Adventure travel is one of the fastest segments of the travel market, drawing in more and more people on a yearly basis. But what exactly is adventure travel and what can you expect out of an adventure trip? That is completely up to you, because "adventure" has a different meaning for every individual traveler.
That said, in its purest form, this type of travel generally offers some classic experiences and activities that truly help to define its style. If you're planning on taking your first adventure travel trip, here are some of the activities you can expect to be a part of the itinerary.
Traveling on foot through remote locations has always been at the core of adventure travel. Whether that means backpacking along the Appalachian Trail, trekking to Everest Base Camp in Nepal, or simply heading out for a backcountry adventure on a local trail, this is a great way to explore any destination. Travelers have always enjoyed walking tours and pretty much no matter where you want to go, you'll likely find some options for hiking and trekking there. Often these trips involve camping overnight along the way too, adding yet another adventurous element to the equation.
Cycling trips are another popular method of transportation and category for adventure travel. Rather than exploring a destination on foot, travelers climb aboard a bike instead. This allows them to cover more ground at a faster pace, while still feeling connected with the landscape, culture, and people there. Mountain biking offers a similar experience, but allows access to more remote, off the beaten path, destinations, while introducing a more challenging aspect to the riding as well.
Canoeing and kayaking trips are another popular way to experience a destination, granting travelers access to lakes, rivers, and even oceans. This type of travel can be as serene as paddling the Greek Isles or as wild as taking on some of the top whitewater destinations on the planet. One word of caution however, travelers should have some experience paddling before embarking on these types of journeys as they can be strenuous and dangerous depending on the nature of the water involved. Flat water is generally safe, but whitewater can be treacherous. Both can be fun if you are well prepared.
While not often viewed as a form of adventure travel, mountaineering and climbing expeditions still fall under the same very broad umbrella. These types of trips typically require more skill and experience than simply trekking in the mountains and tend to be more technical too. That means requiring the use of ropes, ice axes, crampons, and other specialized equipment to reach the top of a mountain. A climb to the top of Kilimanjaro is mostly non-technical, and falls under the trekking category, while an expedition to Mt. Everest is squarely in the more challenging mountaineering realm. Altitude can often play a bigger role in this type of adventure too, which can literally take place on every continent.
Take caution however; you should only embark on a mountaineering trip if you have the necessary skills and experience to do so and are traveling with a certified mountain guide.
Some of the best adventures take place in the snow, with skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing offering great experiences for travelers who don't mind colder weather. These types of trips can include everything from resort and backcountry skiing, to cross-country and snowshoe traverses too. Winter adventures are once again very popular in pretty much every corner of the globe, ranging from North America, to Europe, and even the Antarctic.
Horseback adventure tours are also a fantastic way to explore the more remote regions of any country. Horses can travel faster and more safely to places that we humans can't always reach on our own. This allows us to go along for the ride while taking in the scenery along the way. While travelers will want to have some level of skill on horseback before setting out, these types of trips are a great way to gain experience for those who want to improve their riding. Just be sure to be confident in the saddle, don't be afraid of the horse, and enjoy the ride.
Horses aren't the only animals that get to join us on our adventurous travels. Dogsledding is another exciting activity that travelers can indulge in if so inclined. These types of tours can last four a few hours or a few weeks, depending on just how adventurous you want to get. Driving a team of dogs takes a bit of practice, but it can be a lot of fun and a wonderful way to travel through the backcountry during the winter. Be sure to pack your warmest clothes and bring your most adventurous attitude. Oh, and try not to fall in love with the dogs.
If you're the type of traveler who likes to get off the beaten path and explore remote parts of the world by motorized vehicle, overlanding is the option for you. Typically done in 4x4 vehicles, overlanders relish the journey rather than the destination. These types of excursions will take you off-road and into the wilderness where you'll be completely self reliant. Camping is usually a part of the experience, with only the occasional dip into nearby towns to refuel and resupply. Travelers can choose to join an organized overlanding expedition or go completely independent as well, depending on their own level of experience and confidence.
Traditionally speaking, a safari is a wildlife viewing trip to Africa, although these days the term can be applied to all kinds of excursions to just about any part of the planet. In fact, "safari" is the swahili word for "journey" and it is widely considered to be one of the first forms of adventure travel. Today, the African safari remains a great option for spotting wildlife in its natural habitat, but there are also penguin safaris, polar bear safaris, and other times of safaris that take place across North and South America, and Asia too. These types of trips are family friendly, relaxing, and perfect for a wide variety of ages, making them one of the most popular forms of adventure travel, even in the 21st century.
Just as the name implies, a multisport adventure travel experience combines two or more of the activities listed above into the same trip. For instance, travelers might go hiking, biking, and paddling when visiting a certain destination, allowing them to stay very active and experience a wide variety of aspects of the place they are visiting. These types of itineraries can be found in just about any corner of the globe and during any season too. In the winter, travelers might ski, snowshoe, and dogsled their way across the landscape, and in summer they could bike, surf, and sail for instance. These types of outings are generally very popular with those who like to stay very active and are in good physical condition.
For most adventure travelers a cruise doesn't seem like much of an adventure, but there are some great options for those who enjoy traveling by ship. Small-ship cruises to places like Alaska, Antarctica, and the Falklands can be amazing options, with opportunities to go hiking, kayaking, and wildlife spotting. Plus, small-ship cruises are much more intimate and allow passengers to get to know one another better. These types of adventures are far cry from the massive ships that carry thousands of tourists, with the smaller vessels allowing access to some of the most remote and rewarding places on the planet.