Planning an expedition is not easy. The most robust plans require a lot of careful thought, although even those are subject to unforeseen change of circumstance. A good plan must be risk prepared, flexible and supported by all group members. Be ambitious! Below are some top tips to get started.

Please direct any queries to the President, Joe McDermott -

Identify your purpose


This could be a social, historical, entrepreneurial or scientific endeavour, charitable act or a physical challenge. Consider how you might further personal or community development. 

Be inspired! Check out recent expedition reports & photos here  
Join CUEX speaker events; find out what's on here 

Visit our Resources page to:

  • browse the linked adventurer blog pages 

  • access slides of the 2020 CUEX introductory expedition planning session

  • download the CUEX Planners' pack for good general reference

Form a group


Minimally 2 people. Consider individuals with specialist skills or qualifications, for example; first aid trained, multilingual or licence holder for vehicle rentals.

Use the CUEX Facebook Group as a networking platform!

Establish contacts


Identify and establish contact with individuals of interest to your expedition. These could be experienced travellers, experts that would be able to provide logistical advice, or academic faculty that would help you develop your project ideas. It's almost always essential to have a contact based regionally to the expedition location who is familiar with the local landscape and services. A project collaboration with local counterparts can be socially, and often economically, of mutual benefit. 

Advisory input may be foundational to your expedition plans. Finding the right individual and allowing for communication delays can take time - it is a good idea to establish contacts several months in advance of departure!

Plan logistics


Identify your method of travel, route, equipment, supplies. Budget your weight and finance.

Attend CUEX expedition planning workshops. Find out what's on here

Consult the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) Expedition Handbook  

CUEX keeps a modest collection of equipment to loan. View our itinerary in our Resource page 



Despite the uncertainty and elevated risks that the pandemic has brought, the CUEX & CE committees believe expeditions in 2021-22 are still possible but planning will require extra care. Consider:

  • Clinical vulnerabilities within your group and amongst those you will meet;

  • Staying informed & logistically prepared for international travel restrictions;

  • Staying informed & logistically prepared for regionally-correct reporting, testing & isolation procedures;

  • Avoiding densely populated city areas and international travel terminals;

  • Minimalizing boarder crossings;

  • Being prepared to respectively postpone or cancel plans due to change of government advice or if original expedition safety standards cannot be met.

If you are travelling overseas, check the GOV.UK Coronavirus Travel Advice page

Assess risk


Develop a formal risk assessment, crisis management plan and consider contingencies. As well as assessing personal safety, you will struggle to find sponsors without these.

You must not plan to do anything that will endanger the lives of the expedition group or others. Consider clinical vulnerabilities within the group such as conditions or recent injury. Consider security risk to ethnic or social minorities in the region of destination.

Typical preventative risk measures include attending first aid workshops and testing all equipment. Essential to crisis management is knowing the regionally-correct emergency number.

Check out the GOV.UK Foreign Travel Advice pages for information on health risk, general safety & security and local emergency contacts 

CUEX keeps a growing digital record of exemplar safety documentation from past expeditions. Contact the CUEX Expeditions Coordinator to request access. Visit the Committee page here

Check out the Young Explorers' Trust (YET) guidance on crisis management on our Resources page



Funding can be sourced in the form of University or external travel/project/research funds, corporate sponsorship and public sponsorship.

Travel/project/research grants, bursaries or awards usually appeal to specific geographical locations or disciplines. Applications often require a comprehensive breakdown of the expedition objectives, methodology & budget, and a reference. They can be for groups or individuals, and for a summer expedition, most are deadlined between January - March.

Visit our Resources page to access:

  • the 2020 CUEX funding workshop slides for general guidance on fundraising

  • the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) directory of grant-giving organisations

For corporate sponsorship, consider reaching out to your clothing or equipment suppliers; e.g. Blacks, Cotswold, Field and Trek, Phoenix Mountaineering, Amble, Morpeth, Northumberland etc.

Iceland 2013 - 155.JPG

Expedition groups eligible to receive University accreditation must be at least half (including the expedition leader) members of the University. 

University accreditation is awarded by the Cambridge Expeditions senior Committee (CEC) to expedition proposals that are safe and reputable, on a conditional or unconditional basis. Expedition proposals require detail of objectives, team members, logistics, finances, risk, contacts & references, and are typically deadlined for late January. The expedition group must attend a formal screening with the CEC panel during February.

University accreditation, and the process of obtaining it, ensures that your plans are reasonably safe and well-intentioned. It also provides creditability to any future proposals or reports for fundraising or publicity purposes.

Apply for University accreditation