10 Reasons Why Adventure Travel Is Good for You

Candice Gaukel Andrews July 7, 2015 31

One of my favorite scientific findings: Take a hike, get a bigger brain. ©Candice Gaukel Andrews

For the past several years, I have been writing about adventure topics for the Good Nature Travel blog, on everything from the merits of bumpy roads to tracking devices on narwhals. From my own thoughts on adventure to the latest scientific research, we’ve covered a lot of ground together.

Looking over all of these articles since my first appeared here on February 9, 2010, I realize that one theme keeps showing up: adventure travel is simply good for you. So I’ve compiled a Top 10 list of the reasons why.

While there are several physical health benefits to adventure travel (see nos. 1, 2 and 3, below), the advantages for your mental wellness are just as impressive (nos. 4, 5 and 6). Too, adventure travel can enlighten your soul (nos. 7 and 8 ) and even help save the world (nos. 9 and 10).

Can you think of anything else that can do all that?

Ten Reasons Why Adventure Travel Is Good for You

One wilderness just doesn’t seem to be enough; your soul quickly calls for more. ©Candice Gaukel Andrews

One wilderness just doesn’t seem to be enough; your soul quickly calls for more. ©Candice Gaukel Andrews

1) When you get dirty, you improve your physical health. Scientists have recently reported that our modern obsession with cleanliness might be leading to a rise in allergies, asthma and inflammatory bowel disease. Getting dirty could just be the best path to developing a strong immune system. Going on adventures means getting dirty—and healthier.

2) Outdoor activities can prevent (or treat) a wide range of health problems. Doctors around the country are now handing out “park prescriptions” for conditions ranging from heart disease to obesity to attention deficit disorder. Adventure travel takes park prescriptions to the next level.

3) There are no age limits on adventure. Anyone can make nature a playground. Adventure travel is an activity you can stick with for life.

4) Take a hike, get a bigger brain. Research indicates that hiking or walking grows brains. Typically, your hippocampus gets smaller once you hit your mid 50s, leading to memory loss. But a group of middle-aged adults that took three, 40-minute walks a week for a year grew their hippocampi, on average, by 2 percent, which could improve their retention for years. Hiking adventures will keep you mentally sharp.

5) Going on adventures raises your tolerance for uncertainty. Placing yourself in situations where things don’t always go as planned—such as on an adventure trip—helps you learn to cope with the uncertainties in life. And there is no shortage of those.

6) Adventure travel lets you safely “try on” alternate lives. One of the best things about embarking on an adventure is that you can shed your familiar skin for a while and pretend to be anything you want to be—before you take a drastic and permanent step. Who would you be if you lived there?

7) Going on adventures fosters reflectiveness, a mental skill often in short supply today. Adventures give us pleasant memories, which we often bring back to the forefront of our minds for reminiscing. This means that our journeys “marinate” awhile, an especially valuable exercise these days when we’re all so perpetually busy that most of what we do passes by in a flash and is gone forever—without having any real meaning attached to it. But reliving our adventures again and again allows us the time—and capability—to learn something from them.

In nine years, global warming may become impossible to reverse. Individuals will need to step up their environmental efforts, if the world is to survive. Those special individuals will be adventure travelers. ©Candice Gaukel Andrews

Adventure travelers need to become environmental activists. ©Candice Gaukel Andrews

8 ) Adventure travel feeds your dreams and builds your confidence. The editor of National Geographic Traveler Magazine once suggested that the “Cycle of Travel” went like this: 1) dream, 2) plan, 3) go, 4) share. But no matter how many steps it takes to get there, the one thing that’s certain about traveling to spectacular nature spots is that it soon becomes addictive. Experiencing one wilderness just doesn’t seem to be enough; your soul quickly calls for more. And each time you go, you find yourself changing. Adventures build your confidence; and with each successive one, you challenge yourself just a little bit more. I would add a fifth step to the Travel Cycle: dream bigger.

