The Most Dangerous Thing About Our Adventures

The Most Dangerous Thing About Our Adventures

In the previous post I made a confession about my newly-founded, totally irrational fear of boats. Today it seems fitting to talk about some of the dangers that are actually present in our travels and adventures. Ironically, while we do get a lot of questions about safety, the most menacing dangers are never the ones people ask us about.

Part of loving travel and adventure – even if you’ve figured out how to minimize your own anxiety about it – is that people are happy to constantly remind you about all the things that could go wrong, while simultaneously calling your decision-making ability into question.

Aren’t you worried about getting lost?

Didn’t you see that news story about those people dying in the Grand Canyon?

Aren’t you worried about the kids getting swept away by the river?

Aren’t you worried about storms?



Sign: "please be aware there are bears in the area. Do not leave food unattended."

Add international travel to the equation and you open yourself up to whole different barrage of questions.

What if something bad happens and you don’t speak the language?

Doesn’t everyone in that country hate Americans?

What if you have to go the hospital in the third world?

Didn’t I just read a news story about kids getting kidnapped in that city?

Don’t you worry about terrorists?

Didn’t you hear about that airplane that had engine trouble/crashed/disappeared?

Did you know that beach has octopuses that can kill you in less than 5 minutes????!!!!!

Warning sign about jellyfish

The reality is that adventure of any sort has some risks. I get that. But let’s put it all in perspective shall we?

In 2017, approximately 88,000 people in the U.S. died from alcohol-related causes (around 10,000 of these involved motor vehicles). Another 30,000 people died in motor vehicle accidents not involving alcohol. But very few of us are going to drastically reduce our drinking or our use of cars any time soon, are we?

Meanwhile, although it’s fairly difficult to pin down year-by-year statistics about something like “death during outdoor adventure,” we do know that  less than 150 people die at National Parks every year. A 2014 report concludes there were only 212 backcountry fatalities – including those in National Parks, snowmobile crashes, and “natural causes” – during that entire year. Commercial air travel remains almost magically safe, no matter where in the world you fly. There are maybe 11 confirmed fatalities from octopus stings ever in recorded history.

Most people we know consider the daily use of a car normal. Most people we know drink. And yet plenty of people felt the need to bring up our probable death by octopus attack when we visited Bondi Beach. I hear all the time that people don’t want to take their kids into the wilderness or into large bodies of water, and that they don’t want to fly internationally – or at all – because of various safety concerns.

You guys, this is nuts. We are literally killing ourselves and our kids with lack of activity. We are increasing our own stress levels and decreasing our kids’ chances of happiness and success by staying indoors and in our own comfort zones – by avoiding adventure. And yet none of us hesitate to load ourselves and our kids up in the car every single day. Very few of us hesitate to drink.

Sign: "Poisonous snakes and insects inhabit the area"

While anecdotal evidence isn’t worth much, I offer the following data from my own life: I’ve done hundreds of miles of hiking and running in Grand Canyon National Park with dozens of different people over more than two decades. It’s a harsh and challenging wilderness, and we always do our best to be over-prepared for whatever feat we are undertaking. But can you guess what nearly killed my son and our friend Jake during one of our Grand Canyon adventures last fall? That’s right: not dehydration, not a flash flood, not a rattlesnake… a car crash, caused by some moron running them off the road (and then fleeing the scene) while they were on their way to pick us up from the North Kaibab Trailhead. It’s only thanks to Jake’s presence of mind and quick reflexes that my kid is alive.

So when you worry about us (or about yourself) traveling and adventuring all over the world, you need remember: the most dangerous part of any adventure is the drive it takes to get you there. (I am of course assuming that you are intelligent enough to not spend any part of your adventure hammered. If you are not, then that would be the most dangerous part and I would recommend you seek professional help in drying out.)

Sign: Caution swooping birds are found in this area

Obviously this doesn’t mean we avoid cars and throw rocks at rattlesnakes because the later is less likely to kill us. We take precautions against car accidents as well as against snakes – and everything in between. But we know which things we do are the most dangerous, and we act and plan accordingly.

And then we accept the small amount of risk that remains.

As one of my favorite skiing t-shirts says: “You could hit a tree and die. You could go over a cliff and die. Or you could stay home and fall off your couch and die. Get off the couch.”

Preach it, t-shirt!

Sign: "Warning! Falling coconuts."

Let’s all keep life’s dangers in perspective. Safeguard yourself and your loved ones – within reason. And then get off the couch and go have some adventures.

12 Replies to “The Most Dangerous Thing About Our Adventures”

  1. Yessss!

    Also: that last sign! I was actually hit by a falling coconut in Mexico. Hurt like nobody’s business, but luckily it wasn’t on the head.

    1. Apparently falling coconuts have been lethal on multiple occasions. Glad you were okay. And glad you enjoyed the post – thanks for reading! 😀

    1. Thanks N! This is the WordPress Lighthouse theme. Yes, I did it myself with the help of some You Tube videos. 😀 Learned the basics from a free course by Gigi Griffis ( Good luck!

  2. Excellent read! Admiring the time and effort you put into your website! It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same old rehashed information. I’ve saved your site!

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