"Are you crazy?" my friend exclaimed. “He’ll never want to travel again!” I simply smiled. We were catching up and discussing my upcoming travel plans, which involved a multi-day jungle trek with my city-slicker brother in tow.
I’m a well-seasoned travel vet, with more than 35 countries on my passport. On the contrary, my younger brother had never left the country. Somehow, I had managed to convince him to come trekking and surfing in Colombia with me. We decided on the destination together. He wanted to visit some place tropical, but one that didn’t have a resort vibe. I can’t resist the temptation of a good hike. After a month or two of back and forth, we settled on Colombia.
So off we went to the country’s remote Caribbean coast, where we would explore muddy jungles and catch a few waves in the rough surf.
It turned out to be my brother’s favorite vacation, and now he’s hooked on chasing adventure wherever he goes. Here, some insider tips on introducing someone you love to the wonderful world of adventure travel—and inspiring them to love it as much as you do.
Make the Trip About Them
The best way to make someone comfortable with overseas travel is allow them to choose where they want to go. A few years back, I took my partner on his first overseas excursion. He chose New Zealand as our destination. The following year we found ourselves high in the Himalaya of Nepal, also his idea.
When you give the newbie adventurer the power to decide on a destination, you allow him or her to drive the intensity of the trip. Ownership of deciding where to go seems to instill more confidence in their ability to tackle adventure. Maybe your loved one has a bucket list destination in mind, or maybe it’s just the desire to check out a place they’ve never been to before.
Your travel partner can also help provide general information that helps narrow down the decision. My brother, for example, told me to pick a country, but it had to be tropical and couldn’t feel like home. Consider the following questions to get the conversation started.
What is your budget?
Are you looking to travel overseas, or keep it domestic?
How long are you willing to be in-transit?
Is any activity, region, or landscape off-limits?
How long are you willing to be outside of your comfort zone? A couple of days? The entire vacation? Or for only a few activities?
Involve Them in the Planning Process
Adventure travel takes a fair amount of careful planning and research. Instead of driving the entire decision-making process, utilize a group decision mentality. Some people feel hesitant about jumping into something new, so allow your loved one to get involved in the nitty-gritty details so they know what to anticipate and, just as importantly, start to learn how to plan their own adventure–for example, how to research outfitters.
Accommodation expectations are a great place to start. Will you be sharing a room, house, or apartment? Decide if you want to stay in a home-grown hostel or a five-star luxury resort. If you are camping, backpacking, or doing something new and unfamiliar—kite surfing, perhaps?—be sure to tell your newest adventurer. Make sure he or she understands that you may not know what to expect either, and that’s ok! Expanding your horizons is one of the best parts of adventure travel.
When planning activities, be very clear about physical activity and logistics. You may not have all of the details, but having an idea of how long you’ll hike or how long you’ll be kayaking not only helps you stay organized but also gives your loved one an idea at what to expect.
In addition, keep your travel buddy in the loop about gear and other important logistics like vaccinations and doctor prescriptions. These kind of things may be second nature to seasoned adventure junkies, but a relatively new traveler may not even think about them. In Colombia, my brother and I opted to sleep in hammocks in the jungle—something neither of us had done before. I suggested he pick up a quick-dry towel that could double as a blanket for the cool jungle nights.
Also, be sure to give your travel partner a heads up about any vaccinations or prescription medications required for where you’re headed. Let them know a rough timeline for gear, bookings, and doctors’ appointments.
Stay Flexible and Focus on the Fun
Adventure travel is not about curating the perfect experience—it is about being flexible and trying something new. If you are a well-seasoned adventure veteran, try choosing an activity both of you have never done before. Perhaps it’s a new trail or climbing route, or an entirely new-to-you activity that you’ve always wanted to try.
Doing something new with someone you love strengthens bonds, even if the trip turns out to be a complete disaster. In the Colombian jungle, my brother and I ended up trekking barefoot for several miles through knee-deep mud. We also both ended up getting sick upon returning home, but we still laugh about how wild it was to be sucked up by the muddy jungle landscape.
Consider an adventurous activity you would both be interested in trying. It doesn’t have to be complicated or epic. For example, when I headed to New Zealand with my then-untraveled boyfriend, we decided to explore the country by road and lived in a van. #Vanlife was an entirely new experience for us both. Why? Although it infiltrated every aspect of our trip, it was a simple twist that made the destination seem more adventurous.
Introducing a loved one to adventure travel connects you in a shared experience that you’ll look back on for a lifetime. And you may find yourself with a bonus: a fellow travel junkie who invites you on their next adventure.
Written by Meg Atteberry for RootsRated.