- 5 Min Read
- 10 Apr 2019
5 Benefits of Expedition Travel, as Told by an Adventurer
I had no idea what to expect from my first expedition 10 years ago. As the months and weeks ticked down towards the big departure date – I was heading to Asia on a mountaineering expedition – I began to feel increasingly nervous. What will happen there? What exactly will I see? Who might I meet?
Going on an expedition for the first time is like looking at a big blank canvas. You’re experiencing something bright and new and it’s only natural that a bit of nervousness mixes into the mounting excitement about an upcoming trip. But I’ve found the benefits of exploration and adventure to be so rewarding that I haven't stopped planning new and difficult ones, including the first on-foot crossing of two uncrossed deserts in Asia.
What's best, as I've come to learn with experience, is that expeditions don't have to be as big and scary as some people make them out to be. Travelers can push themselves beyond their comfort zones by experiencing new cultures and participating in exhilarating activities without sacrificing home comforts. Traveling on an expedition ship allows for delicious food, a warm shower, and guides to help you realize the experience to its absolute fullest.
Below, five key benefits of adventure travel.
1. You'll expand your cultural horizons
People often say that the world is a big place, but I didn’t realize just how true that overused statement was until I actually began traveling on expeditions myself. With city break and beach escape vacations, it’s all too easy to bring your own cultural tastes and preferences along with you. In the resort complex, convenience can outstrip culture, which can make it difficult for travelers to be part of local life. Expedition travel removes those barriers and allows for you to experience a world quite different from the one you normally exist in. With a company like Lindblad, travelers are given unparalleled access to local culture and history. In Alaska, for example, you can walk the Haida Gwaii archipelago while hear firsthand about the Tlingit and Haida tribes' ceremonies and way of life.
2. It gets you off your cell phone
On my first big expedition, ringing anyone involved finding a convenient hill and standing very still for up to ten minutes while the satellite phone tried to get a signal. Finding cell service is often a chore and, most of the time, it's not worth bothering with it. Disconnecting is an immensely freeing, perhaps even addictive, feeling.
We check our cell phones on average every 12 minutes — 80 times a day. While, no doubt useful for communicating, arranging, and even navigating our daily lives, I’ve found such a dependency on phones tends to put a barrier up between us. In this light, expeditions can be a form of retreat, a safe zone where you know no one’s expecting you to be contactable 24/7. This gives your brain space to recharge from the pressures of being constantly connected and allows you to work more on being present in the moment-to-moment experiences of the trip you're on.
3. You'll make friends for life
Going on adventures is one of the most powerful methods of making lasting friendships. Over the course of one particular trip, I spent six months with a friend, rarely more than 10 ft away from them at any one time. Of course such an experience was particularly intense —and we had a fair share of arguments along the way — but it was an incredible shared adventure. Whether you're spending months or weeks with the same people, the lasting bond you create is inevitable. You'll create many vivid and shared memories, resulting in friendships that often go the deepest and last the longest.
The author on his horse Totoro in Asia. July 2013.
4. It gives you a greater appreciation for nature
Over the course of my expeditions, I have spent a considerable amount of time living in and journeying through the outdoors. It’s so special to wake up in the morning, take a step outside into the still morning air of a foreign country and watch a bird of prey hovering in the sky above alien trees quite unlike the ones you get back home. Such moments are unique and vivid and connect you right back with the natural world, reinforcing the importance of nature that sometimes we are liable toforget when stuck in the urban jungle.
5. It can help your confidence
When you return from your trip, family, friends and work colleagues all ask the same question: how was it? How do you think you'll feel sharing your stories about your expedition with them? You’re probably going to be very excitedand they’re no doubt going to want to see a load of pictures.
Going on an expedition is a unique and powerful journey, and I’ve found such trips really give you a sense of self-control and confidence that visibly shows when you get home. After all, if you’ve been to the remotest parts of the world and seen things that few others have seen, then coming up with a topic to talk about at a dinner party doesn't seem that taxing.
Adventures are journeys of a lifetime and they build lasting memories you'll never forget. And the best bit: with guides to help unlock the expedition experience and ships to transports travelers to even the most remote corners of the planet, adventure travel has never been so accessibly open to all — regardless of age, experience or personal fitness. Once you set off on such a trip, you’ll never look back again — I promise you that.