Adventure Travel


Pump Up The Energy On Your Next Vacation

David Rentsch

President, Cruise Holidays

These days some travelers want to experience something more than the gated resort and the cruise ship buffet. They want to go on a walking tour, climb a mountain and kayak down a river — adventures that can make a vacation more energetic and meaningful.

"In travel, people are increasingly seeking the authentic unique experiences that stretch the imagination and create potent memories that last a lifetime," says Chris Doyle, vice president of the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA). According to the organization, adventure travel is the fastest growing segment of the leisure travel industry.

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Of course, adventure is in the eye of the traveler, and ranges from a walking tour to whitewater rafting. But because of that, it remains relatively unaffected by the weak dollar and economic downturn.

Here, according to the experts, are some of the latest trends in adventure travel.

GIRLFRIEND GETAWAYS: More women are leaving the men at home. More than 50% of adventure travelers are women and most fall between ages 41 and 60, according to a 2006 survey by the ATTA. The thought was active vacations were for the 20-somethings, but now it's not unheard of for 50- and 60-year-olds to be going kayaking, mountain climbing, and surfing.

ACTION-PACKED VACATIONS: The term “The Bucket List” became famous from the movie of the same name starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, two terminally ill patients who want to complete a list of things to do before they kick the bucket. Many people today include action-packed vacations on their bucket list. Tour operators, such as  Ultimate 5 Lifetime Adventures, pack five of what it calls the world's greatest adventures into one week: a military-developed Ropes Challenge Course, skydiving, Indy car racing, rappelling and piloting a primary combat trainer aircraft.

EXPEDITIONARY TRAVEL: More people are helping support science. Expeditions may include surveying coral reefs on a remote Bahamian island or feeding and caring for cheetahs in Namibia. Most of the trips are two weeks, and no special training is required. (Exceptions may be trips that require scuba-diving certification or a high-fitness level). Other examples include conservation-minded tours to watch giant sea turtles lay their eggs in coastal areas of the southeastern U.S., Mexico and Costa Rica.