Travel the world
with a helping hand.

Welcome to Individual Adventures.

The Problem

Independent travel is powerful.
But it’s hard to do well.

You’re college-aged. But you’re not interested in college right now.

Instead, you want to travel. 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? Wandering without a sense of purpose? Wishing you had a travel partner?

Through an expensive organized program? Stuck with a group, following a fixed itinerary? Missing the experience of planning your own trip? Feeling like a tourist?

There must be a better way.

I wouldn’t be planning a trip to South Korea if it wasn’t for Blake. I knew I wanted to travel during my gap year but had no idea what that would look like or where to start, until I found Individual Adventures. Blake has been answering all my questions, connecting me with awesome opportunities, giving me valuable tips and coaching, and making my dream come true. I couldn’t recommend this program more!

—Emily from Eugene, Oregon (January 2019)

Our Solution

Instead of trying to do everything yourself—or paying too much for an organized program that you don’t really need—why not travel the world with a helping hand?

Individual Adventures is a one-on-one online coaching program for ages 18-22+ run by U.A. director Blake Boles and his staff that helps you:

  1. Purposefully design your adventure plan
  2. Find a travel partner with whom to begin your journey
  3. Support you throughout your journey

Individual Adventures costs $800 plus $200 per month of optional travel support.

We’re here to help you travel anywhere in the world; even within your own country!

How it Works

Design Your Adventure

Work one-on-one with Blake to explore your options, set your intentions, discover opportunities, minimize costs, and find a travel partner.

Depart When You’re Ready

If you’re chomping at the bit, then buy your ticket and leave ASAP. If you’d like to wait a little, then wait! It’s your adventure.

Enjoy One-on-One Support

For ongoing support, you’ll have a personal Unschool Adventures travel advisor with whom to do regular check-ins and Skype calls.

Meet Blake, Your Travel Planning Coach

Hi, I’m Blake. My mission with Individual Adventures is to:

  • Help you understand what you want from your adventure, answering that all-important question: “What am I doing with my life right now?”
  • Guide you through the process of connecting with other young travelers: before, during, after your trip. Connections are the best part of travel!
  • Help you spend as little as money as possible while also making the most of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Let me tell you a little bit about myself and why I started this coaching 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 highly influential 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 college-aged young people to embark upon their first, big, solo foreign adventures. I hope that includes you!

What it Looks Like

Meet Colin

Colin’s Adventure Map
(view full resolution)

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 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 has a long call with Blake, 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. 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 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.

Finally, with a concrete plan in hand, Blake and Colin scour the internet and their personal networks for a suitable travel partner: another young adult with similar goals and values who would like to join Colin for the the beginning of his journey. Together they find a 20-year-old French traveler, Gabriel, who’s also passionate about surfing and wants to visit Australia. He and Colin connect over Skype and make plans to spend their first week together.

A month later, Colin boards a flight to Sydney, gets settled at his hostel, meets Gabriel, and together they start surf lessons. He enjoys himself, and after two weeks Gabriel leaves for a different part of Australia, with plans to meet up with Colin later. Now Colin feels a bit directionless and lonely. He sends a message to his Individual Adventures advisor, who sets up a Skype call with Colin and gives him advice about how to make new connections while abroad. Colin feels inspired again, and his trip feels on-track again.

A month into the trip, Colin is getting the hang of things. He’s made new friends with whom he’s planning a road trip. He checks in regularly with his Individual Adventures advisor over WhatsApp and Skypes once a week with his parents. Life abroad is tough sometimes, but deep 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.

(Colin’s story is a fictional example based on a real-life person.)

More Examples

These short, simplified profiles give you a sense of where an Individual Adventure might take you

Ocean Deep Dive

Age: 19
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.

Linguistic Lovin’

Age: 20
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.

All the Nature

Age: 18
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.

“I’m Here to Make Friends”

Age: 18
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.

Farming for a Job

Age: 17
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.

The Meaning of it All

Age: 22
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.

…And What Will You Do?

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? Pick up an old project? Give up old habits and replace them with positive new ones?

Who are the Travel Advisors?

While Blake does all the initial coaching and travel planning, your ongoing travel advisor may be an Unschool Adventures trip leader or someone else from Blake’s network. Everything is one-on-one at Individual Adventures; we’ll make sure to find you a great advisor!

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the total cost?

Individual Adventures costs $800 for initial coaching and planning with Blake. We’ll work together one-on-one (over email and Skype) until you have a plan that satisfies you! Typically this takes a few weeks of regular communication.