9) Adventure experiences remedy a societal ill: loss of adventurous children and the extinguishing of wanderlust. Today, the United States is facing what some have described as an epidemic: the loss of the adventurous childhood. The Outdoor Foundation reports that youth participation in outside activities has declined for three straight years. And when parents overschedule kids and insist on being involved in every one of their activities—when they become “helicopter parents”—they kill a child’s desire to explore. The spark for wanderlust goes out, permanently.

10) Adventure travelers may be more important than ever for saving the world. Some scientists warn that in nine years’ time (or less), global warming will become impossible to reverse, triggering accelerated climate change. If they’re right, a group of individuals within the general public is going to have to come forward and upgrade their environmental efforts, if the world is to survive. That select group of people just may turn out to be adventure travelers: those who typically venture beyond the envelope in the outdoors.

As Mark Twain once wrote, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Here’s to your adventures, in whatever corner of the world you find them,

Candy

31 Comments »

  1. Joe McD November 4, 2017 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    As someone who has my share of adventure traveling all over the world I couldn’t agree more with this article. I just wished more Americans would get out there. In comparison of people from other well developed OECD countries It just seems like there is a lack of sense of adventure, curiosity or wonderment from Americans. Partly because most Americans are lucky to get 1 or 2 weeks vacation a year, and along with a declining standard of living with less disposable income. I don’t know if its always because of a lack of interest. Although there is some of that where we here in the States are conditioned by our fear rmongering media that makes it appear that the rest of the world is far more dangerous then the safety of our US perimeters. Which in reality in most places can’t be any further from the truth.

  2. ikan hias September 28, 2017 at 8:00 am - Reply

    I really thought that the article was well-written and thought-provoking, Candice. I can relate to some of the reasons you list. My over-riding experience is to visit many places, meet new people, see wonderful sights and go to my maker for having been fortunate enough to have seen so much.

  3. Philip August 16, 2017 at 1:25 am - Reply

    Life is great adventure or nothing.

  4. kdrama-ost February 4, 2017 at 1:25 am - Reply

    I really thought that the article was well-written and thought-provoking, Candice. I can relate to some of the reasons you list. My over-riding experience is to visit many places, meet new people, see wonderful sights and go to my maker for having been fortunate enough to have seen so much.

    I always say after a trip that if I do not go on another trip for whatever reason I will look back and say that I have seen and done so much more than one could hope for when I started out becoming the adventurous tourist!

    A really good piece. Candice, couldn’t agree with you more. The chance to meet completely different people with completely attitudes and outlooks on life to you is one of the delights of adventure travelling.

  5. ican mori September 27, 2016 at 10:51 pm - Reply

    Very nice sharing i would love your article

  6. Wedding planner udaipur September 17, 2016 at 5:33 am - Reply

    Wow …!!Superb Thank You For Sharing Such A nice article with Us…!!!

  7. LeciaLGurrad August 30, 2016 at 10:12 am - Reply

    Hi there! This article could not be written any better!
    Looking through this post reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He always kept preaching about this. I’ll forward this article to him.
    Fairly certain he’ll have a good read. I appreciate you for sharing!

  8. Zannat August 28, 2016 at 3:59 am - Reply

    Awesome one. It helped me a lot!!!

  9. W.T.J.S.Kaviratne August 22, 2016 at 9:49 am - Reply

    Hi! Candice,
    I’m extremely sorry for my delayed response to you message. Unfortunately I could not buy the Daily News paper on the day my feature on Adventure Tourism appeared.But I read it on line. Today 22 August I found your message. Almost every Wednesday one of my features appears in the Daily News. I have visited Norway,Denmark and Goa (India) I wrote a series of articles on Viking Civilization. At the moment I write on Greek Epics.
    I’d like to correspond with you. Thanks, Kaviratne

  10. W.T.J.S.Kaviratne July 2, 2016 at 9:13 pm - Reply

    I read your article when I was planning to write a feature on Adventure Tourism relevant to Sri Lanka. I found important points for my information.
    Hope to hear from you. Thanks, Kaviratne

  11. sepatu cewek June 9, 2016 at 9:08 am - Reply

    A really good piece. Candice couldn’t agree with you more. The chance to meet completely different people with completely attitudes and outlooks on life to you is one of the delights of adventure travelling.

