For the Love of Adventure Travel

I remember when I first moved to Spain. It was 2002, and I was a junior in college, fresh faced and completely freaked out about the potential at living abroad for six months. I was so naive that I didn’t even understand what a converter was; I quickly learned after plugging my hair dryer into a hotel socket and blowing out all the fuses on the third floor. {Thankfully, the hotel employees were kind enough to excuse me and my idiocy, which was especially generous considering there may have been an actual shattered lightbulb!}

But as it tends to do, time passed rather quickly and I flourished during that half year experience. I met friends and traveled all over Spain and parts of Europe. We explored ancient churches; we wandered through the energetic city streets of Barcelona and Madrid; we gazed on the famed artwork at the Louvre and the Prado; we watched Flamenco performances in dimly-lit caves in Granada. We traveled.

adventure travel

Still learning to use my camera. Found these beautiful horses while trekking over the border into Spain

But funny enough, my most vivid memories from that semester aren’t from our “typical” traveling experiences. Rather, I most remember the random shenanigans we found ourselves in while opting for the  proverbial road less traveled. I remember sleeping on private lawn chairs at a hotel when we realized the entire town was booked up for a festival {We snuck out pre-dawn before security caught us}. I remember trekking along a highway for six hours in order to see the castle at Guadalest, only to discover that it was closed on Mondays {whoops!} I remember hopping in a bull ring with a baby bull because, why not? {Turns out, they are terrifying when they charge you, regardless of the size!}

My point is this: I loved adventure travel even before adventure travel was a coined term in everyday vernacular. And the older I get, this love deepens. This past week’s European trip has solidified my passion for experiential travel.

One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. ~Henry Miller Click To Tweet

Hiking the first stage of the Camino de Santiago was an incredible experience. After spending a quick 24 hours in Paris to celebrate our one-year anniversary, Will, my parents, and I zoomed down to the south of France to a small mountain town called St. Jean Pied de Port. From there, we hiked 45 miles, into and over the Pyrenees. We trekked across the border into Spain, eventually concluding in Pamplona, the city made famous by Ernest Hemingway and running bulls.

adventure travel

Pamplona takes their siesta seriously! Deserted streets as we entered the Old Town

Adventure travel isn’t for everyone. We didn’t visit Madrid or the Prado. We missed out on Barcelona and its bustling La Rambla and famed Gaudi architecture. Hell, we barely saw the Eiffel Tower in Paris; we swung by once just to re-visit our engagement bench from Will’s surprise marriage proposal.

But you know, it agrees with me. Now that I’m back in the country, I’m reminiscing about those lush rolling hills of the Pyrenees, dotted with shaggy sheep and yappy herding dogs. I’m missing the sweet older French gentlemen who *literally* wore newsboy caps over pints of beer with their buddies at the local pub. My mouth waters over the bricks of cheese the albergues served with the “Pilgrim’s Menu,” the daily dinner for Camino hikers. And I’m seriously, seriously missing the constant bread and bottomless red wine that was a given at every Camino meal.

adventure travel

Sun setting upon our first albergue in Orrison, France

But more than anything, I’m missing the mental relaxation that came with simply strapping on a backpack every morning, pointing my shoes due southwest, and trekking all day long. For many, this would be a nightmare of a vacation. And I get it; I understand why others prefer cruises and traditional travel that highlight the famous points of any given location.

But for me? I’ll choose adventure travel every single time.



  • Reply Brandee at

    Hi Heather! I hope you have a wonderful journey!! Your pictures are so beautiful!
    This comment though, “And I get it; I understand why others prefer cruises and traditional travel that highlight the famous points of any given location. But for me? I’ll choose the adventure every single time.”
    Aren’t cruises and “traditional” travel an adventure too? Isn’t adventure in the eye of the beholder?
    I hope someday I can do the Camino de Santiago, what an incredible experience. Just need to make more money and have more free time, ha!

    • Reply Heather at

      Absolutely!! I just meant that I prefer adventure travel, as it is defined these days 🙂 I’ll add that word now. And I hear you on the more money and more travel; if I had unlimited time and funds, I would be exploring EVERYTHING.

  • Reply Lesley Glenn at

    I am just getting my feet wet in adventure travel at 50 years of age. I guess it is never too late to start. The camino is definitely on our (or rather my….hubby just goes along for the ride) bucket list. Love the pictures and I, too would miss the bottomless red wine and copious amounts of carb that come in the shape of “loaf” 😀

  • Reply zigzag at

    Sign me up for your ‘first novel, slated to be in bookstores in Spring 2017’!

  • Reply Mary Emerick at

    My vacations are hiking 20 to 26 miles a day lugging a pack on the PCT. People think I’m crazy. To each their own.

    • Reply Heather at

      That is AWESOME.

  • Reply Lynn @ The Not Dead Yet Blog at

    Your pictures are getting so good. That first one, with the stars–so awesome. I really want to try night photography, but finding a dark sky is a pretty far drive from DC.

    It’s hard to tell what I like better, adventure travel or foreign cities. (I don’t actually have a lot of experience with either one.) There’s something about wild places that feeds my soul, but there’s something about foreign food that feeds my taste buds, so. Both.

  • Reply WinterWomen at

    It’s always the path less traveled that provides the most vivid memories!

  • Reply Morgan at

    Your trip sounds amazing! Your pictures here are lovely, and I’ve enjoyed the ones you’ve posted on instagram as well.

  • Reply Homestay in Agra at

    Great, that is an awesome place and that highway is looking good for road trip. You shares amazing experience of your trip.

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