Single Traveler: An Adventure Could Be What You Need to Regain Confidence
Experiencing a divorce can leave you with a feeling of rejection and failure. It could easily reduce your self-confidence level, plus add a tremendous amount of stress in your life. One way some people opt to deal with these negative feelings and emotions is to participate in an adventure-oriented getaway in an effort to reinvent and challenge themselves, while at the same time, discovering a new perspective on life.
This type of vacation provides an opportunity to visit an exotic destination; take yourself entirely out of your familiar surroundings; experience a new and foreign culture; plus rebuild your confidence by successfully participating in activities that you wouldn’t typically consider trying in your everyday life. Travel is also a great way to meet new people.
An adventure-oriented vacation offers a different travel experience than staying at a luxury resort, visiting a destination spa, or basking in the sun on a tropical beach. By experiencing another culture firsthand, it’s easier to reevaluate the positive aspects of your own life and fix whatever continues to hold you back.
Everyone defines adventure travel differently. While this type of vacation could involve participating in potentially dangerous activities, such as mountain climbing, skydiving, heli-skiing or scuba diving in shark infested waters, the adventure-oriented getaway you participate in doesn’t have to include anything dangerous whatsoever. Instead, it could focus more on allowing you to have totally new, but safe experiences that are only slightly out of your comfort zone.
A common misconception is that adventure travel is only for young people. Often, it’s the unknown that can frighten people. “We have very experienced tour guides and well-planned itineraries,” explains Greg Murtagh, president of ElderTreks, a company that offers seven to 22-day, guided adventure tours for travelers over the age of 55, to places like Alaska, Brazil, China, India, Cuba, Africa and Egypt. “Statistically speaking, getting in your car and driving through Manhattan is more dangerous than anything we do on our trips.”
Solo Travel Network also offers exotic, guided, adventure-oriented tours to exciting destinations, like Brazil, Egypt, Belize, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Bali, Spain and New Zealand, but caters to single travelers of all ages. If you don’t want to participate in an organized tour with a group of fellow travelers and be accompanied by a guide, another option is to plan your own exotic getaway and then push yourself to experience new and adventurous activities.
PARTICIPATE IN A VOLUNTEER TOURISM PROGRAM
Volunteer tourism that takes place in a third-world country, for example, can also be a personally rewarding and confidence boosting experience. “International volunteering attracts a lot of different people, from different places in their lives, and with different perspectives on what they’re looking for,” says Kam Santos, a spokesperson for Cross-Cultural Solutions, which has worked with more than 4,000 volunteers to date. “People who love to travel, but who want to do something different and be more than a tourist, can benefit from international volunteering. It’s a beautiful, heart-warming and inspiring experience,”
“What we offer isn’t tourism, as in taking a traditional vacation,” adds Santos. “We provide a real cultural immersion that allows participants to see into the daily lives of people in a community within one of the 12 countries we currently operate it. A typical day involves at least five hours of volunteering, plus scheduled cultural activities, language lessons, group meals and free time to explore. We believe that anyone who has a desire to volunteer can make a difference.”
During what is typically a two to four-week trip, volunteers can expect to work at childcare centers, schools, orphanages, health clinics, hospitals, homes for the elderly, and with other local community organizations. After an experience like this, it’s impossible not to return home with a newfound sense of accomplishment, confidence and a totally new perspective on your own life.
REDISCOVER THE AMAZON
There are thousands of destinations around the world that potentially offer single travelers from the U.S. a once-in-a-lifetime adventure travel experience. One such place is Peru, from where you can take a multi-day riverboat cruise along the Amazon and hike through the tropical rainforest.
When most Americans think of Peru, the destination that comes to mind is Machu Picchu. However, there are many other regions of this country that offer a more unique and memorable vacation experience.
“Peru has a lot more to offer than just Machu Picchu,” explains William D. Grimes, president of Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises, an Iquitos, Peru-based company which operates extremely personalized riverboat tours along the Amazon. “We personalize our tours to accommodate the interests of our guests,” Grimes adds. “Experiences while exploring the remote areas of the Amazon can include sport fishing, bird watching, jungle hikes in the rainforest, swimming with pink dolphins, and visiting remote indigenous villages.”
Participants in Dawn on the Amazon tours fly to Jorge Chavez International Airport (JCIA) in Lima, Peru, and then take a smaller aircraft to the somewhat remote city of Iquitos, where they’ll board Dawn on the Amazon III near the mouth of the Amazon to begin their adventure.
While this handcrafted riverboat is beautiful and offers a spacious observation deck and open-air dining area (where three gourmet meals are served daily), don’t expect any of the amenities you’d find at a fancy hotel. A cruise along the Amazon is more like camping, with no hot water, telephones, Internet access, television or air conditioning.
“The 65-foot-long Dawn on the Amazon III river boat has four private cabins, four sinks, five showers, flush toilets, a modern kitchen, bar, and dining room with a view. Every room is screened, with fans, lights, real mattresses, and comfortable pillows,” said Grimes. “A 10,000-watt electrical generator supplies power to eight, six volt, 320-pound, deep cell batteries which quietly run the lights, fans, freezers, refrigerator, computer, water pumps, radios, GPS, and other equipment aboard the boat.”
The boat’s main deck has an open shady area that is ideal for keeping cool and watching life along the river. The upper deck is an open-air observation area from which you can watch the jungle glide by, work on your tan, or enjoy the southern hemisphere’s spectacular night sky. The boat is big enough to be comfortable, yet small enough to access the small tributaries where larger cruise ships can not go.
