If you’re in your 40s, 50s or beyond, and thinking about travel, you may be noticing all these ads for “adventure travel” and wondering if this is something you should even consider. Aren’t you too old for adventure travel? I guess it all depends how you define “adventure”. As far as I’m concerned, you don’t have to hike to Mount Everest Base Camp, swim with sharks, or get lost in the jungle to have an adventure. If you’re doing something new, or anything that takes you out of your comfort zone, you can call it an adventure.

The many aspects of adventure travel

The first time you travel solo will certainly feel like an adventure. After I spent months planning my first solo trip to Europe in 1992, I felt quite adventurous when the plane took off for my first ever trans-atlantic crossing (and a little anxious no doubt). Emerging, jet-lagged, from Metro St-Michel in the middle of Paris’ Latin Quarter was like landing on another planet for the newbie traveller that I was!

What's going on here? I have no idea! (Istanbul, Turkey)

My first time in the Middle East (Istanbul) at age 51.

Your first time in a new country, especially if the culture is very different and you don’t know anyone, will definitely be an adventure. My heart always flutters a little when I land in a destination where I expect the culture to feel foreign. Even though I know what to expect to a certain degree from my trip preparation, reacting to one’s environment in real-time is a lot different than reading a guidebook. So yes, new countries definitely count as an adventure.

And adventure travel isn’t the exclusive prerogative of millennials either. I enjoyed some of my best adventures during my 40s and early 50s. Hiking the Inca trail in Peru when I was 41 –  trekking and camping at high altitude for four days – was probably the hardest physical thing I’ve done. Tandem skydiving in New Zealand at age 46 was definitely the most nerve-racking experience, although the least physically taxing. (Free-falling is pretty easy – gravity does all the work.) For someone prone to sea sickness, spending an entire week on a 16-passenger motor sailor boat in the Galapagos could definitely be considered an adventure!

Sea-sickness is a hazard of boat travel

Sailing the Galapagos on a small boat – with lots of sea sickness meds!

Certain things may appear ordinary and common place to some travellers, but the first time you do them, they can sure feel like an adventure. The most recent one for me was hitchhiking in New Zealand alone, at age 52! Even the first time staying in an AirBnB accommodation or even house-sitting can be adventures.

Trying a new sport or activity can be considered an adventure. I camped for the first time in Belize (wild camping at that) as part of an organized tour in 1996, and had to learn the technique for going to the toilet in a hole! I went on a four-day rafting trip in Nepal, camping on beaches, and the previously-learned toilet skill came in handy. At least I’m not fazed when I walk into the occasional squat toilet stall anymore!

You can even find adventures at home. I tried indoor rock climbing for the first time in my hometown of Toronto some years ago, and that was quite a challenge, let me tell you.

On the other hand, you may want to go all in and plan something epic, like Marcus’ bicycle trip across Canada, or my friend Craig’s full-time life and travels on his sailboat, or my friend Ildiko’s hike on the Camino de Santiago.

South of South Brook, Newfoundland - across Canada by bike

Marcus nearing the end of his 9000 km ride in Newfoundland, Canada

What makes something an adventure is entirely personal and up to you to decide. You don’t have to aim for the 800 km Camino de Santiago across Northern Spain if you’ve never hiked before. Walking 10 to 15 kilometres on a day hike would be an appropriate challenge and could be your next adventure. Don’t compare yourself to others and what they’re doing. If it feels like you’re having an adventure, then you are!

When you need a little help

Sometimes, jetting off to new countries on your own may seem like too much of a leap, and you need some training wheels. Joining a small-group tour could be a good idea. So called adventure travel companies usually limit their groups to 16 or 20 people so they can stay in locally-owned small hotels, use public transportation, and have more unique experiences at their destinations. They often offer to match solo travellers with another person of the same gender to share hotel rooms, in order to avoid paying the single supplement.

Expedition truck

Small group tour in Namibia with G Adventures

If this seems appealing but you would like some help navigating all the choices out there, Ann of Round House Adventures is a travel agent and adventure travel expert who can provide some advice. While based in Toronto, she’s able to make bookings for people everywhere going anywhere. 🙂

For those who don’t remember what a travel agent does in this internet age, she’ll help you book a tour that matches your interests, timeframe, and budget, or even design a custom itinerary and make all the bookings.

Ultimately though, the very best way to have the right adventure for you is to design your own trip. Yes, it takes work, but it makes your experience unique, one-of-a-kind. And this is what Big Travel Nut is here for: giving you information, inspiration and ideas to create your own adventures!

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