I’ve been in full-tilt travel mode the last few weeks between three different events. And guess what? Much of that time has been spent riding in the rain, sleeping in a soggy tent, and finding creative ways to extract my motorcycle from mud bogs.
It’s been extraordinarity difficult. And I’d do it all again. But make no mistake about the challenges, it’s not a constant vacation like many people think my life is. It’s a recalibration that helps me appreciate the basic comforts of home, shelter, dryness, and warmth.
What can I say? Adventure travel is mostly very unglamorous. Sorry to burst your fantasy bubble. Sure, we adventurous-types often post pretty pictures from breathtaking spots but it usually takes a huge amount of effort and tenacity to achieve those moments. We expose ourselves to the elements in the hopes of a greater return on our travel investment than more comfortable travel offers.
Last week on the #ATQA twitter chat, we started talking about what exactly constitutes “adventure travel.” In the first week of this discussion, what sticks out to me is that adventure travel is whatever pushes you out of your comfort zone and challenges you. And it involves high-level uncertainty, insecurity, and self-sufficiency. And most likely, being outdoors.
It also seems that there’s a difference between personal definitions and the ones we use in the travel and adventure industries. To me, sleeping under the stars in the backcountry is luxury travel. But that doesn’t constitute luxury in the travel industry. A five-star hotel does. So context plays a role.
In theory, anything can be an adventure. So much so, the term can be overused to the point of being irrelevant. Let’s face it, even getting home can be an adventure some days. But if we take the parameters of uncertainty, insecurity, being outdoors, and being outside of your comfort zone, the rewards are immense. It’s why we do it.
Through adventure travel, we expand our independence and world view. We become much more self-sufficient. We jettison expectations, complacency, apathy, and entitlements. We are prepared. Savvy. We have no desire to be coddled. We meet amazing people from all walks of life. We realize the nightly news shouting mayhem and destruction is a farce. We find the commonality between us and the people we meet. We face our fears and move past them.
Whether you travel solo, with a partner, or with your family, those rewards are the same. Every adventure traveler has bad moments. The ones when they ask themselves why they are doing it, knowing an easier, more comfortable path is within reach. But survival kicks in, we tap into skills we didn’t know we had, and we move past those hard moments. On the other side, magic happens. The magic of the human spirit. We succeed. We conquer our fears. We are bigger for it. And more humble.
There’s a new world at the edge of your comfort zone. And it’s beautiful. Simple. Empowering. Life-altering.
Even if you only do it once. Do it. Try adventure travel. You won’t be the same. And that’s a good thing.
Live large and adventure on, friends.