Adventure Inspiration For 2017

If you’re anything like me, a new year means dreaming up new places to visit instead of a new resolution. Every year I vow to travel more, but the only way to do that is to plan ahead and actually do it! The more I adventure outside of my home, the longer my list gets with cities and countries and people I want to experience. The world is a big place, but I try to travel to the less touristy sites and the more native areas. Don’t let being a college student stop you from traveling. Most of the “travel” I’ve done has been related to my university or summer jobs. Look for opportunities in the areas you want to explore! Here is a list of four places that I want to visit in the near future, because why not dream big with traveling?

Europe: Hallstatt, Austria

travel inspiration - europe
Photo by Haitao Zeng

Why? Escape busy cities and explore the beauty of Austria!

I don’t know about you guys, but this little town has been popping up in my Instagram feed like crazy the last few months. From autumn until winter, Hallstatt is a gorgeous town in the lake district of Austria. A UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site for its several thousand years-old past, archeological excavations, and mountains filled with history. Outside of Salzburg (which should be on your MUST-SEE list if it isn’t already), it is easily accessible but a quiet spot in the lake district. A few things to hit while you’re there:  the market square, the Heritage Museum, the Charnel House (a chapel with over 1200 skulls), and the Panorama Trail. Heck, you can take a torch-lit hike of Mammoth cave! For a truly local Austrian experience without the hassle of other tourists, this is the secret adventure you’ve been looking for. Just don’t tell anyone else!

When? April-October, but preferably September-October or December

North America: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

travel inspiration - north america
Photo by Gabriel Santiago

Why? Enjoy the busy and alive city of western Canada!

Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, I realize I have explored very little of the Canadian side of the border. After seeing the Winter Olympics on TV in Vancouver, I knew I had to go there. If you enjoy the rush of the city, this gorgeous site is for an adventurous weekend. Focused on sea-life, you can go on a whale watching excursion or to the world-renown Vancouver Aquarium. Filled with interesting history from the past century, explore the architecture of downtown or in the older neighborhoods. It even has a public market, similar to Seattle’s Pike Place. If you’re up for a longer trek, road trip around the area to the mountains or Vancouver Island to meet the lifelong locals. For a truly unique experience in a welcoming city, visit Vancouver!

When? March-May, September-October

Asia: Chang Mai, Thailand

travel inspiration - asia
Photo by Jesse Schoff

Why? Experience the joy of volunteering at an elephant sanctuary!

I have a little obsession with elephants. However, I get so heartbroken seeing them in touristy areas and attractions, especially when they are mistreated or overworked. If you want to help an elephant who has survived the tourism and entertainment industry, head to the Elephant Nature Park outside of Chang Mai. Explore the chaotic city for a day, then make your way to Lek’s nature park. Spend a day or two helping take care of elephants who need advocates! With the help of volunteers like yourself and thousands of others, the founder Lek has brought many elephants back to happy and healthy lives. The sanctuary will pick you up from Chang Mai and bring you back once you’ve met and fed some elephants. While you’re there, you’ll experience the mountainous beauty of Thailand while interacting with local people who love elephants too. Why not change the world while you travel?

When? November-February

South America: Machu Picchu, Peru

travel inspiration - south america
Photo by Scott Umstattd

Why? Explore an ancient site that may soon be limiting visitors!

For the truly adventurous, make your way to ancient Machu Picchu before it starts to limit visitors. Due to too many visitors in past years, there will probably be limits placed on how many visitors can trek to it each year. You are required to have a tour guide with you on the trek, but I would highly recommend having one anyways. It is a steep climb to the top with a priceless view of an ancient nest in Wayna Picchu.  There are many tours that you can sign-up with, each with a different emphasis from hiking to archeology, even trail conservation (another make-a-difference adventure). If you have health problems that are affected by elevation, exercise, or humidity, I highly suggest talking to your doctor before deciding to trek this very steep mountain. I’m looking for a tour that not only shows you Machu Picchu, but more local areas in Peru.

When? August-November

There you have it! Four vastly different adventures that all help you explore native cultures, from Canada to Peru. Take a leap and try somewhere you never saw yourself going. Literally choose your own adventure! No matter if you’re traveling with friends, family, or on your own, may your adventures be plentiful in 2017.

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Kendall Varin

I'm a native Idaho girl who decided to branch out from my roots in the Pacific Northwest. The last autumn semester of my senior year I was very studious (and slightly adventurous) in Scotland. Having lived six places in the last two years, I don't plan to stop there. I'm convinced my life’s purpose is to meet and love as many people from all over the world as I can. Follow my blog as I post about confidently traveling solo, studying literature in a different country, and how little it takes to truly feel at home! For a little Scottish appreciation, make sure to check out my Instagram too!


  1. This was great ! I am trying to plan out my year and always centre my travel around adventures/unique sites. I highly recommend climbing Kilimanjaro (Done it three times to date and the experience is amazing).

  2. Machu Picchu is such an incredible place to visit. I really regret that I didn’t have the time to do the hike. I am not a hiking or camping girl (well hiking, ok…for like a two hour hike) but this trip seems incredible. I was lame and took the bus up.

  3. Yes, Vancouver!! Such a wonderful international city and it’s also perfectly PNW. 2016 was the first year in a decade that I didn’t visit YVR. I’ll not make that mistake in 2017.

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