Spending countless hours combing through travel destinations and top ten lists I found myself in a mind numbing trance of glowing ambient screens and repetition. It was always the same thing; really expensive vacations or skimming by on public transit and hostel diving. The options got stale and I thought to myself, “There’s got to be other things out there”. Well, my inner consciousness was right. Unknown to your average person running the 8-5pm hamster wheel there are tons of unique travel opportunities out there. Best of all, many of these are for a good cause and will truly put you on the adventure path. You will learn new words like WWOOFing, Sustainable Traveling, and Charity Travel. And I know you want to know what the hell WWOOFing is. The answers to these burning questions and more.
The Nomadic who quits his job, sells his house, his car, and his belongings to move to Malaysia and travel the world for the next 5 years is still a very small percentage of people in my eyes. That is not who I am talking about here.
The biggest thing I have learned since my commitment to a more travel inclined lifestyle is that there are a lot of people living as “travelers”. It is a different approach to life which still leaves me taking a step back. The way in which people are traveling is also evolving in a number of unconventional ways.
A true “travel lifestyle” can appear to be almost counter-cultural in the United States. Middle or upper class society tells us that our primary goal in life is stability. You’re always told, “get a good job” “get married” “have kids” “plan for school and retirement”. Stability is the focus of life. And that’s not always a bad thing; however, we miss the mark when it comes to the value of travel and I don’t mean going to the same beach once a year. I’m talking about exposing yourself to different cultures and placing time, effort, and priority into your travel decisions. This incurs a less secure lifestyle and requires an acceptance of risk, unpredictability, and anonymity that aren’t as natural or comfortable to most.
Charitable travel adventures differ because the majority of them involve you competing in a event or challenge of some sort. Discovery Adventure does charitable travel events just like this. You can raise enough money so that 40% the donations are allotted for you to go on the trip. You can also opt to pay for the entire trip yourself and 100% of your collected donations will go to the charity you are sponsoring. If you are in good physical shape and exercise regularly this is an excellent and exciting option. Biking across India, trekking 26 miles through Morocco, these are the types of challenges you will encounter. Your accommodations and food are all arranged for you.
The website also offers a search engine where you can type in everything from the time you want to go to where you want to go and what activity you want to do. There are hundreds of options including treks through cityscapes like Barcelona, Paris, and Rome. Here are some of my recommendations coming up in 2013.
NOTE: YOU SHOULD TRAIN FOR THESE TRIPS MONTHS IN ADVANCE
1. Bike Trek Venice to Genoa- Journey from Italy’s east to west coast on what must be one of Europe’s most picturesque cycling adventures - from romantic Venice to the country’s oldest seaport, Genoa. Tackle strenuous climbs across the verdant Apennine hills, allowing yourself to relax a little on the long descents and flat plains dotted with ancient towns and cities. Departing 9 July and 24 September 2013, the trip includes five nights’ hotel accommodation, most meals, entry to sites listed in itinerary and Discover Adventure leaders (flights extra). Payment options are either £740 pp or a fundraising target of £1,850 pp (£149 registration fee applies).
2. Barcelona City Trekathon- 12 May 2013,There is no better way to see this city than on foot. Our route will pass many of Gaudi’s works as we walk through the quaint streets of the old quarter, through the wooded, shady Collserola Hills, containing the city’s highest peak (500m) and down along impressive boulevards including Las Ramblas. With parks, churches and the famous cathedrals of Tibidabo and Sagrada Familia there is plenty to admire. We pass the famous Camp Nou Football Stadium as well as the Olympic Stadium used in 1992.
If you are still looking for something that truly epitomizes the spirit of adventure look no further than the Mongol Rally. This is a hardcore adventure experience, straight to the point.
3. The Mongol Rally- A company called (The Adventurists) puts on what is known as The Mongol Rally. It is a car rally that begins in Europe and ends in Ulan Bator, Mongolia. The principal launch is from Goodwood Circuit, United Kingdom, with subsidiary starting points in other European countries. It is described as the "greatest adventure in the world". Whilst originally the rally required competing vehicles to have an engine displacement of less than 1,000cc, this has been increased to 1,200 cc to reflect the increasing difficulty of obtaining a car since the Mongolian government stipulated that all competing vehicles must be less than 10 years old.
The rally is designed to be an adventure for the participants, and not a traditional rally/race. The organizers ("The Adventurists") are careful to point out that racing on highways is illegal, and that no recognition is given to the first finisher. There are other differences from mainstream rallies, particularly the fact that no support team is provided and no other arrangements are made such as for accommodation. Indeed, the diminutive vehicles are deliberately inappropriate for the task, in the adventurous spirit of the rally. This is truly an adventure and not for the faint hearted.
Last but not least, WWOOFing!
WWOOFing, stands for (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and was the most exciting and innovative travel strategy I had come across. It is the most practical and effective for your average guy/gal and provides an intimate experience with local culture you just can’t get any other way. Once again a big hippie concept, but I can’t deny its benefits.
This is a relatively simple process by which you register with the WWOOF organization online. After registering and paying a small membership fee you are connected with local organic farmers from across the world. You make arrangements to come to their local farm and work for them doing mostly organic farming and other odd jobs like baking, cooking, and picking.
In return they are to provide you with shelter and food for the duration of the time you reside there. You will have the opportunity to farm with locals and live with them enjoying culture and homemade meals. It is a very unique, affordable, and fulfilling experience. I will definitely be considering this for the future. Travelers so often say, “I really wish I could meet some locals” or “I wish I could really see the culture”. Well, this is your opportunity to do both.
I hope this gave you some new perspectives on travel and the notion of how it can be done. I know it did for me. Take everything into consideration; know yourself and those closest to you. At a minimum, it is important to note that travel, much like fitness and health, is a lifestyle, not something you do once in a blue moon. It helps build who you are and provides wisdom and knowledge beyond your age, whenever you go. Trying new things is what it’s all about; just take it from Ricky Bobby. Great travels! Larry