For some people, adventure travel is the only kind of travel. They get off on hiking dangerous peaks, swimming with sharks, rafting through rip-roaring rapids and bungee jumping off bridges. If their adrenaline isn’t running to the extreme, they’re not interested.
But perhaps you’re different. Perhaps you’re the cautious type, willing to step out of your comfort zone just a little but really, you prefer lying on a beach with a good book or perusing a market for great souvenirs to bring back as gifts.
Neither of these approaches to travel is wrong, but there is something to be said for getting outside your personal box and doing something that feels just a little bit dangerous. Take it from someone who knows, it’s not always easy to sign on for that physically trying and potential dangerous thrill ride. Heck, just the thought of boarding a boat of dubious quality to sail around a bay makes me think twice about an outing.
Maybe you think you’re out of shape, out of practice, physically and mentally unequipped for the task at hand. You might be right to an extent, but you’re also probably selling yourself short. One of the best ways to see a new country is to get out into nature and see the landscape, understand the history of rural communities, understand how people live.
In places such as Thailand, that can mean trekking through the jungle and sustaining yourself with only the survival skills that your guide has taught you. In other parts of the world, it may mean sleeping under the stars, learning how to construct a shelter on the fly, hiking to a height you never thought you’d see on foot.
Yes, these experiences can be challenging, scary, frustrating and infuriating. When your legs ache and your pack feels too heavy and your guide is urging you further on, you might want to call it a day, but not before screaming a few expletives in their direction.
But once your muscles have relaxed and you’re back in civilization, you will realize that you achieved something. Even if you don’t make it to the peak, or you end up needing to bail before the trek ends, that’s alright. Just pushing yourself to try something new will teach you about yourself – where you can grow in strength, and also how much physical and mental reserve you have to begin with.
So the next time someone suggests doing something that frightens you and makes you want to run in the other direction, take a deep breath and really consider before answering. Travel is all about pushing your boundaries and expanding your perspective. That includes the way you see yourself and your abilities.
The same goes for the adrenaline junkies out there, as well. Sometimes slowing down and learning to take in the scenery can be just as rewarding as pushing your body to its limits. You never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll see if you learn to just chill out for awhile.