I LOVE adventure travel!! I’ll be honest though…I’m not exactly an adrenaline junkie who has the nerve (or skill) to climb high jagged mountain peaks in the Himalayas and then hurl myself fast downhill with two boards on my feet. I don’t like heights so falling out of an airplane, jumping off a bridge with a rubber band around my ankles, or rock climbing doesn’t appeal to me either. So how can I be a true adventure traveler? I believe John Amatt, an Everest expedition leader and motivational speaker sums it up the best. "Adventure isn't hanging on a rope on the side of a mountain. Adventure is an ATTITUDE that we must apply to the day-to-day obstacles of life - facing new challenges, seizing new opportunities, testing our resources against the unknown and, in the process, discovering our own unique potential."
There does seem to be a lack of a clear and definitive definition of what adventure travel is. The term “adventure travel” can scare people away that lack specialized skills and don’t want high risk activities. Good old Wikipedia defines adventure travel as “a type of tourism, involving exploration or travel with perceived (and possibly actual) risk, and potentially requiring specialized skills and physical exertion.” Hmmm…sounds a little scary to me.
As a Travel Advisor with membership to the Adventure Travel Trade Association I believe their definition is the one that fits me the best. Adventure travel is “any tourist activity that includes two of these three components: physical activity, some kind of cultural exchange, and interaction with nature.” Yes, I love this definition!! It fits my lower risk, non- heights loving, sense of adventure that resonates with me.
So what does this all really mean? Adventure travel is what you’re comfortable with and is often divided into two categories. It can be “hard” adventure activities that do require specialized skills, equipment, and a higher risk such as mountain climbing, skydiving, rock climbing, mountain biking, downhill skiing etc. Or you can be like me and into “soft” adventure activities that require less skill, less specialized equipment, and a lower risk of bodily injury. Backpacking, hiking, kayaking, road biking, and basically anything where I don’t have to leave the ground are the types of adventures I seek out when traveling.
I do believe there is a pendulum and an extremely wide array of what each person considers adventure. Adventure for you might mean eating a fried grasshopper in Thailand or a dish with squid ink in Italy. I have my limits with how adventurous I am with food but I’ve tried some different and funky things. Adventure might mean following a local on an impromptu tour of a small town’s history, learning to cook a new dish in a cooking class, and learning about (and of course tasting) regional wines on a wine tour.
Wherever your travels may take you go with the idea that you will add some kind of adventure. I guarantee you will come away with a broader and richer experience, and have better stories to tell.