Top Five Reasons to Take an International Paddling Trip


IMG_6689Traveling and whitewater kayaking are two of my passions so I naturally get excited when I have the opportunity to combine both!  As the regular paddling season comes to an end for most of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s a good time to start thinking about possible winter trips.  There are two ways that you can approach international trips.  You can choose to get a group of friends together and plan your own logistics and go on the fly. If you already know local paddlers in that country this can be a great way to go, especially if you have a lot of time, you’re very adventurous and flexible.  This is what I did throughout my twenties and I loved it!  Back then it wasn’t a big deal to fly with a kayak and that made it much easier.  These days it can be fairly expensive to fly with a kayak, if the airline will take it at all.

If you have a set time, like a week or two weeks and you prefer to have all of the logistics taken care of  you can book onto an international trip with a reputable outfitter.  This is a fantastic way to travel because there’s very little prep time needed.  You buy

Nepali friends come to visit as we pack up in the morning Photo: Stef McArdle
Nepali friends come to visit as we pack up in the morning
Photo: Stef McArdle

your plane ticket, pack your stuff and show up!  From there you’re taken care of and you can relax (in between paddling) and focus on taking everything in.  Usually the food is really good too.  With good outfitters running cool paddling trips all over the world it’s easy to plan the perfect adventure!   I encourage every paddler to take an international kayaking trip at least once.  Some fantastic destinations include Mexico, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Chile, Africa, Bhutan, Nepal or Europe.  In case you’re still not convinced,  here are my top five reasons you should take an international paddling trip this winter.

1.  Learn something about yourself

We all know that whitewater kayaking reveals a lot about how we each uniquely deal with stress and fear.  Combine that with traveling to a foreign country where you aren’t familiar with the customs or the language and you have the opportunity to transform your life with a great deal of enhanced self-awareness.  There’s nothing like learning about the attitudes, customs and beliefs of others to help you better understand your own attitudes, customs and beliefs.  This self-awareness is empowering and life changing as you learn new ways of being.  It may inspire you to let go of old habits and patterns that no longer serve you on and off the river!

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA2.  Paddling new and different rivers improves your skills and confidence

If you’re getting really comfortable on your local rivers then a good challenge is to travel and paddle rivers you’ve never seen before.  This will especially develop your river reading skills and confidence.  Choose a reputable outfitter with outstanding guides that will create a safe, trusting environment that makes it fun to push your limits beyond what you normally do with your buddies.  This can be especially effective if you feel that you’re stuck in a bit of a rut.  Doing something new and outside of your comfort zone can help bring new energy into and improve your kayaking.

3.  Expand your horizons by immersing yourself in a foreign culture

One of my favorite aspects of traveling abroad is learning about new cultures.  What they eat, how they live, when they take naps, their sense of humor.  I find it fascinating to learn about people because it expands my horizons of what I think is possible.  The coolest thing is that you realize that even though we may look, sound and act a bit different, all of us are human and share the same desire to be loved, accepted and to feel good.  It’s fantastic to meet and paddle with kayakers from other countries because you immediately have a connection to a passion you both share.IMG_8720

4.  Go somewhere warm when it’s cold in the northern hemisphere!

This is a no-brainer!  Most of us living in the norther hemisphere welcome a little warmth, light and sunshine during the coldest winter months.  If you don’t get to paddle in the winter because of the weather then a paddling trip to the Southern Hemisphere can cure your paddling withdrawal and the winter blues!

5.  The opportunity to see places off the beaten path

Not only are you traveling abroad when you go on an international paddling trip, but you’re also visiting locations off the beaten path within that country.  This usually means that there aren’t many other ‘tourists’  who visit the area.  My favorite aspect of this is that the locals are curious and friendly and not always in your face trying to sell you something.  And, the food and customs are IMG_1574usually traditional because the demand for ‘tourist amenities’ is lower.  This gives you the opportunity not only to see pristine flora, fauna and rivers, but also have a friendly and unique interactions with the locals.

I hope that I’ve convinced some of you to take the plunge into the world of international paddling.  It’s easy.  You can search the internet for good kayaking trips right now. There’s no better time to infuse adventure and excitement into your kayaking!  If you’re interested in joining one of the Girls at Play kayaking trips in Costa Rica then click here!

See you out there!