ADVENTURE

Adventure Trips To Combat Stress And Burnout

Recal Mindful Adventure Travel is not your typical adventure travel company. In a world where mountain biking, rafting, and rock climbing are paramount, Recal offers memorable trips primarily aimed at those suffering from burnout. Consider their Quiet Park Series, held in locations like Olympic National Park, or their Dark Sky Series trips in Anza-Borrego Desert in California. These trips are about nature immersion and guided mindfulness practice combined with hiking, backpacking or canoeing. I met founder Anthony Lorubbio at the Adventure Travel World Summit in Lugano, Switzerland and asked him a few questions about Recal.

Everett Potter: You’re deeply vested in the mindful travel movement. Tell us how Recal started and why you needed to develop it.

Anthony Lorubbio: Recal began as a way to ‘recalibrate’ when the grind of modern life becomes overwhelming, and that’s the origin of the name Recal. Which, honestly, was more of a personal need than anything else. In late 2020, I worked extremely long hours with a busy, disconnected lifestyle in New York City until I couldn’t quite handle it any longer. So I went on a trip that combined three things I thought could be a recipe for a personal “recalibration”: nature, mindfulness, and adventure.

And to this day, that’s exactly what we do in travel — adventurous, retreat-style trips out in nature with a guide and coach-led mindfulness practices like breathwork, meditation, and journaling.

EP: Living in one of the noisiest places on the planet, I’m very interested in your Quiet Park trip series. How did they begin?

AL: As we were building out where to go for our mindful adventure trips, we wanted to go to places with the most ‘raw’ form of nature. You can use a few metrics to evaluate nature in its purest form. One way can be with light pollution — so Dark Skies are a place of interest for us. But another one, and the one that we really latched onto, was quiet, those places that are the least impacted by human-made noise. We have a mission to help people reset their nervous system — and deep in natural quiet is the best place to do that. It’s like ‘returning home’ for the systems in our body, impacted by the noise and stimuli of our modern lifestyles. So, ultimately, we partnered with Quiet Parks International to create the Quiet Park Trip Series.

EP: Can you give us a sense of what these trips are like, how many guests go along, and what the goal is?

AL: Each trip is at least three full days immersed in nature — this is no accident, as we pull from much of the research from the ‘3 Day Effect,’ which has proven how important three days in uninterrupted nature is for our body and mind. These are small-group trips, so anywhere between five and 12 people attend, depending on the location and style of the trip. Every trip has a guide for the adventure component and a coach for the mindfulness component. A lot of attention is placed on making the experience seamless for our travelers, even if they’ve never been on an adventure trip or currently practice mindfulness. That’s what our expert guides and coaches are here for. We work with each attendee on an individual and group level leading up to the trip and also provide support to continue to grow using the tools we provide after a trip.

EP: What are the requirements for a place to make the shortlist for a Quiet Park trip?

AL: We work with Quiet Parks International to identify places that are part of our Quiet Park Trip Series. This non-profit organization has a team of sound recordists or ‘acoustic ecologists’ who record sounds in a location of interest. Using their criteria and standards, they decide if a place is considered ‘Quiet.’ For example, if a site can reliably achieve at least 15 minutes of uninterrupted quiet throughout the day, it may qualify for a Quiet Park designation.

EP: Your Dark Skies trip series is also of interest. How do they tie in with International Dark Sky Places?

AL: The tie-in is similar to that of Quiet. We were searching for the rawest natural forms of nature as the best setting for a ‘recalibration’ for our mind and body. And dark, a place void of light pollution, is another great metric to use to identify these areas. One of the locations we work with is the Anza-Borrego Desert near Borrego Springs, California. This location is officially designated a ‘Dark Sky Park’ by International Dark Sky Association.

EP: Is the end game to raise awareness of Dark Skies or is there a higher ambition?

AL: The end game for Dark Skies and Quiet Parks is to raise awareness of the need to preserve these special places. For example, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, an upcoming named Quiet Park and current Dark Sky Sanctuary, is threatened by the destructive mining of copper sulfide ore. Our goal is to enable people to experience pure quiet and darkness — two things rarely experienced, if ever, by many humans today due to our modern lifestyles. We believe if they can feel nature in this form, and with the help of our mindfulness coaches, be present while there, they will join us in the fight to preserve these areas. We believe that if you save the ‘dark’ and ‘quiet,’ you also protect the overall ecological health.

EP: In November, you ran the Seattle Marathon with your mouth taped shut, breathing only through your nose. Breathwork is something you practice and teach. Why did you do this and what was the ultimate goal?

AL: Yes, breathwork has become one of the most powerful tools I’ve found to keep myself ‘calibrated.’ Breathing – and changing our breathing pattern depending on the situation- allows us to consciously regulate our emotional and stress responses to suit our environment better. And we teach many practical breathwork tactics at Recal that help people live a life with less anxiety, stress, and depression and more focus and awareness. It truly is a ‘secret weapon’ that we prioritize in our programs.

And you’re right — I put my breathwork practice to the test by training for a marathon — but using breathwork only. In particular, I trained using high altitude simulation breathwork training from Oxygen Advantage. This breathwork style has mental and physical benefits, including the ability to handle stressful moments. It also creates stronger physical endurance by increasing red blood cell counts and efficiently delivering oxygen throughout the body. I was able to train my body to run while breathing through my nose only — something very beneficial for slowing down the breathing and enabling more oxygen to reach muscles/tissues, as well as delaying the onset of lactic acid.

Now, I’m not a runner. To put that into perspective, I don’t think I’d ever run more than seven miles at a time in my life. But I put everything I know scientifically about breathwork to the test by trying to run a marathon. And I completed all 26.2 miles with my mouth taped shut. I credit breathwork’s physical and mental benefits with my ability to complete the marathon.

Visit Recal Mindful Adventure Travel for more information.

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