I am a strong believer in adventure therapy. While I’m a little suspicious of the idea that booking a round-trip ticket to Europe can piece your entire quarter-life crisis back together, there is definitely some merit to the idea of exploring the world while exploring yourself. What better way to get some distance from the present than by packing up your things, and taking a look at what lies outside of your routine? Here are five different types of adventures to take when you are looking to make a big change:
1. The bucket list trip.
This is the first one that everyone rushes towards when they get the feeling that they need to get away. They begin to slip back into their age-old daydreams of climbing the Mayan ruins in South America, sinking into the Blue Lagoon, and sitting under a wide-brimmed sunhat on a crisp white-sand beach. These are the trips that we always promise ourselves we will take “one day.” For most of us, this list is probably not even much of a list anymore, because we’ve lost track of how many times we’ve said “Yes, I HAVE to go there one day.” Well, when you have the money and you can make the time (or vice versa), pick one. Pick one of those bucket list trips, and take off, set sail, or what have you. Sometimes, getting up and embarking on something that feels like a huge adventure gives us that extra boost of confidence we need to show us that we can take on anything. When a bucket list trip is possible, anything feels possible.
2. The no frills attached.
Look, if you want to stay in a five-star all-inclusive resort for your bucket-list trip, by all means go ahead. There are some of us who just need a little more TLC on our adventures; I understand, but I challenge you to add a “no frills attached” adventure to your list regardless. Depending on the person, this may be a standard hotel in a quiet part of the country, or it may be a cross-country road trip with a bag of clothes haphazardly tossed in the backseat, sneaking French fries from your last stop as you drive—you decide. Just take a trip that keeps it as simple as possible. Ditch the itinerary and the crowds, and just take it easy for a minute. Remind yourself that you’re never above camping without a shower for four days or packing two weeks of your life into a backpack.
3. The solo adventure.
Pick one adventure and go it alone. I stand by the fact that there is nothing more empowering than taking on the world solo every once in a while. You can really soak in the wanderlust of every flight or train or bus ride, and take some quality time to relax and reflect. Learning to navigate new cities and countries without someone else to rely on to read the map, and taking yourself out to a nice dinner alone are things that really take independence to the next level. You’ll never feel more competent and confident in yourself as you will the day you return home from a solo trek (and extra appreciative of the friendly faces waiting for you back home).
4. The backyard adventure.
We often spend so much time overlooking the treasures in our hometowns and cities simply because they’re always there for us. We miss out on the gorgeous waterfall hike on the edge of town, the quaint rooftop bar a few blocks away, and the farmer’s market in the heart of downtown. We tell ourselves we’ll get there next time, next week, eventually, but we never learn to open ourselves up to breaking our routines in the places that we live. Take a night out with friends to try that new restaurant, spend an afternoon reading by that lake-side park, and take a stroll through those old neighborhoods on the fringes of town. It’s a low-cost, time-effective adventure that will make you feel even more in touch with the place you call home.
5. The return adventure.
Pick your favorite adventure, the one to a place beckoning you back, and go. Remember that life isn’t about ticking places off of lists, and that no matter how long we spend in a place, we will never have truly seen it all. Go back to your old college town, to the lake you used to summer at when you were younger. Book another trip to Disney World for old time’s sake, or that charming town in Wales you stumbled upon a few years back. Find a place to return to, a place to regroup and chart how you and the place have changed in the time since you have been away; a place that will remind you of your many homes in the world that you can always return to.
Try to remember that one whirlwind tour of Southeast Asia won’t make your ex take you back, fix your half-broken-down car, or make your roommates learn how to clean the apartment, but they may give you a that little bit of clarity that only some distance can give.
So book the flight, open up your afternoon, and just go.