Between stops and activities, you’ll have plenty of time to relax, read and enjoy the quiet solitude of being literally hundreds of miles from the nearest city — in the middle of the Amazon, surrounded by lush and beautiful rainforest, as well as exotic aquatic and land-based wildlife.
When preparing for your trip, it’s better to travel light. Also, avoid packing your pre-conceptions. Upon your arrival to Peru, be open to trying new and unusual foods and drinks, and be open to having new experiences. “This is not New York or Miami. Your trip, especially once you leave Lima, will be vastly different than what most people imagine. In many ways, it’s like traveling back in time, to a way of life that has disappeared in most of the civilized world,” explains Grimes, who was raised on a small, family-owned farm in Indiana.
“During the days, the average temperature as you cruise along the Amazon will be 84 degrees. Temperatures drop to a year-round average of 74 degrees at night. We are very informal on board. The crew and I are usually barefoot. Comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots are appropriate for hikes in the jungle or when visiting local villages. No fancy clothing will be necessary. You’ll definitely want to pack insect repellent, sun tan lotion and rain gear,” says Grimes.
Several companies and guides offer rough and dangerous “Rambo-style” survival training in various areas of Peru (and elsewhere in the world). Dawn on the Amazon tours and cruises are designed for the vast majority of sane people who do not want to put their lives in danger, but who do want to experience a controlled adventure.
“An Amazon adventure aboard Dawn on the Amazon is far less dangerous than driving around New York City. We have every safety device available, lots of experience with careful planning, experienced guides and crew members, plus plenty of fresh [drinkable] water and provisions. We literally have backup plans for our backup plans, and backup gear for our backup gear. Our guests can have peace of mind knowing they’ll be well cared for and be fed food which they may look exotic, but that will always be expertly prepared and totally safe,” adds Grimes.
While one, two and three-day cruises are available, for the ultimate Amazon experience, Grimes recommends a four to six-day cruise, which takes guests to the Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve. Here, you’ll encounter rare species of birds and animals which can’t be found elsewhere in the world. And there are other experiences you won’t want to miss. “The crown jewel of natural history cruises is the upper Amazon of Peru in the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve,” Grimes adds. “It is a huge, flooded wet land, the size of the state of New Jersey. This trip requires a minimum of seven to 10 days.”
For a Dawn on the Amazon cruise, you’ll need to calculate in the cost of round-trip airfare from the U.S. to Peru (which averages $1,000 to $1,500 per person), several hundred dollars for luxury hotel accommodations in Lima, roundtrip airfare between Lima and Iquitos (approximately $200 per person), plus about $300 per day (per person) for the Dawn on the Amazon cruise. Once aboard the Dawn on the Amazon, all food, activities and incidentals are included.
“We are unique in several ways,” says Grimes. “Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises is the only independent company operating on the upper Amazon of Peru that actually own the boats we operate our cruises on, so we pay great attention to maintenance and preservation. We only deal with independent travelers and customized tour groups. In addition, I only hire the best and most experienced Peruvians to be my crew members, cooks, waitresses and tour guides. My 14-person crew and myself try very hard to provide the best service possible to our guests.”
Whether you travel to Peru or another exotic, out-of-the-way destination, chances are it won’t be cheap. However, what you’ll experience is an adventure you’ll always remember.
CREATE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE
Regardless of where on the planet you choose to experience your adventures, proper planning is your key to success! Learn as much about your destination as possible before departing, and then work only with experienced and credible tour operators that specialize in your destination. Beyond that, be open to new and exciting experiences. More often that not, using basic common sense and traveling with an experienced guide will keep you safe in almost any travel situation, especially when overseas.
One of the best ways to learn about tour operators and guides, especially if they’re based overseas, is to obtain referrals from people you know who have experienced a similar trip. You can also work with a reliable, U.S.-based travel agent, or ask the tour operator to put you in touch with former clients. Trip Advisor is a free online forum for travelers to review their trips and experiences, plus exchange information amongst themselves. Another excellent resource is the department of tourism for the country or region you plan to visit.
Of course, adventure-oriented getaways can also take place within The United States. Depending on what you’re looking for, the U.S. offers a vast selection of vacation opportunities that can incorporate some form of adventure or unusual activities. For a few ideas, visit Gorp, which is a service of Orbitz.com.
Whenever you travel overseas, you’ll need a valid Passport, which could take up to 10 weeks to have issued or renewed, unless you pay extra for expedited service, so plan accordingly. For details about applying for or renewing a U.S. passport, visit the U.S. Department of State’s Passport Information website or call (877) 487-2778.
Depending on your intended destination, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention may recommend obtaining specific vaccines up to two weeks in advance of your trip. It might also be recommended that you begin taking specific prescription medications to prevent certain diseases, so a visit to your doctor or a local travel medicine provider may be necessary. For details about the medical ramifications of traveling overseas, visit the CDC’s website.
You should also pack an assortment of first aid items that might not be readily available where you’ll be traveling, such as: malaria tablets, motion sickness pills, diarrhea medication, eye drops, band aids, antihistamine, aspirin/ibuprofen, suntan lotion, aloe for treating sunburn, insect repellent, lip balm, and all of your regular toiletries (including your own soap and shampoo). A hat, sunglasses, comfortable shoes, clothing suitable for the climate you’ll be in, and a flashlight (with extra batteries) are also essential.
Finally, anytime you travel overseas, especially when you intend to experience some sort of adventure-oriented vacation, it’s an excellent idea to obtain optional travel insurance, which will protect you against financial loss and cover a wide range of situations, including emergencies that require medical treatment and/or emergency evacuation.
You can acquire comprehensive travel insurance from one of the following companies: