Learn, grow, transform.
Welcome to Individual Adventures.
Independent foreign travel is powerful.
But it’s hard to do well.
You’re age 17-20.
You’re not ready for college right now.
Instead, you want to travel. You want to see the world.
You’re ready for your first big solo adventure.
But how will you do it?
Totally on your own? Overwhelmed by the infinite choices that travel presents? Struggling to maintain a sense of purpose? Drifting—but not in the good way?
Through an expensive organized program? Stuck with a group? Following a fixed itinerary? Missing the experience of planning your own trip? Feeling like a passive tourist?
There must be a better way.
“I’ll Do It All Myself”
Totally independent travel can be amazing. It maximizes your freedom, and it costs the least. But…
When you try to do everything yourself, it’s too easy to give up, go home, or never leave home in the first place.
“I’ll Join a Program”
Organized group programs can be amazing. They do all the planning and provide you with an instant community. But…
When you go with an organized program (like a gap year program), it’s too easy to feel boxed-in, coddled, or financially wasteful.
(a fictional example based on a real-life person)
Colin is 19, and he’s not sure what to do with his life.
What he does know is: College isn’t right for him at this moment, and he wants to travel for at least a few months.
Colin researches structured travel programs (like gap year programs), but they’re all unaffordable and none really call to him. He considers traveling on his own, but that feels a bit overwhelming.
Even though he has the money to travel, Colin is considering not traveling at all and continuing to live at home… until he discovers Individual Adventures.
Upon enrolling, Colin immediately becomes part of a group of other young adults like himself: budding independent travelers who are actively pursuing their first big solo adventures. Some are already traveling! They meet once a week over videochat—facilitated by a friendly Unschool Adventures staff member—to check-in and discuss their ideas, obstacles, dreams, and advice for each other. Colin immediately feels inspired and motivated to embark on a bigger adventure than he’d originally envisioned.
(Click below to keep reading Colin’s story)
Continue the story
Soon after joining, Colin has a long call with Blake—the guy who runs Unschool Adventures—who gets to know Colin and his motivations in great detail: why he wants to travel, what his current ideas are, what he wants to learn, what he fears, and how he wants to grow. One part life coach and one part practical advisor, Blake helps Colin think about both the big picture and little details, and then compiles everything into an easily accessible Adventure Map (see example). Colin prints out the map and tapes it to the wall above his desk.
Together Blake and Colin come up with a few different specific travel plans for Colin, including:
1. Learning to surf and volunteering at a beachside hostel in Australia
2. Seeking a marketing internship with an ice hockey team in Canada
3. Apprenticing himself to a sushi chef in California
Blake coaches Colin on reaching out to organizations and individuals, and after some trial and error, Colin decides on spending 10 weeks in Australia. Blake also helps Colin and his parents talk about their concerns and about mitigating risk so that everyone feels comfortable.
A month later, Colin boards a flight to Sydney, gets settled at his hostel, and starts surf lessons. After a few weeks, the initial excitement has worn off and Colin starts to feel a bit directionless and lonely. Thanks to the Individual Adventures group, some of the other members (each on their own adventures) give Colin advice about how make new connections while abroad.
Six weeks into his trip, Colin is finally getting the hang of things. He’s made new local friends with whom he’s planning a road trip. He chats regularly with the Individual Adventures group (some of whom will soon visit him in Australia!), he talks regularly with his parents, and he emails Blake whenever some really tricky challenge arises.
Life abroad is tough and uncomfortable sometimes, but deep down inside, Colin knows that it’s good for him. He’s learning and growing—and he’s the one making this happen. This is the adventure he was looking for.
Join at any point during the year and gain immediate access to our community meetings, pre-departure resources, and one-on-one email support.
Work one-on-one with Blake to explore your options, set your intentions, discover golden opportunities, minimize costs, and create the travel plan of your dreams.
Get to know your fellow group members through weekly videochats and facilitated partner activities. Share your ideas, get inspired, and make plans to partner or meet up abroad.
You’re a part of our community for five full months. Depart whenever you’d like during that timeframe. Leave sooner, leave later. It’s your adventure.
Stay connected to your group with the weekly videochat. Check-in regularly with Blake. No matter where you go, you’re always part of our community.
Whether you stick to the original plan or change it wildly, we’ll help you stay focused on learning, growing, making the most of your adventure.
Don’t wait to begin your adventure. We’re ready when you are.
