Having been in the adventure travel business for over 16 years, we've seen a lot of people have truly amazing experiences during their travels. What habits do they cultivate?
1. Responds with flexibility to unanticipated changes. While all group trips have a schedule, the likelihood that the itinerary will go awry on adventure trips is greater. The effective adventure traveler knows that the itinerary is a guideline, not a promise. And of course she always carries good rain gear and snacks in her daypack.
2. Lets go of goal orientation. She truly embraces the saying "It's the journey, not the destination." Sometimes that's harder than other times. But its possible even when you trained for climbing Mt Kilimanjaro for 5 months and the worst weather in 20 years descended on the mountain the week of your summit attempt, making an attempt impossible.
3. Practices patience. Group adventure travel is pretty much guaranteed to try your patience at some point, whether it's the other people in your group, the guide, the food, the accommodations, the weather, the logistics snafus. The effective adventure traveler recognizes when she is becoming impatient, takes a deep breath, and realizes how lucky she is to be where she is and doing what she’s doing.
4. Takes things as they are. On an adventure trip, particularly when traveling in other countries, everything will be different- food, customs, etiquette, time sense etc. The effective adventure traveler embraces those differences as part of why she chose to visit that country, rather than comparing everything to an external standard (often how it is at home). She sees herself as a travel Ambassador who wants to respect and understand the differences.
5. Knows the level of challenge she enjoys and prepares for it. She knows that at the end of vacation, she wants to feel refreshed and rejuvenated, not exhausted and drained. With that in mind, the effective adventure traveler chooses adventures that either match her current level of fitness or require a level of fitness that she can reasonably commit to achieving.
6. Stays present - or knows when she is choosing not to. The effective adventure traveler doesn’t distract herself from where she is by checking in at home, surfing the net, or immersing herself in a good book. She may choose to do any or all those things, but it is always a choice not a habit.
7. Laughs at herself. Whenever she starts getting bent out shape about how things aren’t going as she expected or starts beating herself up for some way she wasn’t adequately prepared, she takes a step back and enjoys the total absurdity of the moment and recognizes that everyone, including herself, is doing the best job they possibly can.
Some of these may seem more like personality characteristics than habits. But each is a habit of mind, a practice, that can be cultivated – if that seems worthwhile to you. Take patience as an example. Yes, some people seem to be naturally more patient than others. But anyone can learn to recognize when she is feeling impatient and, more importantly, choose to redirect or reframe whatever she is feeling. The great thing is that many of these habits not only help you get more out of travel, they're pretty useful habits in the rest of life too.