**Guest post from Kam of Campfire Chic**
I have a confession to make: I can't go on a relaxing vacation.
You won't find me lounging under an umbrella on a secluded beach, or poolside at a resort sipping an icy cocktail. Instead, you'll find me waking up before dawn, lacing up my hiking boots, and heading out to meet a stranger who is going to take me on an adventure.
Going on guided activities is a new idea - people go on double-decker bus tours around cities all the time, right? But have you thought about taking a guided rafting trip, spending an afternoon learning how to stand up paddleboard, or touring sea caves in a kayak? When I go on vacation, my coworkers know I'll be trying something new — canyoneering outside Zion National Park, sea kayaking in the San Juan Strait in Washington, or even rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park.
5 Reasons to Add a Guided Activity to Your Next Vacation
1. Try something new
I'm like you, I want to try new things. The problem I have is that I don't have friends in the places I visit who can take me out to do stuff. I don't have a rock climbing friend in Vegas to take me out to Red Rocks to take me on my first multi-pitch climb, I don't have a surfer buddy in San Diego to get me on a wave, and I certainly don't have a friend in Aspen who can teach me how to ski. Hiring a guide or instructor to take me to do these things is my best option! The service will be able to provide the instructor, the gear, and the sometimes even transportation. Consider trying ziplining through a jungle canopy or going on a biking tour of wine country on your next vacation.
2. Get off the beaten path
As I climbed into my guide's SUV for my first taste of canyoneering in Zion National Park, I thought...I have no idea where we are going and I didn't tell my mom. Then we started hiking down to the start of the canyon and as we skidding over some sketchy terrain I thought, I'm not just going to die, I'm going to be one of those dumb tourists splashed across the evening news who would still be alive had she just stayed on the well-marked path in the park. But then we arrived at the top of Birch Hollow Canyon and I knew that it wasn't going to be the location of my death, it was the coolest place I could go in the park without having my view obstructed by the dude taking photos with his iPad. It was beautiful, and amazing, and fantastic. You're not going to find this canyon in any brochure in the Visitor Center and even though the canyon ends in The Narrows, you'd never guess it was there as you hiked by. Off the beaten path, folks.
3. Meet new people
An unexpected bonus of going on these guided adventures? Meeting new people! Who would've thought that we'd spend the day with a couple who owns a ice cream shop in New Orleans? Or make friends with a feisty woman working on the financial side of the entertainment industry who ditches her phone every weekend and heads out on climbing trips? Unless you're dead set on having a private tour, you're going to be probably be matched up with other people...and they're going to make the experience so much more interesting! You're there for the same reason, which is great, but you now have people to take photos while you're gearing up and to swap snacks during breaks!
4. Experience your destination in a different way
I love spending time in the desert. That quiet you can only find when you're far away from the highway and that endless sky that means you're miles from the nearest strip mall. All of it. I visited Joshua Tree National Park several times over the past few years, but only after my recent trip could I see more than boulders and highball problems that were out of my league...I took a weekend-long course on building climbing anchors and it opened up so many more climbing opportunities for me! I fell in love with the idea of placing my own gear - especially the tricky tricams - into the rock as I made my way to the top anchor. I bet you could find a guided activity near your favorite vacation spot, wouldn't that be awesome? Maybe you want go rafting for a few days through the Grand Canyon or take a pack trip through the Eastern Sierra, getting out of the car and away from the information boards will make for a different story around the water cooler come Monday!
5. Support local business
I'm not sure, but I haven't seen a big-box guide service, have you? Your guide is probably working for a local guide service doing what she loves, right? You're supporting a small business! But I bet your adventure goes beyond that...you'll stop at a local coffee shop before meeting up at the trailhead to grab a hot drink and an extra brownie (for all those calories you're burning, right?) and maybe stop after your adventure for celebratory drinks at a local restaurant famous for the variety of local craft beers and farm-to-table approach to the menu. The locals know how to do it.
How do you like to spend your vacation?
Kam is the crafty camper behind Campfire Chic. She shares her story as a 9-5er looking for adventure in an effort to encourage her readers to take risks and try new things.