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Plan your own expedition

With the help of the Society many hundreds of people run their own expeditions and fieldwork overseas each year.

Here are our top tips for a successful expedition:

  1. Choose a project that really inspires you
Anyone can plan an expedition - the challenge is to do one that really makes a difference either to you or to a wider community.
· Find inspiration in project summaries in our Expeditions Database

  2.  Read the advice in Expedition Handbook
With contributions from over 50 field researchers and expedition leaders, this book will talk you through all you need to know to plan a whole range of scientific and adventurous projects, in a wide range of environments.
· Explore the Expedition Handbook

  3. Get to know the experts – research your chosen topic
Whatever your chosen project, there are bound to be people out there who have done something similar. Use the internet to find organisations and individuals who are relevant to your project. Build up an address book not only of who might be able to help you but also how. Read their publications and go to their talks – introduce yourself. Ask them about the feasibility of your plan.

  4. Contact us
Email the Society and share your plans with us. You are also welcome to visit the Society to discuss your work. The Foyle Reading Room holds past expedition reports, guidebooks and maps of your area.

  5. Draw up an action plan and budget
Once you have decided what it is you want to do, time will disappear quickly, so draw up a plan of what you need to do by when. Finance is likely to be one of the major constraints.

Your budget is the financial representation of your plan and will encourage you to look at the detailed costs of the travel, accommodation, food and equipment. Identify and apply for grants and possible gifts in kind that will help reduce your costs.  Amend the budget as your plans develop.

· The Society's grants for expeditions & fieldwork
· See our list of other grant-giving organisations

  6. Make links in-country
It is the people in-country who are most likely to ensure the success of your project. Try to do a planning visit so you can meet the people you will be working with face to face. The investment is a cheap flight and short visit will pay for itself many times over. Permissions are often dependent on in-country collaboration.

If you are doing fieldwork for the first time, you may want to base yourself at a research centre.

· Searching our World Register of Field Centres to find a location for your project

  7. Keep safe
Risk assessment is not simply a bureaucratic necessity. Instead look at this as your safety management plan. Use your risk assessment process it to think carefully about how you will avoid the dangers and how you will deal with a crisis – rehearse the ‘what if scenarios’, make sure you have adequate insurance in place, and who and how you can ask for help if you need it.

· The Society's Fieldwork & expedition training events

  8. Training
If you don’t think you have the necessary skills for your planned project take time to learn them. Everyone on your team should have basic first aid skills.

If you are working in remote or difficult terrain, you may want to improve on your navigation and map reading. If you are using new research techniques or unfamiliar equipment take time to practice first.

· The Society's Fieldwork & expedition training events

  9. In the field
Remember you may be a guest in someone else’s community or country. Behave accordingly.

Show respect for all those you meet, and take the trouble to explain what you are doing and why. Learn from the people you meet. Knowing even a little of the local language goes a very long way to breaking down cultural barriers.

  10. When you get back
Thank all those who have helped you on your way. Tell them what you have achieved and write it up in the form of an expedition report so that others can benefit from your experience.

Make sure you submit a copy to us. After all, you never know you might want to plan another expedition or fieldwork before long.

· See & submit to the Society's expedition database

Good luck!

RGS-IBG links
· Expeditions Database & reports
· Foyle Reading Room
· Expedition Handbook
· RGS-IBG Grants for expeditions and fieldwork
· Other funding sources
· Expeditions you can join
· Funding to join an expedition
· Recording your expedition
· Fieldwork & expeditions workshops and training
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