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Wilderness Therapist Q&A with Gabe Bussell

Wilderness Therapist Q&A

May 3, 2020

"In the wilderness is the salvation of the world"  - Henry David Thoreau

Today we're featuring Gabe Bussell, a Wilderness Therapist, Guide, and Yoga Instructor who has some inspiring thoughts to share with us.

If you ever felt guilty about choosing Glamping over camping, trust us, you won't feel that way after reading this Wilderness Therapist Q&A with Gabe Bussell...

We understand you have done a lot of work with companies that focus on the psychological benefits of being in the wilderness. Can you tell us more about those and the positive effects on one’s everyday life?

Well, the psychological benefits of being in the wilderness directly transfer to positive evolution in one's everyday life. When we are removed from the subtle (and not so subtle) distractions of the 21st century, our nervous system starts to calm down and we can settle into some of our deepest inspirations. As our nervous system feels totally relaxed and safe, an overwhelmingly natural sense of peace and place occurs, allowing for new neural pathways to form.

The brain doesn't know the difference between experiencing the uncertainty of a business deal or of a missing child or any other circumstance. So if we introduce uncomfortable feelings such as uncertainty and vulnerability in a safe place like the wilderness, we are reteaching the nervous system safe exploration of new experiences, such as trusting others. Literally walking through fear.

All of these things fan the flames of higher qualities one would hope to reflect in day-to-day life.

As many of us are preparing for a very slow return to normal life, what do you think these events will change in the travel industry and people’s choices when it comes to destinations and interests?

 I think it might intimidate some people for a while but at the same time inspire others to take advantage of the freedom of travel. I know for myself in quarantine, I've had the time to drool over destinations that had never even been on my radar.

There's also now a desire to see more of the world knowing that the world is a changing place. If there is a time to see things, the sooner the better! I also think more people will be interested in trips based around community building or some sort of journey that brings people together around a more meaningful experience.

Hopefully people are realizing that we all share commonalities as humans on the same planet and those are worth exploring. 

When people hear outdoors & wilderness, they often hear “mosquitoes, bears, uncomfortable tents and bathing in the river”. Mikael, our CEO, is more of the “Glamping” type, as are many of our guests. For his benefit and that of many of our guests in the same boat, can Luxury and Outdoors go hand in hand?

Absolutely! It sounds like the perfect combination if you ask me. In my opinion, comfort allows for presence. If you have to constantly worry about mosquitoes, bears, and sleeping on something uncomfortable, how is that going to set you up for a successful and reinvigorating trip?

The wilderness has a natural way of restoring us, so what better combination than to be in a luxury set up while restoring yourself in nature? There are a lot of really beautiful ways to enjoy a very high-end experience while also being conscious of how we are impacting that area that we're admiring as visitors.

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For those who are confined to living spaces that don't allow for much time outdoors, what would you suggest to supplement that usual outdoor time?

Something I like to do is think about past trips and the people I've gotten to know along the way. I consciously think about the details of the trip and practice gratitude.

There are countless studies conducted today that demonstrate how the brain doesn't differentiate between reality and imagination. A Harvard study showed the same parts in a pianist's brain lit up when actually playing and when imagining playing. So don't stop thinking about past and future travel!

Oh, and keep plants around! They definitely lighten the "confined" feeling!

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Help us inspire our guests: Where in the World has Gabe been and what are your top 5 destinations, and why?

I've been all over the Western USA exploring many mountain ranges, rivers, deserts, canyons, and valleys. I have been through various parts of Baja, central, and southern Mexico, Chile, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Oahu, Maui, Mauritius, Reunion Island, all over southern India, and also in the north multiple places in the Himalayas.

Top 5 destinations, in no order though...

The Himalayas for sure - It's a moving experience to be anywhere near something that magnificent.

Reunion Island - The fact that 40% of the island is protected by UNESCO for outstanding universal value should say enough, but some of the most stunning beaches and coral reef and also the most unique mountainous and underground formations all created by different volcanoes, the most famous being 500,000 years old and one of the most active on earth.

Patagonia Chilena - Everything you could ever need to stimulate the senses! The famous Torres del Paine National Park is a world renowned destination for its stunning peaks and lakes. The region also has tons of lakes, rivers, volcanoes, mountains, trails, horses, and fresh native food...it's really hard to beat a place that has it all at such a high caliber.

Chiang Mai Thailand - Thai's are so rich in culture and in spirit, you cant help to feel like you're in some part of heaven. The mountains in Chiang Mai are moving and mystical and the people immediately invite you into their lives as family, genuinely. Elephant sanctuaries, white water rafting, stunning views, a place to truly unwind!

Hawaii - Nothing says special like islands in the middle of nowhere... inhabited by some of the friendliest people and stunning beaches. I always thought of Hawaii as a busy destination spot, but there are many places to find completely private picturesque beaches. Hikes with absolutely stunning views, swimming with sea turtles and dolphins, and waterfalls all over the island - it's always hard to leave!

You have family roots in Chile and I understand it is one of your favorite places on Earth. Tell us more about it...

Although it's just a personal preference, it has all the key features that keep me super inspired and excited to share with others!

It's a unique country because it is nestled between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean, unlike most countries that have direct influence or more of a shared border. This just keeps it super raw and untouched for the most part.

The Tompkins Conservation has does an incredible job at protecting and actually connecting a ridiculous amount of land down there. That's made it more accessible to travelers and people interested in everything it is has to offer. World class rafting, mountaineering, backcountry trails you can hike or horseback, fresh native food, waterfalls, lakes...I could go on and on...

Thank you for reading today's Wilderness Therapist Q&A with Gabe Bussell. Click here to follow Gabe on Instagram.