  12. bisnis lele January 10, 2016 at 5:05 am - Reply

    An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague who had been conducting a little research on this.
    And he actually ordered me dinner simply because I found
    it for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!!
    But yeah, thanks for spending the time to talk about this issue here on your website.

  13. Steve Newman September 5, 2012 at 5:14 am - Reply

    A really good piece. Candice couldn’t agree with you more. The chance to meet completely different people with completely attitudes and outlooks on life to you is one of the delights of adventure travelling.

  14. Gordon Lethbridge August 29, 2012 at 5:42 am - Reply

    Now I have an excuse for more adventure travel.

  15. Candice Gaukel Andrews August 28, 2012 at 1:43 pm - Reply

    Jonathan,

    Thanks for writing in with a comment. You make a good point.

    And I do understand your concerns; in fact, I’ve written about that very issue many times before (here’s just a sample: http://blog.gaiam.com/blog/is-it-best-to-keep-beloved-natural-places-secret/).

    I think the other side of the coin is that without eco-travel, many of the national parks and preserves around the world would not be possible. With public budgets being cut, sometimes tourism dollars are the only things keeping a nature preserve from becoming a strip mall, putting a stop to poachers, or providing funds to keep an indigenous community’s well water pure.

    It can’t be denied, however, that by traveling to places, we do change them. It is a complicated issue, that’s for sure.

    Thanks again.

  16. Jonathan August 28, 2012 at 1:24 pm - Reply

    Ecotourism (I guess adventure travel too, though that’s a bit more debatable) always seemed like an ironic idea to me; if people cared for the environment, then why would traveling to places known for their pristine and otherworldly qualities be of any benefit, other than the even more ironic “let’s get the word out there about {insert not yet well trampled place here} to simultaneously ruin another landscape and trample our own integrity?” Not that there are necessarily millions upon millions of tourists going to such sites as the Himalayas, Iquitos or Nusa Tenggara, and it also depends on the machinations of the national government how big a priority it is to protect a site/how big a bribe should be to care about it, but I’ve been thinking more about this as more “social travel” start-ups make themselves redundantly known.

  17. James O'Donnell August 26, 2012 at 10:44 am - Reply

    This is excellent and I feel justified!

  18. Kristina August 23, 2012 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    Is it even possible for the ordinary person with a family to live a life where they spend their life traveling the world learning without being ridiculously wealthy? My husband and I (I’m an ecologist and writer, he’s a filmmaker) have both lived in Costa Rica and would love to spend the rest of our lives adventuring and educating our children by showing them the natural beauty of the planet but we are not rich. Is it possible?

  19. Marg August 21, 2012 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    Great article, Candice, as usual. I would add another reason you alluded to — in who-knows-how-many-years from now, it might be gone. I went to Timbuktu about 8 years ago, just before it was put on the State Dept.’s proscribed list because of tourist kidnappings, and the situation has only worsened. Now Tuaregs/al-Qaeda/others have taken over northern Mali and threaten the existence of Timbuktu’s manuscript treasures (world treasures, really). And according to a reporter on PBS Newshour last night, they threaten Mali’s cultural heritage as a whole. And I think of your trip to Churchill, Canada to see the polar bears. When will that natural treasure be lost to us and to the world? We Americans are way too insular. If we’d only get our heads out of wherever they’re hiding and see the world, we’d all be the better for it. We must encourage our children and grandchildren to be passionate about travel! Thanks for letting me vent.

  20. Ann August 16, 2012 at 5:15 am - Reply

    Candice, I Loved your article on why adventure travel is So Good For you. I work in the travel adventure industry, specializing in Costa Rica. I agree that participating in outdoor adventure activities are “just what the doctor orders.”

  21. S. I. August 16, 2012 at 5:13 am - Reply

    Dear Candice,
    I love traveling.
    I have travelled many parts in India and few countries in Europe,It was amazing experience,specially I enjoy trecking,walking through forests,boating,Jung Frau,castles,churches, staying in challeys,many many things which is just stored in my small brain,I simply experienced and discovered wonderful world,
    Travelling is a must in everyone’s life, and your tips are useful.
    When we travel,we leave all our worries aside and looking for a different experience.
    All the reasons given by you are very appropriate.
    We become a part of nature,beautiful surroundings,we develop aesthetic sense within us the moment is most enjoyable.
    You are best candice,always inspire me.
    keep posting.
    Thanks.

