Reading As Adventure

Everyone knows that traveling and being outdoors is wonderful, but is that really all there is to having an adventurous life?

The short answer is no.  For so many reasons, constantly traveling and signing up for new and grand experiences just isn’t feasible.  Full time travel isn’t for everyone.  Hell, even part time travel isn’t for everyone.  Furthermore, experiences can be costly.  Not all people are down to go whitewater rafting and ziplining every weekend, whether that be due to monetary, time, or motivational constraints.  And you know what?  That’s okay.

Living adventurously means more than chasing adrenaline highs.  It means more than constantly waking up next to strangers on airplanes.  It’s more than summits and valleys and Instagram photos. Adventurous living requires a particular mindset, one that recognizes opportunities for challenge and growth and excitement.  Those opportunities will differ from person to person, as everyone’s prior experiences and comfort zones differ so widely.  The one thing we all have in common?  If you want to live an adventurous life, you should be an avid reader.

Wait, what?

I know, I know, you were all with me until I got to the part about reading.  What about skydiving?  And teaching overseas?  And seeing World Wonders and fine dining and scuba diving?  Well, by all means, do those things!  Please, do them!  But during those down times when you’re not chasing waterfalls or working (so you actually have money to go chasing waterfalls), please pick up a book.

Here’s why:

1. Reading itself is an adventure.  When you allow yourself to be taken in by a book, you are effectively transported to another world.  In this other world, anything could be possible — things that could never be truly achieved during real, physical travel.  Your no-so-secret obsession with dragons or mermaids or magic doesn’t have to be entirely ignored due to its lacking presence in reality.  Rather, it should be embraced in fiction, where you can experience it as vividly as your own imagination will let you.  And don’t take this lightly — a good book can make someone’s heart race and ache and someone’s stomach flutter and drop just as effectively as real life experiences.

Reading will stimulate your imagination and further ignite your adventurous spirit.  If your nose is in a book, it doesn’t matter that you’re sitting still; you’re still going on a grand journey in the most infinite expanse possible — your mind.

2. Reading will save you money.  Compared to other modes of entertainment that don’t hold nearly as many possibilities as a book does, reading will help you keep your money in the bank.   It’s significantly cheaper than physical travel and experiences, and can even be free if you do it right.

Even if you are able to travel full time and are loving that ongoing experience, you simply can’t be “on” every day.  There are going to be some off days, some down days, sick days, relaxation days, and so on.  These are the days to really embrace reading to save some dough.  Instead of paying to relax at a movie theatre, or buying a new game to play at home, ditch the pricey screens and start turning some pages.

New books from high end bookstores can be expensive at times, but luckily that are many other options for getting your story fix.  Used bookstores offer cheaper prices, as do online distributors, and local libraries provide many titles free of charge.  Now, before you write off the library, you should be aware that many public libraries are interconnected.  This means that if the one in your immediate area doesn’t have the book you’re looking for, staff can request it from another library and have it delivered at no cost to you.  If you really want to save some money between bungee jumping endeavors, check out your local library!  (Pssst, they even have movies and video games if that’s really the way you want to go).  You can’t beat free!

3. Reading will prepare you for your actual, physical travels.  So maybe you’re not impressed with the ginormous adventure you could have inside a story.  That’s fine; some people just aren’t into it. Whether you are or aren’t, don’t forget that reading doesn’t have to be done for its own sake.  There are several ways that reading can help prepare you for your adventures in real life too.

Most basically (and sticking with fiction), reading can provide inspiration for things you’d like to experience personally.  It can make you aware of places and things you may never have thought much about, and depending on the way those places and things are presented, reading a book may end up giving you a couple extra things on your bucket list!

Additionally, reading can expand your travel horizons by helping you acquire another language. Many people fear foreign travel and experiences because they’re only fluent in their native tongue. Ditching this limitation and committing yourself to reading in another language can drastically increase the number of amazing places you’d be comfortable traveling to.  There are plenty of language learning materials available for reading (even at the library!), but don’t forget that reading in another language can also be accomplished through fiction, webpages, newspapers, etc.!  Even a small bit of exposure each day can make a big difference.

