First, I want to start by asking you, are you living your life to its fullest?
We all would probably agree that life is short, right? I mean, I can’t believe that in a couple of months, I’m actually turning the big 3-0. How many of you out there are in a job that you dread going to each day? Or in a relationship that’s making you angry, depressed or stressing you out? Or you can’t stand the way you look in front of a mirror, how you look on the beach and you can’t fit into your favorite clothes? How many of you are frustrated, sad or embarrassed with things happening in your life?
How many of you are NOT living your life to its fullest?
It may sound funny, but did you know that going away on vacation can change all of this for you? And I’m not talking about a vacation to Disney World, although I was there just last week and had a blast. I’m talking about a vacation that has some meaning. Where you get to accomplish things you’ve never done before. Where you get to do things you never thought you had the ability to do. You rise up beyond what you thought your potential was.
An experience like this can drastically change your career, your relationships, and your health when you return home. Don’t believe me?
Below I’ve compiled a collection of stories about people who went on vacation or a travel adventure and came home changed. Transformed. These people are now living their lives to their fullest.
I want to thank everyone for submitting their experiences to me and allowing me to use them.
I think you’ll find the stories inspiring. And if you’re not happy with the way your life is going, I hope you strongly consider going on an adventure.
First I want to share the story of Lesa, who went on one of my fitness adventure vacations through Fitness Adventures USA. I actually had the pleasure of interviewing Lesa, so you can hear her whole story first hand (below). Here are the highlights of how her life has changed…
- She has lost 61 pounds from the time she signed up for the trip in June 2010 to when we did the interview in January 2011.
- She lost 12 pounds during the 5-day Fitness Vacation.
- She has gone from a size 20 to a size 8 (Lesa forgot to mention this in the interview, but told me after we stopped recording).
- She has hiked mountains and takes boot camp classes.
- She has gotten 2 promotions at work and has more speaking engagements.
- Her self-esteem is higher.
- She is dating more.
- It’s easy to take the stairs and play with her grandkids.
- She will be participating in the Warrior Dash (the Warrior Dash is no joke – look it up online).
- She has taken up running.
- She has accomplished more than she ever thought possible.
- Her life has completely changed.
Click Here To Listen To My Interview With Lesa About Her Life-Changing Story <— Download Here (or click the yellow play button below)
Now check out these life-transforming stories…
My first trekking trip to mountains in Siberia changed my life as I fell in love with mountains from that moment. I went with my dad and a small group of other people, and since then it’s been our thing. My then-husband never understood freezing, altitude sickness, other noncomfort elements of such a trip, so he never went together and thought we were crazy. I definitely realized how much I’m able to do, how much strength (both physical and mental) I have, and I was over the moon when my dad, experienced alpinist, said he’d recommend me to any other group to accept me for any other type. Well, on the second trip to Kamchatka vulcanos, sitting on the peak of one, I’ve made a decision to get divorced after 5 years of marriage. And I did.
It was the void and silence that you find only on the top of the mountain. It was me and nothing else around. Great place to get away and collect your thoughts without any disturbances. It seemed only there I could see problems and solutions very clearly. I often imagine myself sitting there when I need to decide something important. And I long for that feeling over and over again.
Generally, it’s changed my view to holidays and I always try to go to trekking trips at least once a year since then. My father is not joining me anymore, but my current life partner loved it then went with me for the first time, so I’m lucky and sure we’ll do it again. It’s difficult for me to stay on beach holidays for more than a couple of days and I always try to make sure there is some sort of mountain nearby. Just in case.
From Jodi of Play it Forward Adventures (writing on behalf of her neighbor, Robert)
I run a St. Paul, MN-based adventure travel company called PLAY it Forward Adventures. All our international tours combine active outdoor adventure with volunteering abroad. I have many travelers who’d be willing to give you their testimonials, including my 58-year-old neighbor, Robert Johnson. He’s a 58-year-old retired postal worker who’s done 3 trips with me now. In October he went to Nepal with PIF for 16 days. First, we built a sewing room for women rescued from the sex trade and then completed a 9-day trek to Annapurna Base Camp. Robert trained daily for the trip and ended up losing 16 lbs during the trek!
