coordinator is not the Leader. The Leader leads the paddling. The Coordinator makes lists and does not even have to go on the trip.
  • This is the point at which many trips fail. There can only be one Trip Coordinator. They can, of course delegate a lot of the actual tasks and expect a lot of help from the other trip members, but in the end they must be the single point where all the information is collected and checked.
  • The Trip Coordinator needs to be very explicit when delegating tasks.
  • The Trip Coordinator will probably need a working knowledge of Excel and a solid sense of humour.
  • There can only be one Trip Coordinator. Believe this.

Who and When

Decide who is going and when you are going

  • The classic chicken and egg issue. Accept in advance that there will always be somebody who cannot manage the chosen date. Allocate a solid cut-off date for making this decision.
  • This is another point where trips can fail. It is generally wise to agree a date that is in the future. Also, far enough in the future for things to be organised in time!


Ensure that you have a suitable Leader

  • If the trip is for 4 star paddlers, it is reasonable to assume that they will not need a more qualified Leader. They may, however, hire an external coach to teach as part of the trip. Note that for trips like this, most people probably have their own boats and kit.
  • If the trip is for 1 star paddlers who will use it to qualify for a 2 star, then the trip needs a suitably qualified Leader to lead and oversee the paddling itself. For trips like this, people generally want to borrow club boats and most kit.
  • When seeking a Leader - be very explicit. Ask them if they would lead the trip. Do not ask them if they would like to go on the trip.
  • Ask the Leader if they would need any Helpers, if so how many and what is the maximum size of the group.
  • There is a list of club leaders that you can ask on the wiki page.


Decide where you are going

  • This will depend on why the trip is happening, who is going and the views of the Leader.
  • This will also depend on the many transport issues.


Decide what you are paddling

  • A river trip may include a mixture of kayaks and open boats.
  • A sea trip generally needs sea kayaks.


Decide what other kit you will need

  • Break this down into paddling kit, personal kit and group kit.
  • Paddling kit could include boats, paddles, buoyancy aids, helmets, individual safety kit etc
  • Personal kit could include base layers, thermals, cags, shoes, extra "bank" or "street" clothing, extra paddling clothes, food, drink, money, tents, camping gear etc.
  • Group kit could include licenses, access permissions, maps, first aid kits, repair kits, spare paddles, group shelters, shared safety kit, barbecue etc.
  • Check early that you can borrow enough club kit.
  • Remember that some of the "club kit" actually belongs to Shadwell Basin and they may have other plans for the kit on your chosen date.
  • Be sure to book the club kit as early as possible. Other groups may be planning trips too.
  • Be sure to review your personal kit as early as possible. Buying kit on-line is cheaper, but may take longer than a last-minute visit to a shop.


Decide how to transport everything there

  • Remember that you are transporting boats, people and kit. These things do not need to travel in the same way, via the same route or at the same time.
  • Is there somewhere nearby that hires boats (and maybe deliver and/or collect them)?
  • Where is the nearest station?
  • Does the group have enough cars with roof racks?
  • Does anybody have a car that could tow a trailer?
  • Can anybody hire a van?
  • Remember that kit can be bulky. A car with 4 seats may only be big enough for 3 people with all their kit.
  • Agree which kit will be collected by which driver and when.
  • Agree how everybody travels and organise meeting places and times.
  • Exchange mobile numbers for when things do not go to plan.


Buy or print maps

  • Check the guides for the chosen location.
  • Locate any maps of the water you plan to paddle
  • Identify the access points and parking
  • Identify different exit points in case somebody is hurt or tired or the weather turns nasty
  • Locate nearby pubs or cafes


  • Is a license required to go on this water?
  • Where can you get one?
  • If you're hiring kit, does it come with a license?

The Plan

  • You need a plan.
  • Where will you get on/off?
  • At what time?
  • Where will you have lunch / sleep (if overnight)?
  • Where CAN you get off in an emergency if things don't go according to The Plan


Start back at the top of this list and check everything

  • Write it all down. Distribute copies of The Plan to everybody.
  • Has anybody changed their minds?
  • Is everybody still healthy?
  • Can everybody still manage the chosen date?
  • Is all the kit you need still available?
  • Is all the kit you need still healthy? It is wise to check your boats before you go to collect them.
  • Have the weather conditions changed?
  • Have conditions at your chosen venue changed?
  • Repeat as needed.


Have fun! Take photos.


  • Upload a range of your photos. The web site home page displays random photos from our group on Flickr, so Flickr is probably a good place to put most of them.
  • Write a trip report for the web site. Embed a few photos in the report and include links to the other photos.
  • Think about how things went. Should you have planned anything differently? Any wise observations for the trip report?
  • Report any lost or damaged kit via the Broken Equipment forum.
  • Report costs and settle up with the Treasurer.