What makes an adventurer? How do you become an adventurer?

December 2016, Phong Nha Lake House, Central Vietnam:

My boyfriend and I had just returned from a two-day caving adventure and were sitting at the bar of our hotel, thinking about what to have for dinner and bemoaning how sore we were. We had just finished a trek into Phong Nha Ke Bang, home of the largest cave system in the world. Only discovered in the ’90s, and still mostly unexplored, it houses jaw-droppingly massive caves connected through weaving tunnels and underground rivers. Our trip had involved a five-mile trek each way through steep, jungle-covered mountains to sleep in the caves, crossing through vines, tree bridges, and mud up to our knees. Plus, we had to swim and climb through the caves themselves, lit only by headlamp. And yes, there are leeches. 

It was then an older gentleman came up to me and noticed my t-shirt, bearing the name of the expedition company we had gone with. “Was it challenging,” he said. “Was it adventurous?”

“Well,” we said, trying to find the line between modesty and storytelling, “sort of.” We recounted climbing with our hands and knees over fairly steep peaks and spelunking through caves. “It was challenging,” we reported,  “but we like adventurous things.” We were trying to convey the ruggedness of our 48 hour adventure without making this older gentleman feel bad that the trek was probably more intended for those under age 40.

“We are adventurers, too,” he said. “In fact, we just finished a four-year camel trek across Australia and now, we are biking from Russia to Ho Chi Minh City. With our dog.”

Raised eyebrows and stunned silence is what followed.

Months later, that example stays with me – what makes an adventurer? Clearly, you can’t just look at someone and guess if they fall into the category of “adventurer.” Do you have to be young and athletic? Skilled at backcountry cliff skiing and whitewater rafting?

Well, sure – I guess those people are adventurers. But in my opinion, the only way you can truly be an adventurer is to feel a sense of risk, thrill, and excitement for the unknown. And to do that, you don’t need to discover mountain peaks – you just need to go out of your comfort zone. And one awesome new item I’m found for doing that is the aptly-named TomTom adventurer GPS watch, so I’m going to go ahead and do a blog post about how much I love it 🙂

Going off the beaten path (both literally and figuratively) is awesome and rewarding, but you want to be smart about it – you don’t want to get yourself too lost and end up busting out your emergency blanket at midnight in the woods. That’s why the GPS functionality of this watch, which displays during your hike, is awesome. If you get too lost or turned around, you can literally follow your way back.

Yes, I sleep more than two hours usually.

Oh, and for us winter-loving adventurers? This watch has you covered, since it has settings just for skiers and snowboarders to track your speed, elevation, distance, and make maps of your runs – oh, and it does it across EVERY mountain, so whether you’re skiing the Swiss Alps, California’s steep peaks, or venturing off into the backcountry, this watch tracks all of that and shows it to you separately and as running totals on the bluetooth-connected and easy to use online interface.

At the end of the day, the TomTom Adventurer is what you make it. If you just want a way to play music at the gym (because this stores music and comes with bluetooth headphones,) this watch has you covered. But for those who really do want to explore off the beaten path and find their adventure, so to speak, you’ll find this watch has just about every feature you could want, including a compass!

I’ve taken the TomTom Adventurer to two National Parks now – Lassen Volcanic National Park, in northern California, and Joshua Tree, outside Palm Springs, and it’s been awesome. National parks have an insane number of trails and it can be difficult to remember which ones you were on. Fortunately, the TomTom Adventurer does all of that for you. Plus, since the watch tracks all your stats, you can challenge yourself to really get out there and explore the parks. For example – why not make a goal of having hiked trails in FIVE different national parks by 2018?

These snowy pics were taken while snowshoeing in my favorite park – Lassen National Volcanic Park. And yes, there are geothermal areas!

So why’s it matter? What’s the point of tracking your adventures and knowing how many vertical feet you skied in a season (other than bragging rights?) Well, it’s part of the bigger picture – staying healthy and cultivating a lifestyle of adventure. I find the TomTom Adventurer keeps me motivated – it makes me want to go one more mile to reach that 10 mile mark on my hike, and it makes me want to ski one more lap to cross 100k vertical feet on a ski trip. It’s easy to use, even with bulky gloves on, and the battery life lasts a fairly long time – much longer than my phone – so if you have it charged before a multi-day backpacking trip, you’ll be set without needing to plug in your solar charger.

One other thing I like about this: it’s not just lip-service; it really does help you become more adventurous! You can log into the TomTom website and actually download GPS routes of new places near you you’ve never been. Load it onto your watch, and it will actually guide you as you go. So let’s say, for example, there’s a sweet hot spring you’ve heard about but it’s poorly marked, and you’ve never found it. NO PROBLEM! Just find the GPS file for that one, download it, and boom – you’re on your way.

Wanna find this place? Check out my post on Travertine Hot Springs (or just DL the route to it!)

The TomTom Adventurer isn’t just another pretty face in the wearable industry. It’s specially made for getting out there and it has the features to prove it. Wearing this on the trail keeps me motivated and proud of what I’ve accomplished. Now, I just need to wear it on a four-year Australian camel trek. Who’s with me?

Here’s the full link to ALL of the features of the watch – waterproofing, heart rate monitoring, a barometer, bluetooth….oi!   AND PS: They’re running a contest to win one! Check out how to win a TomTom Adventurer AND a full year National Parks Pass here. Enter by June 1, 2017!

This is a sponsored post in partnership with TomTom USA.