Join Individual Adventures at any point during the year. You’ll receive immediate one-on-one attention and 5 months of community membership: enough time to make a plan, change that plan, buy an affordable plane ticket, get prepared, and start (and maybe finish) your adventure.
You decide when to leave, how long to travel, and when to come home. We support you along the way. It’s your adventure, after all.
(Individual Adventures doesn’t launch till January 2019, so you’ll have to wait until then—but you can pre-register beginning September 15th.)
One-on-one Skyping with Blake
Hi, I’m Blake, your personal travel coach through Individual Adventures. My mission is to:
Let me tell you a little bit about myself and why I’m running this program.
When I was 14, I spent a month living with a host family in Chile. At age 19, I backpacked around Western Europe with friends for five weeks. And at 24, I spent three months getting lost in South America.
These experiences inspired me to start Unschool Adventures, through which I’ve led groups of teenagers on long trips through South America, New Zealand, Australia, Nepal, Southeast Asia, Spain, and North America. In total, I’ve spent more than 24 months of my life running these trips and supporting the young adult travelers on them.
Outside of those trips, I’ve lived my life as a series of “independent adventures”—doing short-term living experiments in different countries and exploring new cities in North America for 1-6 months at a time. Read more about my adventures on my personal website and my free online book about travel as a lifestyle, How to Live Nowhere.
In a nutshell, I’ve spent my adult life designing meaningful and affordable travel experiences—both for young people and myself—because I believe in the transformative power of independent travel. Now I’m taking what I’ve learned and I’m helping 17- to 20-year-olds to embark upon their first, big, solo foreign adventures.
That’s who I am, and that’s why I’m doing this. I look forward to meeting you!
In the eight years I’ve known Blake, he’s inspired me to climb Machu Picchu, write a novel, become proficient in Argentine tango, and make many lifelong friends. He presents opportunities, encourages me to be bold, and helps me to get out of my own way as I’m figuring out what to do next in my life.
– Tessa (age 22)
Blake is a very genuine person and one of the easiest people to communicate with who I’ve ever met.
– Erik (age 19)
Blake is inspiring, relatable and very knowledgeable. He encourages young adults to chart their own path and take responsibility for their own meaningful life course by asking the questions that count, and giving guided direction to help them do what they need to do to get there.
– Darleen (parent)
Thankfully, we were pointed to Blake Boles and his Unschool Adventures program. This has fundamentally changed the way we see Ben’s education and our role in helping him find his way. It was the best decision we could have made for him.
– Ashley (parent)
These short, simplified profiles give you a sense of where an Individual Adventure might take you
Mission: Be in and around the ocean. Figure out whether to study Marine Biology in college.
Financial Budget: $5000
Time Budget: 10 weeks in March/April/May
Risk Threshold: Medium
Travel Plan: Go to South America. Volunteer on boats doing clean-up projects. Get free surf lessons in exchange for English language tutoring. Read books about marine biology and do a free online course in the subject. Visit the Galapagos Islands if finances allow.
Mission: Learn a challenging new language & make international friends.
Financial Budget: $4000
Time Budget: 12 weeks in Oct/Nov/Dec
Risk Threshold: Low
Travel Plan: Go to South Korea. Teach English in exchange for homestay room & board. Learn Korean through part-time classes, organized language exchanges, and tandem partnerships. Attend Couchsurfing meet-ups.
Mission: Hike, camp, experience solitude. Spend as many nights under the stars as possible.
Financial Budget: $3750
Time Budget: 6 weeks in Feb/Mar
Risk Threshold: High
Travel Plan: Go to New Zealand. Hitch-hike and freedom-camp. Go on long-distance, hut-to-hut hikes. Volunteer for Department of Conversation projects.
Mission: Meet people from different countries, and backgrounds. Get to know their life stories.
Financial Budget: $6000
Time Budget: 8 weeks in Oct/Nov
Risk Threshold: Medium
Travel Plan: Go to a major city in Western Europe. Spend a month volunteering at a youth hostel, working the front desk in exchange for free housing and breakfasts. Attend evening social mixers. Spend the second month traveling to visit new friends. Take photos of the most interesting people you encounter and document them on Instagram, Humans of New York style.
Mission: Get experience as a farmer and gardener in order to become more employable in the field.
