You want something different. Something more adventurous.
You want something different. Something more adventurous. (Photo: Brendan Leonard)

Put More Self-Flagellation in Your Vacation

Wouldn’t you like to get away? To a place where you can be pampered and just relax? Of course you wouldn’t.

You want something different. Something more adventurous.

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This is the 21st century. We’re already soft enough from sitting 13 hours a day. You want something different. Something more adventurous. Something more masochistic. Here are a few ideas to put the “wow, this is really miserable” in your “vacation.” 

Instead of: Getting a hot stone massage
Try: An unplanned open bivy! Why have a luxurious experience that will have you wishing it could never end, instead of freezing your ass off on a cliff edge, huddling with your climbing partner, and counting the minutes until dawn, just hoping you live through it?

Instead of: A detoxifying spa seaweed wrap
Try: Getting ripped out of a whitewater raft by hundreds of gallons of river water! You’ll love the sudden, slightly terrifying feeling of being churned through nature’s spin cycle as you flail and try to stay afloat until someone from a boat throws you a line.

Instead of: A posh ski vacation in Aspen
Try: Ice climbing! The combination of searing cold, rock-hard chunks of ice falling and hitting your face and/or knees, and your extremities going numb and excruciatingly warming up again will make you wonder why more people aren’t lining up to do it!

Instead of: A long walk on a sunlit beach
Try: Mountaineering! While getting out of bed for the day at 1 a.m., or even better, 11 p.m. the night before, and then tromping through snow up thousands of feet of elevation might have you wondering how it could get any better, wait until you have to crap in a plastic bag while roped to someone else—and then have to carry it with you the rest of the way up and down the mountain!

Instead of: Sitting on the beach and sipping mojitos
Try: Bikepacking in the desert! Enjoy both pedaling your fully-loaded bike and getting off and pushing it through deep sand and up steep inclines. Bonus: Sand in your toothbrush!

Instead of: Spreading out in a king-size memory foam bed
Try: Cramming yourself into the back of a truck, van, or station wagon filled with outdoor gear—or better yet, sleeping on a slowly leaking camping pad that will subtly remind your shoulders and hips of the unforgiving rigidity of the ground at 3 a.m.

Instead of: A Jacuzzi suite overlooking the pool
Try: Pooping in a hole in the ground! Nothing complicated here, just like it sounds—and when you’re done you get to wipe your ass with a stick and/or a rock!

Instead of: An all-inclusive luxury resort
Try: A vacation where nothing is included! Bring all your own equipment, food, and water for several days out to the middle of nowhere, find a spot where you can’t see another human being, and hang out for a few cold nights. Oh, and be careful with your stuff, or bears might eat your food, or your face!

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