Do you feel there’s more to traveling than all-inclusive resorts, but not sure what that is or where to look for it?
What I once thought to move was only about relaxing on resorts, seeing beautiful museums in the major cities, or going to Disney World. These only travel promotions I came to know of when I was growing up. I didn’t know anyone who did anything different on their holidays, so I had accepted those as the only travel options.
By chance, I one day brushed by my future love. While looking for a new sweater, I made a wrong turn and came to gap.ca instead of gap.com (I’m from Canada). But my eyes weren’t open (and perhaps I wasn’t ready to see yet), and I took one look at the website and thought, “Nope, that’s not what I’m looking for.”
All-inclusive resorts and cities
Over time, I went to some resorts and towns. They all had great sunshine, good food, and accommodations. These trips were nice, but not actually satisfying (particularly on resorts, I was bored by the third day and wondered how many days I could stand watching only tourists stuff their faces at the breakfast buffet.)
But after each vacation, I would think to myself “Maybe it was just that resort,” or “Maybe I should have read more traveler reviews.” And then I’d diligently look at other cities to visit for my next trip.
It wasn’t until my (younger and more creative) sister asked me the obvious question, “Why do you keep going to cities if you don’t enjoy them?”
A light sparked in my head, and I realized if I keep going to the same types of places, I will keep getting the same results. If I feel wanted to experience something different and more fulfilling, I’d have to change my approach.
As chance had it, I was working for a loyalty company who booked travel like small group adventure trips, and I picked up a journey book from a tour operator named Gap Adventures. I wondered why the name seemed so familiar.
Adventure, love at first sight
Life changed the moment I opened that trip book.
If there was such thing as a magical book that lets you glimpse all the possible adventures in this world, this was the book.
There were trips I never dreamed of, from overland safaris in Africa, stays in the remote Amazon jungle, to week-long hikes through snow-capped mountains in Nepal. Their trips went to the extraordinary places I saw on National Geographic or Discovery Channel, and which I always thought was only available to special people like researchers, photographers or film makers.
There was suddenly a new world of possibilities.
And just like when you’re in love, you just know something is right for you.
For two months, my sister and I looked through the trips with fascination (there were over 1000 trips through all the continents!) until we found a trip we liked and that fit our timing and budget.
We booked the trip, got our shots and our gear, packed, and journeyed to an unforgettable adventure.
That was how I had my first experience in Ecuador back in August of 2007.
The love story continues…
Taking the plunge to go on that first trip was one of the best things I ever did. The level of connection to the local people and environment and the amount of personal growth was something I’ve never experience from visiting a resort or big city.
After my first trip in 2007, I took more trips with Gap Adventures and two years later, found the courage and comfort to plan my travels to Costa Rica and Eastern Europe.
My travel goals now are to:
- Visit one new country every year for the rest of my life,
- Experience solo going in the next year, and
- Inspire other first-time travelers to look beyond traditional resorts or cruises, and to find fulfilling travel experiences.