Getting the basics in place after you have jumped into the digital nomad lifestyle is not easy, and it often takes a lot of time. There is a lot to do – working out your accommodation, securing freelance projects, making your budget, among the many items. But once you have, it’s time to step into the cool! The cool adventurous side of the digital nomad lifestyle.
What Adventure Means – Definition
If you have the spirit of adventure or approach life as an adventure, it means that:
• You look for the unusual
• Instead of taking the usual way, you choose to take away that might be a little bit more difficult
• You’re always wondering what’s around the next corner, and you’re excited about it
• You tend to try more new things rather than do the things you already know how to do
• You travel light and you go out to explore
• In particular to being a digital nomad, you have a curious mind when it comes to exploring places you’ve never been before and investigating cultures you are not familiar with
- Merriam-Webster defines adventure as:
a) an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risk
b) the encountering of risks
c) an enterprise involving financial risks
- Adventure often has a link to sports and travel. In terms of adventure sports, it can be extreme sports which are considered to be an adventure. In terms of travel, many digital nomads think of adventure in terms of traveling to the countries that are on their bucket list and which give extreme travel conditions. Again, you can define the adventure as you want.
- Adventure also has a bit of the mystique and mysterious. Traveling to places that not many people have traveled to are great stories to tell
- Adventure has no definitions in terms of how long it lasts. Adventure can last one day or one hour or several years, depending on how one approaches adventure and has decided to incorporate that in their lives.
You are in a unique position living as a digital nomad because you have more flexibility to arrange adventure for days to be away from your business or freelance projects or even to incorporate some of that work while you are traveling. Building an adventure for you to go on is often done on the spur of the moment. However, just a little pre-planning can take your experience to new heights.
Once you have a good grip on the business side of the lifestyle, a budget amount you can count on (check out my article here on Sticking to Your Budget) and a reserve emergency fund, you need to “make victory pay” and claim the prize, and I think that reward is:
Freedom. Freedom with adventure in the form of travel.
There are different levels of freedom. As a digital nomad, you can reach the highest. To me, freedom means that the things that you have determined you need to grow as a person and to reach your targets are yours alone to decide. It’s, of course, a lot more than decision power, but in the big picture having no one to answer to except for yourself is a freedom that a lot of people want. As has been discussed here on this website, the digital nomad lifestyle is an excellent opportunity for freedom and open for anyone brave enough to step forward.
Go Experience Your Opportunities
When it comes to taking advantage of opportunities to have an adventure, you have a lot of benefits. You are already living the life and most likely living in another country. You have the option of being able to take some days off to go and explore a nearby city, take a tour, go hiking by yourself in the mountains or head out and discover by yourself what things are of interest in a particular place. But to take advantage of these options, you have to recognize them.
As your business or freelance work projects can often be the focal point of all your attention, it’s good to list out the possible options that you have and also get in touch with your inner thinking of what you would like to do and what you would like to experience. If you do this, you will see that there are multiple things to take a look at – much more than you can imagine and because you are already in the country, the limit is only up to you and your imagination.
So How Do You Go About Making the Best of Your Situation When it Comes to Adventure?
Over the years, I have come up with my own ideas to remind myself and to be able to plan for adventure opportunities. Planning done because I had limited time to explore a place or the people that I was with had offered opportunities for adventure in unique circumstances. I’ve also met many digital nomads and just interesting people who were living overseas in a country and listened to their stories about how they were able to do so many things in a limited timeframe. I’ve put together a useful framework that is detailed but offers lots of flexibility.
The Full Road Map – 3 Phases
The possibility to take full advantage of an opportunity for adventure travel is what can make this adventure part so cool. It starts with a plan, or rather, a roadmap that is in three parts that I call phases –
• Phase #1 Big-picture planning
• Phase #2 Planning the details
• Phase #3 Take Action
The roadmap is created in a way that is not too burdensome or detailed but will allow you to think ahead of some of the things to consider and to do. Although I currently enjoy planning and prefer to have things well planned out in advance, I remember in my past and my younger days that I didn’t want to be burdened with some extended plan. I preferred to have lots of open spaces so I could see what would happen once I started in a specific direction. I have taken that into account here as well. You can sketch this roadmap on one piece of paper. Or with a few bullet points on your mobile phone.
