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The latest “Find Your Adventure” series features adventure inspiration from Hélène, the writer and photographer behind Flight to Somewhere travel blog. Hélène currently lives in London and tries to get away and explore new places as often as possible. She loves nature and combines outdoorsy adventures with her other big passion – photography.
Read on to hear why hiking and cycling are Hélène’s favorite types of adventure and what it was like to fly a small Cessna plane!
What does adventure mean to you?
To me, adventure is doing something that falls outside the remit of your normal daily routine life. It may be physically taxing and involve going outside your comfort zone, like a mountain hike or a challenging cycle ride, but it doesn’t have to be.
Adventure can also be a spontaneous weekend break in a location you know nothing about or even an exciting local experience, whether it’s going to an eat-in-the-dark restaurant (I still can’t decide whether I want to try this or not) or solving puzzles in an escape room (now this I really want to do, but can’t get enough friends together for a team).
Tell us about your first adventure! Where did you go and what did you do?
The first adventure that I can remember was going on a camping trip for a summer work retreat. It involved spending a night lakeside in a tent as well as fun challenges like sword fighting.
Now I am not really a camping person, especially not in a tent shared with two other people! Nevertheless, I had fun and enjoyed spending time with my colleagues outside of work. I was even inspired enough to buy my own tent afterwards, which I never used, of course. The thing I remember best about this adventure, though, is the mosquitoes. They were absolutely vicious! The worst I have ever encountered. The bites swelled up massively and there was nothing you could do to stop the relentless itching!
Is there any adventure that’s intimidating or off limits to you?
Absolutely, lots of things! I’ve always been a very risk-averse person when it comes to sports and hobbies. This makes me steer clear of anything too extreme and dangerous. For example, I don’t think I would ever try bungee jumping. I like to think of myself as a soft adventure person!
I am also not a confident swimmer. Being in the deep waters of the open sea puts me in a state of complete panic. I don’t think I would have the guts to go snorkeling off a boat without a lifejacket. Similarly, surfing is scary to me, even though it looks like so much fun! I have made it as far as paddle boarding, though, during my last holiday in Mexico. That was a lot of fun (having a life jacket on helped) and so much more challenging than I imagined!
What has connecting with your sense of adventure taught you?
It has taught me to be more open and to step out of my comfort zone just a bit every now and then (not too much, mind you, that whole thing about being risk-averse still stands). If I feel like an activity is too intense or too much hassle, sometimes I force myself to do it anyway and usually end up loving every minute!
What’s on your must-have gear list?
I think it’s all about being properly equipped for the particular type of adventure you’re embarking on, so it differs depending on what I’m doing. Also a good excuse to go shopping, right?
For hiking, it’s important to match the shoes to the terrain. When I was preparing for a holiday in the Austrian Alps, I did lots of research and settled for hiking shoes with proper ankle support and a sturdy and grippy sole, plus they were waterproof. And boy was I glad I bought them! It rained during most of the holiday and the ground was wet and slippery, so I was often deep in mud. Trainers just wouldn’t have cut it!
For my first ever snorkeling trip, I got the standard mask and snorkel to then discover that it was rather difficult to breathe without swallowing a ton of water. So after a bit more research, I ended up buying a full-face snorkel mask. It makes me look like a character from a sci-fi movie, but it’s so much more comfortable!
Do you have a favorite kind of adventure?
Ooh, this is a difficult question! I’ve got two favourites!
The first is hiking. I love it because it involves being in nature and often exploring places you would never be able to reach otherwise, like the fantastic hike I did in the Chinyero Nature Reserve in Tenerife. I’m also fond of hiking because it’s the best kind of adventure to combine with my other passion – photography. Since you are walking, you notice a lot more of your surroundings and can stop at any time to take photos.
My other favorite kind of adventure is cycling. I’ve loved being on a bicycle since I was a kid! Cycling is a fantastic option when the distances are too great to cover on foot. With more and more places becoming cycle-friendly, it’s often the best way of exploring a new area. For my birthday, I went on a weekend break to Bratislava in Slovakia and spent an awesome day cycling to see the ruins of Devin castle and then going across the border to Austria. It helped that we were using e-bikes. It was so much easier to pedal!
What’s your dream adventure and why?
My dream adventure is linked to flying in some shape or form. One of the most awesome things I’ve ever done is take a flying lesson in a small Cessna airplane. I got to navigate the plane to the runway, take off and do some bits and bobs in the air, all during my first lesson. It was absolutely incredible! I would love to take more flying lessons and perhaps also have a go in a helicopter. Failing that, it would be great to at least do a sightseeing tour by plane or helicopter, if only it weren’t so prohibitively expensive!
What is one piece of advice you would share with a fellow adventurer?
Being the super cautious person that I am, I would advise you to focus on judging your fitness levels and abilities realistically before embarking on an adventure. What I mean by that is if your typical workout regime is a quick walk in the park on the weekend, then a 6-hour hike in the mountains classified as ‘hard’ is probably not the right thing for you just yet, no matter how amazing those photos on the tour page look. Instead, look for something that would actually be enjoyable to partake in. Adventures should be fun after all!