A Beginner’s Guide to Living a Life of Adventure and Travel

Wimea Bay Rock Jumpers

To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.” -The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

I remember the first time I played The Legend of Zelda for Nintendo.

Your character is just a little kid, dropped in a big scary world, with no instruction. You see a cave, and an old man says, “It’s dangerous to go alone. Take this.” You are handed a sword, and thus begins your adventure. You go on to climb mountains, cross seas, explore caves, conquer dungeons, and save the world.

Link taught us that the world is out there to explore. Yes, it’s dangerous, and nobody’s going to hold your hand the entire time…but epic adventure awaits.

And isn’t that what our parents taught us as well?  We’re encouraged to go anywhere and do anything we set our minds to.  We dream of seeing far off lands, going on amazing adventures, and becoming something like an astronaut.

And then we grow up.

We set this idea of adventure aside until “things get less busy,” “when I can afford it,” or “when the timing is right.”  We quietly brush aside this desire for our adventure, watch movies that take place in exotic locations, and get lost in books about heroic characters that save the day.

Well children, today you are planning your adventure. Whether on the far side of the globe or the far side of your town – the world awaits.

My not so secret life

Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Last week, I watched “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

This movie sends Walter (played by Ben Stiller), a risk-averse desk jockey who daydreams of being adventurous, on a worldwide adventure that had me smiling and laughing throughout.

Walter Mitty

Please watch this movie this week: rent it on Amazon, download it on iTunes, get it out of Redbox,or pirate it. I don’t care, just watch it.

Had I watched this movie six years ago, I would have spent the next few hours daydreaming of life like Walter, longboarding through Iceland, climbing the Himalayas, and jumping into shark infested waters….and then have gone back to a normal life.

And I think that’s the reaction a lot of people experience these days: “What a great piece of fiction! Must be nice…now back to my regularly scheduled programming.”

However, since making a concerted effort since taking Nerd Fitness full time 3.5 years back, I I try to take a different attitude when encountering books, movies, and games full of adventure.   

Instead of living vicariously through the character in the movie, I try to see if there’s a an equivalent real world adventure to be had:

  • After spending my years watching James Bond flicks, I decided instead to become him, and lived a weekend in Monaco like James Bond.
  • After spending my youth watching Top Gun, I found out I could actually fly a stunt plane. So I did.
  • Playing games like Uncharted or Assassin’s Creed made me want to explore ancient ruins and cities. So I did, exploring the ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru and Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

I’m not telling you these things to impress you or show off, but rather to impress upon you what happens when a risk-averse, picky-eating nerd decides to take works of fiction and dedicate his life to making them a reality!

So, when I watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, watching Ben Stiller longboarding through the stunning Icelandic landscape, I immediately thought: “What are the next steps I can take to make this a reality?”

Four years ago, I actually rearranged my entire life around these adventures, asked you to help me put it together, and then set off on a worldwide journey to kick things off.

I called it my Epic Quest of Awesome.  And it allowed me to exercise around the world:

Exercising Around the World:

Over the past handful of months, you’ll notice that I haven’t crossed anything new off my list, and I haven’t leveled up.  It certainly wasn’t intentional – it just kind of “happened.”

Like those few pounds that add up every year unexpectedly…

Like those dreams and goals we had that got shelved then forgotten…

Sound familiar?  Sure, I’ve been traveling throughout the states to attend conferences, but I haven’t been focusing on the adventure part of Nerd Fitness – the reason I started Nerd Fitness to begin with!

Watching this movie jolted me back to life.

I realized I was spending all of my time and energy sitting at my desk focusing on the unimportant, not having the balance to my life that I discuss here on the site. I had to remind myself that I can’t expect the readers of Nerd Fitness to find balance and make healthy living and adventure a priority if I don’t do the same.

Get inspired, take action

Sunrise Adeventure

Like you and me, Walter Mitty has a problem. He day dreams, getting lost in his brain dreaming thinking of all the things he WANTS to do, never actually doing anything.  He uses these mini-escapes to satisfy his desire to HAVE adventure, without actually having to take the step of doing so.

I want to ask you: what do you day-dream of doing but never get closer to accomplishing?

  • Is there a place you’ve always wanted to go?
  • An activity you’ve always wanted to complete?
  • An event you’ve always wanted to attend?

Think back to the last great movie you saw, or the last great book you read.  Where did it take place?  Regardless of whether it’s fiction or not fiction, I bet there’s an adventure within that story that made you say “I want to go to there.”

