Forget elbowing your way through overcrowded tourist traps. 2018 is the year for flinging yourself out of your comfort zone, and getting back to nature.
With the relentless pace of the modern world taking its toll – we spend more time on tech than asleep and are working longer hours than ever before – many of us looking to reconnect with the wilderness.
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City breaks are all well and good but they don’t offer much scope for true, unhampered escapism. Not only do you have to battle the hordes for any given attraction, you also end up with FOMO over the sights you didn’t get to tick off. It’s stressful all round.
Book yourself an adventure-packed foray in the Great Outdoors, however, and you’ll end up full of energy and ready to tackle the week ahead. It’s the ultimate formula for a reviving getaway.
Escape the crowds
Our daily lives are coated in noise, from the ping of an incoming email to the incessant hum of traffic. City breaks, for all their charm, only bring more noise. They also demand your attention, whether you’re trying to track down a good restaurant (so much harder than it seems) or avoiding cash machine queues.
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Head out into the boundless snowscapes of Norway or Finland, on the other hand, and everything suddenly becomes simpler. There are less people, and less choices. The pressure to make endless little decisions is off. Instead, there are mountains, rivers, lakes and you. It puts things into perspective.
Back to nature
Being in nature is more than just a relaxing experience. It’s a boon for wellbeing in a multitude of ways. A 2010 study from the University of Essex found that just five minutes of “green activity” per day is enough to significantly boost mood and increase self-esteem. The authors even went so far as to suggest people should “self-medicate” on the free therapy of being outdoors.
Mankind evolved in nature, and modern life has dealt us a duff card by diluting the relationship. Cut off behind screens or in cars, many of us suffer from what evolutionists term “nature deficit disorder”. Getting back to greenery is enormously beneficial; studies show it can make us kinder, happier and more creative. The soft, non-obtrusive focus of an outdoor landscape is a great way of allowing an overloaded mind to wander and rest.
The average Brit now spends nearly nine hours a day communicating on digital media, and less than half an hour outdoors. Meanwhile, Americans devote more than 10 hours a day to screen time, and collectively check their phones 8 billion times a day. Australians spend on average 46 hours behind a screen per week, compared to just six hours spent with their loved ones.
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Clearly, we all need to get out more. With a growing body of research connecting technology use to stress markers (electronic devices are more likely to make us ‘moody, crazy and lazy’), wilderness weekends offer a much-needed digital detox. It’s all too easy to check your phone when you’re in a bar in Sienna or Mexico City, but good luck finding reception in the Scottish Highlands. The back and beyond of Iceland doesn’t make ideal WhatsApp territory, either. Bury your phone in the bottom of your backpack, and say hi to the present moment.
Al fresco adventure
Crucially, a wilderness weekend doesn’t mean idling the hours away, or gazing morosely onto the landscape. We’re talking action-packed getaways here.
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Flash Pack’s trip to the wilds of Slovenia covers everything from paddle-boarding Lake Bled to canyoning in the Bohinj Valley and lakeside glamping. Finland, one of our most popular destinations, features a snowmobile safari, cross-country skiing and camping under the Northern Lights. In Norway, we kayak across fjords, traverse a glacier and hike to a goats cheese farm (for cheese-tasting, naturally). Over in Iceland, we trek black lava beaches and explore the hidden depths of ice caves.
These are exhilarating breaks with experiences that come so thick and fast, you return feeling like you’ve been away for weeks. Who wouldn’t want to be part of it?
Farewell, city hustle
Images: Shutterstock and Flash Pack