Phase #1 Big-Picture Planning
The first step is to have a general idea of what you want to do. In the general big picture, what type of adventure do you want to have? Will it be exploring beach areas or hiking in the mountains? Is it experiencing sports in a different setting or learning one? Answer this first, so you can list a few possible opportunities to start working on. I wrote an article about How to Explore a City or Neighboring Country, which you might find useful.
The second is to analyze your opportunities for adventure. What opportunities are available in the next week, in the next month, or looking out over the year what events or festivals or sports are possible at certain times of the year.
Analyze Your Hobbies and Things You Are Curious About
The third step is to analyze your hobbies and things that you are interested in and want to know more about in the context of the opportunities for adventure that are now possible. For instance, if you think that it’s been too long since you have seen the beach and you want to see what types of beach areas are available and what kinds of islands are possible to go to say for instance in Malaysia. You also have always wanted to JetSki. Then you can take a look at what beach sports are possible in the island areas of Malaysia and match the opportunities with your interests. Doing this analysis helps you to maximize the possible things to do once you have selected a few potential locations.
Think About the Approach You Will Take
The next step is the approach – what approach will you take for traveling or taking part in this adventure? If we continue with this beach and sport idea from the last step, the approach here means do we want to spend a few days traveling to the islands? Or do we want to make it for just one day? Do you wish to have a guided tour with training on how to ride a jet ski or do you want to try and figure it out by yourself? With just a rental? It’s good to have an idea what approach you want to take in getting this adventure.
Or… Just Get There
Alternatively, you can decide to go in the direction of the adventure and see how things work out when you get there. There is no reason to over think things if there is not enough information to find. It might be the case where you need to be there and talk with a few people before you know what you want to do. If this is the case, then plan to get there and know when and where you will get more information to make a decision. Sometimes just getting there and checking the place out is the way to go.
Discover Something Tangible
One way to approach adventure travel from my perspective is to aim to discover something tangible. What I mean is that for instance if you’ve always wanted to go to Portugal because of the beaches and because of the food and the culture then make sure that is what you experience. When you are planning an adventure trip to Portugal make sure you position yourself in cities that are close to the beach and if you’ve done your research, know which beaches are the most popular or the ones with the least amount of tourists if that is your preference. Once this is done, then you can start to add different activities to explore the food and the culture of Portugal – this is what I mean by making a plan which discovers something tangible.
Go Into Unknown Territory
One fundamental approach is to focus the adventure trip on doing activities or going to places that you have never been before, expanding into unknown territory. For this approach, you need to have a curious mind and a sense of adventure which can lead you into different paths without knowing where it will lead. As an example, I was traveling in China, in Yangshuo, Guilin, and the secluded river area that I wanted to see was accessible by bus or by biking trails. My friend and I chose to go by bicycle because we would be able to see parts of the river areas that we hadn’t seen before. Also, the tourist buses were always full and not a great experience. By taking this unknown way, I was able to see the spectacular mountain and river views which would’ve never been seen had I gone by bus.
Go for the Experience
Another way to approach planning adventure travel is to design it in the way that it gives you the most amount of experiences in a particular location. For instance, you’ve never been climbing or walking in the mountains, and you want to take an adventure trip to Switzerland to experience this. If you’re going to Switzerland and you have some interest in climbing and walking in the hills, then you need to plan activities just for this experience. Maybe it might make sense to go on a tour or to get some lessons in essential mountain climbing equipment and skills. If you take this approach and have a good idea in mind of what you want to experience during the trip, then it will be easy to make decisions. Which leads me to my next topic – prioritize.
Once you have all the possibilities listed and also the approaches you would prefer to take you will find that there are too many to do all of them! It’s a common problem that once the mind gets going and the list of possibilities is seen that you have to choose between them. Prioritize your list like this:
- List the top three places or activities that you most want to go to or do
- Identify the approach of how you want to experience the locations or activities
- Once this is done, you might need to do a little bit more research on the three top things that you want to see or do.
- You can keep the list of other activities as a backup but focus most of your research and thinking about your top three.
By prioritizing in this way, you have a good chance of being able to focus your efforts and get down to making specific plans for your adventure.
