adventurers . explorers . storytellers
Hello, we are Luke + Madalyne.
We met while studying abroad in Thailand during our junior year of college (even though we grew up an hour away from each other in the great state of Colorado). We went to different colleges, Madalyne at Colorado State University and Luke at Cal Poly, so we were in a long-distance relationship for our first year and a half of dating (rough). Right after graduation, we decided to head south to Peru and Ecuador before getting our first "adult" jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Once back in the States, we packed up our Rav-4 and moved out to the beautiful state of California. Luke worked in construction management and Madalyne did marketing for a health insurance broker. But after a year and a half in the hectic South Bay (aka suburbia), 8 months of which we spent living in our van, neither of us were happy and we knew we needed a change. So we bought a motorcycle (crazy, we know), packed up all of our stuff (again), and hit the open road.
We spent two months on the road. Two months camping in beautiful, out of the way places; two months riding through the deserts of the American Southwest; two months of backroads and adventure. But then... COVID. So we cut the motorcycle trip short (we made it to Southern Texas) and headed back to Colorado for the summer.
For us, traveling and adventure, and especially exploring authentic and off the beaten path places, is what makes us truly happy. Having new and unique experiences is what we are passionate about. And that is why we started Backroad Packers - to try to show other travelers, adventurers, and explorers how to have authentic, sustainable, exciting adventures as well. Hopefully, that is what you will find here on this site.
Travel today is relatively easy - at least a lot easier than it has been before. You can jump on a plane and fly practically anywhere. But just because you can travel to a place, does not mean that you necessarily should. The sharp increase in people and the sharper increase in a desire to travel has led to many places becoming overrun by travelers, which in turn has led to a degradation of the environment, a loss of culture, and the destruction and loss of wildlife and plants. Similarly, many popular places have now turned into quasi-amusement parks: long lines, traffic, and large crowds. We saw this first hand when we visited the famous ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru a couple of years ago. The amount of people, the tour companies, the long snaking lines to even get into the park. It was insane - and rather sad.
But if anything that experience made us realize that we do not like the "tourist trail." We do not enjoy rubbing shoulders with other travelers who are often only there to get a photo and check the box of "been there." We left Machu Picchu and promised to focus on visiting more off the beaten path places in the future, to focus on getting off the tourist track and instead branch out to places that most people won't go, to focus on authentic destinations that won't appear in many travel books.
On the motorcycle ride back to Cusco from Machu Picchu (read more about that adventure here) we decided to pursue the idea of helping other adventure-seekers and explorers find their own hidden wonders, their own authentic experiences. If this sounds like the type of travel you want to take part in, then you have come to the right place.
a couple things to know
| For us, protecting the environment and doing our part for the planet is a key facet of who we are.
| We chase the sun. For us, more daylight means more adventures, and more adventures mean more happiness.
| We spend months in a place instead of weeks. Why? Because we want to feel it, breathe it, live it. We want to personally get to know a place. And while we will never likely become "locals" of a country, we definitely want to become more than just "tourists."
| We want to inspire people to search out authentic places that might not be seen in travel books, or on the web even. The world is a big place - don't be afraid to seek out its lesser-known (but no less beautiful) places.
Altogether, we want to help people have true adventures, inspire them to get away from the tourist traps and trails, and instead make their own discoveries.
Here you will find travel inspiration, adventure, and stories.
We travel not just to have unique and authentic experiences but to connect with the world and the people that call it home. We want to tell stories that showcase the wonders of this marvelous planet - both the natural ones and the human ones. Join us on this adventure - we promise it will be a fun one.
"Nageire-do is made of stories. That's where it's magic lives. And people are made of stories too. That's how we make sense of the world. All the worlds."
- Dan Richards, "The Outpost"
We are passionate about exploring and adventuring in off the beaten path places and having authentic, sustainable experiences. This means we focus on being as environmentally friendly as possible (i.e. staying in a place longer, eating locally, reducing our plastic and carbon usage), deeply diving into a culture and not just staying surface level, getting off the tourist "trail" and instead seek out places that aren't found on popular travel itineraries, and focusing on natural outdoor adventures while still making sure we follow all "Leave No Trace" Principles (read more below). Similarly, we want to show that being a conscious traveler is not difficult, and help other people with similar ideas and goals also have amazing and unique experiences.
Our goal is to create a movement of travelers that focus on being good stewards of the planet, who want to have amazing authentic adventures and see the beauty in this wonderful planet. Because travel has become easier and easier, it is now up to us to decide how we want to travel, not if we are going to travel.
leave no trace principles
When traveling, it is important to consider how you will interact with a place - while you are there exploring it, and once you are gone. Just as in hiking and backpacking, we have come up with some key principles that we believe will help you become a better traveler and a better steward of this planet. These four principles are not difficult. Though they may take some time to get used to. The main thing to remember is that you are lucky enough to be traveling, lucky enough to see this beautiful and wonderful planet. So why not try to be a better person while traveling?
Focus on getting off the beaten path when traveling, both at home and while abroad | respect the cultures you experience when exploring | respect the environment when you are out adventuring, aka leave it better than when you found it | when posting on social media, consider keeping some things "hidden," aka maybe don't geotag the exact location (why?)
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While traveling, we like to collect memories - often in the form of videos, photos, and of course, stories. We love capturing those moments that in the moment might not seem super important, but years later are the ones you think back to the most. That is why we have created two other websites to hold those memories and adventures.
This site is all about outdoor adventure, often in the form of ski runs or "laps." This is really Luke's brainchild and something he is incredibly passionate about. So if you are curious about what it looks like going down a steep double black diamond run at a ski resort in Colorado, we encourage you to check it out. Note: we also post videos on our Youtube channel (here) about these laps, all in 360-degree footage.
We bought a drone two years ago, and while it wasn't totally on a whim, we didn't exactly have specific plans for what to use it for. Today, we don't go on a single adventure without our drone, Kylo. There is just something super magical about getting a birds eye view of a place. Be it the deserts of the American Southwest, the snowcapped mountains of Colorado, or huge white windmills turning effortlessly high above California wine country. If you are looking for drone imagery, we definitely recommend checking it out.