There’s something special about embarking on an adventure into the unknown and really experiencing the world. You could kind of see it as essential "soul food".
Whether it’s a trek into the mountains, a cycle along rural back roads, a mountain bike challenge over rugged terrain or a climbing expedition to a majestic peak, an active adventure can liberate the soul and benefit your physical, mental and emotional state.
Here are nine ways travel is the best adventure and by making it an active one, you can truly benefit your well-being and everyday life.
1. Spending time outdoors reduces stress
There’s a reason why there’s a smile on everyone’s face after they’ve come back from an active adventure – because they’re happier for it! All the stresses of life just melt away as you travel among stunning scenery.
Australians are some of the most stressed out people in the world, with a report finding that stress levels have been rising around the country for the past five years. Fortunately, research suggests that nature walks can reduce stress, as well as boost levels of attention.
Gregory Bratman, the lead author of the study, said that 'nature experiences, even of a short duration, can decrease this pattern of thinking that is associated with the onset, in some cases depression.'
So if you’re feeling the strain of city living, immerse yourself in nature to reduce your stress levels. Our Larapinta Trek in Comfort is a 6-day trek that is guaranteed to leave you feeling happy and free.
2. Nature makes exercise easier
If you're having trouble getting the motivation to get fit, here's a bit of information that will make exercise easier.
Research conducted at the University of Essex suggests that exercise feels easier when you are viewing the colour green, such as on trees, grass and other plants in nature.
The study conducted tested cyclists pedalling in front of green, red and grey images. Those who pedalled in front of the green screen reported that they felt lower exertion during their cycling, as well as displayed less mood disturbances than the other participants.
If you're looking for a way to get fit the easy way, fool your mind and go on an active adventure in nature where it's "green".
If green spaces make exercise feel easier, then our Vietnam By Bike adventure will be a breeze. See the lush countryside of Vietnam and improve your health at the same time – it’s a win-win.
3. Nature can rejuvenate your soul
One of the best reasons to spend time outdoors trekking and cycling is that it can reinvigorate your mental state. Studies have shown that viewing natural beauty can elicit feelings of awe, which can release endorphins and trigger a mental boost.
An interview by HuffingtonPost with a Seattle-based environmental psychologist states: 'In addition to helping decrease stress levels, spending more time with nature shows a shift toward more positive moods... the theory is that we respond positively to things that are good for us. Trees offer shade, protection and often have fruits and nuts, so they are a source of food as well as protection and comfort.'
Ultimately, we tend to be drawn and attracted to things that are beneficial to our survival, which is one of the reasons why trees and other natural elements can help lift our moods.
For those that need a wake up experience, spend some time trekking on the Kokoda Track amongst the stunning flora and fauna of Papua New Guinea.
4. Gain a sense of accomplishment
Regardless of age and size, taking on an overseas adventure can create feelings associated with personal achievement. The more difficult the trek and the greater the challenge, the more sense of achievement we feel when we accomplish those goals.
Whether you’re trekking Kilimanjaro, climbing Island Peak, cycling the Andes or adventure touring the Silk Road, using adventure travel as your personal goal can provide a euphoric feeling that stays with you long after you’ve returned home.
5. Travel increases your self-awareness
A bi-product of travel is raising your self-awareness and it’s one of the most beneficial parts of taking on an adventurous trip overseas.
Adventure travel brings you closer to your “inner self”, giving you the chance to examine and challenge yourself in ways you didn’t think were possible.
Stepping into the unknown and taking a risk demands our increased attention and can bring an intense state of self awareness – one of the reasons that people, such as mountain climbers, engage in adventure activities.
These adventurers often return home with a more relaxed mind and an increase in self confidence – yet another reason to pack your bags and head for a trek in the Himalaya’s Annapurna region for plenty of self reflection.
6. The outdoors can make you smarter
Immersing yourself in the outdoors can increase your higher order cognition in more ways than one. A study found that brain scans taken after exercise showed that the participants had greater and more focused activity in the prefrontal cortex than they did before.
What’s more, active trips help increase activity in your hippocampus, the brain’s main “storage unit”. Typically, the hippocampus decreases as you get older, leading to memory loss, however physical outdoor activity can lead to a chemical reaction in the body that increases the hippocampus. A group of middle aged adults took a 40-minute walk three times a week and over a year, grew their hippocampi by two per cent.
To gain a sharper mind, have some adventures outdoors and get your hippocampus working! We recommend the Hike, Bike and Kayak Cambodia trip, which will create memories you definitely want to keep forever.
7. Forge new friendships
Take an adventure and gain a friend. If there's one benefit from an overseas adventure that'll leave you with the warm and fuzzy's, this is it.
Embarking on a challenge with other people can bring you closer together; sharing the trials and the triumphs gives you something to bond over and forms relationships that'll embed deep in your memories.
Whether you're trekking to Mont Blanc or rafting the Franklin River in Tasmania, one thing's for sure: you'll be able to relive those experiences in vivid detail as you laugh over the highlights and mishaps over a cold beer in the evening, or even perhaps a 10-year travel tour reunion?
8. Learn new skills
If you ever want to brush up on your skills, a trip abroad is all you need. The experiences gained from entering new surroundings and immersing yourself in their culture creates excites challenges that can enable you to expand your skill set.
You might see yourself developing your negotiation skills from haggling souvenir prices in Vietnamese markets, brushing up on your non-oral forms of communication in India, taking a cooking class in Sri Lanka or stretching your physical or mental aptitude with a mountaineering expedition up Island Peak in Nepal. These are skills that can change the way you travel and live your life at home, and they will stay with you long after you've returned home.
9. Know that you're making a difference when you travel ethically
There’s more to travel than just experiencing nature’s finest spaces. Embarking on a trip to some of the world’s most remote and untouched corners puts money into the local economy and helps preserve these pristine landscapes.
As many of these far-flung destinations are located in some of the world’s poorest countries, eco tourism helps these countries in their efforts to save and preserve their land through organisations that ultimately aim to save the planet.
Adventure travellers are needed throughout the world to support these initiatives with their tourism dollars. Also, travelling with eco-friendly and responsible travel companies can have positive changes on animal welfare, waste management, porter protection, social and community welfare and sustainable development – check out our Thoughtful Traveller guidebook for more information.
You further the positive impact on the places you visit by joining a Community Travel Project. Working alongside volunteers from the host communities, travellers can complete grass-roots construction projects, such as in earthquake-affected region in Nepal or remote Huilloc communities in need of healthy cook stoves, that make a lasting difference for underprivileged communities.
These are some of our favourite reasons why adventure travel is good for you. Can you think of any more? Share them in the comments section below.