Adventure Travel For Dummies
– Pierre de Ronsard
Most people want to relax on their vacations. They are tired of shuffling papers, making sales calls, dealing with wankers, and feeling like an office drone in the classic movie, Office Space. Some people just want some good old fashioned R&R after working hard. But there is a new movement in travel, one that doesn’t involve lying on beaches and sipping Mai Tais.
More and more regular people – families, travelers, high school student and senior citizens – are skipping the rest and relaxation, skipping the cruise ships, skipping the packaged beach vacations. Instead, they want to add a new element of adventure in their vacations – and their lives. The trendiest new type of travel to hit the world is adventure travel. In adventure travel, you can still kick back and watch the sunset, only you might be watching it from the top of a peak in the Himalayas, while on safari in Africa, or maybe on a canoeing trip through the Boundary Waters of Minnesota.
The dictionary defines adventure as “An unusual or exciting experience”. So what does that mean? To people in the adventure travel industry, it’s going off-the-beaten-path and participating in vacation that is more active than restful. You are moving, trying to reach a point, complete a goal, and enjoy the process.
Unlike the reality television shows, like Survivor or Richards Branson’s The Rebel Billionaire, you’re not going to bungee jump off a hot air balloon, or try to compete in some competition so your team can have an extra can of beans for the night. Instead, you’re going to be on safari in the Serengeti of Tanzania, or maybe rafting through the Grand Canyon, hiking through Amazon Rainforest or even an overnight mountain bike experience in a national forest. Your trips feature experienced guides, exceed safety standards, and offer great food and accommodations at the end of the day.
Below are a few basic questions to help explain a little bit more about adventure travel.
WHAT EXACTLY IS ADVENTURE TRAVEL?
There is no one way to define adventure travel. People interpret adventure in different ways, as adventurous to one person might not be adventurous to the next person. In general, adventure travel is an active holiday, something that maybe pushes your limits, uses your skills, gets you in the outdoors and has you doing something besides sitting around reading book and working on your tan. In the end, it’s very rewarding because you will have accomplished a goal, reached a new destination, or achieved something you didn’t think you could accomplish before.
For example, a typical trip might be hiking or rafting a few days into some backcountry – traveling say five, ten or even 20 miles per day for a week, and sleeping deep in the country completely away from civilization. To some, this might sound very difficult – and it can be. In reality, it’s pretty amazing what your body and mind can achieve. It could be much simpler than you imagined. Each day will show you a new side of yourself and will give you plenty of great pictures and memorable moments.
For an expert, someone who truly loves adventure travel, it could be traveling to the Saharan deserts of Libya and spending more than one month, under the brutal sun, traversing by camel on an ancient trading route. Many people do this every year and test their mental and physical endurance.
Adventure travel is what you choose to make of it. There are skill levels for everyone – super easy and super hard.
IS ADVENTURE TRAVEL DANGEROUS?
This is perhaps the number one question about adventure travel and probably stops many people from enjoying these types of holidays. We are not going to lie to you; sure there are more elements of danger then sitting on a tourist beach. It’s not real danger, its just a little bit more excitement – those once-in-a-life experiences, which turn out to be great stories for your children, friends and family.
At the end of the adventure, you return home with a great story and an experience that will last for a lifetime.
WHERE DO YOU GO FOR ADVENTURE TRAVEL?
People go everywhere for adventure travel. It doesn’t have to be in some distant country doing some spectacular trek, like hiking up Everest in Nepal or rafting the Nile in Uganda. For average Americans, the United States has plenty of great spots for adventure travel – check out places like Moab, Utah; Taos, New Mexico; Bend, Oregon; almost anywhere in Alaska or Colorado. There is opportunity for adventure travel everywhere.
Outside of America, there are some great options as well. Depending upon what your interest is, there are many great spots for adventure. Some of the better known countries are Nepal, Northern Thailand, Tanzania, Costa Rica, Vietnam, Chile, Peru, Morocco, and Switzerland.
There are also tons of semi-unknown countries that offer great adventure. Check out places like Borneo, Niger, Pakistan, Yukon Territory and many other undiscovered gems.
WHO DO I CONTACT?
There are thousands of outfitters engaged in adventure travel. If you know what interests you, like trekking, bicycling, sailing, or even zip-trekking, then you can contact a specialist operator in the region you plan to visit.
If you only know what countries you want to visit, there are easy ways to find the different adventures available. There are some America-based companies, like BootsnAll or Trek America or Intrepid Travel, that have hundreds of tour options – from quick, local adventures to month-long expeditions to the Antarctica.
IS IT A TOUR?
Adventure travel is usually a type of tour. Generally, you have experienced knowledgeable guides who will help you on the difficult aspects of the trip – maybe they know the best camping spots, can tell you how get through the biggest rapid, sail around the island, or even offer you the best way to trek through jungle. In that sense, someone is guiding you. However, adventure travel normally offers you a lot more autonomy than a trip touring Paris. You are in an active environment, making some decisions, and enjoying your surroundings and in a very small group, not a hoard of tourists with fanny packs. You are not a tour bus, with a mega phone, looking at some historical object and feeling like cattle. You are out in the wilderness, exploring a canyon, dropping down a cave, camping in the desert under the stairs, or snow shoeing on a calm country trail.
IS ADVENTURE TRAVEL FOR YOU?
Adventure travel is for everyone – the young, the old, families and students. Don’t be scared and don’t think these types of trips are unachievable. You are denying yourself the fun and excitement if you think it’s too risky. People fear the unknown and thinking that traveling, and even participating in an active sport, isn’t safe. With the proper company, you will enjoy yourself and have many great stories in the future.
WHAT IS THE “WOW FACTOR”?
The WOW Factor is contagious and is exactly why adventure travel is so popular. The WOW factor is exactly what is says – “WOW”. On many adventure trips, you will constantly say to yourself, “Wow, I can’t believe that,” or “Wow, that’s absolutely gorgeous,” or “Wow, that was a long journey, but well worth the excitement.”
More and more people have experienced the WOW factor, caught the bug, and want the WOW experience on all their trips. The WOW Factor is what makes adventure travel so popular!
To find out more about adventure travel, check out BootsnAll’s Adventure Travel Section. Read stories, converse with other travelers, and read trip reports.