Climbing Mount Everest sounds like an adventure, right? And, yes, I suppose it can be. But lately photos of crowds of climbers, especially on the final section of the ascent, seem to take a lot of adventure out of the equation. Nowadays you can hire an agency to get you to the top…for a mere $11,000 up to about $45,000! I am sure, even with a guide and support, the climb is a physical challenge for anyone but much of the adventure is diminished—“the thrill is gone.”
The fact is it is hardly possible now to find a spot on this earth where no one else has not gone. As a criteria for “adventure travel,” remote and exotic destinations are no longer the sole genesis of adventure. It is a good thing however, that adventure doesn’t depend on “places”; it depends on “experiences.” Adventure can be found one hundred or ten thousand miles from home. And that is because adventure starts when you push yourself beyond your current perceived limitations and emerge on the other side a changed person.
There are plenty of books about travelling to remote locations, but the ones that are truly about adventure travel are the ones that describe how a new experience changed the author, proving to themselves they could do something they previously had doubted they could or how their travels changed the way they thought about a land, themselves, and other people.
These stories are the ones that have broad appeal outside the motorcycling, boating, RVing or you name the mode of transportation communities and do not squarely lie in the “motorcycle, boating, or RV book” category. They are books that use mode of transportation or alluring locations as a sub-text to the real story—the story of what changed in the person who experienced the journey. A story may be set in some exotic country onboard a rickety old Royal Enfield motorbike, but the reader does not have to have any direct interest in the place or the type of transportation to get something substantial and worthwhile out of this kind of book.
Jupiter’s Travels takes place on a round-the-world ride on a motorbike, but the real story is how Ted Simon persevered and how he slowly came to see the world and its people in a new light as a result. This legacy of new perceptions explains the huge popularity of this book beyond that of a mere travelogue and outside the motorcycling community (although, of course, it will have added appeal to that group).
Adventure is not so much seeing new places but seeing places in a new way. They can be just outside your hometown. And, after all, while the world may be a crowded place at times and in certain places, there is no shortage of unique and inspiring places all around us. A unique destination can be a stimulus for the adventure experience, but extreme locations are not necessary.
Look at a map. Where are the places you find intriguing? Maybe the prairie so many cross as quickly as possible has much more to offer to the thoughtful and attentive traveler. Maybe a not so distant place of beauty has been overlooked by the crowds looking to cram perceived danger, self-promotion, and enhanced self-worth as perceived by their peers into their stories. Find those places that excite you and go and experience them and don’t forget that getting there can be half of the adventure. Each time try to move past what you perceive as your limits and evolve into a bit of a new person each time you do. If you do, you will be the one who has something worth listening to.