Adventure Travel holds a bit of a stigma for being the ‘roughing it’ kind of travel experience: uncomfortable, exposed to the elements, physically demanding, and out of your comfort zone. While some people thrive in that kind of environment, Adventure Travel does not have to be an experience left to the truly young and strong of heart. This misleading reputation is off-putting to those people who may want to try it, but believe they need to be an Ironman competitor to keep up.
If you are looking for an authentic, local experience in interesting, unique or exotic destinations, then Adventure Travel can be for you. You do not need to be a super athlete or under 35 to have an amazing experience. You just need to have an open mind, an inquisitive heart, and the determination to take on something truly different and potentially life changing.
Adventure travel itineraries can be found in every region of the world, including your own backyard. Soft adventure such as hiking and cycling are a very large part of the experience, which means that you do need a certain degree of stamina and determination in order to fully participate and enjoy a hike in the Swiss Alps, for example. The idea is to get off of the main highway and see what is down the road less travelled. Sometimes this means that you will be on some unique modes of local transportation, such as a train in India, an elephant in Thailand, donkeys, cable cars, ferries, camels, and your own two feet.
Meeting locals off the beaten track and experiencing their way of life is paramount for involving yourself in truly authentic, cross-cultural moments that allow for a greater understanding of our shared humanity. You begin to realize that everyone just needs good food in their belly, and a roof over their head with friends and family around them.
Many of the exotic destinations happen to be in some of the least developed countries and regions in the world. Some adventure travel itineraries give you the opportunity to give back and work alongside other volunteers who are trying to make a difference. Perhaps you will teach English or math in a school for an afternoon, build a wall for a community center, or help at a food kitchen. Adventure Travel companies form strong bonds with the communities that they visit and look to benefit the region in a long term, sustainable way what preserves the culture while improving the quality of life for the people.
And what of the accommodation? Most people think of camping when they hear Adventure Travel. They are not wrong, per say, just limited in their view. Everyone has different tastes and needs when it comes to their comfort level in foreign accommodation. Travel Adventure companies know this and have tailored products to suit the desires of those who want adventure but appreciate a comfortable bed and a bubble bath after a long day of hiking. Not everyone who wants adventure likes to camp or ‘rough it’. You can have it all. Bhutan, for example, has some of the most remote mountain hiking along with some of the most incredibly decadent spas in the Himalayas. Sit in the hot springs or have those knots massaged away by a professional. Local breakfast cuisine, paired with a sunrise meditation is a sure way to prepare you for a day in the mountains.
As with any tour, your safety and enjoyment are the utmost priority of Adventure Travel companies. They work with certified local employees who want you to come home safe and happy after your experience of a lifetime. Activities such as white water rafting, zip lining, mountain biking, hang gliding, and the like can be very dangerous. It is important to work with a certified company that has checked the credentials of their activity suppliers.
One of the most important aspects of your Adventure Travel experience is your guide. This person is a veritable fountain of knowledge and insight to the destination and the options available to you while you are there. All of the best guides are professionally trained, be it with a university degree in sustainable tourism, history, geography etc. or a certified whitewater raft guide; they have done it all. Groups are usually no more than 20 people, so you will not get lost in the crowd and your guide can help tailor your experience to your level of fitness and interests.
Next time you are thinking of getting out and exploring, try something that pushes your boundaries just a little (or a lot!) and bring home more than just souvenirs. Bring home a fresh perspective on the world, a renewed sense of global purpose, and the empowering knowledge that you can make a difference: all brought to you by an Adventure Travel vacation.