I’ve been refocusing my efforts on the Epic Quest list, and plotting the next adventure.  For starters:

  • I went Skeet shooting last week for the first time, and even hit a few targets!
  • Soon I’ll begin Krav Maga lessons, getting me one step closer to becoming a real life Jason Bourne.
  • I’m close to nailing five consecutive strict muscle ups, and less than a month from 60 second handstand balancing.
  • I’ve been playing WAY more music lately; my friend Adam Moore and I had our second official “band” practice the other night, and I’m on the hunt for a violin instructor to start lessons.
  • This summer I’m off to a foreign land: either Croatia for The Yacht Week or something equally epic.

There are no words that can describe that feeling that results from how ALIVE you feel when you get to experience these once-in-a-lifetime (or first-in-a-lifetime) moments.

I have no doubt that these moments improve us in all facets, from our personal lives to our professional lives.

Richard Branson, one of my heroes, built one of the largest, most popular and successful companies in the world while prioritizing personal adventures and challenges throughout.

Why do it at all?

Why do it

I have to expect some people are reading this and saying “why do it at all? I’m content where I am doing what I am doing.”  And that’s awesome. Though, for those in the other camp…those who feel a desire to do something new.

To feel curious. To explore.  To be reminded that the world in which we live is absolutely amazing.  For those people, Mark Twain said it best:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

For far too many of us though, we can satisfy that curiosity from the comfort of our couch or with the character in a story, movie or game.

And I get it:

  • “Steve, I have a real job. I can’t go galavanting around the globe.”
  • “Steve I have a family, I have to prioritize them first.”
  • “Steve, I just want to lose weight and I’m happy with my games, books, and movies.

We all have obligations, things that are important to us, and things that need to be done.  And I don’t expect everybody to quit their jobs, shirk all responsibilities and become nomads.

However, I do want to challenge you to think differently.  After all, one of the Rules of the Nerd Fitness Rebellion is to “question everything,” including how you spend your hours each day and what’s REALLY important to you.

I want you to question everything:

  • Is that bigger house, or new car going to bring you happiness? Is more money? Studies say no.
  • Is there any reason you can’t save a bit longer and take your family/spouse on your trip with you?
  • Do you really not have the time, or are you prioritizing the unimportant?
  • Is working more and more the answer?  According to the top 5 regrets of the dying, nope.

I’m doing everything in my power to make sure this life is a life worth living.  I know I could get hit by a bus tomorrow, or I could live to be 115 years old.

Either way, each day is an opportunity to enjoy the gift I’ve been given – a beating heart, a healthy body, and an active brain – or the chance to take it for granted.

The challenge


Today I am going to challenge you.

I want you to dust off that bucket list you’ve had for years, but never actually done anything with.  It’s time to cross something off.  Specifically, something that brings you happiness, a sense of awe, or causes you to lose track of time.

Think carefully about this adventure.

It doesn’t need to be a crazy trip to a foreign country (though that’s okay too), but it does need to be something that challenges and excites you.  It doesn’t need to be a place, but something that reminds you today is a great day to be alive.

If you find yourself stuck in a rut, or that you feel like you’re drifting through life instead of truly enjoying it, maybe shaking things up and going on an adventure is exactly what you need. Pushing your limits doesn’t feel natural for most of us. And once we start, it takes dedication to avoid getting “comfortable” – it happened to me!

As a bookworm and nerd myself, I wanted to share with you my favorite resources for inspiring me to get off my ass and get out there and explore.  I watch these things to remind me of two things:

  • The world is full of places that are so beautiful, they are beyond words.
  • The world is full of amazing people who do amazing things and can help you do the same.

A Story for Tomorrow (I watch this at least once a week):

Where the Hell is Matt (the video that inspired me to travel):

My TEDx Talk on how I turned my life into a game:

Along with these quick hits of inspiration, these are my favorite books that will encourage you to have an adventure:

The 4-Hour Workweek The book that started it all for me – I read this book, and bought NerdFitness.com two days later.  Even if you have no desire to start your own business or travel, the first section of this book is worth the price alone.  I equate it to Neo waking up in the real world for the first time in the Matrix.

The Alchemist – I didn’t actually read this book until half-through my round-the-world adventure, but it made me feel like I was on the right path.

How to Travel the World for $50 a DayIf you’re somebody that DOES want to travel, check out this resource from my buddy Nomadic Matt, simplifying travel for even the most daunting of trips.

Common excuses, demolished


“Steve, I can’t go on a grand worldwide adventure! I can’t spend time away from my job/city/apartment.”

