Looking for adventure, natural wonder? Excursion company offers a world of it, without traveling far

Take It Outside targets nature lovers, adventurers

CINCINNATI -- Plenty of natural beauty can be found in Cincinnati’s own back yard. That’s the message natives Adrian Hogel and Amy Devine hope to drive home with their all-inclusive adventure travel company, Take It Outside Excursions

Launched in July 2016, Take It Outside Excursions offers trips focused on exploring and being active outdoors – all within driving distance of Cincinnati. Led by a team of expert guides, travelers can build their own customized group trip or attend a planned adventure. Upcoming trips include camping and whitewater rafting in West Virginia from July 28-30; yoga, kayaking and winery visits in Michigan from Aug. 25-28; and rock climbing, hiking and camping at Red River Gorge in Kentucky from Sept. 8-10.

“We have so much to offer in the Midwest, and I think that is definitely overlooked,” Devine said. “We have skiing, paddling, whitewater rafting and climbing. It’s all right here. Just because you aren’t summiting at 12,000 feet, that doesn’t mean you aren’t going to get some spectacular views.”

All trips are between two and four days, with the intention of keeping them accessible and affordable to the average person interested in trying something new. Because Devine and Hogel recognize not everyone wants to sleep on the ground, not all trips require camping (the Michigan trip’s accommodations are a rental house). Transportation, accommodations and food are supplied, as well as equipment.

“I think being out in nature is really therapeutic. It’s easy to get out on our trips because they are so close, you don’t have to fly and it’s a low commitment,” Hogel said. “Just a quick two- or three-day break can really recharge your batteries.”

Friends since their days as basketball teammates at St. Ursula Academy in the mid-90s, Hogel and Devine both came to love the outdoors during their early adulthood when Devine lived in Cincinnati and Hogel in Colorado.

After four years at Ohio University playing for the school’s soccer team, Hogel moved to Colorado to feed her newfound interest in rock climbing and pursue a master’s degree and a career in ecology and environmental planning. Later, while living in Nevada, Hogel launched a travel business leading yoga and surfing retreats, which proved to be a perfect training ground for Take It Outside.

Adrian Hogel and Amy Devine have been friends since their days as basketball teammates at St. Ursula Academy in the mid-1990s.

Devine attended college in Ohio and then went to work for Procter & Gamble. She spent much of her free time traveling the country, often on trips that revolved around her love of kayaking. Friends often asked her for advice on where to visit, what trails to hike and what gear to buy. When one friend suggested she take her outdoor-adventure planning skills and turn them into a business, Devine immediately thought of Hogel, who had recently moved back to Cincinnati, as a partner.

The women launched their company with a debut trip to Northern Michigan last year. One of the first attendees to sign up was Juliann Jones, a globe-trotting, travel blog-writing Liberty Township resident who met Devine when they both worked for P&G. At the time, Jones didn’t think of herself as an outdoorsy type, but she was intrigued by the outdoor yoga and kayaking aspects of the Michigan trip and decided to give it a try.

“The trip did give me the confidence to realize that I can be a little more outdoorsy when I don’t have to be by myself and when there is someone more experienced to take us through it all,” Jones said. “I still keep in touch with everyone from that trip.”

Jones’ experience is exactly what Hogel and Devine hope for their clients. The partners – who both work flexible day jobs in addition to running Take It Outside – each offer a unique perspective. While Devine likes to concentrate on encouraging people to try new things and teaching them new skills, Hogel emphasizes nature’s ability to help people focus inward.

“(Our trips) offer a chance for a mental escape or a refocus, as well as camaraderie and healthy living,” Hogel said.

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