What a year! In four months, I’ve enjoyed as much adventure across Arizona as others might get in a decade. After a three-day pickleball boot camp in Chandler, I have hiked in Sedona, swam in Tucson, mountain biked in Superior, Kingman and Page, and snowshoed in Flagstaff. From Monolith Gardens to the San Francisco Peaks and Ventana Canyon, I have made the most of the state’s natural wonders, finding inspiration, beauty and joy.
Not raised in the outdoors or by adventurous parents, how did close-to-home adventures become my middle name? I adopted a five-step process that can work for you, too.
Too many people confuse “adventure” with hazards and struggle. Properly defined, the word simply means “something is about to happen.”
A more in-depth description involves recreation, which simply comes from the root, to recreate ourselves. It offers rejuvenation — literally “a new youth” — implying that we give ourselves new energy and freshness.
Why is looking at adventure differently? It leads us to allocate our time, money and focus on planning more of them.
Not unlike college curriculum, the adventure formula combines requirements and electives.
The best outdoor journeys involve novel surroundings and physical movement. Both impact the human brain positively, not to mention the human spirit.
Adding your own preferences to the basics can take your adventures to a new level of enjoyment. There are numerous options.
My adventurous pal Phil prefers chances to find new routes, while I enjoy capturing photos of scenic landscapes. Together, we look forward to a delicious, healthy dinner at the end of a day outdoors.
Rally your pals for the best trips. If you don’t have a go-to pal, be picky. For me and Phil, this is a high-vibe club. We’re looking for happy people that contribute to the good times. Otherwise, we go it alone … together.
“Rally” also means assembling travel know-how. Consider these hacks:
- Pack ahead to avoid wasting time on departure day.
- Pack thoroughly to anticipate unexpected weather.
- Depart early to get to the trailhead, parking lot or airport ahead of the crowd.
- Check under-the-radar airports — like Mesa-Gateway (AZA), Prescott (PRC) — and airlines — such as Allegiant, Boutique and Volaris — to reach locations.
While I like adventures that exhaust me physically, returning bruised and injured is not part of the plan. To combat this, I recover via the 3Ms: Meditation, massage and mattress.
If I fall asleep while meditating, I still consider it a victory, knowing my body needed the rest.
If I can’t book a full-fledged massage session, then a shorter reflexology massage gives healing to my feet, who definitely earned it. Otherwise, what beats a warm bath?
A good bed and a dark, quiet room, whether it’s mine or a hotel’s, ensures a good night’s sleep.
On my return, I appreciate the journey’s best elements and assess what could be improved for the next one. (After a recent ocean adventure, for example, I realized I’m not a beach guy. Give me mountains instead.)
But too few people notice the benefits of their adventures. Emotionally, adventures stretch us, as we experience laughter and intrigue, curiosity and exhaustion. Physically, adventures move our bodies, but differently from the repetitive motion movements of the gym or the office.
While most people notice these shifts, fewer recognize that creativity and productivity on the job sky-rockets.
If you doubt me, try this test. Instead of planning an adventure getaway after a difficult work project, put the adventure in front of it. You’ll be amazed how you slash through the challenge upon your return.
Follow these five steps, and you’ll not only add more adventures to your life — your life will become an adventure.