A Life in Travel

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Adventure Therapy | 4 Ways to a More Soul-filling Trip

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 "The hikes in Peru were beautiful, remote, and challenging. It was refreshing to not be surrounded by other tourists, to be in nature and to be off the beaten path " - Karlis R. Wildland Alumni

The joie de vivre and rejuvenation of a well-planned trip is when travel becomes "Adventure Therapy." As travel writer Pico Ayer describes it, we travel "...to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more." So how can you create a more life-renewing and therapeutic adventure? Here are four ways to make your next trip more soul-filling.

What type of activities and experiences envigorate you the most? Maybe it's the fresh air and physical challenge of alpine hiking, the inward journey contemplating sacred sites or practicing yoga at an exclusive spa, or talking to and learning from indigenous people who have sensibilities and perspectives long forgotten in our modern urban society.  Every destination has its own beauty and cultural traditions that beckons each of us off the beaten path. Consider your own interests and activity level and listen to your own call of adventure. For some, stretching their limits physically or mentally is refreshing while others may seek a respite from the challenges of life at home and prefer an easier pace and more pampered adventure. If you're an introvert and more reflective seeker, consider a remote getaway in nature or an introspective journey to sacred lands. If you're extroverted take a deep dive in India or immerse yourself among native communities that may realign your priorities and touch upon your own long-forgotten indigenous ancestry. Wherever you go, consider how the destination and the journey will accommodate your adventure style.

At the start of each day, you should arise feeling refreshed and rested ready to take on the day's adventures knowing that when the sun sets you'll return to the comfort and warm reception of a well-chosen accommodation. Whether you prefer the luxury of a boutique hotel, the authenticity of a local home-stay, or both, your accommodations and hosts should feel like a place that immerses you in the local culture and environment conducive to a deeper reflection of your journey. Riads in Morocco, havellis and historic palaces in India, cave hotels in Turkey, luxury mountain lodges in Peru and dome tents in Patagonia, or well-appointed African safari camps, all offer an experience that reflects the nature of the place and the hospitality of local communities. Many such native accommodations offer ancient healing arts like yoga and Ayurveda to pampering spa treatments where you can relax and unwind after a long day of active adventures. See our Best 15 Boutique Hotels and Top 10 Eco-lodges Lists.

Slowing the pace of your trip is often the hardest thing to do. It's tempting to try to see and do as much as possible, but focusing on those activities and places that matter most to you allows for more in-depth experiences to know a place and it's people while allowing for reflection to take it all in. Travelers often fail to consider transit times, which are often a lot slower and longer than one anticipates. Also, time permitting, consider arriving a day early to acclimatize to a new time zone or elevation, add a rest day in your itinerary, and build in an extra day when you return home to unpack, unwind and reflect on the whole adventure.

Even if a total digital detox is not entirely practical, consider how you can disconnect and be more present in the experience of your journey. There may be no better way to experience the therapeutic rewards of travel than to turn off your phone. Many remote hikes and places will be off the grid anyway so why not take a digital break for the rest of your trip? Most accommodations, as well as your guide, will have a means of communication in case of emergencies so relax and focus on the present. And if you really want a digital detox, consider leaving your camera at home (or at least don't pick it up so often). In fact, maybe there is someone else you are traveling with who will share photos allowing you to be more present.

All of these suggestions may not come easy when faced with the excitement of traveling to a new place on limited vacation time. But smart trip planning and realistic expectations of time and energy are key to making your next adventure more therapeutic by getting the most out of travel including your own well-being. After all, when we heed our own call to adventure, slow down to reconnect and become present to the mysteries surrounding us, then travel has the power as writer Barry Lopez propounds, of "opening up to the extraordinary circumstances of being alive...to come out of our own small tiny place in the world." That's when travel is most therapeutically healing for ourselves and our planet. 

We're here to help you get the most out of your next Wildland Adventure. So give us a call at 800-345-4453 when you are ready to plan your next adventure.

Keeping It Wild,

Kurt Kutay
President

Thanks to Hannah Mason and Jonathan Burnham for developing this theme. 

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