Phase #2 Planning the Details
Now that you figured out the priorities of the adventure and travel that you want to do, the second phase is to start putting activities into your calendar schedule so that it starts to take shape. Again, the type of adventure we’re talking about here is one in which you are gone for a day or a few days, or even for a week. I think you don’t have to do this much planning for an afternoon trip. It’s already quite extensive thinking for a one-day trip, but some people like to put things into perspective and have as many options during the planning phase.
One of the critical things that you need to consider in this phase of the planning is how you balance between your work schedule, the things you need to do on a daily or weekly basis – such as obligations and exercise. Try and find a balance so that you’re able to take your adventure trip so that it doesn’t interfere too much with your work schedule. Incorporate the weekend, or if you decide to, you can work through the weekend and go traveling during the weekdays. My main point here is to look for openings in your calendar, which makes it easier for you to travel.
Important Items to Prepare
Some of the essential items that need preparation should be put on the list so that you know what they are and how much time they need to process. These are items such as visas, shots and vaccinations, specialized equipment that you will need such as hiking or backpacking equipment if you are going to the mountains or beach items if you’re heading to the beach areas.
You should sketch out a small budget for adventure travel. It is easiest if you budget how much you will spend for each day after the essentials are taking care of, like a hotel, tour tickets, equipment rentals and so on. Although I have had my share of shoestring budgets where I had only a few dollars to spend for food and other things, I would recommend that if you can to have a healthy amount of money with an emergency fund so that you can enjoy your adventure travel.
Solo or with Friends?
One thing that will change your adventure is whether you’ll go solo or whether you will take a good friend or even a partner with you. There are apparent reasons why traveling with a companion is a more luxurious experience, you get to share the adventure, you have someone to bounce ideas off of as well as the comfort of not being alone by yourself. However, I know that some people enjoy going on an adventure by themselves to express their independence and make all the decisions purely by themselves when they are traveling. Having done both, I would say that it’s just a decision that you will need to make.
If you end up traveling together with a companion, you then need to run the planning and ideas that you have about the adventure by the person you will be going with. It’s likely that the person will also have some ideas to add to the plan as well as a few objections to what you want to do. In the big picture, it will just take a little bit more time to make some of the final decisions.
Make Some Initial Pre-Arrangements Once Things Are Clear
Once you know where you are going, who you might be going with, and what activities you want to do, now is the time to do some pre-arrangements. It is best at this stage to list some of the things that you need to do, such as making reservations or calling people for information. There is no need at this stage to do too many of these activities since some things may change if this is done weeks in advance. But all trips will benefit from some pre-arrangements.
If the first two phases are well planned out, and it is clear that you will be going, the next step will put you on your journey.
Phase #3 Take Action
So now is the time to get ready to go on your adventure travel. Start with the day before arrangements. List all the things that you need to take, pack the things you usually want to take if you have arranged that you’ll need to check some things for your business or your freelance projects pack those things and make any last calls and reservation confirmations as required.
Here are some other considerations as you jump into your journey:
How will you make your photos? Do you need to bring all of your photo equipment or just your smartphone? It’s a good idea to think in the context of how you want to approach your adventure and what kind of experience you want out of it. I can tell you that if you’re going to keep it as an adventure that you will remember a little preparation on the photography and camera side will go a long way.
Will you be making a diary or need and want to keep a journal? The value of a diary or journal is such that if you’re going to remember and contemplate what your experience is like, a daily Journal will enable you to relive it and not only that to be able to evaluate what kind of experience you had. I know the journals are not for everyone. Some people can take a picture, and that’s all they need. Others, like myself, enjoy having a written journal of their travels. I can take a look back now at my travels in China or other places that I’ve been, and I can relive that day and also analyze the situations and circumstances that I was in which made the journey special. For me, that insight is valuable.
Once you have gone and the trip is over, it’s a good thing to ask yourself what did you get out of the journey? Did it meet your expectations? Did you learn something completely new? Or was it one of those journeys that you experienced it, but it was nothing unusual in comparison with other trips that you’ve taken. One of the questions which I like to ask myself and I know others have also benefited from this type of question is: would you do it again or is it a never again trip? For those trips where I said I would do it again, I went and did it again! Sometimes twice. For those trips where I realized I would never do this type of trip again, it helped me in making decisions for other adventure travel.
Map it All Out in the Time it Takes to Dring Your Cappucino!