When you begin your travels, you may opt to begin monthly support with an Unschool Adventures travel advisor for $200/month. You may start, pause, or end this coaching at any time.

“How much will I pay in total?” depends on where you go and what you do, 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.

We recommend using the website Budget Your Trip to estimate costs. And don’t forget the flights!

Remember, our goal is to help you travel as much as possible within a limited budget. We’re on your team when it comes to cost savings.

What does the design process look like?

Over the course of 3-4 Skype calls (or phone calls), you and Blake will co-create a meaningful, practical, and affordable travel plan. He’ll help you:

  • Set intentions and goals for your trip: How do you want to learn, grow, and push yourself?
  • Brainstorm and research different activities, locations, and methods of travel. He’ll scour the internet, books, and his personal networks to find the best opportunities for you.
  • Save money whenever possible: The goal is to maximize your experience while minimizing the $$ you spend.
  • Understand the risks of the activities you’re considering and make informed decisions. This will make you (and your parents) feel a lot more comfortable with solo travel.
  • Come up with a solid yet flexible travel plan that gives you direction and structure while leaving space for spontaneity and new opportunities.
  • Keep a birds-eye view by creating a hand-drawn “Adventure Map” that visually represents your plan: an easy way to review and revisit your plans and goals along your journey (example).

What are Blake’s credentials as a travel coach?

Good question!

Risk Management:

  • His Unschool Adventures trips have a perfect safety record.
  • He’s a certified Wilderness First Responder and formerly certified E.M.T.
  • His worldwide friend network keeps him informed of regional safety concerns.
  • He’s held positions involving significant risk management with young people since 2003.

Career Highlights:

  • He’s the author of College Without High School, Better Than College, and The Art of Self-Directed Learning.
  • He’s privately coached teenagers and their parents since 2010 (see his coaching website).
  • He’s worked as a cook, delivery truck driver, summer camp director, Aurora Borealis research assistant, snowboarding market researcher, web designer, and windsurfing instructor.

Personal Adventures:

  • He’s Couchsurfed all over the world (check out his profile).
  • He once tried—and failed—to hike the entire Pacific Crest Trail (see his goal list).
  • Favorite travel memories: Hitch-hiking across New Zealand in a sombrero, dancing tango at 3am in Buenos Aires, and sleeping high in the Guatemalan jungle as a troop of howler monkeys swung by.

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.

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 your travel advisor 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.

How will you find me a travel partner?

If you’d like to begin your journey with someone else, we will help you find that person! And if you don’t need a partner, no worries—we’ll skip that step.

Our process for finding you a travel partner includes searching online travel networks + our personal networks. We’ll help you do the initial leg work, help you connect with the person, and advise you on deciding whether they’re a good fit and setting clear expectations with each other.

Traveling with a stranger (for a little while, at least) is not as crazy at it sounds! Young people (especially Europeans and Australians) have done this for decades, and the internet only makes it easier.

Please note that we cannot 100% guarantee that your travel partner will follow through on their plans with you, but we will do our best to help you find multiple options and deal with any situations that arise.

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 (and often expensive) gap year programs. Our focus is on independent budget travel.

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 help!

We have a group of friends planning to travel together—can we hire you?

Yes! We’re happy to work with small groups. (Please note that advising calls will only be provided to the group as a whole, not to multiple individuals.)

What kind of pre-departure assistance is included?

Blake will help you with:

  • International flights: How do you find the best and cheapest flight?
  • Emailing strangers and creating opportunities: Where to begin?
  • Language learning: What’s the best way to learn before departure?
  • Visas & vaccinations: What do I really need?
  • Packing: What should you bring?
  • Staying in touch: How do I reliably stay connected to family and friends?
  • Money: What form should I bring, and how much of it?
  • Traveler’s insurance: Do I really need it? Where to get it?
  • Avoiding scams: What’s the most common way that people like me get tricked?
  • Risk management: What’s your backup plan? Which regions are safe to visit right now?
  • Couchsurfing and work exchanges: How do I do them intelligently?
  • Making friends abroad: How?!? (a topic close to Blake’s heart)
  • …and much more. The resource library is regularly updated.

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 $800 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 you’re unsatisfied, we will find a way to make it right.

I have another question!

Great! Please email us:

Ready to Begin?

Individual Adventures is now open for registration.

Enrollment in first come, first serve. Register now to secure your space.

Not sure yet?

Email Blake with any questions:

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