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Thank God for Small Adventures

by Marian Schembari on September 9, 2013

It’s shocking how quickly you can fall into a routine after long-term travel. Work, friends, hobbies, general life-maintenance. It’s so easy to get caught up in your day-to-day and forget how to adventure.

Despite never having lived (or spent much time in) California, I never treated San Francisco as a new adventure after my move. I treated it like settling down. I got my dream job, quickly met a wonderful guy and figured I’d be here for awhile. Life fell in sync with the life of my peers: Dinners out, gossip about boys, buying too many pairs of boots and too few plane tickets… It didn’t feel like me.

The day I found myself having an incredibly lengthy and animated conversation about my 401k (instead of, say, budget airlines or where to get $2 pizzas at 5am) was the day I knew I was slowly losing a fundamental piece of myself.

So when I was offered a few days away with Hosteling International USA, I jumped on that bandwagon like nobody’s business. (Oh, is that not a saying? IT IS NOW.)

Instead of going somewhere far off, I stayed in the Bay Area, choosing the Point Reyes Hostel. My boyfriend and I slept in separate dorms. I was jolted awake at 1am by lady snoring. There was no wifi. We had to share kitchen space with 18 obnoxious kids from Berkeley.

 And it was so. outrageously. wonderful.

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Honestly, my discomfort was a breath of fresh air.

We woke up at 6am and went tidepooling. We hiked to a local beach and watched the mist burn off. We toured a podunk lighthouse and ate fresh oysters from a local farm.

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It reminded me that what I love about travel isn’t only the exotic sights or sound of an airplane taking off. It’s the spontaneity and diversity of experiences. The idea that by being out of your routine, anything is possible.

Travel is an interesting phenomenon.

It’s often either love or hate. People are so particular and often defensive about their choices. Oh, you stayed with a blind family in that Southeast Asian village with no electricity and helped them build compostable toilets on your two week vacation? You are so badass.

condescending wonka travel

Travel isn’t all or nothing.  You don’t need to spend all your monies to have an amazing experience. You don’t need to go far to relax. You can still be a tourist and stay in your hometown.

Here are a few ways we can all instill a bit of adventure in our lives:

Hang out with travelers. They have a sense of adventure and spontaneity that’s usually lost on us working folk. It’s easy to start off the night at drinks and end up making your way to a language exchange, salsa class or cook-off in some random’s living room.

Do a typical tourist attraction. Open-top bus tours in San Francisco! Touring Alcatraz at night! Sometimes the tourists aren’t 100% wrong. (Though you won’t catch me near Fisherman’s Wharf unless you want some HULK SMASH.)

Take weekend trips to nearby places. Even if your destination is only an hour drive, there’s something about packing your bag and sleeping in a strange bed that can make you feel a million miles away. Plus, you don’t have to rush and you’ll find yourself really experiencing a place you might have simply driven through.

Stay at hostels or Couchsurf. Sure, treat yo’self to a hotel once in a while (mama loves a good fluffy robe). But if you want to get out of your comfort zone and expand your horizons, talk to people you might not have otherwise met. Chat to the elderly lady in the bunk next to you about her bioluminescent kayaking trip. Learn how to make a Thai curry soup with your Couchsurfing host. Steal Nutella from those obnoxious Berkeley students just to be a dick.

Quick! Tips! What small adventures have you had lately?

[Big ups to the HI Point Reyes for putting us up. To thank them, please help this nonprofit win a grant to further their sustainability initiatives across the network. Vote for their project (the last on the list) here!]

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  • Alexandra Sheehan

    Marian you are in my head. I was just pondering this the other day after I spent Labor Day weekend on a road trip from my new home in NC to Knoxville, TN. There was no nutella at my Couchsurfing hosts’ home. Though they were not dicks from Berkeley. PS I’ve been creepily spying on you via FB and Instagram. And also those tide pools are quite reminiscent of NZ!

    • Marian Schembari

      Haha, yay! Travel twinsies! So glad you’re doing a bit of travel around your new home too. It really does wonders for the soul.

      And please, stalk away. California as a whole does look a lot like NZ! Helps to ease the homesickness ;-)

  • seattleitealisha

    Sounds like an amazing getaway! I’m also falling in love with the California coast — we’re so spoiled here. :) In the last few months since I moved to Venice we’ve done a day trip up to Santa Barbara and a weekend away to San Diego and it’s been amazing. I know there are a ton more places left too — hopefully next will include a trip up Hwy 1 and taking in Big Sur. Have you been there yet?

    • Marian Schembari

      ALISHA! Yes! California all the way! Honestly, it is such a cool state. And so diverse I feel like I can go away every weekend, for cheap, and explore to my heart’s content.

      I drove through Big Sur on my way back from a weekend in San Luis Obispo. It’s a gorgeous drive. If you do go, make sure to stop at Café Kevah. The views are ridiculous.

  • Ricardo Howes

    I believe and agree with everything you have ever said on the interweb – Shembari for president!

    • Marian Schembari

      Wahooo! I can now die happy.

  • Claudia

    Completely amazing post. I needed so much to read something like that!
    I’ve just returned from the US after spending the last academic year and summer there. I traveled as much as I could — most of the times at HI US and Canada, and sometimes in hotels. I met so many people and lived countless adventures! Now that I’m back home, in Brazil, I have a different perception on my own city, and sometimes I try to live as a tourist. I am already missing the sound of the plane taking-off, but I will follow your advice and go for some local trips. There is always something new to be lived and places to go!

    • Marian Schembari

      Thank you thank you thank you! I 100% hear you on having a new perception of your own city. Just because something is familiar doesn’t mean it can’t be an adventure!

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  • Leucadia Chiropractic

    Wow! That place is indeed wonderful. I would love to go there one day. What do you think is the best thing to do in a place like this?

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