I’ve certainly never thought so.
Until Lonely Planet sent me a review copy of its 1000 Ultimate Adventures, one of the increasingly popular (or overly simplistic, depending on your perspective) list books that allow you to pick and choose.
I like these books, especially for thumbing through when I don’t have a block of time to read. It’s what I call my ‘commuter library’: I read list books on the train.
So I opened this heavy tome with trepidation, mostly because adventurous isn’t exactly what I’d call myself. I can’t swim (so you won’t catch me diving), I have vertigo (mountain walking requires measured doses of Valium) and things like bunjee jumping or ballooning are what I consider spectator sports: you do it, I’ll watch.
Having been a foreign correspondent and roughed it in countries at war, I’m not an absolute wimp. But my type of adventure has never been for the physical thrill. The less of that, the better.
1000 Ultimate Adventures is divided into what you’d expect from an adventure book, with chapter names like wild flights, downhill dashes, hot volcanic adventures, highest treks… not for me, you’d expect.
But then I opened it up and started finding things that I’d either done (#425, storm watching on Vancouver Island, #721, photographic safaris in Africa, or #844, visited Myanmar before the tourist rush) or would definitely consider doing – like #743, birding in West Papua or #658, exploring Tierra del Fuego.
If you’re a real adventure maven, would you consider #642, rafting down the Zambezi River? Or #613, ziplining in Colombia? What about #553, paragliding in Chamonix? That’s just down the road from me and I get perverse satisfaction from watching people throw themselves off a mountain with only a parachute.
So now I’m getting into it! I’m feeling a cool, vicarious thrill just reading about things like motorbiking and tower-running and sea kayaking and mountain climbing. I wouldn’t do these things myself – but I’m glad someone does so I can get some second-hand shivers.
This is a wonderful book if you’re on the fence about where to go and what to do there. Just leafing through it gave me dozens of ideas of what I could – and couldn’t – do or see: extremely faraway places, famous explorers, ultimate border crossings and classic odysseys. It’s the perfect source of travel inspiration. It will make you dream.
The book lists 1000 adventures, but nowhere does it say you have to experience them all. I’ve sampled about 100 of them, and I’d probably consider doing another hundred or so. Adventure is what you make it.
Now doesn’t that make me an adventure traveler? Just a little bit?