TRAVEL ISN’T ALWAYS ALL ITS MADE OUT TO BE!
That might sound strange coming from a travel blogger, but it’s true, well at least for me it is. Have you ever had a so-called vacation where you tried to cram in as much as possible? You know, the Europe in 10 days tour, or 12 hours straight of sightseeing? The kind of vacation, that leaves you in even more need of a vacation than before you left?
I have, and years later it still exhausts me just thinking about it! Even worse, is that sadly, very little stands out, since there was just too much packed in!
Instead of heading to the popular Garden Route in
South Africa, I discovered the Drakensberg, one of the
most beautiful mountain ranges I’ve ever seen!
I loved hiking in the Drakensberg, where I saw more baboons than people!
..If you’re anything like me, you’re seeking a more meaningful way to travel! You want to:
- Meet locals, who will reveal their secret spots!
- Do hiking or cycling trips that will kick your ass, but exhilarate you at the same time, in the most breathtaking place imaginable!
- Put your hard-earned tourist dollar to good use where your visit helps sustain a local community!
- Observe endemic wildlife – where your visit helps in the conservation of that species!
- Know that if you can trek to Everest Base Camp, you have the confidence to do anything! Hell, you’re practically a super hero!
..If you’re in search of these kind of trips that provide adventure and stick with you long
..after the vacation is over, you’re in the right place!
But seeking meaningful, life-changing travel means overcoming nagging fears and doubts: Can I really do this? Am I strong/fit enough? Is it safe to do it alone? There are so many adventures to choose from, where do I even start? Should I really spend my precious 2 weeks of vacation time cycling across Finland, instead of visiting 10 different countries in Europe? And my personal favourite, questioning your sanity, Am I crazy for doing this?
It’s SO much easier to book that guided tour taking you to 10 countries in 10 days, but stick with me and I’ll show you a more rewarding way to travel. A way that gets you back into nature and shows you the places few tourists see.
MY LIFE CHANGING TRIP
I’m fortunate that I now get to travel a lot as a professional travel blogger, but for many years I had a regular job with limited vacation time. It was on one of these vacations from my regular job that I had my most meaningful encounter while traveling – diving with hundreds of hammerhead sharks at Cocos Island, located over 500km off the coast of Costa Rica! It’s one of the few spots on the planet where hammer head sharks gather in the hundreds! It petrified me – which made me want to do it even more! Did I really have enough experience? If something went wrong, it would go really wrong – I mean, hello, hundreds of sharks! What if I got sea sick? (It takes over 48 hours by boat to get there). Could I really afford it? It was, at that point, by far the most money I had ever spent on a vacation. I booked it on a cold gloomy day in January, when I should have been doing my program budgets for the university I worked at in Calgary, Canada. Instead, I was daydreaming of ways to escape the long winter months which still lay ahead and to add a little excitement to my good on paper life, which wasn’t bringing me the fulfillment I had hoped it would.
Diving with hundreds of hammer head sharks in Cocos Islands, Costa Rica was initially petrifying, but then incredibly peaceful!
Diving with Oceanic black-tip sharks in South Africa, to show the government that shark tourism can play an important role in the economy.
IT WAS A LIFE-CHANGING TRIP! I will never forget the first time I jumped into the water, or more accurately, the dive master pushed me in since I was so nervous! It’s incredibly difficult to willingly take that first leap into shark infested waters! But once I relaxed, which admittedly took a few dives, I felt an incredible sense of gratitude for swimming alongside these magnificent creatures, one of the most misunderstood on the planet. Here I was, easy prey, invading their habitat and yet they weren’t attacking me, even as the JAWS theme music played on loop in my head. The confidence that I gained from that trip sticks with me to this day! If you can dive with hundreds of sharks, everything else in the rest of your life seems a whole lot less scary!
It was also on that fateful trip, that I met a handsome German guy, J.P. We spent our days diving together and our nights on the upper deck of the boat drinking wine looking at a lit up starry sky. Flash-forward two years of long distance dating (Canada to Germany) and he later became my husband. I moved to Germany to begin our lives together and transitioned out of my university management job to start my travel blog. (Diving with sharks helped give me the confidence to make such a dramatic career change!) I first lived in Stuttgart, and am now in Munich. All that, from one LIFE-CHANGING TRIP!
..Don’t worry if shark diving isn’t your thing! I’m also a big fan of soft adventures, like day
..hikes! Join me and I’ll:
- Show you how to choose the right hiking or cycling trip that will challenge you at just the right level.
- Introduce you to places you may not have heard about – like kayaking in the Kvarken Archipelago in Finland, or hiking the deepest gorge in the world – it’s not the Grand Canyon!
- Provide practical how-tos for popular trekking trips like the Tour du Mont Blanc.
- Be honest about whether an adventure is worth it. I know that you work hard for your money and vacation time is precious!
- Recommend fun-filled adventures that will challenge you and maybe just change your life!
CLICK ON ONE OF THE IMAGES BELOW TO GET STARTED!
Laurel Robbins, travel blogger and social media expertLaurel Robbins is a professional travel blogger, and the founder of Monkeys and Mountains, a leading adventure travel blog. She won the Travel Blogger of the Year award in 2013 issued by the Travel Writers Association and frequently receives recognition in the travel industry: Top 20 Adventure Travel Bloggers – 2015, Holiday Lettings from Trip Advisor, Travel Bloggers to Watch in 2013 by HotelsCombined, Top Travel Blogs to Watch in 2015 by Oyster and 17 Inspiring Women Travelers on Twitter by Dwellable, to name just a few.
In addition she regularly contributes social media content to BBC Travel and BBC Earth and has been featured on Yahoo Travel and is a regular contributor to Yahoo Travel’s Tumblr account. She has worked with 100+ tourism boards and tour companies across the globe ranging from the Northern Territory in Australia to South Africa, to Canada to Europe.
Laurel is a sought out speaker in the travel industry having spoken at ITB Berlin numerous times, WTM London, WTM Dubai, TBEX Athens, NBE Finland and TBC Asia. Although Canadian, she permanently resides in Munich, Germany. Her blog is named after two of the things she loves most.
She holds a B.Mgmt degree in marketing, a B.Sc in Primatology, and a Master of Education in Adult Education and Global Change. She worked in education for over 15 years in positions ranging from teaching English in S. Korea and Thailand to environmental education at a zoo to a Program Director of business programs at a university.
Besides travel, Laurel is passionate about animal conservation and getting outdoors as much as possible. She enjoys hiking, cycling, and diving. You will find her in the Alps on most weekends!
A few of the organizations she’s worked with: