The buddy factor: How friends push us to explore

June 05, 2015                 3m read time
Kirsten Akens

Our friends make us laugh, they offer a shoulder when we need to cry, and they help push us to achieve our goals. When those goals equal getting out, exploring the world, and experiencing new (and maybe heart-pounding) activities, friends come through in a variety of ways. As we share some of the types of inspiration we glean from and give to our friends, maybe we’ll inspire you to pick up the phone and plan an adventure with one of yours.

Climb a mountain

James Holt with ZOZI activity provider North Bay Winery Tours says traveling is at the top of his personal goal list, as well as the top of most of his friends’ lists. So when he and his buddies gather to tell travel stories, share pictures, and remember crazy experiences together, he says: “Nothing inspires me more to save a little extra money, and start planning that next journey.”

Mountaineer and expedition guide Conan Bliss has found that strong bonds in common outdoor activities will often pull people together to create a great trip as well. “A seed is planted by one person, and the other builds upon it, and eventually it manifests and becomes a reality,” he explains. “A very good friend of mine who I met as a ski instructor in Jackson, Wyoming, thought it might be fun to get the crew together to climb Denali in Alaska. It evolved from a ski trip and a year later we made it happen.”

Two women backpackers on a hill ZOZI

Two women backpackers on a hill



Try something new

Bliss also credits his friends for teaching him new skills. “I've learned to both surf and kiteboard from great friends. When I first learned to surf, it was as a break from a motorcycle trip down the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico. One friend who I rode with is a great surfer, so he brought along a couple of boards. When we needed a break from the riding, we would take a ‘layover’ day, camp on the beach, and relax. He was up early in the water, and made it look so easy that I just had to try.”

A seed is planted by one person, and the other builds upon it, and eventually it manifests and becomes a reality.
— James Holt

Explore more

Of course, seeds can be planted in many ways. Amy Whitely, freelance writer and founder of family travel website Pit Stops for Kids, says she and her friends love traveling with their kids (and husbands) along because the kids inspire one another.

“Whether we're playing on a beach or hiking a trail, the kids push each other to explore, be curious, and have fun, which in turn rubs off on all of us. And we all grow closer when getting away together—when all those pesky ‘real life’ chores like car pool and sports practice are taken out of the equation.”

Two male kayakers on the water. ZOZI

Two male kayakers on the water.



Spark a major life change

Friends of Ironman champion and ZOZI Guru Chris Lieto, and their travels, rubbed off on him in a different way. At 25, when Lieto was contemplating his life direction, he watched as triathlete buddies made careers of competing around the world. When, on their returns, they shared stories of amazing adventures with him, deep inside he knew: “I want to do that.” Today, most of the big trips he’s been on—to places like Austria, Vietnam, and Thailand—are thanks to his triathlete career. And all of it leads directly back to the influence of his friends.

Adds Ultramarathon Man and ZOZI Guru Dean Karnazes, “I think you become immersed in the culture you’re in. I live over in Marin [California]. It’s such a healthy, active community that you feel weird if you’re not healthy and active.”

How do your friends motivate you to get out there? Do you have a dedicated running buddy? Or a badass friend who gets you outside of your comfort zone? We want to know. Share your stories of inspirational friendships in the comments below.


Ready to get out there with your friends? Explore all the possibilities available in our local activities.

Kirsten Akens

Kirsten is an award-winning journalist, editor, photographer and practicing yogi based in Colorado. A lover of books, balasana, baked goods, blogging, and Boston terriers, she also has an unnatural affection for alliteration.

Subscribe +

Get the best stories and activities, personalized just for you. Go on, get out there!

You might also enjoy: