Exploring positivity and the great outdoors

Heather and her two boys, Brody (12) and Colin (9), joined us on our very first Life is Good Vacation by Austin Adventures this June. Read about her experience traveling through Big Sky, Yellowstone, and Paradise Valley.

By Heather Mundt, Life is Good Vacations traveler

Walking along the Wapiti Lake Trail near the south rim of Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon, our group of 11 travelers—including two guides and four kids—has seen the gamut of natural wonders.
“For the next half mile,” says our Austin Adventures guide, “each of us will walk solo to think about our own ‘Superpowers.’”

Morning hike on the Wapiti Lake Trail

Taking our time, allowing each hiker to walk alone, we stop at various cards placed along the trail. One rests against a tree stump and reads, “Creativity: Think of your favorite song lyric or quote. Why does it stand out to you?

Another is propped against a fallen log. “Courage: Think of the last time you were afraid to try something, but tried it anyway. How can this help you overcome other fears?

Reflecting during a solo gratitude walk

Each card is a nod to the Life is Good philosophy, which is grounded in 10 “Superpowers,” or tools, that we can all use to lead a happy, fulfilling life. Others include openness, gratitude, and simplicity. It’s one of several introspective activities our group experienced on the new Life is Good Vacations by Austin Adventures.

“The walk allows guests to connect with nature in beautiful, wild places, and return from vacation with a greater sense of optimism,” says Taylor Capuano, Life is Good partnerships manager. (Austin Adventures also donates $100 per guest to the Life is Good Kids Foundation.)

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Young bison taking in scenic views at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

“We decided Life is Good Vacations would be a perfect way for people to get to experience all the things that are important to the brand, like getting outside, unplugging, and connecting with people you love,” she says. “It’s really about…these things that we can subtly weave in to give you a deeper sense of optimism.”

Each night, our guides held a “get to” meeting, where we discussed the activities we would get to do the next day, whether hiking in a summer snowstorm in Big Sky, zip-lining over the Gallatin River, watching Old Faithful erupt, or riding horses through the aptly-named Paradise Valley.

Summer snowfall on our hike up to Beehive Basin in Big Sky

“Reframing the idea of ‘have to’ to ‘get to’ is a subtle way to shift to more positive thinking,” Capuano says. “And it’s an easy exercise practice to continue once you’re back to your daily life.”

During dinners at one of the cozy lodges, like the 320 Guest Ranch in Gallatin Gateway, Mont., or a favorite local eatery, we also participated in their “Tell me something good” exercise, which honors the mother of Life is Good founders, Bert and John Jacobs.

Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone

“She started every dinnertime conversation with the prompt, ‘Tell me something good,’” Capuano says. “Despite whatever good or bad thing was happening in their lives, the family would focus on something good or funny that happened to them that day.”

“The Life is Good Vacations by Austin Adventures was the ideal way to enhance existing trips while continuing to offer high-quality service, food, and experiences,” says Kasey (Austin) Morrissey, vice president of operations for Austin Adventures.

“The biggest thing we want is to create lifelong memories, something you’ll be talking about 20 years, 50 years from now,” she says. “We want to give you the best vacation we can in the wildest places on Earth.”

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Heather Mundt
Family travel writer

Heather Mundt is a freelance writer and editor from Longmont, Colo. Specializing in family travel writing, you can read about adventures with her husband and two boys on her site, www.momfari.com.