The first time I traveled abroad was in college. Someone else planned the itinerary and I was cradled in the care of the where, what and when of the group. That 10-week road trip around the United Kingdom is still one of my most memorable and fulfilling travel experiences. While today I often travel independently, I deeply value the simplicity and ease achieved by hiring an outfitter when traveling—especially when venturing abroad. The romantic notion of planning a trip is quickly diluted when managing reservations, time zones and visa applications. And while unlimited resources are available with the internet, the overwhelming number of choices can often lead to discouragement and confusion. Some say spontaneity is the best kind of adventure, but I say, leave the details to someone else and enjoy traveling with a spontaneous spirit, every perfectly planned step of the way.
Hiring an outfitter takes the headache out of planning a trip, leaving you to simply enjoy the experience. There are many outfitters to choose from, but not all outfitters are created equal. Recreational Equipment Inc., the co-op more affectionately known as REI, is a well-known and respected adventure gear company that has been offering trips through their offshoot company REI Adventures for more than 30 years. Their vast network of stores, authentic origin story, and incredible on-the-ground talent makes REI a great place to start when looking to try something new. Whether you are a novice outdoorsperson or an experienced mountaineer, REI’s offerings (both in the stores and on the trail) run the gamut—able to please every level of adventurer. And while the participants and guides come from all walks of life, their love for the outdoors acts as a bonding agent for guests and staff alike, resulting in unparalleled camaraderie and friendships.
I married an expedition adventurer, but I am not always up for the strenuous trips that fuel his passion, so a compromise is often made. Not everyone who loves the outdoors wants to go backpacking for 10 days through the Swiss Alps and REI Adventures has a selection of Level 2 trips to accommodate travelers with a desire to slow things down. With the perfect blend of outdoor exploration and cultural offerings, these trips offer REI Adventures’ signature outdoor experience at a more leisurely pace. Winter hike through the Great Smoky Mountains all the while being pampered with Southern hospitality, or explore Italy’s Amalfi Coast by foot and kayak, learning to cook from local experts and sampling wine from the region’s wineries along the way.
When my daughter was 14 months old, I took my first trip alone since giving birth, and between the quiet plane ride, peaceful hotel rooms and simple urban adventures, I began to rediscover my pre-child self. Traveling solo is one of the best ways to come face to face with you and your relationship with the world. Whether looking for some individual rejuvenation time, focused self-exploration, or simply needing to expand your horizons, REI Adventures offers solo travel on almost all of their trips. These trips are especially helpful for those interested in traveling alone but not interested in “singles trips” that focus on matchmaking. And while many tour operators charge additional fees for solo travelers, REI accommodates those traveling solo by partnering them with other solo travelers in an effort to keep costs down.
Years ago, I climbed a snow-covered mountain to spend three days with my now husband and since then, our many adventures have proven over and over again how compatible we are. Traveling with your partner or spouse is a great way to deeply connect without the distractions of work and technology. The gift of travel is an experience whose memories and stories will continue to feed your love for one another over many years. REI Adventures offers trips in some of the world’s most romantic landscapes, all with an active and local angle. Imagine exploring the best of Tuscan wineries, olive groves and cuisine, but getting there by foot (forget counting calories!). Whether cycling from Prague to Budapest or hiking through Tuscany, the natural romance of each location is the perfect place to spend some quality time.
With REI Adventures, character is paramount with every trip. Each itinerary is carefully curated to ensure maximum comfort and unparalleled authenticity. Whether staying in a private pensione in Italy, frolicking in lavender fields in France, or sharing a meal with a local tribe in Africa, the personality of each location shines through each experience—priceless planning for an unforgettable trip every time.
Activities: Backpacking, Climbing, Cruising, Cycling, Mountain Biking, Hiking/Trekking, Kayaking, Multisport, Wildlife Safaris, Winter Sports
Levels 1-5 (Relaxed—Strenuous)
Locations: Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, Europe, Latin America, North America
Popular Destinations: Alps, Everest/Himalaya, Galapagos Islands, Kilimanjaro, Machu Picchu, Patagonia, US National Parks
Group Size: 16 or fewer; private trips available
Mountain lover, novice adventurer, writer, maker, baker, and idea generator. Jordan Martindell is a native California who has found home in Colorado. She spends her days balancing an active outdoor lifestyle with work, marriage and motherhood. She believes everything can be considered an adventure when viewed through the correct lens. A California girl at heart, she can often be found wearing flip-flops and a puffy jacket. She has written for Elevation Outdoors Magazine, Dorado Magazine, Outdoor Retailer Magazine, Colorado Expression magazine, RootsRated.com and offyonder.com.
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