Get Out There
Travel Tips from RECOVER Brands Ambassador Kira Tenney
To be honest it’s hard to put Recover Brands’ ambassador Kira Tenney into words, but we’ll try. A writer, co-founder of the wellness getaway company KULAvie, and an international yoga, ski, and whitewater kayak instructor, Kira is hard to pin down. She laughs (a lot), has an affinity for riding horses bareback (and once a water buffalo, but “only for a couple of seconds”), and when you ask her how many countries she’s explored, she loses count at 16 (Zambia, China, Nepal, Chile, Cuba, Uganda, Jamaica, Costa Rica…).
At Recover Brands, we believe that inspiring a life lived with an adventurous spirit is an integral root of working for a sustainable tomorrow. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, whether in your own backyard or halfway around the world, “getting out there” connects all of us with the bigger picture of something that’s very much worth working for.
That being said, adventure and travel can be challenging. But, lucky us, we know someone who happens to know a thing or two about it. Just back from a kayak trip to Ecuador, we caught up with Kira about her recent escapades down south and the ins and outs, ups and downs, and tips and tricks for making adventure and travel easier, or more importantly, how to just do it.
A kayak trip to Ecuador…? Let’s start there…
I was lucky enough to go to Ecuador for a couple of weeks this winter with two other amazing kayakers, Kristin Alligood and Hayley Stuart. Kristin just finished up 6 years of work on a PhD in Evolutionary Biology and Hayley recently completed her undergrad with a degree in Environmental Studies.
I actually used to be Hayley’s Environmental Studies teacher when I worked for a traveling whitewater kayak high school years ago, but as it goes, I was always impressed with and learning a lot from my students and post-high school graduation, they morphed into well-respected friends/ little sisters and brothers. On the trip, we were so fortunate, kayaked Ecuador’s finest every day, and even fit in one jungle overnighter on the Jondachi.
Kayaking anywhere in the world is distinctive simply because of the magic of water. Anything that gets you out for even one moment, away from your phone and into what’s right in front of you is well worth doing- it doesn’t matter if it’s art, biking, surfing, running, yoga- the “why” is all the same. You learn a lot from going any place new or old with curious eyes, and it just so happened that the basis for us seeing a new place was to go kayaking, which we all love. For this trip, I had heard that it was really logistically easy to kayak in Ecuador; in other words, it was cheap, avocados and fresh fruit were plentiful, the taxis all took kayaks, and there were a lot of river options every day. While I truly love longer adventures that involve needed buffers for travel time on bus roof-tops, changing water levels, and multi-day rivers, Ecuador was perfect to get a lot of kayaking done in our shorter available time frame.
What tips do you have for traveling?
The first would be to just do it. It sincerely doesn’t matter if you have an afternoon, a week, or a year; anything is possible with a little research and initiative. When you get where you’re going, ask lots of questions: about the education and health care system, the government, the environment, industry, where people are from, what it was like where they grew up, anything. Talk to people. Make friends. Take time to breathe and be alone too.
Beyond that, have a plan, but be open and flexible to changing it with what opportunities arise and what circumstances come up. Know that anything that’s not in the plan will most likely be a really good story after the fact, so embrace mis-adventures and find humor in things “going wrong,” then take whatever steps you need to to make sure you don’t get completely “eddied out.” It’s fine if you’re in a car that breaks down in the middle of nowhere, enjoy the company.
But, if it looks like it’s not going anywhere for days, be resourceful. Hitchhike, walk, hire an ox-cart, jump in the back of a truck, flag down a bus, whatever. My friend Carla always stands right in the middle of the road when she hitchhikes and when questioned she’ll say, “What? This way they’re definitely stopping.” True. (Note that Carla is usually on rural dirt roads in Central and South America, and not on blind corners.)
I recently had a friend say in second-hand, broken English, “When you step out of your comfort zone, you step into adventure.” I have bounced around a lot, and more and more, I am finding immense value in the establishment of a home base, community and routine, but there is something incredibly valuable about what you learn about yourself and the world from travel. To live places where there’s no trash disposal or sewage system, to view snapshots of community and environmental degradation due to mining, hydropower, etc., to see young women who are not allowed to go to school is impactful and does spark a reality about making conscious choices in our day to day lives, big or small, that have the intention of making the world better. Recover is a prime example of that. We have an easy choice as consumers to support companies that have the bigger picture in mind versus those that don’t, and that is huge.
What piece of Recover gear do you bring with you on every trip?
Oh… lots, but definitely my Recover canteen. It never leaks, has the optional loop to hook a carabiner so you can clip it onto a bag, and I like the squeeze top, especially for bumpy rides because I can stay hydrated without spilling all over myself. Also, plastic bottles make me cringe.
We know there are many, but what’s one lesson you have learned from travel that’s worth sharing?
Sustained happiness has to do with us as individuals. There are happy people everywhere in all different circumstances. While there is absolutely a level of basic human needs to be taken into account, it’s ultimately up to us to work to cultivate positive perspective, gratitude and generosity; happiness comes with those things. We don’t have control of a lot and that’s not easy at times, but I try to remind myself that people everywhere have endured and thrived in extremely challenging circumstances by exhibiting those characteristics, and some of the happiest people I have met have “nothing” by Western standards. Also, laughter is a universal language.
With that, adventure and travel on! We’ll see you out there.
Photos: Will Stauffer-Norris, Hayley Stuart, Kristin Alligood, Wes Schrek, and Kira Tenney