How to Experience Adventure

Skip the all-inclusive this year & have an adventure vacation instead

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Debra Corbeil kayaking in Antarctica
Photo: Dave Bouskill

My husband Dave and I have cycled the continent of Africa, gone kayaking in Antarctica and trekked to Everest base camp during our eight years of full-time travel. But we weren’t always avid adventurers.

Whenever anyone asks us how they can plan an adventure vacation like us, we always tell them to start with baby steps. We didn’t jump right into the icy waters of Antarctica; we took things slow and built up to epic challenges over time.

The more we travelled, the more our eyes opened to new possibilities. Small day hikes off the resort, soon turned into multiday treks into the backcountry. When you add adventure into your travels it can change your life.

Adventure travel inspires us in our everyday lives. Many of the things we tried during our travels, became our hobbies here in Canada.

We went rock climbing in Thailand and then joined a climbing gym in Toronto. After snorkeling abroad, we took up scuba diving in the Great Lakes of Ontario. Our first hike into the tea terraces of Malaysia sparked our love for trekking. It can be one little adventure that eventually leads to summiting Mount Kilimanjaro.

Know Your Limits

When planning an adventure vacation, it is important to know your capabilities.

Do you spend a lot of time hiking at home or are you more of a fan of watching the latest episodes of The Mandalorian? If it’s the latter, perhaps you don’t book that multi-day trek through Patagonia for your first adventure.

We didn’t hike the Inca Trail on our first trip to Peru. Instead, we did several day hikes around the Sacred Valley and took the train to Machu Picchu. It was a great compromise. We still hiked in the Andes but didn’t have to spend four days trekking with little experience.

If cycling through the wine country of France sounds like a dream adventure but you haven’t ridden a bike in years, it might not be a good vacation idea.

But if you choose an e-biking tour that gives you some extra power along the way, you’ll enjoy the scenery (and wine) rather than suffering through the terrain.

Choose Your Destination Wisely

You don’t have to immediately trek into the Himalayas to have an adventure vacation. You can find the most surprising adventures in nearly every destination on earth.

If trekking is a goal, look for places that have some great hikes or small mountains to summit.

St. Kitts in the Caribbean has a wonderful short volcano hike on Mount Liamuiga. Oregon has one of the toughest yet most beautiful day hikes we’ve done to Misery Ridge, and the Hawaiian Islands have several beautiful day hikes up volcanoes, through bamboo forests and out to waterfalls.

Start by taking small day-trips to see how much you enjoy it. We felt the same elation doing our first short trek as we did when reaching our first summit.

Hire a Guide

Whenever we try something new, we always hire a guide. Guides have the expertise and skill to keep you safe. When hiring an expert to lead the way, you can push the adventure further.

If you want to go kayaking on your own, chances are you’ll only be able to go a short distance from the beach. But if you hire a guide, they can navigate you through safe waters, and take you farther along the coast while sharing their valuable insight.

Join a Tour

If you really want to start your adventure travels with a bang and do something epic, join an organized tour.

Tour companies that specialize in adventure travel can give you advice on what to pack and how to prepare. You’ll have other adventure lovers to share the experience with and you’ll have the safety net of a guide leading the way, a staff preparing your meals and your accommodation (or tents) set up for you ahead of time.

Training Run

If you are going to take on something epic, ensure you have the basic skills to make it through the adventure.

Before kayaking in Antarctica, Dave and I went to the local pool here in Canada to refresh our wet exit skills.

If you are summiting a mountain, do several backcountry hikes in your own backyard. This will help you learn how to pack your day bag and prepare you for the long hikes you’ll have on your trip.

Always hike with other people and let someone know where you are going before hitting the trails. There are outdoor clubs, and hiking groups all around the country so find like-minded people and start your adventure before you even leave home.

Packing for an Adventure Vacation

When going on an adventure holiday, you will pack differently from your other vacations.

Hiking boots and water shoes, lightweight backpacks and water purification systems are a must.

We always pack layers. When climbing a mountain it can be hot and humid on the ground, but once you reach the summit it can be below zero.

We’ve done a short two-hour hike up Gunung Batur in Bali thinking we’d be fine with a lightweight sweater. We froze once we reached the summit huddling together while waiting for the sun to come up.

Wind and waterproof outer layers, with a lightweight mid-layer and water wicking base layer, are now always a part of our travel gear.

Adventure travel doesn’t have to be scary. If you start small, you’ll have a more enjoyable trip than diving into an adventure that is way beyond your limits.

With baby steps, you’ll add on to the adventure with each trip and soon your fear and anxieties will melt away. Before you know it, people will be calling you an adventure traveller and you’ll be inspiring others to get off the resort as well.

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