Now that I have shown you the three phases of planning for an adventure trip, at first glance, it might look to you as too complicated or troublesome. However, I have one piece of advice for you:
Sketch it all out in the time it takes to drink your cappuccino. In one page. Don’t over think it. If you have the idea, and the inspiration, this is a one page 20 minute exercise. The whole idea of this is to enable you to maximize your experience with an adventure trip, and because you are already in the country or very close to the country where you want to travel to, you have benefits that other people do not have.
The other comment I wanted to make on this is that this isn’t iterative process, meaning it’s like a crossword puzzle. As you plan, you start to fill out some of the unknowns until finally, you have a full map of your adventure trip. You don’t need to know everything all at once. Treated in this way and your phase maps will be an excellent guideline for maximizing your adventure.
One additional guideline that I would like to mention is that you should spend 30% of your time thinking and planning and 70% in action. If you have the opportunity, the budget and the time available to travel and experience the trip, don’t get stuck in the planning or deciding, push it forward! The best way to get into action is to pick up your phone and call someone that you have on your list. It will propel you forward.
But Wait… Too Structured?
Sometimes making an organized plan becomes a real pain in the neck, and instead of propelling you forward, it feels like a heavy burden. What if all this planning is too predictable for you? What if you want to jump and land in the city where you want to have your adventure and make it up on the go?
There’s a lot of fun to have to make it up on the go! I’ve done my fair share of that too. You wake up in the morning, over coffee you decide today is the day you will have this adventure, you take the next available bus, and after a few hours, you are there. You jump off the bus and look for which direction your intuition leads you. 100% purely possible with the lifestyle that you have. Here are some of the advantages if you decide to make your adventure travel completely unstructured:
- Positive adventures can be the result of serendipity – opportunities you find by unexpected good luck
- You can find experiences that you would have never seen if you were to follow a plan
- It enhances your feeling of freedom and of following your instincts
- Makes for an exciting story to tell
- It may lead to discoveries which improve your curiosity and sense of adventure in a way that a plan to schedule cannot do
The pitfalls of this approach, however, can lead to a waste of time in some cases or to affect your business and project schedules. There is also the risk that if you don’t correctly make some reservations for accommodation or travel, there will be delays.
You’ll have to judge for yourself whether you want to have a little bit of structure and pre-planning for your adventure travel or you want to make it up on the go. You can decide either way, and everything is okay. I would advise however that if you are in any way on a tight schedule that you at least make an incredibly light plan and a few reservations.
Adventure Ideas and Inspiration
The type of adventure travel that you do can significantly affect your planning. Adventure and adventure travel should bring excitement to your life and multiply it. Here are some adventure ideas for inspiration which can remind you of some focused areas or categories that you can choose:
- Water – whether it be near the beaches or the lakes or rivers, heading in the direction of water gives many opportunities for the type of sports or landscapes or even people that you meet.
- Hills and mountain areas – when heading towards healer mountain landscapes, you have opportunities for hiking and backpacking and even mountain and rock climbing. You may need extra time to travel if these places that you want to go to are in remote areas
- Cities – there’s a lot more to see in a city than just the museums and art galleries. Sometimes the best cultural experiences are through festivals sponsored by cities. Interestingly, visiting the major university in the city can also be a great experience.
- Sports – if you have a favorite sport or hobby, finding like-minded people who want to train or exercise or experience their sport in different circumstances can give you an added adventure.
The really cool part of living the digital nomad lifestyle is the adventurous side, and this is the part most people have longed for when choosing this lifestyle and its the part that keeps them continuing to stay in this lifestyle. As we have discussed throughout the article, it’s also about freedom – the freedom of choice, freedom of decision, freedom of doing things that you want to do in the way that allows you to follow your travel adventures.
I have mapped out what I think is an excellent three-phase plan, which I have used often, and can be sketched out in the time it takes to drink your cappuccino. Use it to your advantage! I have also written an article on the other big side of digital nomad living, the Effective Worker Side which you mind find useful too. Use all the advantages that you have as a digital nomad!
I’m the owner of Digital Nomad Explorer. I’ve traveled to over 50 countries and been an expat in Scotland, Finland, and China. I was a digital nomad while having my own robotics company and traveled throughout Europe and China working remotely. Currently, I’m location independent with a home base in Kirkkonummi, Finland.