Cracking the Adventure Travel Code

By: Bob Kagan

Other Posts by this Author

February 1, 2019 | 50th Anniversary Stories

“Why the hell are we doing this?”…”I don’t want to go!”… Fear, panic, high anxiety.

We were a typical suburban couple with four kids at home and two demanding careers. We had never been adventurers, travelers, hikers or campers. Our trips, such as they were, consisted of beach vacations. For years, to nourish our secret lives, we read brochures from MTS and other companies, imaging ourselves bravely journeying to exotic locals doing all those daring and exotic things we were reading about. We called these our “psychic vacations”—a synthetic version of a real experience.

One day in late 1998, while scrolling through another brochure, we decided that enough was enough. We needed to challenge ourselves and actually take a trip. So we signed up nine months in advance for the six day trek to Machu Picchu and told everyone we knew were going as a bulwark against backing out. Our friends thought we were crazy. Peru at the time was more the stuff of hippie legend and dangerous besides. Nobody we knew had ever gone there. As departure day approached we began to think our friends were right. The Shining Path (a terrorist group) was still active in Peru and we suspected they would find us the perfect couple to take hostage. Packing again for the fifth time our melodrama was at full pitch. We said our goodbyes, got on the plane and whispered, “Our kids are going to be orphans.”

Then we had our epiphany. Focused on our fears, we had never anticipated what was about to happen… how much we would enjoy our guides and traveling companions… the pleasure of camping and the delicious food… the hard work and the sense of accomplishment at the end of every day, and the spectacular views from the bathroom tent pitched on a knife’s edge in the middle of the Andes.

Our fantasy had turned into a reality and because we weren’t taken hostage (!), so began a lifetime odyssey of travel and adventure. We had cracked the code. Twenty years, 50 countries, multi week trekking, remote explorations and deep cultural dives later, that Peru trip ended up profoundly changing our lives. Who knew that accepting cultural differences with grace would become a mantra that manifested itself in every aspect of our lives. The trip that allowed us to conquer our fears has enabled us to see the world through a much broader and deeper lens. We have been enriched by our travels beyond measure.

Bob Kagan, MT Sobek Guest

MT Sobek Trip: Inca Trail & Beyond, 1999