Extreme Adventure Travel in Plan B Nation

Photo: Aber­crom­bie & Kent

If you check out travel mag­a­zines, you’ll find an abun­dance of offer­ings for those seek­ing the ulti­mate chal­lenge. “An Extreme Adven­ture reveals exactly who you are, demand­ing the most of your phys­i­cal, psy­cho­log­i­cal and per­haps even spir­i­tual selves,” reads the copy on Aber­crom­bie & Kent’s Extreme Adven­tures site.

Just as rock climb­ing and white­wa­ter rapids test our abil­ity to nav­i­gate the out­side world, travel in Plan B Nation tests our inner resources. No, we don’t come away with gor­geous vaca­tion pho­tos or tales of exotic locales, but when the jour­ney is suc­cess­ful, it leaves us with some­thing more:  An appre­ci­a­tion for our strengths in the face of real-life adver­sity. You might say it’s the sort of jour­ney for which the oth­ers are preparation.

And yet, for all Plan B Nation has to teach us, it hardly has the cachet of a back­pack­ing trip in the High Sier­ras or a solo ocean voy­age. Why is it so hard to see its poten­tial gifts?

For one thing, it’s not some­thing we choose. We like to see our­selves as autonomous, mas­ters of our fate. Plan B Nation can be an unwel­come reminder that this isn’t always true.

For another, Plan B Nation is all-too-often linked in our minds to fail­ure. Those over-the-top vaca­tions?  In case you didn’t know, they cost lots of money – sim­ply embark­ing on one makes clear that you’re doing pretty well and your safety net is ample. Plan B Nation, on the other hand, tests that safety net. For observers, as well as us trav­el­ers, this can be pretty scary, espe­cially when you have no idea how long the risk will last.

But for all the obvi­ous dif­fer­ences, Plan B Nation con­tin­ues to be for me its own sort of adven­ture. It’s brought me amaz­ing trav­el­ing com­pan­ions whom I wouldn’t have oth­er­wise met, and the oppor­tu­nity to view vis­tas I wouldn’t have oth­er­wise seen. Like any adven­ture, it has its highs and lows. It also has its sto­ries, the ones that I’m telling here.