I love the self-development, formative side of adventures too - all the journeys I go on change me hugely, and always for the better. The challenges of such an unpredictable, spontaneous existence, with each day a new unknown - it's not always easy, but it is always worth it. I learn much about the world, and even more about myself.
I love the landscapes - the visceral thrill of riding down a new road, smelling the flowers and looking to the horizon. There's something incredibly satisfying about feeling the undulations of the earth passing beneath your wheels or feet, and learning how a country changes through the simple act of traversing it by human power.
There is the social angle too - almost all the adventures I've ever had have been enhanced immensely by the people I've met along the way. If you want to restore your faith in humanity, set out on foot or by bicycle and before too long someone will stop you to chat. Not long after you'll begin to receive the gifts - cold drinks when it's too hot, hot drinks when it's too cold. All over the world I've been the recipient of the most outrageous acts of generosity and kindness. I've met people with incredible stories to tell, and I've made friends that I'll stay in contact with forever. This is one of my favourite justifications for adventure.
In the last few years I've discovered another reason, too. When I first set off to cycle through North America, it was mostly for selfish purposes. I wanted to challenge myself, to see the world and to have the wild experiences along the way. It wasn't long, however, before I began to take just as much joy from a very different part of the trip - that of sharing it. I kept a blog throughout my journey, and it's a combination of those essays and notes from my journals that I used to help write The Road Headed West - my first book. There is a great power in writing about a trip - the power to entertain, educate, inspire. I never thought that I would write a book, but after returning from my trip through North America I couldn't shake the feeling that the stories I had from that journey were worth telling. It's taken me nearly four years to get there, but I've done finally turned them into a book. I'm very proud of it, and mostly I hope that readers can enjoy my travels vicariously in the same way that I have done with so many hundreds of books myself.
If you have been on an adventure - the sort that makes you come alive- you will inevitably have a good story. I'd urge you to tell it. Tell it in a blog post, or write it up and send it to magazines. If it's a really good story with multiple themes and angles, then why not start penning your first book? I wrote my entire book (three times in fact, followed by five drafts of the eventual manuscript) before I got a publisher. I'm delighted with my publisher - they were my first choice and I'm very happy they wanted to take a chance on me - but the fact is that these days you don't necessarily need a publisher to get your book out there. There are a lot of very good self-published books available, especially in the travel-writing genre.
If writing isn't your thing, then try photos - begin with a photo-essay. Give film-making a go. Maybe express yourself through art.
There is a fantastic potential to do great things with storytelling. It can provide a platform for thoughts and ideas that wouldn't otherwise get one. One of my works that I'm most proud of is my film Into The Empty Quarter, because it shows a side to the Middle East that many people don't necessarily know about (Spoiler alert: it's an awesome place.)
You don't have to possess the intimate beauty of John Steinbeck's writing, or the flowing prose of Jack Kerouac. You don't have to have Werner Herzog's eye for a perfect shot (or his weird voice.) Just begin - begin to tell your story in the way that feels most natural. Don't worry if it's not good to begin with (even the best struggle with that.) Re-work it. Re-work it some more. Ask friends for their feedback. Pour passion and energy into it - everything you've got. If you care enough and work enough, you'll be able to produce something you're proud of. Whether you'll get your story out there to the masses via a book deal or TV deal or any other sort of deal...that's another question. But if you tell your story because you really want to tell it, and because it's about something that makes you come alive, then you've already succeeded. Anything else is a bonus.