Ahoy, amigos! Gather ye round, fellow adventure seekers and travel enthusiasts! Today, friends, we’re gonna take a deep fucking dive into the exciting world of adventure travel and how sometimes the best plan is to have no plan at all… 

I’m Will Hatton, founder of The Broke Backpacker and passionate travel fanatic with 15 years of adventure travel under my belt. I know first hand the value of getting lost, forging one’s own destiny, and embracing the unknown through the raw, often awe-inspiring, and sometimes scary world of adventure travel. Being on the road for most of my life has allowed me to push myself out of my comfort zone, learn new skills, and grow immensely as a person.

I sat down today and journalled out the highlights of my time backpacking and getting lost was a theme that kept coming up. 

Let me paint the scene…

Will Hatton enjoys an epic view in Pakistan from his motorbike
Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.

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Taking the Path Less Travelled

You’re nestled snug in a remote village, surrounded by dazzling landscapes that snap, crackle, and pop with life. The air is crisp, the sky a luminous canvas that stretches far and wide, and you can’t help but feel you’re on some kind of splendid, even magical, journey.

Your quest: to find your strengths, acknowledge your weaknesses, make new connections, learn new skills and discover what is truly important to you… This, my friends, is the essence of adventure travel, the very thing that ignites our souls and compels us to embark on wild journeys into the unknown. 

Gotta start somewhere!

But what if I told you that the true pinnacle of adventure travel lies not in reaching our destinations, but in getting lost along the way? In these moments, when we’re stripped of our plans and plunged into the unknown, we experience the most enchanting and refreshing twists in our journey…

Hold onto your hats, my fellow vagabonds, as we embark on this quest together. Prepare to be spellbound (I hope so anyway, maybe travel blogging is going the way of the dinosaurs but this humble travel writer ain’t ready to hang up his pen just yet) by visions of fantastic landscapes and challenging yet rewarding adventures. 

The time is now… Let’s hack out your own path, embrace the unknown, and charge headfirst into the glorious chaos that is adventure travel!

The Importance of Adventure Travel

Adventure travel, my friends, is an undeniable, enduring force that has been woven into the very fabric of human history. From the earliest nomads traversing vast expanses to the tenacious explorers of lost ages, our ancestors have always been drawn to the call of the wild, to the allure of the unknown.

adventure to hormuz
Let’s talk primal shit.

This primal urge to venture beyond the familiar has endured through the ages, giving birth to the modern phenomenon we now know as adventure travel. These experiences tantalize our senses and challenge our limits

It’s honestly kinda bloody hard to explain exactly what adventure travel is. SO I have come up with a new definition…

Adventure travel is whatever pushes you out of your comfort zone, ideally in an unknown environment or culture.

Even this definition isn’t quite right, but you get my point. I am a passionate believer that growth begins at the edge of your comfort zone. 

Adventure travel, unlike its more conventional counterpart of ‘a holiday’, is a journey that shatters the tattered bonds of routine and thrusts us into a world teeming with excitement, challenge, and discovery.

Adventure travel is a rite of passage, and an opportunity to connect with the world on a deeper, more meaningful level. Whether it’s an ayahuasca retreat in the jungles of Peru, or getting caught in a blizzard at 13,000 ft, this is a kind of travel that is bound to change you.

So, my friends, are you ready to embark on this glorious quest and embrace the unknown?

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    The Art of Getting Lost

    Comrades in adventure, it’s time for us to slow it on down, and delve deep into the heart of adventure travel. How do we master the mystical and mesmerizing art of getting lost?

    For it is in these moments of bewilderment and uncertainty that we shed our former selves; we emerge as resourceful, resolute warriors, ready to face the unknown with honour, killer abs, and cheeky determination.

    The Mindset Shift to Getting Lost

    To truly master the art of getting lost, one must first undergo a profound transformation in mindset. Gone are the days of rigid schedules and carefully mapped routes. There is no longer any such thing as time, there is only the now, and the only place to be is here!

    Instead, dear friends, we must learn to embrace the whimsical, the weird, and the wild, allowing our intuition (rather than Google Maps) to guide us as we navigate the uncharted waters of our journey. Only then can we truly experience the magic of getting lost.

    Navigating Without Technology: Unplug Your Mind

    In this age of sleek gadgets and ever-present technology, we often find ourselves tethered to a virtual leash, unable to break free from the comforting embrace of our phones. But my fellow explorers, technology is holding us back. Instead rely on your primal instincts, the ancient runes of wisdom that lie within each and every one of us. 

