How many of us are really adventurous when it comes to planning a holiday? I know people who visit the same place every year because they say they love it. But I also think it’s a way of staying safe, because they know what to expect. The downside is that all the adventure is gone!

What if we choose to break out of our comfort zone? Imagine what amazing places on this planet we might discover! There are so many possibilities out there and yet more often than not, we’re not even aware of them.

Many years ago, I decided to take some time off work and go travel for four months, and chose South America as my chosen destination, because everyone else always picked the US and Australia! I wanted to choose somewhere different. I was so glad I did. I can only describe this continent as magical, and because it wasn’t as commercialised as other places, it was like discovering an untainted part of the planet. It was also safe, and easy to get by on English. And above all, it was pretty inexpensive to travel on the buses and planes too! Most people I told about my plans thought I was crazy, but after hearing about my incredible adventures, they dared to venture there themselves. Now it’s not so unique anymore!

One of my favourite memories is climbing an active volcano in Chile. It was entirely covered in snow so we had to wear crampons on our hiking boots (metal spikes to help get a grip on the ice!). We were climbing in teams of 6 and we started really early in the morning because the entire climb up and then the fun descent (sliding down the side of the volcano!) would take around 8 hours and we needed to get back before dark.

As we climbed it became pretty clear that I was part of the slowest group and I began to wonder if we would ever make it to the top. I had seen postcards of the top of the crater and the magnificent views and I knew I had to get there and experience that. Gradually after several hours we began to see teams coming back down. Had they reached the crater so soon? I found out that their team leaders had decided to quit half way because they didn’t believe their teams would make it to the top and then back again in time. And within another hour my team leader decided the same, at which point I began to cry!! I had to make it to the top!

Because I was so emotional and determined I managed to convince our team leader to keep going with me, even though he had sent the others back down with returning teams. He warned me that if anything happened it would be on my head, not his. But I didn’t care, I just had to keep going. Twice during our climb he stopped me to convince me to go back but I refused. Even though the climb was so tough and my legs were going numb, my mind was strong and focused.

Just as we climbed over the final hill, we saw another team just about to reach the top, and both my team leader and I looked at each other and sighed relief! He shouted out to the team, who slowed down so we could catch up with them, and we then climbed the last 30 minutes together. And was that crater magnificent or what?! My team leader and I high-fived as we reached the crater and took in the breath-taking views.  We waved the Chilean flag together!

He thanked me for not giving up and I thanked him for being convinced to keep going! Then the best part came – sliding all the way down the volcano on our butts! I couldn’t have done that in the US.