When you first hear about adventure travel vacations, you might think of high adventure travel like bungee jumping off a bridge in a remote part of South America-and you’d be right. You’d also be right if you thought of going on an African safari or spending a week driving cattle at a dude ranch. Adventure travel vacations are a way to see the world that takes you out of your vacation comfort zone, tests your limits and broadens your horizons, no matter what you define those to be.
Bungee Cord Jumping Optional
A common misconception is that adventure travel is best left to adrenaline junkies and people who are extremely physically fit. Not so: If you travel to Tuscany for a week of cooking school, you’re an adventure traveler.
At its core, adventure travel is really about active exploration of unique landscapes, exotic wildlife and foreign cultures. You might choose to hike to the top of Mount McKinley, raft over class 5 rapids, spend a week on the site of an archaeological dig or swim with manatees.
You Don’t Have to be Rich
Choosing adventure travel doesn’t mean you have to raid your retirement account. This form of travel has grown so popular and options so varied that chances are pretty good you’ll find something you want to do within your price range.
Your adventure travel destination will be the biggest factor in how much your adventure travel package costs, followed by any gear you need. Biking through the New England countryside, for example, will cost considerably less than hiking the trails in Nepal. Not only is Nepal more difficult to get to, but you’ll need a lot more gear to hike around the Himalayas.
You Don’t Have to be 18
A lot of people think adventure travel is only for the young or other people with few obligations. While adventure travel does attract a large number of young customers, you’ll also find a wide variety of adventure travel packages designed for couples, families and children, and seniors.
You Don’t Have to Rough it
You can sleep outside next to an active volcano if you want to, but don’t you have to give up creature comforts when you go on an adventure travel vacation. Adventure travel accommodations run the gamut from tents and cabins to private inns and luxury hotels-it all depends on where you’re going and what you want to do when you get there.
Choosing the Right Trip
Not all adventure travel is strenuous, but the more active a trip you choose, the more fit you’ll need to be. If you’ve spent all winter sitting on the couch instead of at the gym, it’s probably not smart to go straight from your living room to the Slickrock Bike Trail in Moab, Utah.
Adventure travel companies usually rank trips on a scale of difficulty. But what do those ratings really mean? Unfortunately, there’s no industry standard so the difficulty ratings are subjective and vary widely from agency to agency.
Ask the adventure travel company to explain its ratings. Find out what factors-like distance and duration-are included in those ratings. Talk with an adventure travel representative about your fitness levels and which trips you’re best suited for (some companies offer adventure travel for women only, for example). And always ask for client references from people who’ve taken the same trip you’re interested in.
If there’s an adventure travel trip you’ve set your heart on, but you’re concerned you or the person you’re traveling with might not be able to keep up, ask the adventure travel agency if the package offers flexibility options. If you’re interested in a biking trip, this might mean the adventure travel package includes a support van that can pick you and your bike up if you need to call it a day.
Booking a Trip
You’ll want to talk with several adventure travel agencies before you choose one to book your trip. Start by limiting your options to adventure travel agencies that have been in business for at least five years and employ their own trip guides rather than hiring contractors.
The adventure travel agency should also provide you with detailed itineraries for the trip or trips you’re interested in and be able to tell you exactly what is and isn’t included in the trip price, including any gear you’ll need.Speaking of price, the time of year you choose for your adventure travel is also important and you should expect the price to vary for the same trip across the seasons. Generally, the lower-priced trips will be scheduled during the off season or shoulder season when the weather may be hotter, colder or rainier. Understanding the climate of your adventure travel destination can help you decide whether you want to pay now or risk bad weather later.