Finally, reading can prepare you for your upcoming travels.  If you want to make the most out of your trips, you should be reading up on the locations you plan on visiting.  This can be in the form of travel guides, local history, and the like.  There is, of course, the expectation that you don’t experience a place completely by the book; you should put yourself out there, talk to people, eat the food, immerse yourself.  But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have an idea of where you’re going beforehand!  Reading up on your destination first will give you a foundation to understand and explore more fully so you don’t have to start from scratch upon your arrival.  This will ultimately make your trip much more fulfilling.

So, what have YOU read today?

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  1. Love this blog! My favorite “genre” is the travel narrative, especially from hilarious authors like Bill Bryson and Tim Moore. Sadly at my age, I tend to fall asleep when I read anything but it’s great to at least get a good chuckle first!

    1. Hi, Maggie! I enjoy travel narratives too, but I’ll admit that my expertise in the genre is minimal. I’ll have to check out those authors next time I’m looking for a good read. I appreciate you sharing them with me!

      Thanks for reading & I hope to see you back again soon! 🙂

  2. I LOVE THIS! I am both an avid reader and people say traveler as well. I believe my inspiration to travel more came from reading so much when I was younger (and still do today).

    I recently finished reading A Man Called Ove and I enjoyed it. Next on my list is to finish the second Game of Thrones and then In a Dark, Dark Wood.

    1. Thanks, Alisha!

      A lot of this post came from my experience as a child as well! I always had my nose in a book, and when I didn’t, I was trying to live some adventures through pretend play hah! Luckily, as an adult, my experiences don’t have to be make-believe anymore, but I still return to my original source of inspiration as much as possible.

      I’d love to talk books with you if you’re up for it! I finished A Game of Thrones last year, and am always adding titles to my (very long) list of things to read!

      Thanks for reading & I hope to see you back again soon! 🙂

  3. Loving the post and a timely reminder to take the time out and open your book (or turn on your kindle!) I love to research destinations before we travel, especially to find out of the way places that are off the regular track. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you, Nicky! I love to research my destinations too. It helps me feel prepared for travel, and allows me to feel that special satisfaction of discovering something amazing that isn’t included in most guides ;). Keep reading & traveling!

      Thanks for reading & I hope to see you back again soon! 🙂

  4. I love this! I love to travel but now that school has started back up it’s a lot more difficult to do schedule-wise. Plus, as you mentioned, money is always a factor. But I am a huge book lover and totally agree that picking up a book is so important!

    1. I completely understand, Nancy! I’m a school teacher, so things get a lot more hectic once September rolls in. As much as I’d like to get out every weekend on an adventure, I just don’t have the money (or the energy!). I use books to quell my restlessness. I’m glad you’re making time for vicarious journeys too. I’d love to share book recommendations if you’re up for it one day!

      Thanks for reading & I hope to see you back again soon! 🙂

  5. I love this post because it’s so true! I just recently read two travel memoirs (and wrote my own blog post about traveling vicariously through others). I read Not Afraid of the Fall by Kyle James and it made me totally inspired to visit some places I never thought of before like Croatia.

    1. Thanks, Melissa! I’m glad you’re getting some adventure even when you have to stay in. I have a few friends who just rave about Croatia! Maybe I’ll have to check out James’ memoir and get some inspiration myself!

      Thanks for reading & I hope to see you back again soon! 🙂

  6. Yes! I found myself agreeing with each of your statements. “Reading is an adventure” is such an important mindset to develop. And, I’d add the reading builds empathy as your connect with characters (or real people in the form of biographies) and see their experiences from their point of view!

    1. So true, Ashley! The empathy angle wasn’t one I had considered for this post, but it would be great for one on the general benefits of reading for kids. I love it — one of us (or both of us!) should write it :).

      Thanks for reading & I hope to see you back again soon! 🙂

  7. You are so right! As a homeschool mom, I have fallen in love with reading all over again. A few years ago, I took my kids to the library, which I haven’t visited in forever, because I can find everything online and at that point it made me realise the importance of holding a book for me and also for my kids. It has made a difference for us to “hold the knowledge” instead of “typing the knowledge”. You still acquire knowledge, but there is a satisfaction when you are holding it.

    1. Glad you agree, Karina! If I’m not mistaken, there has been some research supporting the idea that reading physical books is better for retaining information compared to reading online and e-books. Good on you for knowing that intuitively, and helping your kiddos understand as well! I hope they enjoy many fictional adventures to come! 🙂

      Thanks for reading & I hope to see you back again soon! 🙂

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