Here at Corpão Fitness, we're all about embracing an active lifestyle and leading a balanced life. As the founder of Corpão, I've often struggled to find that balance because leading a business tends to overwhelm your life (yes, even a fitness coaching business ironically!) One of the ways that I've personally found renewal is through travel and that's why it's such an essential part of what we do at Corpão, from the travel workout ideas to the retreats we host.
My biggest inspiration in travel has been Matt Kepnes, founder of the very well known travel blog, Nomadic Matt. It's because of him that I first established our retreats and began sharing active travel guides. I recently had the amazing opportunity to interview him and ask him about how he finds balance, his greatest challenge and his favorite active experience. Have a look below for some inspiration!
What rituals/habits do you keep up when you travel in order to stay focused and organized? How do these impact your experience throughout the day?
When it comes to traveling for fun, I usually try to have 2-3 things planned each day, whether that’s a museum or a restaurant or some other activity. That way I can organize my trip and make sure I see everything I want to see. However, it also means I’m not over-planning my trip and cramming too much into each day. This is helpful because if I discover something new I’ll have time in my schedule to check it out.
When it comes to work and travel, I actually try not to work when I’m on the road. I’ll check my emails once or twice a day, but I won’t work on any projects while I’m abroad. This lets me fully enjoy the trip and focus on taking notes, so that when I get home I can write about my travels. Working and traveling is hard, and it takes a lot of the fun and relaxation out of my trips, so now I just focus on work when I’m home and on travel when I’m on the road.
Having said that, if I'm traveling for a long time, I tend to make sure I carve out time to actually work on the road. I work in the mornings for a few days and explore from lunch on. Then every 4 days, I spend a full day working on my travel blog, writing, and taking care of business. It's a flow that I've developed over the years and it's worked pretty well for me recently. Having a schedule actually makes me feel much more free than when I just try to "wing it".
During your many years of traveling, where did you experience the greatest physical and/or mental challenge? How did these experiences change you?
To be honest, flying itself is the biggest mental challenge I have when it comes to traveling. Flying gives me a lot of anxiety. I white-knuckle grip the armrest at least half the flight! And I’m not alone: about 25% of people are afraid of flying. For me, it’s because I’m scared of heights…or, more specifically, falling. I don’t like bungee jumps, being near ledges, or even looking down from a tall building. It sets my heart racing and gives me a little vertigo. Heck, sometimes on high bridges, I need to walk on the inside of the sidewalk and look down at the ground to get across.
And even though statistically flying is one of the safest modes of transportation (there is a one in 11 million chance of dying in a plane crash, but one in 5,000 in a car), I don’t have a similar reaction when I’m driving. I feel safe because I’m in control. “I’m driving, I’m great — it’s everyone else I need to watch out for,” I (and most people) think. However, when we are in a plane, it’s all up to two strangers we’ve never met in the front of an aluminum tube going 500 miles an hour 37,000 feet above the air.
On a rational level, I know I’m going to make it to my destination. According to MIT scientists, I could fly everyday an average for 123,000 years before dying in a plane crash. But the lost sense of control freaks me out. I mean, who are these pilots? Did they get enough sleep the night before? Are they sane? Are they experienced enough to know what to do in an emergency? There I am 37,000 feet above the ground with my fate in the hands of two strangers. It combines my two biggest fears. I mean, what if we go down? You have twenty or thirty seconds of sheer terrifying falling as you realize THIS IS IT!
Though, since I've chosen the life of a world traveler, this is a fear I have to face all too often. I think constantly facing this fear has proved to be beneficial in so many aspects of my life. I'm doing something that scares me weekly (or sometimes even more often). This has made me realize that fears are mental and I can take action in the face of being afraid. That's a powerful realization to make.
What type of activities do you seek out while traveling to push you past your comfort zone? Why these?
I’m not much of an adrenaline junkie, so I’m never on the lookout for any crazy heart-racing activities to get my blood pumping. What I am looking for are experiences that are culturally or intellectually challenging. Being immersed in a destination where no one speaks my language, hitchhiking with locals, or trying foods that I might not otherwise be interested in are some of the things I like to do to push my boundaries.
One thing I did find a fun challenge was learning to dive in Fiji. It’s a whole new world under the water, and learning the skills to safely explore it was definitely a challenge that pushed me out of my comfort zone. But I’m glad I did it because I now love to dive! (Though I also popped my eardrum when I was diving so buy great travel insurance because you never know what might happen!)
What’s great about travel as that we can all find challenges that help us grow — no matter our interests or tastes. Whether you want to push your physical limits and go camping off the grid, try an epic bungee jump, or dive into new and exciting foods, travel can provide it for you. You just need to be willing to take the leap and head out the door!
What unusual or life-changing activities can you recommend to active travelers?
As I mentioned, diving is definitely something worth trying if you’re curious. Getting off the grid and camping for a few days is also a valuable way to add some perspective and reflection to your travels (while camping isn’t my personal favorite, I can definitely see why some people love it!). Hitchhiking is another, as it really gets you out of your comfort zone when you’re just starting out. It requires you to be open and trusting and to learn to accept help from others. It’s just such a unique way to both visit places around the world and interact with the people live in it. I can’t recommend it enough.
There are also some huge and unique festivals in the world, like La Tomatina in Spain or Songkran in Thailand, that are really incredible experiences. Not only are they fun, but getting thousands and thousands of people together to let loose really adds a sense of connection and comradery to your travels. They remind you that we’re all in this together, which is a great lesson to learn when you’re out exploring the world.