Financial Budget: $3500
Time Budget: 8 weeks in Nov/Dec
Risk Threshold: Low
Travel Plan: Intern at an organic farm in Costa Rica. Read books and blogs about modern careers in farming. Write a weekly blog about your experiences and learnings.
Mission: Figure out what life is all about!
Financial Budget: $4000
Time Budget: 7 weeks in Mar/Apr
Risk Threshold: High
Travel Plan: Travel between Nepal and northern India. Join a 10-day Tibetan Buddhism retreat and week-long yoga retreat. Read great works of philosophy and literature. Journal daily.
Couchsurf? Find paid jobs? Find jobs that give you free room & board? Find an internship or apprenticeship? Create your own internship or apprenticeship? Make new friends? Learn a new craft? Learn a new language, the classic/expensive way? Learn a new language, the cheap/non-traditional way? Get certified in something? Do all that reading / writing / photography you’ve been putting off? Create a curriculum of self-directed study? Write a travel blog? Resume an old project? Give up old habits and replace them with positive new ones? Immerse yourself in nature?
Individual Adventures can help you do all this—and more. Through our combination of one-on-one coaching, peer support, and the pre-departure resource library, so much is possible.
Click below to learn more
The Individual Adventures program fee is $2200. If you pre-register for the launch of our program—beginning your 5-month membership in January, February, or March 2019—we are offering a discounted rate of $1500. Join our maiden voyage and save more than 30%!
Total cost estimate: $3000-$7000
“How much will I pay in total?” It depends, of course. The costs associated with your adventure are highly variable, and it’s our mission to help you minimize them. See the profiles under “More Examples” (above) for various total cost estimates based on activities, destination, and duration.
In general, we recommend a budget of $3000-$7000 for your Individual Adventure, which includes our program fee, your flights, and all living expenses.
How we save you money
Individual Adventures vs. Structured Travel Programs:
It’s simple. We’ll save you thousands of dollars, if not tens of thousands compared to organized programs—while also helping you gain a truly independent and self-directed travel experience.
Individual Adventures vs. Unsupported Travel:
If your goal is to spend as little as possible—less than $2000 for a long-term adventure, for example—then unsupported travel is your best and only option. But if you have a little more to spend, and you want to do this adventure right, then the Individual Adventures program fee is worth its weight in gold. We may even help you find opportunities to save money on room & board—or to earn money along your way—that will actually offset our fee and leave you with a lower total cost than the unsupported route! (While we cannot guarantee this, please know saving you money is a huge priority for us—there’s no reason it wouldn’t be!)
The program fee includes:
In a nutshell
$2200 $1500, you get:
Maybe you’ll do college next year. Maybe you won’t go at all. Either way, college isn’t the right choice for you now—travel is.
Forget the pre-packaged experiences: You want to volunteer, work, wander, and create memories with new friends.
You’re ready to GO. Not next year, not “sometime.” You want to go now—or as soon as feasibly possible.
Solo travel appeals to you, but solitude doesn’t. You want to be part of a community of like-minded young people with whom you can share your victories, setbacks, and wild ideas.
What does the design process look like?
Working together, you and Blake will co-create a meaningful, practical, and affordable travel plan. He’ll help you:
Can I join if I’m under 17? Over 20?
If you’re 16 or younger, you’re going to face significant restrictions as a solo traveler. For this reason we prefer to work with young people who will be at least age 17 by departure day. But if you feel that you can handle the restrictions and want our help working around them, we’re happy to work with you! Register as normal and we’ll talk more over email.
If you’re 21 or 22, we’re happy to work with you as long as you’re happy to be a part of a community of younger participants. If you’re over 22, please contact us first by emailing email@example.com.
When can I depart? How long should I travel?
It’s up to you. Start traveling when you want and return when you want. We generally recommend traveling between 1-3 months for a first-time international experience. After your group membership comes to an end, you can (and should) continue connecting with your fellow group members, especially if you’re still traveling! The only difference is that Unschool Adventures staff members will no longer organize and facilitate these meetings.
How many other people are in the program?
Because this number varies, we will let you know when you register. You may also email Blake (firstname.lastname@example.org) for an update on the current group.
How firm of a plan do I need to make?
If you’re unsure of where you want to travel and what you want to do—no problem! The primary purpose of the planning process is to help you get clear about the why and how of your travels: Why are you doing this in the first place? How do you want to learn and grow? How much money do you have to spend? How much risk can you tolerate? How will you stay safe? What do you want to get out of this? With these questions answered, you can embark upon an international adventure with a fuzzy itinerary but clear intentions and purpose.
