“Adventure!” Yes! We’re all for it.
Except, um. What does that word actually mean?
As you may have noticed by now, we’re in the adventure travel business – and one of those words is kinda slippery.
It’s not “travel”. Travel’s easy. You were there. You are now here. Congratulations! You “travelled”.
Super obvious, frankly. You can add extra things like blazing sunshine, new languages, stomach upsets, hilariously tiny bottles filled with shampoo and so on, but basically travel is pretty easy to nail down.
“Adventure”? Not so much.
And we at Rug & Rock feel this is a problem, since “adventure” is right there in our job description – and we’d hate to be throwing around a meaningless buzzword that doesn’t actually motivate anyone to do anything.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a few handy rules that will allow you to decide if you have enough adventure in your life right now.
(1) If You Already Know You Can Do It, It’s Not An Adventure
Pretty simple really. If there’s so little challenge to something that a victorious outcome is certain, it’s not adventurous. The keyword here is uncertainty – that nebulous fog of possibilities where all your worries and fears manifest as nightmarish creatures with forked tongues and hundreds of hairy legs, and become real-feeling enough to loosen your digestive tract and weaken your knees.
Sounds horrible, I know – but for adventures, uncertainty is a requirement.
Are you fairly sure you can do it, but it’s not a dead cert by any means? Yeah, that’s fairly adventurous. Not bad. 6 out of 10.
Do you have no clue if you’re even capable of reaching the finish line, let alone if you will or not, despite a rather ludicrous level of ambition combined with the most bloody-minded kind of stubborn tenacity you’ve ever felt about anything ever?
BOOM. Go do that thing. True adventure awaits you right there, friend.
This is stolen from the excellent blog Semi-Rad, from professional adventurer Brendan Leonard:
In any adventure, be it a five-mile hike or a multi-day climb, this is my list of goals, in numerical order:
1. Don’t die.
2. Have fun.
3. Get to the summit/campsite/whatever.
Prior to his attempt on K2 in 1995, American climber Rob Slater famously told a climbing magazine, “Summit or die, either way I win.” He summited, but died on the descent with five other climbers when weather conditions abruptly changed. To each his/her own, but if I were to adapt Slater’s quote to reflect my own ideals, it would be something more like: “Summit or live another several years to eat deep-dish pizza, either way I win.”
(3) Discomfort Is Adventure’s Friend
This isn’t flying the flag for pompously self-inflicted misery, the kind of vainglorious masochism that has you bragging in the pub about scars, missing toes or wasting diseases.
This is about comfort zones.
Ever gone rock climbing and felt your muscles throbbing the next day like they’re going to explode? Ever been faced with an intimidating physical challenge and had a voice inside your head yell “No no no no this is why sofas were invented, take me home I just can’t”? Ever committed yourself to a course of action and then realised Ruh Roh, I Guess This Is Actually Happening?
That kind of discomfort is a sign you’re in the very teeth of adventure. (Not like a piece of spinach, but like someone looking adventure square in the eye, calmly thinking I’m ready for this – so come on, bring it.)
If you’re not feeling it, you have nothing to overcome in your mind, no comfort zone to escape from – so you won’t feel anything when you come out the other side, safe and sound, the winner.
(4) The “You’re Doing WHAT?” Test
This is critical.
If you tell someone (loved ones, work colleagues etc.) about your plans and they don’t react somewhat incredulously, you’re not aiming high enough for it to be an adventure.
This also applies retrospectively, ie. “You did WHAT?”
Maybe the stakes aren’t high enough. Maybe the burning embarrassment of public failure isn’t even on the table.
Maybe you’re being too predictable, too much an extension of the normal, everyday you. If everyone knows you go running every weekend and you announce you’re running a local half-marathon, pats on the back, yes (and deservedly so) – but no “WHAT???”
However, if you say you’re in training to run 250km across the Sahara, that will get their attention.
Oh, and having people laugh because they think what you’re doing/what you did is completely off the reservation? That counts too. Trying to cycle home and going 500km in exactly the wrong direction? Magnificent adventure, sir.
(It also helps if you’re already knowingly bad at something you’re attempting. Would you believe this guy could earn enough money from busking to keep himself fed and healthy? That’s exactly how he sustained himself as he walked across Spain – but it wasn’t easy, for painfully obvious reasons.)
Whatever you choose to do with your weekends and holidays, we sincerely hope it fills you with all these feelings and more – because life’s too short to waste any chance to have an adventure.
And as always, if you’re looking for inspiration, we can definitely help you there.
– Brendan Leonard has just published another 52 pieces of adventure advice, collected from friends, acquaintances and mentors.