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Adventure Travel For The Non-Athletes

Have you ever turned down the chance to participate in an adventure activity because you were worried that you weren’t fit enough?

When I signed up for my first multi-day trek, I was feeling a little bit apprehensive. I’m your average twenty-something; I work out a few times a week and stay relatively active, but I’m no intense athlete. I wasn’t sure what it would be like walking 60-70 kilometers over the course of three days with people I didn’t know. Moreover, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the rest of the group, especially if they were well-seasoned trekkers.

The feeling came back again when I signed up for a rock climbing tour in West Railay, Thailand. My upper-body strength is pretty much non-existent, so I was sure I wouldn’t even make it up a single rock wall.

Somehow, though, my non-athletic self got through the first trek, the rock climbing, and several other hikes, treks and dives thereafter. With each adventure activity I did, I felt less and less apprehensive about keeping up with the group and being fit enough to finish it. Facing my fears of doing more active things during my travels has given me more confidence about my body and more courage to try new things, no matter how daunting or physically demanding they may be.

If you’ve ever wanted to try an activity but were worried you didn’t have the fitness level to do it, try thinking about these few things. As travelers we like to try everything, so don’t let your fear and self-consciousness hinder you from having some incredible adventures!

Ask Questions

Adventure tours usually are accompanied by a kiosk or representative who can answer any questions you may have. They can usually tell you what level of fitness you need to perform the activity, and what modifications the tour operator can make for any injury or disability you may have. The tour guides I have met have all been very nice and personable, and they’ve been able to calm any fears that I have had about any new activity I was trying. Don’t be afraid to use these people as a resource to help you feel more confident and comfortable about taking the plunge.

Stick With Small Groups

When I hiked a volcano in the Philippines, I had a personal guide – he accompanied my friend and me. This helped a lot when I slipped and fell on the way down the mountain, injuring my ankle in the process. We were able to go very slowly during our descent so that I didn’t make the injury worse, and it was much easier for me than if I’d been in a big group and couldn’t keep up.

If you’re researching certain adventure activities, I think it’s worth it to go with a tour that boasts “small groups,” even if it costs a little bit more. In certain cases you may be able to organize a private tour, which may be even better if you’re truly worried about keeping up. This way, you get more personalized attention in case you’re feeling anxious or if you’re struggling during the activity.

Don’t Be Afraid To Rest

You’re never required to do anything you don’t want to. If you’re really having a hard time during an adventure activity, ask to sit out or watch for a few minutes so you can rest and catch your breath. It’s never embarrassing or wrong to sit part of an activity out. I definitely did towards the end of my rock climbing tour. Of course, it’s great to challenge yourself, but it can be very dangerous to overexert your body. Take the rest you need and you’ll be stronger for the next activity!

Stick With Activities You Like

I’ll be honest – I wasn’t the biggest fan of rock climbing. At the end of the day, my hands were all cut up and bloodied, I was very dehydrated, and not making it up one of the rock walls made me feel insecure about my strength and abilities. Diving, however, was a whole different story, and it’s become one of my absolute favorite adventure activities that I do whenever I can. So, as I traveled around Southeast Asia, which activity do you think I did more of?

If you want to get into a more active way of traveling, the best way to stick with it is to participate in activities you like. Some great budget options are hiking, snorkeling, biking, and walking – you can do these practically anywhere with hills, oceans, or streets. For me, I enjoyed diving because it was both a very active and physical activity, but also a way to explore an area of the world I’d never gotten to see before. Find which activities you enjoy the most and keep doing them. You’ll be stronger, more courageous, and more active for it!

8 Responses to Adventure Travel For The Non-Athletes

  1. traceyeliz July 17, 2015 at 9:08 AM #

    One of the most useful articles I’ve read on this site! Thanks Kay.

  2. Allison July 17, 2015 at 10:04 AM #

    This is such a helpful post. I tend to avoid doing adventure activites with others because I prefer to go at my own pace. Will definitely pin this for the future 🙂

    Allison

  3. Amanda | Chasing My Sunshine July 17, 2015 at 3:23 PM #

    I love that you wrote this article! I’m in school for exercise physiology, and one of my goals is to make adventure travel more accessible to people who fear they are not fit enough. You have some great tips here, especially the fact that it is NOT a bad thing to rest. Great post. 🙂

  4. LisaLDN July 17, 2015 at 8:49 PM #

    I think I just discovered my favourite quote:
    “You’re never required to do anything you don’t want to.”
    It is so true, and I NEED to remember it!

    It’s so easy to get caught up in activities everyone else seem to love, but you need to find your own way to enjoy an active holiday 🙂 I’m heading to Australia this winter (I guess it’ll be summer there) and I’m dying to try surfing, but if I don’t like it, it won’t be the end of the world 🙂

    Thank you!

  5. Danielle July 18, 2015 at 4:50 AM #

    I love this post! I’m looking at doing some more adventurous activities this year but I am seriously unfit… time to hit the gym a little bit and not be scared to try new things! Glad you found your love of diving!

    • Kay Rodriguez July 30, 2015 at 9:11 AM #

      Great to hear, Danielle. Definitely look for activities that you enjoy, and it won’t even feel like you’re working out!

  6. Jill F. July 18, 2015 at 9:33 PM #

    Thank you for writing about this! As someone who is not necessarily “unfit” but is still very self-conscious about my physical capabilities, this problem speaks to me. On a trip to Colorado to visit a friend, I almost cried because I was so embarrassed that I had to keep stopping to catch my breath on a hike. I know there’s nothing shameful in it (hello, altitude!) but it’s still a very big deal when I feel like I can’t keep up. I never want that feeling to stop me from exploring, so I’m working on it. Thank you for showing me that I’m not the only one who may feel this way!

  7. Lindsey July 20, 2015 at 11:41 AM #

    I loved reading this post and I agree with everything you said, especially about doing something you enjoy! It is great to challenge ourselves and have fun at the same time. My passion is helping women get fit and healthy so that they can do the adventure activities they’ve always dreamed of doing and truly experience life!

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