If you want to change your plan, then change it! That’s normal. It’s bad to travel with zero planning, and it’s also bad to travel with an overly rigid plan. Blake and the Individual Adventures staff will be here to help you think through your options, make your pivot, and stay true to your intentions and risk threshold along the way.
Is this an alternative to college?
Yes—sort of. This is a program for young people who desperately need to scratch their travel itch before they’ll be able to focus in college—and not just waste their (or their parent’s) money.
This is also a program for young people who have no interest in college—perhaps ever. College is not a good fit for everyone, and there are plenty of ways to give yourself an education without a 4-year institution (see Blake’s book on the subject, Better Than College).
How do the weekly videochats work?
The weekly videochats are a place for you to connect with other motivated young travelers like yourself: before departure, while traveling, and after returning home. An Individual Adventures staff member will set up a weekly videochat meeting using Zoom and lead the check-in, facilitate discussions, and offer optional partner activities. We may also feature occasional guest speakers: accomplished travelers who have gone on their own independent adventures and visit to share their stories. Blake will pop into these meetings every once in a while to say hi, see how things are going, and offer advice, but mostly you’ll connect with him one-on-one.
The weekly videochats are always optional. We’d love it if you join, but we understand if you have more important plans :)
Our target videochat group size is 6-12 members: big enough for diversity, small enough to be manageable.
We will do our best to schedule meetings that work for your time zone and personal schedule, but please understand that we will not be able to meet your scheduling needs 100% of the time.
If the group becomes too large or scheduling becomes too complicated, we will simply start another, separate videochat group—and you’ll be free to join either or both.
What if I don’t like videochats, or I miss one?
No problem—we have a group Whatsapp thread also! This way you can stay connected to the group via messaging if you aren’t comfortable with videochatting or you miss a call.
How much one-on-one attention do I get?
In the beginning, when you’re creating your travel plan, Blake will work one-on-one with you for as long as it takes to form a solid plan. Usually this looks like 1-2 long videochat sessions (1-2 hours) with email follow-up.
After you’ve created your travel plan, you can expect a 15-minute one-on-one phone or videochat check-in with Blake (or another U.A. staff member, if you prefer) once every two weeks, plus an additional 3 hours of one-on-one videochat time, as needed.
Is this only for unschoolers or alternatively educated people?
No! Individual Adventures are for ambitious travelers and self-directed learners of all backgrounds. We don’t care if you attended a traditional school, an alternative school, or no school at all.
How Is this different from gap year consulting?
There are a handful of excellent gap year consultants out there, and their main focus is matching young people with established gap year programs. Additionally, these consultants do not offer the peer group support that you get with Individual Adventures.
What other opportunities exist for affordable independent travel?
There aren’t many similar offerings out there, but here’s one we recommend you check out: Travel Access Project.
What if I want to travel within my home country?
We’d love to support your travels within your home country! Maybe there’s a great domestic opportunity that you want to make part of your adventure plan. Maybe you don’t yet feel comfortable traveling abroad. Maybe you’re on a very tight budget. No matter the reason, we are happy to have you as part of the Individual Adventures community!
What are the pre-departure resources?
Upon enrollment, you gain immediate access to the Individual Adventures pre-departure resource library: a curated set of articles, videos, and links that will help you prepare for your journey and address standard travel questions & concerns. Topics include:
You also gain access to Launchpad, our 3-week digital workshop about staying productive as a self-directed learner: a handy tool for independent travelers, and a $100 value!
When is the program fee due? What about refunds?
The program fee is due in full upon registration, payable via credit card or bank transfer.
Because we invest a huge amount of time and energy into each member—especially at the beginning—we cannot offer full refunds. If, however, after one month of membership you do not feel that we are a good fit, you may leave the program and we will happily refund 50% of your program fee.
Do you offer scholarships?
At this moment, we are not offering scholarships. In the future we plan to make this a reality—please join our notification list to find out when that happens (use the link at bottom).
How do I sign up?
Keep scrolling down! You’re almost there :)
Individual Adventures launches the first week of January 2019.
Beginning September 15th, you may pre-register for a January, February, or March 2019 start date and pay the special discounted rate of $1500.
Click below and we’ll remind you the week before pre-registration begins.