There are many adventurous travelers out there
Being an adventurous traveler requires the willingness and courage to take on risky and hazardous enterprises. National Geographic publishes an annual bucket list of forty adventurous trips most involving some combination of extreme weather, remote locations, very large waves, dangling by a rope or long-distance slogs. I imagine that the payoff for those who participate in these extreme adventures is the adrenaline rush of completing them with life and limb intact. The people profiled in the article smile their adrenalized smiles into the camera with craggy, outdoorsy faces characterized by long hair, tanned skin and frostbitten features.
I’m not one of those adventurous travelers. Rather…I’m adventurish. Yes, I’ve hiked in the Desolation wilderness (#15 on the list), but you know, as a day hike. Not for a week with a sixty pound pack. And sure, I’d like to go to Fiji, but I’d rather snorkle than surf a break taller than my house. I won’t be cresting the summit of Everest anytime soon but am relentlessly tackling the world in my own adventurish way.
Tips for being an adventurous (or adventurish) traveler:
Go somewhere new
Make a goal to visit a new country or US state every year. This year, I’ve worked on Latin America, adding Panama and Argentina to my hit list. And I’ve recently developed a 60×60 list of sixty travel experiences that I want to have before I’m sixty.
Make an old place new again
Stay in a new neighborhood, try a new cuisine or visit an like the penis museum in Reykjavik. I’ve been to the Yucatan Peninsula many times, but during my visit this past summer, we changed things up by renting a house in Tulum, visiting the little-known Mayan ruin of Muyil and sampling the local cenotes.
Walk, don’t run
No need to race your way across a landscape when you can stroll through it, seeing the sights and smelling the roses. Ken’s all time favorite was slow lap of the Grand Sablon in Brussels sampling chocolate.
Stretch but don’t break
I agree with the craggy types that working hard can have great rewards. On my recent Argentina trip, we hiked the Laguna de los Tres trail in the Fitzroy range. At 13 miles and 3,000 feet of elevation change, it was one of the hardest hikes I’ve done but well worth the view. The craggy hikers camped out at the base in order to do a sunrise climb. Stunning to be sure, but we opted for a warm bed over the cold and windy campsite. Check out these more moderate hikes on Hadrian’s Wall and the Jurassic Coast.
Do adventurous things (like snorkeling in Iceland), but also note the limits of your fortitude. I’m not willing to spend my vacation shitting myself with fear. So in New Zealand, I did the zipline and jet boat but opted out of the bungee jumping. As it was, driving a mini-van on the left side of the road was enough to put a quiver in my colon, no need to jump off a bridge as well.
Don’t shit your pants, II
Go ahead, eat the local street food. Just pay attention to which countries have clean drinking water and which don’t. And take a dose of Cipro with you. Or, like me, you’ll find yourself in a Baños Equador restaurant with that ‘uh o’ expression on your face. I had to learn this lesson twice. Apparently I’m slow on the uptake.
Traveling is tiring enough, no need to make it worse by taking the chicken bus. Travel by the most comfortable and convenient conveyance that you can afford. For me this usually means trains and planes over buses although first class bus services in countries like Argentina and Mexico can be quite nice.
Balance serendipity with careful planning
Wonderful and unexpected things can happen on a trip if you let them. My mind and heart were open on my Camino de Santiago pilgrimage and I was rewarded with interesting experiences and the kindness of strangers. But I don’t have an appetite for landing in a foreign airport wobbly with jetlag and clueless about what to do next. Being clueless wastes both time and money. But conversely, over-planning can make an itinerary rigid and sterile. I confess that I err too much on the side of planning and am working on my serendipity.
At some point during any trip, you will find that you are no longer having any fun. You are exhausted. Or disappointed. Or hungry. Or lost. For me, this moment usually happens partway through an aggressive itinerary and the effort of constantly navigating an unknown landscape causes me to snap. So I just stop and– sit in a coffee shop and read, have an ice cream on a park bench or take a nap. Sometimes it just takes an hour. Sometimes a half day. But I’m able to emerge from it reinvigorated and ready for the next thing.
Are you an adventurous traveler? Or are you adventurish? Either way, find your own best way to travel and enjoy the ride.