Just finish drafting up the perfect travel plan? I’m willing to bet you’re pretty excited about it.
That’s what makes this so hard to say: You need to start over.
Travel plans are elusive beasts. The more you force them and the more you follow prescriptions, the more dangerous they become.
Dangerous in the sense of a raging hippo in the African wilderness? Not quite. But dangerously boring? Absolutely.
And aren’t you tired of boring, cookie-cutter travel plans anyways?
If epic travel is what you’re seeking, there’s simply no substitute for doing epic shit.
That doesn’t mean you need to leap out of a plane or spend a week trippin’ out on peyote in the Namib Desert. Epic can be anything out of the ordinary. And a simple twist in your itinerary can spring an otherwise lifeless plan into travel stardom.
While no magic formula exists, here are a few ideas…
1) Climb a mountain.
If your only travel goal is to wander around Paris, New York, or Sydney in stilettos with shopping bags in hand or get hammered in swank nightclubs, epic travel is probably not what your after.
To anyone else, here’s how to make your journey legendary: climb a mountain.
And I’m not talking about scaling Everest or K2.
Even beginners will find huge mountains like Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Mount Fuji in Japan, or hiking up Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia, fairly accessible. None of these treks are, to be sure, a walk in the park, but none require technical skills or specialized equipment for the ascent.
As with any high altitude activity, trekkers should be wary of altitude sickness and acclimatize as needed.
TIP: Heading out on an epic climb or trek? Always pack a headlamp. To get the best views, you’ll often need to set off in the dark pre-dawn hours. Better visibility goes a long way when disaster is just a quick ankle-twist away.
2) Travel without a motorized vehicle.
As many of our favourite travel quotes remind us: Nothing matches the experience of travelling unfettered out in the open air. Whether on foot or by bike, the experience of being intimately connected to the earth in an unfamiliar place is strangely liberating.
Whether you’re interested in long-distance cycling or walking, there’s no better starting place than Europe. It’s safe, interesting, and diverse with well-marked and well-maintained trails. And in Europe, there’s never any shortage of accommodations. That means no more nights sleeping in the ditch—unless, of course, that’s part of your epic travel plan!
Looking for some ideas? Some popular easy hikes in Europe include The West Highland Way in Scotland, the Alsace Wine Trail in France, and the Hills of Kerry in Ireland.
3) Craft your own culinary tour.
I have to admit: I’m sometimes a glutton on vacation. With all the delectable foods tempting me around every corner, I want to taste every morsel. And don’t even get me started on the beer!
Enjoying delicious local food is one of the best reasons to travel and a staple in most epic travel plans, so why not make it the whole plan?
Wandering around a country or region in search of the best local restaurants, dishes, beers, and wines can be as fulfilling as it is filling.
Although planning out a culinary tour yourself involves some research, you’ll save a ton of money and maintain flexibility compared to a pre-packaged gastro-tour.
But remember: not all destinations are gastronomically equal. No self-respecting foodie would choose Britain over Italy or the Netherlands over Thailand. (My apologies to all the British and Dutch chefs in the audience!)
Want the best of the best in culinary goodness? Consider eating and drinking your way through some of these foodie destinations:
- Bologna, Italy
- Penang, Malaysia
- Taipei, Taiwan
- Hong Kong, China
- Tokyo, Japan
- Melbourne, Australia
- Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
- Hanoi, Vietnam
- Marrakech, Morocco
- Cape Town, South Africa
4) Camp out in the wild.
Growing up in Northern Ontario with wilderness quite literally in my backyard, I can’t recommend camping enough.
Surprisingly, I’ve only camped once outside of Canada in an ill-conceived plan to save money while in the Balkans. After suffering a few sleep-deprived nights, a couple bruised ribs from the unforgiving bedrock below, and awakening inside a post-dawn canvas sauna, I packed my tent and spent the remainder of the trip in hostels.
Don’t let my stupidity stop you. Camping isn’t usually painful, scary or difficult. Choose your destination wisely, and be sure to pack all the essential camping gear you’ll need for a comfortable stay .
Showing up under-prepared in Croatia was, in hindsight, a bad idea. But find yourself well-equipped in places like Sweden, Scotland, Germany, and of course, my homeland of Canada, and you’ll likely fare much better when choosing to camp in the wild.
5) Visit an offbeat country.
It’s inevitable: at some point, tourists will start to annoy you. Lost in a swarm of fanny-pack toting, sandal and sock wearing, loud Westerners, it’s sometimes hard to keep your cool.
You’re tripping over them. They’re stumbling into and ruining your best travel photos. And they’re clogging up the queues at all the best restaurants. What do you do?
Get away from them.
And the answer is not just walking down the street; it’s finding another destination.
The world is full of offbeat and isolated destinations that fly under the tourists’ radar. Sure, you’re not going to find the likes of France and Spain or Prague and Tokyo on that list, but I guarantee that wherever you choose, you will encounter some epic adventure.
My top offbeat pick: Bhutan.
With less than 65,000 visitors per year, you won’t need to share the fresh mountain air of the world’s last remaining Buddhist kingdom with too many other folks.