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On most summer tours, a hike that is accompanied by falling snow might be met with reluctant groans from guests — especially from kids.
But this particular hike — in Montana’s Spanish Peaks — is an Austin Adventures tour run in conjunction with the Life is Good company, an apparel brand with a mission of promoting the power of optimism.
Thus, the prevailing notion was that we would “get to” hike 5 miles in the snow, enduring the chilly wetness to experience the stunning Big Sky wilderness. And we would do it all without a single complaint (even from the four youngsters on the tour between the ages 9 to 12).
“We at Life is Good reframe the concept and wording of ‘have to’ to ‘get to,’” said Taylor Capuano, partnerships manager for the company. “Instead of, ‘I have to go to work,’ or, ‘I have to pick up the kids up from soccer,’ we get to do all those things because it means we live in a place where we have freedom, healthy kids and abundance.”
And our reward for keeping this positive mind-set during the hike? A peaceful picnic of gourmet sandwiches along an alpine creek. And, eventually, sunny skies that lit up flower-filled meadows in hues of purple and yellow, surrounded by the serrated peaks of the Madison and Gallatin ranges.
Our mid-June tour — a family-focused adventure that included stops in Big Sky, Yellowstone National Park and Paradise Valley — served as the debut for the companies’ new partnership, aptly referred to as Life is Good Vacations by Austin Adventures.
We already think that life is good on these vacations, and we already instill that kind of thinking into all of our trips.
Spanning destinations such as Bali, the Canadian Rockies, Costa Rica, Montana and Utah, the trips are slated through at least 2019.
The collaboration will augment existing Austin Adventures itineraries using principles from the Life is Good brand, according to Kasey Austin Morrissey, vice president of operations for Austin Adventures.
“We already think that life is good on these vacations, and we already instill that kind of thinking into all of our trips,” she said. “We just needed to add a few more touches that aren’t done on normal trips.”
The tours offer the same high-quality service that guests have come to expect from Austin Adventures, as well as a variety of activity options for all ages, such as rafting, ziplining and horseback riding. Meals also come with the same mouthwatering options: fresh lunch spreads of sandwich ingredients, fruits and salads; snacks along the trail that often involve an element of surprise; or meals at the cozy lodges, such as the 320 Guest Ranch in Gallatin Gateway, Mont., or a favorite local eatery.
These new itineraries also incorporate the Life is Good concept of 10 “superpowers,” Capuano says. These range from openness and fun to creativity and courage. These superpowers could manifest during nightly “get-to meetings,” where guides describe the next day’s activities, or through daily writing in a gratitude journal and sharing with the group.
And then there’s the “tell me something good” exercise, which pays homage to Joan Jacobs, the mother of brothers Bert and John Jacobs, co-founders of Life Is Good.
“She started every dinnertime conversation with the prompt: ‘Tell me something good,’” Capuano said. “Despite what dysfunction or mayhem was going on in their house, they would be riffing on whatever funny or fun thing happened to them that day.”
In addition to adding contemplative activities to the itineraries, Austin Adventures donates $100 per guest to the Life is Good Kids Foundation, which enhances the quality of care for at-risk kids, many of whom have sustained trauma. (Life is Good also donates 10 percent of its net profits to the foundation.)
The collaboration is a win-win, Morrissey says.
“When we developed our partnership, we just thought, ‘This is perfect,’” she said. “Life is Good gets to open up the adventure side of their lifestyle brand, whereas we get some really neat exposure to the world with a name that’s already branded into the minds of millions of Americans."The DetailsLife is Good Vacations by Austin Adventureswww.austinadventures.com