The morning had started out with a downpour, and as my father pushed our rickety rental car up a dirt road in the middle of Ibiza, I silently hoped there wouldn't be any more storms until we completed our misadventure.
Here's the thing about my family: they created the adventurous foundation upon which my entire life has been built. My parents used to call off work, pack a suitcase, buy random plane tickets at the airport, and head off for unknown adventures. My favorite photo in our house is the one where my mother is hiking up a mountain with a roll-top pack and a bandana in her hair. When I was 12, they dragged us across the country on a two-week road trip from the coast of California back to our hometown in Florida.
But that was then. They'll never lose their adventurous spirit, but when we booked a two-week vacation to Spain, getting dirty outdoors was hardly on their to-do list. Instead, we spent our days touring through museums, seeing the sights, and feasting on European cuisine.
If you know me, you know there's only so much time I can spend in the city before I need to make an escape towards the mountains. But how do you convince your not-always-so-outdoorsy family to join you on an adventure?
First, don't go too big. Trying to climb a mountain peak with my parents and sister would have been a one-way ticket to a miserable day, so I decided to take it easy when I cashed in on my "Katie gets to pick what we do" day. My choice: exploring a coastal area in Ibiza where there was allegedly some beach bouldering. It offered beautiful scenery and lots of fresh air without the intimidation of a hardcore expedition.
Second, make sure everyone is prepared. If your family isn't as outdoorsy as you are, you should assume they won't know how to properly prepare themselves for whatever adventure you have planned. I made sure the car was loaded with plenty of water bottles, extra towels, and snacks. My parents never leave home without a little first aid kit, so they covered that base — but I made sure to check everyone's clothing and footwear to ensure they'd be comfortable.
Third, be a leader, but follow their lead too. You are now acting as a guide in the outdoors — your family may be uncomfortable venturing into unknown territory, and it's up to you to make sure they feel safe every step of the way. As much as you should be leading them and encouraging them to push further, you also need to understand and respect their limits. When my family and I journeyed to the coast of Ibiza in search of a bouldering area, we encountered a dirt road and had to make a judgment call as to whether or not our rental car could handle it. I accepted the possibility to turning around, but my father decided to go for it anyways. When we finally reached our destination, my mother's knee was bothering her so she opted to stay near the car while the rest of us bushwhacked through thickets — and that was totally okay.
Finally, enjoy the moment and don't focus too much on your own goals. Sure, the point of my planned excursion was to find some beach bouldering — but we never ended up doing any climbing. When I saw the boulders, I realized there was no way we'd be able to hike all the way down to them without an epic mission involving slipping on wet rocks (have I mentioned it was lightly raining the whole time?). Instead of selfishly pursuing my original plan, I focused on enjoying the experience I was having with my family. We explored a beautiful overlook, snapped a few photos, and had a wonderful afternoon together. And that is what really mattered.
After our little journey, we found a Spanish café hidden along the side roads. Over flambé and olives, we compared photos and counted cuts on our legs. It wasn't my biggest adventure, but it was one of the best.
Getting your family outdoors when they aren't as adventurous as you can either be a fantastic experience or an awful ordeal. By making sure your family is comfortable and prepared, you can help ensure a positive excursion. And who knows — maybe they'll ask to tag along on your next big trip.
**Katie contributes to the Sierra Social Hub as part of #TeamSierra. Be sure to also check out her site: The Morning Fresh
How to Bring Your Not-So-Outdoorsy Family on an Adventure
By Katie Boue
October 06, 2014
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