The Tallest Freestanding Mountain is Calling…Do You Answer?

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The Tallest Freestanding Mountain is Calling…Do You Answer?

I went on an adventure with my family and can’t wait to share our story with you. Over the next few weeks, I’ll tell you all about our journey, the lessons I learned along the way, and the hardship I overcame in the end.


I was shocked when my daughter said yes to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

Why was I shocked? Because we are a beach family. Our family vacations include surfing, snorkeling, and shelling. We had never done a mountain trip and she wanted her first one to be the tallest mountain in Africa (19,341 feet above sea level) and the tallest freestanding mountain in the world? All righty…let’s make it happen!

First step: email the Tanzanian climbing company and check availability. Our daughter was confounded. “Why can’t we just check availability online?” she asked incredulously. She truly did not comprehend why we had to wait for an answer. The good news is—we got a spot for a 6-day climb, starting December 16. Our trip was official! Time to prepare.

Preparing to Hike a 19,341-Foot Mountain: Gear Piles and StairMasters

Not our actual gear

*Not our actual gear

The pre-trip organization was wild, fun and bonding. Every weekend we visited REI, trying on gear, returning gear (love the REI refund policy!) and planning for the big adventure. Our “gear room” grew and grew with hats, gloves, socks, long underwear, coats, backpacks, water bottles, boots, more long underwear, fleeces, more socks, neck gaiters and more, cobbled together from family and friends.

We also did one small hike each weekend, and one trip per week to use the gym’s StairMaster. It felt great to be on the go, getting fit together with our daughter.

What’s Better: Planning the Vacation or the Vacation Itself?

I couldn’t believe what an injection of happiness planning this trip brought into our lives. But it turns out that a study published in the Journal Applied Research in Quality of Life showed that the largest boost in happiness comes from the simple act of planning the vacation. The effect of preparing for and anticipating the vacation actually boosted happiness in subjects for eight weeks!

Yet are we happier when we return from the vacation? That was something I would find out for myself much later.

Planning this trip made me feel engaged with my family, with life, and my health. And just like at work, when you’re engaged, you feel better, are more productive, and have better relationships. How can we bring this type of anticipation into the workplace in order to boost engagement?

The obvious way is to take vacations, which Americans tend to skip. Here’s a tip: if you have two weeks of vacation, take two different vacations, one week each, in order to benefit twice from the planning phase.

Reaping the Benefits of Vacation Planning Without an Actual Vacation

Startup Stock Photos

Startup Stock Photos

Yet not everyone can afford to take a vacation, whether the time off is paid or unpaid. So what can organizations do to bring the happiness of planning an adventure to the staff? One way is to have regularly scheduled (even once per year) team events, like a sports day, volunteer day, company picnic, or wellness week. What you choose to do for your employees depends on your organization; the key is to provide something to look forward to, which requires preparation, and gives a break in routine. Create multiple committees to plan different aspects of the event, so that everyone is involved. Increasing engagement with these types of activities benefits the entire organization.

I can’t wait to tell you about our experience on Kilimanjaro in my next post. The hike took 6 days and left me with something to think about that I want to share with you. Stay tuned?

Now that we’re talking about it, have you experienced the joy of planning a vacation? Was it more than the joy of the vacation itself? I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment below, send me an email, or find me on Twitter.

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  1. Michael Stern
    April 24, 2017

    Looking forward to hearing about the climb. What a great adventure. And you made it back.

    • Anne Loehr
      May 9, 2017

      Hi Michael– yes, I made it back… and in one piece!


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