In the 56th episode of the Real Life Survival Guide we discussed travel primarily as it pertains to “vacations” and not “adventure travel.” It’s difficult to have physically active adventures as parents of small children, as many of our panelists are. Or rather, we could say that even the simplest vacations become “adventures” when small children are along!
For the rest of us – those single people, couples without children, or families with children old enough to participate – “adventure” or physically active travel is something that is too often ignored. For those of us with physically grueling jobs, a week comatose on the beach sounds like heaven. But for the increasingly sedentary American public, a couple weeks of the year outside the cubicle is just what the travel agent, and the doctor, ordered.
That might mean different things to different people. It could mean hunting moose in Alaska, kayaking a stony New England stream, or searching for birds in the local wildlife preserve. It could mean a week of baseball fantasy camp or a week of yoga at a spa. Scuba-diving, horseback riding, surfing, skiing, or sailing are all waiting for those of us with a little adventurous spirit.
During our discussion I mentioned hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu with my best friend from childhood, a feat I accomplished at age 27 (and at the height of my physical powers). Seeing my shadow on a circular rainbow at Phuyupatamarca is something that simply could not have happened if I had, say, taken a helicopter from Cusco. And every step of that difficult journey through the magnificent Andes Mountains is burned into my memory.
I might not be able to physically accomplish the same journey over a decade later. Now, a leisurely bike ride across Connecticut on the Farmington Canal Rail Trail is more my speed. My wife Amy and I took three days this spring to do just that, riding twenty-miles per day, a distance that may seem paltry to serious riders. However, to us it was a delightful and sometimes difficult adventure. We got to know the familiar landscape of our state in a new way and we got to know new things about each other during an exciting activity.
Sounds great, right? But not with a three-year-old. So, to my fellow panelists and all parents out there, when your kids are old enough to appreciate and physically go on adventures (and before you are physically unable to!) try an active adventure together. For the rest of you, don’t wait. We remember the things you participate in more than those in which we are passive observers. And hey, we might even burn off some of those summer barbecue calories along the way.
Eric D Lehman is a travel and history writer, and Director of Creative Writing at the University of Bridgeport. He dabbles in many genres, and has been published in a wide variety of journals and magazines, from the International Henry Miller Journal to Antiques Trader. His books on Bridgeport, Hamden, and A History of Connecticut Wine are available from The History Press. www.ericdlehman.com