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.

© 2012, amy gut­man. All rights reserved.

11 thoughts on “Extreme Adventure Travel in Plan B Nation

  1. Amy, I com­pare your Plan B to my Sec­ond Lives. It’s all about trans­for­ma­tion and our abil­ity to change. It not only keeps us going but it keeps us young and vital.

  2. Some­times I think it’s not just the suc­cesses of trips in Plan B Nation that should be cel­e­brated, but the abil­ity to think of it as an explo­ration at all deserves recog­ni­tion. We get so tied into our first plan, that any devi­a­tion can be self-shattering, instead of an oppor­tu­nity to develop new skills and new per­spec­tives.
    Corie Weaver recently posted…A Gen­tle RevolutionMy Profile

  3. Your post is a good reminder that the most life-changing adven­tures are inter­nal. It’s a rare cit­i­zen of Plan A Nation that takes them vol­un­tar­ily and one of the great ben­e­fits of being cat­a­pulted into Plan B Nation is the oppor­tu­nity to learn the con­tours of our inter­nal land­scape, to cul­ti­vate our intrin­sic resources and develop more. Thanks for this lovely piece, Amy!

  4. I think that there’s a use­ful dif­fer­ence to be made here about core ver­sus “optional” issues.

    Time-limited adven­tures can be won­der­ful. And the truth is that those kind of chal­lenges — while they have great ben­e­fits — never touched the core root chal­lenges of my life.

    I did inter­est­ing adven­ture travel! But I still remained wed­ded to the idea that I lived in the mid­dle of a metaphor­i­cal beau­ti­ful tea party. My real­ity was that I was sit­ting in a metaphor­i­cal broken-glass-strewn asphalt park­ing lot sur­rounded by vicious, vio­lent peo­ple whose actions showed they could care less about me. (their lan­guage was dif­fer­ent of course!)

    I had no idea. Wak­ing up to that real­ity was a night­mare. And the most use­ful thing that could happen.

    I have new con­fi­dence in my abil­ity to solve prob­lems step-by-step, a bet­ter abil­ity to assess my sit­u­a­tion and read peo­ple, a clearer under­stand­ing of what actu­ally brings hap­pi­ness, and a deeper joy of the priv­i­lege of food to eat and work to do than I have ever had before.

    Plan B nation talks core issues. Few out­lets have the courage to go any­where near them because those issues require wrestling with the issues of inti­macy, judg­ment, and pri­or­i­ties.
    Alle­gra Jor­dan recently posted…Joy­ful Inno­va­tion with Plan B NationMy Profile

    • Those are amaz­ing images, Alle­gra — the tea party vs. the glass-strewn park­ing lot. Also love this: “Wak­ing up to that real­ity was a night­mare. And the most use­ful thing that could hap­pen.” Thanks for all you do in the world — not least of which is being such a sup­port­ive, kind, and com­pas­sion­ate friend.
      amy gut­man recently posted…Extreme Adven­ture Travel in Plan B NationMy Profile

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