Traveling the world is on many people’s bucket lists, but with school loans, car payments, mortgages, and wage stagnation, being able to afford it may still be a few years off. However, your lack of current funding doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy in some more affordable mini trips, while you’re getting your future financial self in order.
Travel is first and foremost a way to broaden your mind and experience the world, and the world is right around you. While it may see like you need to head to the Andes or the Amazon to have an adventure, the good, old USA has plenty to offer, and because you won’t need a passport or elaborate means of transportation, it’s a lot more affordable, too. From taking on the Iditarod to properly experiencing the Grand Canyon, here is a look at five fantastic adventures you can have right here within the United States.
1. Do the Iditarod
While actually “doing” the Iditarod is a considerable investment of time, training, resources, and cash — not to mention the reality that you also have to qualify to enter it — it’s nevertheless a challenge that will change your perspective on the world and your own abilities should you ever seek to take it on.
Held every March, this 1,100 mile dog sled race goes from Anchorage, Alaska to Nome, Alaska, and it’s infamous for bringing some of the world’s toughest men, women, and huskies to their knees. A challenging climate and fierce landscape combine to make an already formidable task a nearly impossible one.
If it feels like too much for you, at least consider booking a flight to the region and taking part in a guided dog mushing experience.
Aim for Hiking’s Triple Crown
The Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail are three of the most challenging and prestigious hiking trails in America, and together, they constitute hiking’s Triple Crown. Each trail is over 2,000 miles long, with the lengthiest — the Continental Divide Trail — clocking in at 3,100 miles.
Fulfilling the demands of these three trails requires you to hike almost 8,000 miles over some of the toughest terrain in the country. You’ll walk through 22 states and stride through a vertical gain of over 190 miles. Less than 200 people have every completed the feat, and it’s no wonder — the fastest hike of all three trails still took 239 days. If you haven’t got that kind of time, you could take them on in pieces.
Go Snowshoeing in New Hampshire
Another great way to experience the rush and thrill of the natural world would be spending part of your bleak midwinter snowshoeing in New Hampshire.
Known for snow that lasts until late spring, New Hampshire’s White Mountains boast beautiful scenery that make winter camping and snowshoeing feel as much like a luxury vacation as a working one.
However, because of fast weather changes, visitors to the area are reminded to always be alert lest frostbite, avalanche, or a late spring snowstorm get the best of you.
Run the Sandmine Challenge
An underground 5k challenge run, this obstacle-laden race is a perfect excuse to get yourself in shape and visit the city of St. Louis. You’ll need a headlamp — you’ll be running in a mine, after all — and your shoes will get wet. It’s the perfect combination of running and spelunking. At the end of it all, there’s a post-race party with beer, food, and live music.
You can also take advantage of being in St. Louis where the St. Louis Gateway Arch, St. Louis Rams and Cardinals, and Forest Park — one of the country’s largest and most beautiful urban parks — all await.
Do the Grand Canyon
Carved out by the waters of the Colorado River over millions of years, the Grand Canyon is one of the most impressive natural landscapes in all of North America. Take a couple weeks away from your day job and hike down and explore the recesses of this remarkable place. Camp and hike, and experience the world at a totally different pace than you usually do.
There are also plenty of heart-thumping options available, too, if you feel comfortable rocketing down the rapids on a whitewater rafting expedition.
Adventures aren’t just what you have in other countries. From running underground to snowshoeing in New Hampshire, the United States has plenty to offer the wanderlusting adventurer, so long as you’re willing to stay a little closer to home.
About Dani Blanchette
I am a freelance travel and music photographer and creator of GoingNomadic.com.
I love music, food, and exploring cities without guidebooks. I’ve flown a helicopter, hitchhiked down the east coast USA, and once snuck into the back of a zoo (in Serbia) and pet a lion.
I am always up for an adventure, and sometimes I videotape them.