Updated: Aug 9
There are beach vacationers, and there are people like me, who want to experience newness from dawn until dusk. My daily life is busy running around with little rest, so that pace is normal and fun to me. A "relaxing" vacation feels like a wasted opportunity to me. Is that crazy to admit?
I relax when I sleep, which I enjoy 7-9 hours nightly and maybe as a luxurious power nap - and when I'm binging on the latest YA rom-com, Outlander, Curb or the many other great shows out there. Please don't hate me for writing this, but one could NOT pay me to go on a cruise (or vacation in Disney World). If these types of vacations bring you joy - I'm happy you found what works for you! No judgement. These man-made environments just don't do it for me, and if you're in a similar mindset as me, maybe my love of adventure wellness travel will interest you, too.
As described in a previous post, I have this burning need to see new wonders, learn new skills and discover the unknown. I love getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. I love overcoming (irrational) fears. And I love figuring out how to navigate an unfamiliar place in a foreign country. It's empowering, exciting and teaches me so much about others, the world around me and myself.
During our Adventure Wellness Retreat in Chamonix this July (2023), I had the honor of witnessing our retreat guests push their mental and physical boundaries and come out thriving on the other side. It was truly one of the best experiences of my professional life. Every moment was filled with joy and wonder. I have faith many of our group of retreat participants will become long-time friends.
REASON #1: Meeting Great People
It's one of the main reasons why I love these type of adventure vacations. I often sign up by myself (my life partner and friends have no interest in joining me)! I think there's magic in traveling alone. I'm more open to meeting new people and making new connections - something I'm not as inclined to do when traveling with family and friends. It's effortless to meet other independent, dynamic travelers who are open-minded, flexible and ready to embrace whatever happens! People are positive, kind and just all-around examples of good people. They restore my faith in humanity.
REASON #2: Seeing the Positives in Every Situation
During one of our hikes crossing from France into Switzerland along the Mont Blanc trail, we were caught in a HAIL STORM! I've never experienced hail on my bare skin. It hurt, it stung, and the best part, it motivated me to get down the rocky mountain path as fast as possible. One of my biggest weaknesses in fast hiking/trail running is descending efficiently. The hail storm helped me get over my fear of twisting my ankles/slipping on rocks, and I learned to run down the rocky path. I wanted to keep running down any rocky/paths I came across since then, so that fear doesn't have time to creep back in. Something about focusing and trusting my body to get down that mountain, masked the pain of the hail, and that laser focus helped me descend faster than I ever thought possible.
The freezing rain also miraculously helped my injured knee feel pretty much back to 100%! No more tightness, no more swelling, and I could bend it ways I haven't been able to since my MCL sprain from skiing in December. Made me wish I had access to a cold plunge. I wanted to dip my legs in ice cold water every day!
REASON #3: Doing the Improbable
Something clicked during one of our morning yoga sessions with Isabelle Martinez during our retreat in Chamonix. I finally was able to do a chaturanga! It was more physics than strength. I'm 45 years old, and it took me this long to get it. These small nuggets help me believe anything is possible if I can manage to be patient!
Can I share that my two favorite days during my travels in Switzerland were:
I don't have a fear of heights or water, but after the first two jumps, I couldn't breathe after coming up for air. My chest had no room to expand. My immediate concern was how am I going to do this for 4 hours? It felt like I was drowning after each jump off the waterfall. I realized my body was freaking out from the cold water. I quickly started calming my breath and taking this is as opportunity to control my mind and body to do what I need it to do. And, it worked. After I calmed my breathing, I didn't have trouble breathing in air after diving into the waterfalls and the rest was sheer adrenaline and fun.
2) Summiting Schilthorn Piz Gloria by accident. I didn't think it was going to be that high or be covered in snow, but I'm so glad I was alone when I did it because I was able to squash any temporary fears or doubts immediately and keep going. I'm so glad I did it and conquered any doubts. If the name sounds familiar, it was also where one of the James Bond films were filmed.
As someone who did not grow up athletic or coordinated, I'm sort of reliving my youth as someone who can and enjoys physical activity. My favorite kind of day is fast hiking/rock scrambling for 6-8 hours/day and ending the day with lots of yoga/stretching and a great night's sleep!
REASON #4: Eating for Fuel and Pleasure
I ate bread for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, pasta for dinner and chocolate every night for dessert. I ate only enough to satisfy my hunger (not to the point of feeling full or bloated). Each day was full of 6-8 hours of activity. I saw food as fuel - bring on the carbs, give me the chocolate, so my mind and body could take me up mountain summits and then some.
I noticed that my appetite was smaller even though I was fast hiking all day. Feeling mentally fulfilled in nature and not having to deal with normal aggravations, I realized I probably eat to soothe stress, annoyances and simply boredom! When I'm on these vacations, I'm having so much fun, food is not a source of entertainment anymore, but a means to fuel my body. I was not dieting or depriving myself, and I still lost 10lbs over the course of my 3-week travels. Amazing to see how feeling happy and fulfilled more than usual helps shed excess weight.
REASON #5: Mental Clarity, Sharpness and Turning Back Time
When I returned from my epic adventures in the Alps, multiple people commented that I looked younger. I think losing some weight and looking relaxed helps one appear younger. I'll take it! How can I keep this up in normal life?! :)
The best part of my adventure traveling is seeing how the benefits of nature sharpen my mind. Breathing in fresh, crisp mountain air, not subjecting myself to the typical stress of urban life (aggressive driving, crime, etc.) and being surrounded by kind, friendly strangers... all of this calms my mind. I always feel sharper after spending time in the mountains and nature in general. I feel my senses and memory recall are extremely heightened - similar to how I feel after intense meditation retreats.
My next goal is to plan more Adventure Wellness Retreats in 2024 for P.S. & Co. guests, so I can share my love of adventure travel with all of you. In the meantime, I'm trying to incorporate as many positive aspects of my travels into my daily routine. I make it a point to stop and notice the beauty in my daily routines (as you'll notice by my flower posts I see along my daily commutes), spend as much time outdoors as possible with Tuffy, and when something irritating occurs, to not let it take up negative space in my mind. I hope I'll see you on a future adventure together if all of this sounds like rewarding and fun to you!