    For it is only by unplugging from the grid that we can truly immerse ourselves in the raw, untamed beauty of adventure travel. Because seeing the world through your smartphone isn’t really seeing at all.

    Learning from Locals

    As we venture into the unknown, heed the wisdom and guidance of those who call these enchanting lands home. Wherever you go, the locals hold the keys to the hidden treasures that lie nestled within their communities. By forging connections with them, we can unlock the secrets of their culture and customs, enriching our journey in ways we never thought possible.

    The people MAKE the places.

    Let me give you an example: when I visited Barranquilla in Colombia, the Lonely Planet guidebook told me that there was pretty much NOTHING worth seeing and doing if the carnival wasn’t on. However, after making friends and sinking sugary shots of Aguadiente with a local, he took me on his bike to an abandoned railroad. It became a highlight of my entire trip.

    Thinking on Your Feet

    Crucially, my friends, we must cultivate the tenacity and ingenuity of a true adventurer, honing our problem-solving skills and sharpening our resourcefulness as we traverse the wild, unpredictable landscapes of our journey. In the heat of adversity, we forge our mettle; we transform into the (anti?) heroes we were always destined to be.

    So, my fellow wanderers, are you ready to embark on this magical quest, embrace the unknown, and immerse yourselves in the glorious chaos of adventure travel? Take heart, for as we stride into the wild, we do so with knowledge. Getting lost is not a curse: it’s a blessing – an opportunity to grow, learn, and experience the world in all its breathtaking splendour. 

    Is This the Best Backpack EVER???
    Aether Backpack

    We’ve tested countless backpacks over the years, but there’s one that has always been the best and remains the best buy for adventurers: the broke backpacker-approved Osprey Aether and Ariel series.

    Want more deetz on why these packs are so damn perfect? Then read our comprehensive review for the inside scoop!

    View on Osprey View on REI

    The Unexpected Benefits of Getting Lost

    Are you still with me? Good. Now we’ve ventured deep into the realms of getting lost, it’s time to unveil the glittering trove of treasures that await us when we embrace the unknown.

    So, strap on your boots, and let us explore the tantalizing, exhilarating, and downright enchanting BENEFITS of getting lost during our escapades.

    I got lost, then lost this game.

    Personal Growth and Self-Discovery

    As we navigate the twisty, curvaceous paths of the unknown, we are afforded the rare opportunity to gaze inward, to delve into the depths of our souls (unless you already sold yours as an NFT, of course). We unearth the hidden facets of our innermost beings (cue travel cliches about “finding yourself”). Through these moments of quiet introspection, we experience transformation, emerging as more resilient, self-aware warriors of the road, ready to conquer the challenge that lies ahead.

    Or to put it another way – when shit gets tough, we grow and we learn (or else we perish…). That one time I ended up lost alone (and naked) in the jungle while travelling in Colombia was one of the scariest episodes of my life. But the fact I made it out (almost in one piece) gave me a perspective and confidence that I have taken with me everywhere since.

    Authentic Connections with Authentic Culture

    When we embark on our journey into the unknown, we often find ourselves thrust into the company of strangers and forced to engage with them (we introverts need a bit of forcing sometimes). 

    Let’s be honest, these days travel is so easy that it is often difficult to actually connect with locals or even with travellers. In fact, between all these apps for travel, Uber Rides, Uber Eats, and Airbnb people visit places without interacting with culture at all.

    But, getting lost, ending up in a random, empty town and maybe at some point having to muster the courage to ask for help, forces us to connect with people from different cultures in a true and meaningful way. And take it from me, the locals are the culture, not the old monuments that the guidebooks tell you to go and photograph.

    All these guidebooks and still lost.

    Unearthing Hidden Gems

    As we wander the wild, untamed landscapes of our adventure, we chance upon those hidden gems that lie concealed from the prying eyes of mainstream tourism. It’s in these secret, off-the-beaten-path locales that we can uncover the true essence of a place.

    Here’s the thing: when you stick to the plan you may well see all the “highlights” but, by going off-plan you discover hidden gems. For example, the famous Blue Fort at Jodhpur is indeed impressive, but the lesser-known fort at Bundi (which you can explore like Indiana Jones) is one of the best places I ever visited while backpacking India and a highlight of my fifteen years of travelling was getting trapped here, surrounded by hordes of shrieking and angry monkeys, whilst in the throes of a powerful LSD trip. Ah, sweet memories…

    Patience, Adaptability, and Resilience

    As we face the perils and challenges of the unknown, we cultivate inner strength and steely resolve to surmount any obstacle that life can throw at us. The challenges we meet and conquer while “getting lost” can often equip us with skills for life.