Robert has also done hiking, biking, kayaking and home building for a Mayan family on PIF-Guatemala. And last week he returned from PIF-Costa Rica where he went canyoning, zip lining, kayaking and did some improvements at a women’s coop in an indigenous community.
I’ve had two vacations that have created significant “shift” in my life. The first one was when I went to Bolivia. It was after a year of politicking and overtime to get a promotion and I needed to “get outta Dodge” in order to consider my options. I went to Bolivia with a small group (11) of strangers. We were visiting community development projects under the guidance of Quaker Bolivia Link. Between the perspective created by visiting poor rural villages and traveling with strangers, I came back a new person. Refreshed and rejuvenated, you can imagine my surprise when I was offered my boss’ job on my first day back in the office. Thanks to new communication skills, I was able to negotiate the best raise of my corporate career.
The second adventure that made an impact was my trip to China. It was unlike any trip I’d taken before and, due to a number of “lessons learned” during my vacation, I had the courage to leave my corporate J-O-B and start my own business within six months. Now, my business, the National Holistic Chamber of Commerce, has associated chapters in five states and members throughout the U.S.
Additionally, my book, THE EXHILARATION EFFECT: Building the Courage to Take Your Leap of Faith, co-authored with Barbara Schiffman, made it to the top 25 (out of 2,800 submissions) in last year’s Next Top Spiritual Author competition.
I took 6 months off work several years ago to hike the Appalachian Trail. I hiked 700 miles before coming back to my regular life. Being an overweight woman, I couldn’t help but notice that there was no one that looked like me on the trail! That trek inspired me to return home and create Trail Dames, a hiking club for women of a curvy nature. I now have 5 chapters across the US and over 1,200 members. I don’t make a penny off of it, but I am helping women to do things they never dreamed they could, and that has completely transformed my life.
By the way, Anna also shared that she broke her foot 100 miles in, sat in a wheelchair for 8 weeks, then finished the other 600 miles. Now that’s determination!
The most compelling trip I’ve had, as in life-changing, is the most recent one I made to Peru last March 2010, for 10 weeks.
I went to Peru ostensibly to try out teaching ESL before committing myself to grad school in New York City for my Masters in Education in the Fall. I was already accepted and all I had to do was register for classes. Before I left, a friend asked if I was going to see some Peruvian shamans, since they are quite famous. It didn’t occur to me to do so, but after doing a quick google search, I came upon an article in the National Geographic about Ayahuasca retreats; the article talked about a place called Blue Morpho near Iquitos.
I was immediately entranced and did more research. I found out about other temples and I ended up choosing to go to the Temple of the Way of Light in the same part of Peru. I picked this temple because it focused on the Divine Feminine, which resonated with me. Without a moment of hesitation, I scheduled a 2-week retreat at the Temple towards the end of my trip, after my 6-week teaching stint in Huaraz.
The retreat experience was out of this world. I drank the Ayahuasca brew (6 times, actually) and connected with the Divine and I am still reeling from the experience. Long story short, the ancient medicine of the shamans took me to a place where I literally communed with Divine Mother. Not sure if you are familiar with Ayahuasca; if you are, then you know what I’m talking about. If not, then I urge you to read more about it. It is enjoying a resurgence – Timothy Leary partook of it ages ago – and it is worth checking out.
I can say that my life has not been the same since.
After I arrived back from Peru, I had a strong compulsion to move back to the Bay Area. I had just moved from San Francisco to upstate New York the year prior, so I was very surprised by this sudden desire to move back West. To me, the Bay Area is the place that would support my newly established healing path. Although I was unsure as to what kind of healing Id be doing, I knew that moving West was the first step.
I arrived back from Peru in June, canceled my acceptance into grad school, started making plans to move to San Francisco, and by October I was back in the Bay Area. Since then, Ive been inspired to start a wholeness center (my professional background is Advertising) which entailed cashing out all my savings and going full force into something I had no clue about.
For the record, I was once a very active and social party planner and goer, and so opening a place that focuses on healing and connecting with the divine may be a bit counter-intuitive, and yet, feels so right.
As I write this email to you, I am getting ready to open the wholeness center, called Tall Tree Tambo (the name was inspired by my Peru experience) on Feb. 20th.
