When you plan your family vacations, what are you looking for? Do you need rest and relaxation? Do you search out the best food? Do you need pampering? Are you looking for new experiences? What type of memories do you want to create?
Our friends and family definitely think we are crazy. They see our adventure travels and commend us for living boldly, but are perfectly happy leaving us on this pedestal of abnormal psychology and booking plane tickets to Club Med Cancun. And they should be! As I teach in my course, Carve Your Path, know what you like, do what you are good at, and be grateful for your identity. Basically, own it!
But, what if you are like I was a decade ago, watching people do things you’ve only dreamed of and wondered is this is even possible? What if your heart is seeking a little more?
Then it’s time to go one step up the ladder of adventure travel. My disclaimer: This article is all for fun. Just because I aspire to get to the top tier one day doesn’t mean you need to. You decide which tier you are at and if you want to move up or not. Keep in mind that wherever you are is exactly where you are supposed to be. Live with your intention, not someone else’s.
Stage 1 of Adventure Travel: Resortists
If you are at this stage, you prefer cruises, all-inclusive vacations, traveling with a tour group, taking the kids to Sandals, or parking it at a fancy resort for a week. Adventure probably comes in the form of the waitress at the pool bringing you a mojito instead of a mai tai or maybe trying a yoga class at the on-site fitness center. You are probably looking for maximum rest and relaxation from your vacation. You work hard and can afford it. Predictability and feeling taken care of are just what the doctor ordered. You want to disconnect from reality and an escape to a fancy resort will give you the time and space to break away from the grind of everyday life. If you are here, enjoy the fact that you can be here. I fondly remember taking our two oldest to the Grand Wailea in Maui and playing in pools and going down waterslides. I could never do it for more than a weekend now, but it was adventurous to me at one time.
Stage 2 of Adventure Travel: Tourists
You want a little more freedom and experiences from your travel. You like to explore cities and are excited to be able to use a map. You are comfortable researching your own accommodations either through Expedia, Airbnb, or comparable search engine. You spend your trip doing some independent sightseeing and activities mixed in with excursions or tours. Disneyland type vacations count in this stage. Again, we have very fond memories of these trips when our kids were young, but you’d have to pay me a lot of money to do this for more than one or two days now. These types of vacations can definitely be adventurous, but not always the type of fulfillment that adventure travel can provide.
Moving from resortist to this level requires some researching skills and getting comfortable exploring apps such as Expedia, Trip Advisor, Airbnb, and Yelp. This type of adventure travel requires more time planning what to do and where to go. You’ll want to look through travel magazines, Pinterest, and read blogs on the cities you are interested in. If you still need a lot of rest and relaxation from your trip, try only choosing a few experiences you’d really like to do. Don’t try to cram it all in or you’ll need a vacation from your vacation afterward.
Stage 3 of Adventure Travel: Campers
You are now ready to venture into the wilderness for a bit. You have a little more self-sufficiency and are looking for off the beaten path destinations, hidden gems, and more cultural immersion. Instead of going to the big cities, you are ready to brave more rural areas, maybe a camping trip to a national park, or your first road trip. You know the benefits of nature and are ready to immerse yourself in some trees and mountains. You are excited about the prospect of slowing down your life to reconnect with your breath and spend some time reflecting on who you are, what you like, and where you’d like your life to go. You have good researching skills (or your spouse does) and are ready to be adaptable to the adventures and mishaps that may come with being a little more off-grid. You are excited to chill out and don’t mind the prospect of having to create your own entertainment. Before you start exploring, you may want to break down any intimidation factors. You can read books like my 1000 Miles of Memories to get inspired and educated on what to expect and how to be prepared. If you want to provide this type of adventure travel for your family, but are worried about not having the energy for it, take a mini vacation with just your spouse before your adventurous family trip. I recommend having a mishap fund and a good mindset. This type of adventure travel won’t be all relaxing and there may be a little dirt involved. But it also might be the most memorable trip your family will experience together. Our family spent many years at this level and it was awesome! Go for it!
Stage 4 of Adventure Travel: Explorers
This is our family now. Getting in nature and prioritizing activities (hiking, climbing, surfing, biking) in new or remote locations has become our definition of adventure travel. We are constantly looking for bucket list outdoor adventures. Occasionally, we pass by a city and may have to look on trip advisor for the best brewery, but usually, we are scouring TheOutbound.com for backpacking trips or hikes we’ve never heard of. Our phones are loaded with apps such as Surfline, Magic Seaweed, Mountain or Bike project, and Climb Away. My Pinterest boards are covered with places to hike and destinations like Patagonia, New Zealand, and Indonesia. Our sports dictate our travel and if it happens to include a hot shower that’s a bonus. But adventure and experiences always take priority over the frivolity of food and comfort. If you are looking for this type of adventure travel, start by making sports a priority in your ever day life. Spend your weekends exploring more off-the-beaten-path locations in your own backyard. Consider hiring a guide (like us!) to take you on your first big adventure.
Stage 5 of Adventure Travel: Adrenaline Junkies
I may never reach this level of awesomeness, but I idolize these people. They are the true dirtbags who climb Everest and El Capitan, free solo, and surf Mavericks. Who truly freeze to death and still keep living. Who go warrior style all day but only have a cliff bar or gruel over a fire at night. They are sponsored by the big names like Patagonia, La Sportive, Black Diamond, North Face. My hat goes off to you. If this type of adventure travel is on your radar you will need to spend the rest of your life increasing your skills and then grow a set.