That’s okay, you can ABSOLUTELY still have adventures while living a normal and having a normal job  – it just means you need to plan out your adventures further in advance.  And who says adventures have to take you outside of your home town?  Remember The Goonies? They found adventure right in their own back yard, and so can you.

“I’m not rich and can’t afford a trip.”  Who said adventures have to be expensive?

But let’s first make sure you’re not just using this as excuse.  Do you have cable TV? Do you rack up giant bar tabs each weekend?  Every time we spend a dollar, we are voting on what our priorities are.  Once you get past basic “food, clothing, and shelter,”

I have a friend that’s has a moderate salary as a teacher, but goes on fantastic adventures that she’ll be telling her grandkids about some day.  How does she do it? She doesn’t own a TV, she has a 6-year old laptop, and a very basic wardrobe. She’s voted that adventure is important to her, so that’s where her disposable income goes.

You get to choose where your money goes – spend wisely and adventure awaits!  

“I have a wife/husband and kids and a regular job.”  Fantastic. Include them!  This might push back how soon you can go on your adventure, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have adventures.  I know tons of families that have chosen to buck the trend and have adventure – there are some amazing examples in the documentary “I’m Fine Thanks,” which is well worth the $5.

“I’m afraid; I can’t travel alone or I don’t feel safe.”  This is a concern I had as well; after all, all we hear about on the news here in the States is how every place in the world is dangerous.

And yes, I realize that there are more things that females to worry about with solo travel (please read my friend Jodi’s amazing article about this subject).

I can only speak from my personal experiences, but I’ll tell you that I’ve been to six continents and a few dozen countries and only felt truly unsafe twice: biking down a mountain in Peru, and climbing a mountain in Alaska – neither situation involved danger from other humans, just danger from my own stupidity 🙂

You can get hit by a bus tomorrow, or a piano could fall on your head.   We can’t control when we die, but we can control how much of an adventure we’ve had before the credits roll.

But…” Before you send another “but Steve” in my direction, I really want you to think about them.  Are they REAL excuses? Or are they merely things you continue to tell yourself to make you feel better about not having an adventure?

I’ve found that with most of my excuses, they were a scapegoat for me to avoid taking action.

Go forth. Explore.

Borobudur Adventure

Hopefully at this point you are inspired to remind yourself that you are alive today. That you’re getting healthy with the help of the Nerd Fitness community, 

I want you to have a grand adventure.  I want you to feel that moment of “I can’t believe this is happening now” and “how did I get here?”

  • If it’s a place you want to visit, set a date for when you are going to go, and set aside your first dollar.
  • If it’s an event you want to attend, spend 10 minutes today researching what it will take to get you there.
  • Maybe it’s a new instrument or art class – spend 10 minutes today putting the firs step in place to make it happen.
  • If it’s an adventure within your own country/state/town, take the first step.

Curiosity is amazing and part of what makes us human.  ACTING on that curiosity is what makes us Nerd Fitness Rebels.

Remember, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. However, hope without action leaves us locked up.

I want to hear from you:

  • What is ONE adventure you are NOW actively working towards, and the FIRST step you’re taking TODAY to bring it to reality? (Or a barrier and how you are going to overcome it.)
  • If you are somebody that’s not interested in adventure, I’d love to hear from you too: what’s another way that you plan on challenging yourself, and what are you doing TODAY about it?

I’m going to bribe you, too.  Leave a comment, and answer the question above.  We’ll pick a winner at random and give them a free NF shirt.  Why is leaving a comment important? Because it makes your goals active and public. It puts them out there in the world.

Get started.


PS: If you are interested in learning more about actually planning out the details of a trip, I highly recommend you check out another resource I wrote over a year ago called “How to Finally Accomplish that Big Item on your Bucket List,” which goes into tactical detail on how to make it a reality.

THIS WEEK’S REBEL HERO: Julia H in the Grand Canyon:

Julia H

From Julia: “Hi there!  “I figured a precarious out-crop of rocks at the Grand Canyon would be a great place for a NF shirt photo, I hope you guys like it!”

Um, yes. We love it. Julia, thanks for reppin’ the Rebellion and being such a badass, and actively seeking out adventure.  I shall do 100 push ups in your honor 🙂

Wanna be the next Rebel Hero?  Take a picture of you doing something epic in your Nerd Fitness gear and email us at Contact@NerdFitness.com – we’ll be posting these at the ends of articles and on our new Nerd Fitness Instagram account (@Nerd_Fitness).


photo source: David Pickett: Lego Movie, Trey Ratcliff: Temple, Beat Kung: Amazon, Trey Ratcliff: Borobudur, Trey Ratcliff: Sunrise


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