Mine was about transitioning careers. In 2000 I made my first trip to Tanzania Africa. It was a life-changing experience for me, but I stuck with my job because of 2 kids in school and tied to expenses. In 2005 for my 50th birthday I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and watched the sunrise over the glacier on top. I tell people in presentations that I give that no matter what religion you are, or whether or not you believe in God seeing that proved to me what an amazing planet we live on.
But it was in 2008 that things really changed. I went kayaking off the coast of Tanzania and became one of the first to paddle in areas that no one had been. It was so incredible that I as a lawyer began to transition from law to operating Infinite Kayak Adventures which is a unique boutique safari company that takes people on a wildlife safari and kayak trip to Tanzania.
Our trips are designed for all. It has been said that going to Africa and seeing the wildlife is the number one trip one should make in their lives. Seeing and experiencing Africa and all it has to offer is a powerful experience that should not be missed. It will change you. It will move you. It will affect you.
From Kimberly (KimberlyFisher.com)
After 3 months in Costa Rica, I came back to America to break up with my boyfriend of 3 years.
After an adventure trip in Panama last year, I came back to break up with my boyfriend of 3 years. Again.
When you travel and see different parts of the world and are opened up to new experiences, it is hard to settle for less when you are back home.
Many years ago, I took my 14-year-old nephew on an Outward Bound trip thinking that it would help him mature. Being a person who has been involved with personal growth (as well as many bicycling trips) for many years, I didn’t consider that PERHAPS I could be changed by this trip. Well, I was shocked to realize that no one comes out of these types of experiences without changing. It’s part of the turf of the experience. Sometimes you have to get farther away from the experience to see the long-term effects. After that trip, I became much more open to many different types of traveling, took my physical activities to a new level, gained tremendous respect for my body’s capacity to stretch itself, and have less fear in general (even after loads of psychotherapy!) And I felt good about helping a young person to boot!
I used to work in the software industry, doing interesting work and making a good salary. But I never felt completely connected to the industry. In 2002, I took an adventure cruise aboard a 92-foot schooner to Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands, Canada), also known as the Canadian Galapagos. Cruising this wild archipelago, watching dozens of humpback whales breach and splash around me, and learning from a naturalist who knew all about the research on these whales was an incredible experience. I felt so alive, as I never had in my 10 years in high-tech.
I traded work for a second trip on the schooner, called Maple Leaf, this time in the Great Bear Rainforest (British Columbia) in 2003, and then I left high tech altogether and convinced the company to hire me. Now I work for the very company that had started me on this incredible journey. I also married the company’s president in 2007. It’s been 7 years now and I love what I do – feeling totally engaged with the natural world and the wildlife that I love. The company I work for is Maple Leaf Adventures, a Canadian adventure cruise company that is rated as one of the best adventure travel companies on earth by National Geographic Adventure in their most recent survey (2009).
That is how an adventure travel vacation changed the course of my life.
From Daryl of Sylvan Rocks Climbing School
When I was in college, fresh out of the Air Force and off an Illinois farm I went on a college rock climbing trip. I was hooked. Growing up in IL, Id never really even heard of rock climbing. From there I became a rock climber, a guide, and now 20 years later I own my own climbing school and guide service here in the Black Hills of SD near Mount Rushmore.
Now I help people from all over the planet realize their dreams of adventures on cool summits, and create memories with them and their friends and families that will last a lifetime. It been a good journey, and all started from a little trip to a little crag.
I still enjoy the family farm and visit often, but this is nothing like the life of a farmer that I envisioned before I took that trip.
We are all looking for something when we travel, and sometimes we find more than we bargain for.
My name is James Peden and I am currently entering my 70th day traveling Australia and New Zealand. The starting date being Dec 9. I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and studied Communication Studies: Media and Production & Management and Society. Currently, I am 22 years old and upon finishing degrees in the spring of 2010 opted for a 9th-semester study abroad in Australia on a Sustainability and Environmental Studies program through the Vermont based organization SIT. I entered the program Aug 27 and set a return date Mar 4 due to a high school friend and college roommate getting married Mar 19.
