Oh, The Places You’ll Go!—Adventure Travel Destinations Top The List For Active Vacationers

September 2014 View more

NMAG914_Fitness_iStock_000028202130Large_800pxIf you thought traveling couldn’t get any more exciting, think again. A new trend in vacationing, called adventure travel, is dominating the industry and allowing vacationers to push their physical limits, experience nature, and knock items off their bucket lists.

Isn’t a Vacation An Adventure Already?

For some travelers, packing and getting to and from the airport is already an adventure. The Adventure Travel Trade Association defines adventure travel as involving two or more of the following elements:

  • Connection with nature
  • Interaction with culture
  • Physical activity

As much as that sounds like a trip to Disney, it’s not. Think more along the lines of climbing Wyoming’s Grand Teton, biking through China, or tracking mountain gorillas in Rwanda.

Do People Really Do That?

Adventure travel has exploded over the last five years to become a $263 billion industry, according to an August 2013 Adventure Tourism Market Study conducted by George Washington University in partnership with the Adventure Travel Trade Association. Slightly more adventure travelers are male (57%) and nearly half of them are married (43%). The study uncovered a number of other interesting facts about adventure travelers:

  • 71 percent have a valid passport
  • 21 percent travel with friends
  • 37 percent travel with a partner or spouse
  • 30 percent travel as a family

Debbie Trevino of Hobson Travel in Naperville has seen the growing popularity of adventure travel, firsthand. In fact, she has booked more of these vacations this year than ever before.

Why the Sudden Popularity?

Concern about the environment and an increased focus on preserving natural resources has had an impact on how people choose their vacations, Trevino points out.

“Adventure vacations allow people interested in hiking, climbing, scuba diving and other physical activities, to get more in touch with nature and see what they’ve been missing around the world,” Trevino says.

Trevino also notes that many of her clients are checking items off their bucket lists these days. “I’ve had clients tell me they want to visit all seven continents and go on those ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ trips.”

A Little Excitement Goes A Long Way

Adventure vacations also add more excitement and spontaneity to the same-old-same-old vacation. “Everyone likes an adrenaline rush,” says Trevino.

Jake Brown, a clinic director at Advanced Health of Naperville agrees. He and his wife went on a speedboat adventure in Cancun, Mexico that took them through the jungle and into the open ocean for snorkeling. “We were so blown away by the wildlife there,” he says. “The adventure excursion was totally unexpected and made our whole trip that much more memorable.”

Adventure Vacation Ideas

Ready to start planning your next adventure vacation? We’ve compiled some of the hottest adventure vacations, as recommended by LonelyPlanet.com:

Whitewater Rafting Honduras’ Mosquito Coast: Named after the tribe native to the area (not those flying pests), this region offers caves and creeks, unusual wildlife, raging rapids and camping by the riverbank.

Stand-up Paddleboarding in the Dominican Republic: Explore the clear-blue Caribbean water and catch a few small waves on this adventure in the Caribbean.

Mountain biking through the French Alps: Take a ski lift up the French Alps to enjoy more than 650km of trails perfect for everyone, from the easy riders, to the intense thrill seekers.

Sailing Cape Horn in Chile: Climb the rigging and test your sailing chops on 5,400 nautical miles around one of the world’s roughest channels.

Running the Ice Marathon in Anarctica: If the Naperville or Chicago Marathons aren’t challenging enough, you can always run this race in -24° wind chill weather.