Off The Beaten, Well-traveled Track

His email exploded with enthusiasm. And I believe in him, that he meant every word to the core of his soul.

“This is what makes this trip different to the 100's of other emails you probably get; I'm looking for a real adventure, something pure and truly "off the beaten track".

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There is a lot of truth in his statement.

His trip is different –  can adventures ever really be duplicated even if you follow a fairly  well traveled path? The weather, the people met along that path, the  food, the way our perception takes it all in, will never replicate  exactly what another has - even what we ourselves have  - experienced in the past.

Real adventure; that’s the pure essence of what we go  searching for. To do something atypical, to have to work a bit for it,  to get greater reward than what we put in, to get the shit scared out of  us just a little. And to come home with a story worthy of the rapt  attention of everyone around the campfire, so focused on our every word  that they forget to sip the beer slowly warming in their hands.

Purity.  Free of the hassles and clutter most of the rest of the world bring  with them when they travel. Like the lady at airport security who turned  back to check her bag when she was told her three quart-sized baggies  of mini bottles of shampoos and lotions and important salves of some  sort or another was over the one-baggie limit rather than lose them even  if it meant being late to the gate where her flight was departing. The  simplicity of letting go of our comforts and embracing what another  place and culture has to offer. It’s a beautiful way to travel, to get  outside ourselves.

It’s also true, that I get hundreds  of emails requesting sponsorship for people’s amazing and life changing  adventure plans. Its part of my job, and I find it fairly entertaining,  if not only a way to feel productive by sending massive “no’s” out and  in a big lump, emptying out my inbox.

But going “off  the beaten track” and being different from the 100’s of other ideas that  are out there? In this world where community is global, where people in  the most remote places have access to cell phones and internet, where  for the right amount of cash you can go anywhere – is there really any  place truly off the beaten track at this point? Or is off the beaten  track simply a blanket description for places your friends and parents  never have and may never want to travel to? And when it comes down to  it, the likelihood that no one has come up with your “unique” free  flying, low budget, no-guidebook idea is pretty unlikely – someone  probably set out with that same travel itinterary yesterday. You’ve been  scooped.

But it doesn’t really matter. What is it  behind our incessant need to be the first, be different, push the  boundaries past the guy who did it last time, find the new  thing/people/place, have the experience NO ONE else has had? Your trip  to the local farmers market could be just as entertaining and  interesting as that guy over there who’s telling a story of narrowly  escaping attacks by wild monkeys throwing green bananas. Are we trying  so damn hard to be different simply because we cant tell a good story  about what’s already around us without the extremes found off the beaten  path? Am I trying so goddamn hard to climb as hard as I can simply to  tell a good story around the kitchen table, when in reality, the story I  want to tell is about the 5.2 I followed with a good friend in a  beautiful place? A place that we accessed by well beaten trail (most of  the way) and by shuttle boat ride that to arrange required we talk to at  least 3 people, in our own language, without having to mime what we  wanted in a goofy game of charades that we would’ve had to play in a  truly exotic place where there is no book on how to learn the local  language and for $15 allowed us to skip a grueling “character-making”  bit of trail?

When is the last time you read a book or  heard a story (not on TV) that grabbed you at the core, left you  breathless with anticipation, and made the hairs on the back of your  neck stand on end? That made you laugh so hard that you started  hyperventilating and could barely muster enough body control to grab  hold of your aching sides to keep them from splitting wide open? That  moved you so much that you wanted to reach across a table or into the  book to touch the hand of the storyteller, give it a squeeze, offer a  tissue with hand that would then wipe away your own tears.

I’m  not saying we should stay on the couch forever doing nothing because  its ALL been done before, so whats the point of anything. But maybe…  Maybe its not so much about being needing to be different, to be extreme  to be recognized and to have people want to hear our stories, but to be  able to tell a good story about whatever, wherever and whomever is  important to us; a walk in the park or a walk on the wild side.