Pilots file Flight Plans during air travel. A Flight Plan indicates the time and point of departure, the flight path, and the time and point of destination. The same is true for the return flight. Flight Plans provide a means of alerting search and rescue if a flight is overdue.
You probably won’t be using aircraft, however consider the same concept for on-the-ground excursions.
What would happen if you experience an emergency on your hike or backpacking trip, and are unable to return to your car or campsite? How long would it be before you’re missed? Would anyone know where to start looking for you? If you were injured, how long would you survive before help came?
These are sobering questions. Unfortunately, many, many search hours are spent looking in very large areas for people who fail to return home, or fail to show up at work or school, when no specific word was left where they were or what they were doing. It’s often days before they’re reported overdue.
Searchers must guess at the most likely locations, and critical time is spent just looking for the missing person’s car or campsite. Only then can they narrow down the search area. By that time, it may be too late.
Trip Plan– A detailed account of your trip, from start to finish.
Always file a Trip Plan before you leave on any hike or backpacking trip, no matter how short or seemingly insignificant. Leave it with a trusted family member, neighbor, co-worker, or friend, and make sure that person is going to be available during the trip’s duration.
Your Trip Plan should include:
What happens if you reach your starting point and decide to go somewhere else (maybe due to weather or other circumstances)? What if you want to change a key trip element?
Only make changes to your Trip Plan if you contact the person you left your original Trip Plan with, and make sure they note the changes.