    Think of it like this. If you spend your whole trip staying in the “go-to areas” then things risk becoming too comfortable. But when you rock up at the arse-end of nowhere, where nobody speaks English and nobody knows what to do with tourists (except maybe eat them?), you’re forced to think on your feet, to be patient, and to become resilient.

    It’s About the Journey, Dude!

    When we embrace the art of getting un-found, we can learn to savour each and every step of our voyage instead of rushing from one town or attraction to the next. Getting lost invites us to drink deeply from the well of experience (rather than merely sipping sheepishly from the cup of to-do lists…), and to cherish the journey as much as the destination.

    Taken before this plan went COMPLETELY out the window.

    If, like me, you are naturally impatient this can be really bloody challenge. But it’s in the winding, unpredictable paths that we forge our own destiny, crafting a tale of adventure and triumph that is uniquely our own.

    Next time you are on a bus or train across Thailand, try looking out of the window at the towns passing by rather than searching Instagram for #thailand. Or even better, try speaking in broken Thai to that nice family sitting opposite you.

    Small Pack Problems? 😉

    Wanna know how to pack like a pro? Well for a start you need the right gear….

    These are packing cubes for the globetrotters and compression sacks for the real adventurers – these babies are a traveller’s best kept secret. They organise yo’ packing and minimise volume too so you can pack MORE.

    Or, y’know… you can stick to just chucking it all in your backpack…

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    Practical Tips for Embracing the Unknown

    As we journey forth into the unknown, we shall do so armed with some tried and tested tips and tricks that will help you navigate the wilder world…

    1. Leave Room for Spontaneity

    It’s crucial that we strike a balance between planning and spontaneity. Yes, you do need to do some preparation (such as making sure your passport is up to date or isn’t sopping wet!) and there is nothing wrong whatsoever with sketching out a bit of an itinerary.

    However, wherever possible DO leave some room for the unexpected. Mark out a day or two in your itinerary where the agenda for the day is simply to “allow the winds of fate to guide my journey”. (Yes write it word for word just like that if you feel poetic.)

    Or if that’s too much then maybe, simply walk back from that “must-see” museum to your digs. Take in the streets that line the route back.

    2. Don’t skimp on Gear

    I strongly advise you to arm yourself with the necessary tools and skills to conquer any challenge that may arise. Of course, getting lost and having an unexpected adventure is by its very definition impossible to plan for. As such, you cannot possibly know exactly what you will need when you don’t really even know where you are going.

    But there are some basic pieces of gear that I always have on me when I head out for a (mis)adventure;

    Grayl water bottle
    The Grayl GEOPRESS saves some serious $$$
    • A good daypack. Personally, I swear by the Osprey Quasar. It’s 28 litres, has 2 water bottle pockets and a hip belt.
    • Install Maps.me and download the local map before you set off. Just in case…
    • Comfortable walking shoes or boots.
    • A kagool or rain jacket.
    • A rubix cube or deck of cards. AKA hours of entertainment.
    • Water bottle – preferably filled with water. If you are going full off-grid, make it a filter-water bottle that you can refill from (almost) any water source.

    3. Safety and Precautions While Getting Lost

    Though we may revel in the excitement and chaos of getting lost (adrenaline junkies we are), it’s crucial that we also exercise a degree of caution and common sense. I mean, that one time I was exploring the woods around Sarajevo (with no guide, no map, no fucking clue where I was going) could have gone very badly wrong had I not known that there are unexploded mines in them there hills. As such, naturally, I didn’t stray too far into the wilds.

    Always be aware of your surroundings, trust your instincts, and don’t hesitate to seek the guidance of locals when in doubt. Remember, my fellow vagabonds, safety first!

    4. Get Good Insurance BEFORE You Get Lost

    Not all insurances cover crazy trips. Make sure you’re choosing good insurance to get your ass covered.

    ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

    They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

    SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

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    Inspiring Tales of Getting Lost

    Perhaps you have read this far and are still wondering what is so good about getting lost (on purpose). Well, aside from gaining some newfound patience, wisdom, resilience, and killer abs, you will also inevitably wind up with some cool-ass stories which will be guaranteed to impress your mates over beers back home (or terrify your grandma over tea).

    Here are a few of mine…

    Hitchhiking in the Negev Desert

    Mahktesh Ramon is “Israel’s Grand Canyon”, a huge crater in the middle of the desert which spans for miles and miles. One day, me and a dude I met in a hostel the previous night decided to explore it.