Upon leaving the States on Aug 25, I weighed 205 pounds and was a borderline alcoholic. I had no career plans but knew that I needed to leave the United States and get away from everything to see something new, challenging, and exciting. Currently, my weight is 185 pounds (getting into better shape daily) and would not consider myself anywhere an alcoholic, if even a casual drinker. As another side note, I had never been hiking before in my 22 years before this trip. Now, I can not get enough of hiking and truly excited to “tramp” my way around New Zealand. Tramp being the kiwi word for hiking.
Here is a very abridged version of my life since Dec 9.
- Took a train from Byron Bay to Sydney to hike the blue mountains Dec 9 – 14
- I had no travel plans for 3 months and spent the 14 – 17 in Sydney planning this adventure
- Train from Sydney to Alice Springs via Melbourne and Adelaide 17 – 20
- Alice Springs, Uluru, Kata Tjuta, and Kings Canyon 20 – 27
- Train Alice Springs-Darwin 27 – 29
- Picked up a wicked campervan on the 29th and spent 24 days traveling from Darwin to Perth. Highlights from this adventure include
- 2 days hiking Kakadu
- 1-day hiking Litchfield
- 2 days hiking Katherine Gorge
- 1-day hiking Gregory
- multiple full days driving through the outback
- 3 days Broome
- 2 days snorkeling Ningaloo Reef (encountered sharks snorkeling over 1km offshore)
- 2 days exploring shark bay watching sunsets over the Indian Ocean
- 2 days hiking 6 peaks in Stirling Ranges National Park (Toolbrunup Peak involved some free base rock climbing)
- 3 days exploring Southwest Australia forests and relaxing day in Margaret River wine valley
- Jan 21 – 23 spent in Perth
- Jan 24 – 25 spent on a train to Adelaide
- 25 picked up another campervan in Adelaide and traveled 9 days. Highlights include
- 2 days hiking Grampian National Park
- 1 day great ocean road
- 1 day hiking Dandenong Ranges
- 1 day hiking Alpine Ranges
- 3 days hiking Wilsons Promontory Point (encountered 2 larger snakes)
- I was then struck with a cyclone 2 Feb canceling a scuba trip in the Great Barrier Reef
- Spent my last days in Australia on the Gold Coast and traveled early to Queenstown.
- In Queenstown, bungy Jumped the Nevis which is 134 meters and 8 seconds of free fall and swung on the arch upside down backward
- I am now picking up a campervan for 20 days doing a counter-clockwise circle around the South Island of New Zealand doing tramps every day to the highest peaks possible.
As a general note, my hike days are 6 – 12-hour returns or multiple 2 – 4 hour. On a daily basis, I am currently up to 110 push up and situps. Each week is an increase by 10.
This trip has inspired me to truly reorganize my life, set clear definite goals, and as soon as possible, go see more of the world (also in an abridged version)
My name is Sally. My friend, Tracey, and I would love to share our life-changing travel adventure with you: climbing Africas highest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro, and raising nearly $20,000 for Africas AIDS orphans.
It all began last summer, when we decided that we needed a new challenge. I am a mid-life career changer on a quest to reinvent myself; Tracey is a military spouse trying to lose weight. Both of us are avid triathletes (always in the back-of-the-pack) looking for new ways to stay fit. We knew that whatever adventure we take on, it would have to be something BIG. But we also didn’t want this journey to be all about us; we really wanted to help someone else along the way.
So, in September we launched the Triathletes Hiking Kilimanjaro fundraising campaign to benefit Global Alliance for Africa and its mission to help children who’ve lost their parents to HIV/AIDS (www.TriathletesHikingKili.com). We will travel to Tanzania in August to visit orphanages and meet some of the children who will be impacted by our efforts. Then we will trek to the summit of Kilimanjaro!
We will spend the next few months hiking and raise money (so far we’ve raised more than $16,000 toward our goal). We will also be competing in triathlons and training for the ultimate in triathlon challenges—Ironman Arizona in November! Needless to say, it’s going to be a life-changing year for us.
Wow. What amazing and inspirational stories and journeys and lives changed.
It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Dale Carnegie, who said, “The person who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare. The sure-thing boat never gets far from shore.”
I hope these stories have inspired you to live your life to its fullest and perhaps take a life-changing adventure trip if it feels right to you.