9 Reasons Active Outdoor Travel is Good for Young People

Kids walking through rice paddy fields in Laos | Kate Harper
Kids walking through rice paddy fields in Laos | Kate Harper

There’s something special about embarking on a trip into the unknown and really experiencing the world. Whether it’s a trek into the mountains or cycling along rural back roads, an active adventure can benefit a young person's physical, mental and emotional state.

However, our community is changing. The evolving trend for more comfortable travel supports the headlines about our growing sedentary lifestyle. 

Most alarmingly, many of these reports point towards today’s youth. Increases in child weight gain, depression and an addiction to an electronic umbilical cord that pumps out advertisements heralding the benefits of manufactured foods and even more computer activity have seemingly caused a rapid decline in the time spent outdoors by children.

With all the advances in modern living through an increased urban lifestyle, we’re worried that the next generation will pass on the concept that nature is not our friend and that it offers little benefit.

While there are many types of travel experiences on offer for young people, here are 9 reasons why we believe combining active travel elements in your trip is a wise option.


Kids cooling off during a walk in Kakadu National Park |  <i>Tourism NT/Shaana McNaught</i>

1. Spending time outdoors reduces stress

There’s a reason why there’s a smile on everyone’s face after they’ve come back from an active adventure.

Australians are some of the most stressed-out people in the world, with a recent report reporting that stress levels have been rising around the country for the past five years. Thankfully, research suggests that nature walks can reduce stress, as well as boost levels of attention, which is very relevant for students.

Gregory Bratman, the lead author of the study, said that 'nature experiences, even of a short duration, can decrease this pattern of thinking that is associated with the onset, in some cases depression.'


2. Nature makes exercise easier

Some kids have difficulty motivating themselves to get fit. So, make it fun and give them a goal to aim towards.

Research conducted at the University of Essex suggests that exercise feels easier when you are viewing the colour green, such as on trees, grass and other plants in nature.

The study conducted tested cyclists pedalling in front of green, red and grey images. Those who pedalled in front of the green screen reported that they felt lower exertion during their cycling, as well as displayed fewer mood disturbances than the other participants. 


3. Nature can rejuvenate your soul

One of the best reasons to spend time outdoors trekking and cycling is that it can reinvigorate your mental state. Studies have shown that viewing natural beauty can elicit feelings of awe, which can release endorphins and trigger a mental boost.

An interview by Huffington Post with a Seattle-based environmental psychologist states: 'In addition to helping decrease stress levels, spending more time with nature shows a shift toward more positive moods... the theory is that we respond positively to things that are good for us. Trees offer shade, protection and often have fruits and nuts, so they are a source of food as well as protection and comfort.'

Ultimately, we tend to be drawn and attracted to things that are beneficial to our survival, which is one of the reasons why trees and other natural elements can help lift our moods.


View of Everest from Accommodation in Nepal |  <i>Indigo Axford</i>


4. Gain a sense of accomplishment

Regardless of age and size, taking on an overseas adventure can create feelings associated with personal achievement. The greater the challenge, the more sense of achievement we feel when we accomplish those goals.


5. Travel increases your self-awareness

A byproduct of travel is raising your self-awareness and it’s one of the most beneficial parts of taking on an adventurous school trip overseas.

Adventure travel brings you closer to your “inner self”, giving you the chance to examine and challenge yourself in ways you didn’t think were possible.

Stepping into the unknown and taking a risk demands our increased attention and can bring an intense state of self-awareness – one of the reasons that people, such as mountain climbers, engage in adventure activities.


6. The outdoors can make you smarter

Immersing a child in the outdoors can increase their higher-order cognition in more ways than one. This study found that brain scans taken after exercise showed that the participants had greater and more focused activity in the prefrontal cortex than they did before.

What’s more, active adventures help increase activity in your hippocampus, the brain’s main “storage unit”.


A Yomad making friends with the local village kids |  <i>Brad Atwal</i>


7. Forge new friendships

After an adventure, it's not uncommon to see bonds form between students who prior to the trip perhaps weren't as close. The common goals shared of achieving a physical challenge can bring kids together.

Embarking on a challenge with other people can bring them closer together; sharing the trials and the triumphs gives them something to bond over and forms relationships that'll embed deep in their memories for many years to come.


8. Learn new life skills

Travel develops a child in many ways. From problem-solving to growing confidence and building resilience, the experiences gained from entering new surroundings and immersing yourself in a different culture create exciting challenges that can enable students to expand their skill set.


9. Know that you're making a difference when you travel ethically

There’s more to travel than just experiencing nature’s finest spaces. Embarking on a trip to some of the world’s most remote and untouched corners puts money into the local economy and helps preserve these pristine landscapes.

As many of these far-flung destinations are located in some of the world’s poorest countries, eco-tourism helps these countries in their efforts to save and preserve their land through organisations that ultimately aim to save the planet.





Let's get going:

Children as young as 12, who are confident and experienced in the outdoors, are able to join you on many of our exciting active adventures. While we suggest trips graded from introductory to moderate, it does depend on the child and the itinerary, so talk to our team about their suitability.

In conjunction with our medical advisor, Dr Ross Anderson, we have developed the following altitude guidelines for younger travellers:

  • From 15 to 17 years: the maximum sleeping altitude is 5000m.
  • From 12 to 14 years: the maximum sleeping altitude is 4500m.
  • From 7- to 12-year-olds: the maximum sleeping altitude is 3500m.
See our list of guaranteed upcoming adventures here

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