    But thirsty for adventure, we decided to head in the opposite direction of the nicely painted trail arrows. The result was hitchhiking the rocky desert for hours, barely encountering another soul. It was all fun and games until the sun got up, water started running low, and we realized it was a long hike back… and we had no idea which way back even was…

    Fortunately, we eventually hit the highway that runs through the middle of the Negev desert and got busy thumbing. Eventually, we squeezed into an overloaded tiny rusty car and as we started driving it became clear that we had been picked up by some desert hippies tripping on Acid.

    Bloody hippies.
    Photo: @themanwiththetinyguitar

    Still, the driver (dressed in a glittery, gold jumpsuit) kept his shit pretty well (we didn’t crash, phew). At the end of the journey, they brought us to Mitze Ramon’s best vegan restaurant, and then on to the coolest jazz club!

    Exploring rock-cut temples in the snow

    Many moons ago, myself and my brother found ourselves driving through the snow-covered landscapes of Turkey. It was record-breaking weather. We only saw a few other cars, and several of these had crashed off the road. We made our way to Cappadocia, a truly fascinating place filled with rock-cut tombs, tunnels and places of worship. Throwing caution to the wind, we parked the car and hiked off into the unknown…

    We quickly became lost but found a tunnel leading into a boulder and then upwards into a rock-cut cavern. Here we stayed, nestled warm inside the giant rock, looking out as fresh snow dusted the fairy chimneys and incredible landscapes…

    My whole fucking twenties…

    For many years, I was a lost young man really very unsure what the fuck I was doing. During that time, I saw amazing places, I wrote some beautiful words which I’m still proud of, I made meaningful romantic connections, I made my first friends, and I connected deeper with myself… I discovered my values, found my limits, pushed past them, conquered anxieties, had new anxieties pop up in their stead, and worked through those as well…

    “working through those…”

    I’ve been on the road all my life, and for most of my life, I did not have a plan… I had goals, and strategies, habits I was working on cultivating, but very often I felt incredibly lost, and it was within that sense of the unknown that I finally found the man I was to become.

    Traveling the world as a broke backpacker, embracing adventure, being flexible and rolling with the punches – deploying good humour and optimism to keep myself moving – this has been the greatest experience of my life, and I am forever grateful.

    How to Get Started with Adventure Travel

    Have I whetted your appetite and got you psyched for a proper bit of improv, semi-unplanned travel?! Are you itching to get out there and get lost but are not quite sure how to do it artfully? 

    Well here are my top tips on where to begin.

    1. Choose the Right Destination

    Some destinations lend themselves better to this kind of travel than others. For example, getting lost in the wrong neighbourhood of Miami could well cost you your phone and your cash. Other countries – like Ethiopia – can only effectively be travelled through some very serious pre-planning.

    The key here is to pick a destination which is relatively safe, cheap destinations are good too, and somewhere there is a good chance of being ‘welcomed’ into strange places. In truth, most countries have potential but Broke Backpacker favourites include India, Pakistan, Myanmar, The Philippines, Mexico, and pretty much all of Eastern Europe. My tips are to choose an area that is affordable, that has public transport and isn’t currently at war.

    2. Saving Money on Adventure Travel

    When you don’t really know where you are going and what you are going to be doing, it’s hard to work out exactly how much money you need. As such, calculating an exact budget can prove tough. 

    However, as a general rule try to find out how much public transport, food, water, and one night’s accommodation costs in the area you are headed to and make sure you have enough + 20% to cover everything over your trip. In reality, you don’t usually spend that much money when you’re budget travelling – but it’s best to be prepared.

    *Insert Abba song here*

    3. Building a Community of Fellow Adventure Travellers

    Adventure travel can be experienced alone or as a group opportunity. Personally, I find that travelling in groups often kind of dilutes the potential for adventure so I usually go alone or with one trusted travel companion.

    If you don’t currently know anybody who shares your enthusiasm for adventure travel then don’t hesitate to go alone. Honesty, once you start having adventures then you WILL start to meet travelers who share your thirst for adventure. 

    The Art of Getting Lost: Final Food for Thought

    Well, there we are guys, this journey through the wild, untamed realms of adventure travel draws to a close. But before we part ways, let us raise a horn of ale in honour of the exhilarating, transformative experiences that await us, and to the fearless explorers that we shall become!

    In the words of the great philosopher Joseph Campbell, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” Let us all let this be our guiding mantra…. Because, basically, what Joe is trying to say is ‘get out of your comfort zone motherfucker, this is where the growth begins…’ 

    Onwards, to everywhere and nowhere.