The Big Trip

One of the tricky things with young kids is getting them to draw a mental bridge between the Bear Grylls or Al Humphreys adventures they love to watch, and the sphere of their own experience.  

Al's done awesome work with some specifically kid-based #microadventures, and great tips for getting kids out there, but I still wanted to give the boys something more tangible to aim for and identify with. Some way of placing themselves at the heart of the story. 

Enter the Dirtbag Diaries...

Already one of my favourite podcast series, it unearthed a real gem with Otto Gallaher's tale of a family tradition of a Big Trip that I instantly and shamelessly adopted.

The short podcast tells the story of a coming of age trip for Otto's daughter, Riley, aged 13, and her Dad.  Riley gets to plan a week's adventure for them both, and the two of them decide to climb high into the wilderness area of the Colorado hills with rucksacks and fishing rods.  They spend an idyllic week, but things start to get more challenging as they begin their hike out across a series of 12,000ft passes, during an electrical storm...

It echoes a trip he made by bike with his father, at the same age, and which formed the basis of their adult relationship.  As Otto begins to worry about whether they have bitten off more than they can chew, he watches Riley rise to the challenge, and grow strong as she finds depths in herself she had not known.  Finally they leave the mountains with a renewed strength in the bonds between them.

"'You know Daddy, I did things today I didn't think I could do.' - She was already beginning to see herself as a strong capable young woman, no longer a little girl, and so was I."

A beautifully produced podcast, as most of the Dirtbag Diaries are, but also a subject that really struck a chord with me.  Imagine how awesome it would be as a kid to have a longterm goal of your own big trip?  Every atlas becomes a source of inspiration, every adventurer met is a source of insight, every new skill something to be banked for use down the line...

Suffice to say, my boys are already planning their own Big Trips.

We revisit and change our plans often, they are dynamic, sprawling things, and not yet constrained by realism, but they are always a great excuse for some wanderlust.

At last check, Henry's plan takes us North and east into Scandinavia, and involves Land Rovers, kayaks, bikepacking, fly-fishing, and hammocks.  Hector's involves deserts, heat, rattlesnakes, and rafting.

But both involve just them and me, on an adventure - our very own Big Trip.

Check out the podcast on the link below:

The Dirtbag Diaries - More Than Just a Camping Trip:

"Death-by-lightning-strike statistics kept swirling through my head, causing me to push my 13-year-old daughter to the very limits of her physical ability. We were on her Trip," writes Otto Gallaher. Today, we bring you the story of a rite-of-passage tradition in Otto's family simply known as 'The Trip'. 

Artwork by Walker Cahall