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Adventure Travel

What is it?  Why do it?  Who does it?  And how to do it...!

James Neill
Last updated:
08 Apr 2005

What's New?

  • Volunteer tourism on the rise: Adventure and humanitarianism can help change the world
    (Eve Conant, 8 April, 2005, Newsweek International, USA)

    For some altruistic travelers, vacations mean more than just a day at the beach.  The numbers of socially responsible tourists—and the opportunities available to them—are rising steeply.  Whether its helping with AIDS education in Tanzania, tsunami cleanup in Thailand, or wheelchair construction in Laos, there is no shortage of opportunities for travelers with a global conscience and a sense of adventure.

  • The higher you go, the farther you see
    (Todd Balf, November, 1995, Fast Company, 1, 160)

    A writer takes on his toughest trip so far, the Tetons.  Venturing on Jackson Hole Mountain Guides' train-and-climb program for beginning mountaineers, Balf discovers a curious group, ranging from novice to experienced, including a few risk-happy business-types. The 3-day course included basic instruction on rock and ice that leads to a bid for Grand Teton's peak. Summit day might last anywhere from 16 to 24 hours.

  • Adventure Travel - DogsleddingDogsledding: A winter wilderness experience
    (Clarke Canfield, 9 December, 2004, IOL: Travel)

    Throughout much of human history in cold climates, dogsledding and dogsled racing was better-known than downhill skiing.  Now dogsledding is reemerging as a form of adventure tourism in North America.  Mushing excursions range from $25 for a 20-minute jaunt to $6000 for a trip to northern Greenland.   Mahoney, who once lived in the Yukon Territory bush mushing dogs and wrangling horses, says her customers "love dogs and are looking for outdoor adventure".  One of her young clients adds, "It's a lot better than school".

  • Vacationers find it difficult to take psychological time off
    (Benedict Carey, May 17, 2004, Los Angeles Times)

    People are working harder than ever and are struggling to relax while on holiday.  Holidayers often report disenchantment with their experiences, but are inclined to look back at past holidays through rose-colored glasses.  In all of this, people seem to be searching for time to be themselves but are coming up empty-handed.

  • US travel industry forecasts improve
    (The Outdoor Network, 10 May, 2004)
  • Adventure travel climbing back from slump
    (Associated Press, 29 February, 2004)
  • Adventure travel comes in from the cold
    (Folio, 1 February, 2004)
Research Links

The ordinary traveler should regard travel
 as an adventure and take chances.

-  Carolyn Patterson


What is Adventure Travel?

  • Adventure travel is to intentionally go beyond one's normal known area, seeking out experiences which are unfamilar.

  • Adventure travel often refers to people who pay adventure activity companies to provide specific kinds of adventure experiences e.g., bungee jumping, whitewater rafting, canyoning, scuba diving, 4 wheel driving, and so on.

  • Adventure travel is a $220 billion dollar industry in the USA (Naisbitt, 1999)

Why do it?

  • A growing industry / field

  • Research has shown that taking adventure risks can bring significant personal experience rewards, as does time spending time in nature

  • Can provide intense and different social experiences

  • Develop new skills and knowledge e.g., can become a career direction

  • Potentially life-changing

Who does do it?

  • Anybody who travels and opts for a more rugged, unknown path than the trodden, known path in the hope of adventure

  • Alternative-thinking yuppies

  • Seasoned travelers seeking novelty

  • Groups seeking novel experiences e.g., wedding parties, schools, etc.

How to do it?

  • Walk out the front door, go and get lost, and come back when you find yourself again

  • Read groovy outdoor adventure magazines - e.g., Outside and ActivPursuits.

  • Join in local adventure activities

  • Ask a travel agent

  • Search the web