  22. Candice Gaukel Andrews August 16, 2012 at 5:09 am - Reply

    Thanks for you comment, MJ.

    Yes, it’s true that air travel has its downside. However, into the equation you have to consider the benefits that ecotourism brings to local economies and the fact that many countries would not have the funds for conservation without ecotourism. Parks have been started; poachers have been stopped.

    You put your finger on a popular debate: the advantages — and disadvantages — of ecotourism. There are both, to be sure. The best we can do is to work to make sure those advantages (such as is the case with Costa Rica, where many parks have been started) outweigh the disadvantages (such as those the Galápagos Islands are still facing and working to alleviate).

    You might be interested in this article: http://www.igtoa.org/galapagos-news/2011/12/february-2012-galapagos-regulations-the-real-new-rules

    Thanks again for your comment.

  23. MJ August 15, 2012 at 7:27 pm - Reply

    Re #10: Air travel has huge negative impacts on the climate (produces enormous amounts of greenhouse gasses). So flying off to the Galapagos Islands may make you feel good, and make you appreciate wilderness and the environment. But frankly, it causes more damage than you can undo by recycling, biking to work, using reusable bags, or lobbying for ‘fixes’ to climate change.

    So adventure travelers are unlikely to ‘save the world,’ unless they are willing to restrict their adventures to those close to home.

  24. Bud Corwin August 15, 2012 at 9:42 am - Reply

    Hi Candice,
    This is my first visit to your site and I really enjoyed it. Great information for those that haven’t really wandered the back country and roads to other places. For those of us that have the wander bug, it was refreshing to see others with the same basic wants, going places, seeing new things and just traveling period.
    Thanks for the good content and look forward to your next post.
    Bud Corwin

  25. Phillip Tureck - FRGS August 15, 2012 at 9:13 am - Reply

    I really thought that the article was well written and thought provoking Candice. I can relate to some of the reasons you list. My over-riding experience is to visit many places, meet new people, see wonderful sights and go to my maker for having been fortunate enough to have seen so much

    I always say after a trip that if I do not go on another trip for whatever reason I will look back and say that I have seen and done so much more than one hope for when I started out becoming the adventurous tourist!

  26. Joshua M. August 15, 2012 at 9:12 am - Reply

    Hi Candice
    I found my self smile after reading Bumpy roads nowadays we call Africa massage Roads.
    I like Adventures particularly when finding to be in a middle of no where just one vehicle watching Wildlife,like most of the Times when in the Serengeti park {Tanzania},southern Serengeti during Calving Season or Northern of Serengeti this time of a Year when Notorious herds Crossing the Mara River back and forth whilst heading to the Mara Reserve of Kenya.

  27. Fiona August 15, 2012 at 6:28 am - Reply

    A wonderful article Candice, thanks! The urge to explore (wanderlust) just simply is always with me. I do hope that I can pass that on to my children. The adventurous people I know, and they immediately pop to mind, are curious people, which I think fuels their lust for adventure, to go, see, do, and learn.

  28. Manisha Dubey August 15, 2012 at 5:15 am - Reply

    It’s Superb!

    Thanks 🙂

  29. Sugandha Iyer August 14, 2012 at 11:34 pm - Reply

    When we travel,we leave all our worries aside and looking for a different experience.
    All the reasons given by you are very appropriate.
    We become a part of nature,beautiful surroundings,we develop aesthetic sense within us the moment is most enjoyable.
    You are best candice,always inspire me.All the best.

  30. Mary August 14, 2012 at 11:35 am - Reply

    Wow – I LOVE this list – especially #s 4, 5 and 7. Great work, once again, Candy!

  31. Art Hardy August 14, 2012 at 11:18 am - Reply

    Adventure travel adds to the feeling that you’re helping the world since these trips usually occur in less populated areas. The people of these adventure locations are very thankful and ever more reliant upon tourism income.

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