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Plan an Adventure to Look Forward to

By George Hannan January 26, 2024 Travel

A month or so into winter now. Short days, lots of rain, sometimes heavy. And quite a few cold, grey days. It’s not all miserable and depressing though, as we have the wild Atlantic on our doorstep, with kilometers of coastal boardwalks for exercise and fresh sea air.

It’s a spectacle to watch the majestic waves curling and crashing onto the beaches when storms brew offshore.

But if warm, clear days and a sunshine fix is what one needs, it isn’t always practical to just up and jet off to some sun-soaked destination. What can one do?

What would be wonderful is a mental ‘tele-transporter’, to borrow an idea from Star Trek, to sidestep the less appealing side of winter for something more uplifting. We’re not there yet with tele-transporter technology. But might it be possible to improvise?

A great way is to have something exciting and memorable in the pipeline to look forward to. Everyone will make their own choices on what that might be, depending on their circumstances and interests.

Planning an Adventure

And for us this turns out to be our next adventure trip later this year. A trip to hike some of the Via Francigena trail in Tuscany, Italy. Probably about 10 days of hiking, or about 180km, from Lucca south towards Rome. For us this is super-exciting and adds to our experience of hiking in many countries.

Choosing and planning the trip is a great way for us to keep the winter months buzzing with a sense of anticipation. Giving the imagination some ammunition and freedom to conjure up scenes and paint mind-pictures around the possibilities.

I think we all do this – imagining people, places, things before the event, before we’ve ever set eyes on any of them. And it’s all part of the fun, part of human nature.

The reason we’ve chosen this particular adventure is we enjoy classic multi-day hiking trails and exploring the historic villages and towns along the way. And my lovely partner has a smattering of Italian from her younger years. It’s also within a couple of hours’ flight from the airport that’s very convenient to our home.

Planning Within Our Abilities

But, how ambitious or extravagant an adventure is enough, or too much? It all depends.

Setting the scene for us, our combined age is just one year shy of 140 years. So it’s not as if one has to be Gen Z or Millennial to push the boat out like this. Though if one has had a sedentary lifestyle over the long haul, I wouldn’t recommend starting with something at this level. We’ve been quite active for as long as I can remember and plan to keep that up.

The idea of where to go or what to do can come from anywhere. Maybe something we’ve read, seen on TV, or someone has mentioned. So, we’d recommend keeping an open mind if one is in the market for some kind of adventure.

For us, the best ideas have come from personal contacts, recommendations and conversations. A few examples would be the Camino Frances in Spain, the Le Puy Chemin in France, some adventures and hikes in Brazil, Ireland, the UK, etc. And so many still to do.

Of course the Internet is a great source of information and ideas. But we found it better for just filling in the blanks, like maps, prices, best flight and accommodation bookings, all that sort of thing, once we had discovered a really interesting idea and wanted to look closer.

Sixty and Me has tons of travel ideas to offer.

Look for Genuine Information

The issue with placing too much reliance on information from the Internet is credibility and verifiability. It can be a challenge to discern between genuine information and misinformation, such as fake reviews, exaggeration, bias, vested interests, and the like.

While companies like Google do a creditable job in the online security and safety space, one also needs to be careful of potentially malicious websites and bad online actors in general. A good motto is to take nothing on the Internet as gospel and use other methods to cross-check and verify critical information.

But a good balance between experience, ideas and recommendations from word-of-mouth sources, and online sources should set us up to have a great time. Wonderful aspects of a unique, ‘personalised’, adventure like this are many. Such as the planning, excitement of imagining what it could be like, packing our bags and departing, and finally coming back with stories and memories to treasure. And maybe giving others ideas for their adventures.

We Know What We Enjoy

I guess one of the important things for us is we have kept fairly close to themes that we’ve always enjoyed, and stable countries we know well. Due to the scope and depth of our experience , we haven’t felt the need to go for pre-packaged adventures. I guess another motive for our approach is we prefer to be independent rather than part of a group with a ‘tightly-defined’ program.

Others may prefer to leave the organisation and program to a tour operator. That’s fine if it’s what one prefers and there’s no shortage of great possibilities.

Certainly, the experience to put together a practical, workable plan is important. And it’s usually great fun to improvise on the finer details on the ground. We’ve found that’s where the most memorable and fun experiences come from, including connecting with and tapping into local knowledge.

The Italians are well-known for their friendly, helpful nature. And looking forward to the authentic Italian cuisine, hoping the hiking is enough to burn off some of the pasta and pizza calories.

If you like walking adventures, you can further read ARE YOU A WALKING ENTHUSIAST? 6 TIPS TO ENJOY A WALKING VACATION EXPERIENCE AFTER 60.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you use the cold months to plan for warmer weather adventures? What are you planning for this year? Where did you get your trip idea? Do you prefer to plan your own trip itinerary or depend on tour operators?

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There is an excellent chef on TV in Britain called Rick Stein. A few years a
go he did a series involving doing weekend trips to European cities to experience the food and atmosphere, then he recreated some of the dishes he ate at home.

I’ve had great fun experiencing some of the places he went to over the past few years. My favourite so far has been Copenhagen (I’ve just had my third visit).

Although it’s a little faded and rough round the edges because of its history, I also loved Bologna. Fantastic little family run restaurants in the side streets of the old town and really lovely people. It rained the entire weekend but it really didn’t matter.

George Hannan

Hi Linda, thank you for reading and your comment. Rick Stein’s cuisine is a wonderful theme for choosing and visiting interesting places – I’ve seen some of his programs. I’ve never been to Copenhagen (at least yet) but it’s wonderful when a place like this resonates and draws us back again. Enjoy your travels! Best, G

The Author

George Hannan is enjoying retired life in northern Portugal with his partner Tania. They prioritise healthy, active lives mainly through hiking and cycling in the beautiful Portuguese countryside. George is a keen reader. He also enjoys writing and blogging about health, activity and lifestyle, relating to people in their mature years.

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