Ex­plor­ing the new rules of adventure travel

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - COVER STORY - JEREMY DRAKE

Some travel sto­ries be­come the stuff of fam­ily leg­end. We all have them: that crazy un­cle who went over­land from Cape Town to Cairo in the ’70s with just a back­pack and a tent, or the grand­mother who fondly re­calls hitch­hik­ing her way along Route 66 with the Amer­i­can lover she’d met in a road­side bar.

They were the Aussie ad­ven­tur­ers of yes­ter­year, the pioneers of get­ting off the beaten track and push­ing the bound­aries of new ex­pe­ri­ences.

But it wasn’t for ev­ery­one. Even to­day the thought of dis­ap­pear­ing to re­mote parts of Asia or South Amer­ica with­out an iPhone or a re­turn ticket borders on near in­san­ity. Thank­fully, in the same way our crazy rel­a­tives came of age, adventure travel in 2018 has ma­tured and made its way into the main­stream.

Travel ex­perts at­tribute this to a per­fect align­ment of the stars. Suzanne Ca­vanagh from Cre­ative Planet be­lieves never be­fore have Mil­len­ni­als and Baby Boomers sought out the same ex­pe­ri­ences, nor has there ever been such a global em­pha­sis on per­sonal well­be­ing and sus­tain­abil­ity. Throw in tech­nolo­gies such as the smart­phone, Airbnb and so­cial me­dia plat­forms like Instagram and you start to form a pic­ture as to why adventure travel has wedged its way into every­day hol­i­day plan­ning.

And for you and I, main­stream has a sig­nif­i­cant up­side. Re­mote des­ti­na­tions and tours have be­come cheaper, we can now choose more eth­i­cally sus­tain­able ad­ven­tures, and it’s also un­locked new ex­pe­ri­ences as tourists con­tinue to push the en­ve­lope to get fur­ther and fur­ther off the grid.

For ex­am­ple, where hik­ing Machu Pic­chu citadel was once a bucket-list des­ti­na­tion, in 2018 the govern­ment of Peru has opened Cho­que­quirao, an al­ter­na­tive Inca set­tle­ment that re­ceives as few as a dozen visi­tors a day. Or where Thai­land or Nepal were once the laid-back Aussie mag­nets of Asia, Viet­nam and In­dia have emerged as the re­gion’s sleep­ing gi­ants ac­cord­ing to In­trepid’s re­cent Adventure Travel Index.

“We’ve fi­nally found a ma­tu­rity in trav­el­ling,” Suzanne says. “It is truly an amaz­ing story, be­cause it’s the style of travel whose time has come.”

Both In­trepid Group chief ex­ec­u­tive James Thorn­ton and Adventure World Travel man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Neil Rodgers say busi­ness is boom­ing and this year will be their big­gest on record. But they say book­ing an “adventure” no longer means hav­ing to climb a moun­tain. For Thorn­ton and In­trepid, it’s more about mind­set than how high you go or how far you walk. Ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the cul­tural dif­fer­ences, trans­port, peo­ple and cui­sine is just as much an adventure for the first-time trav­eller to Viet­nam as climb­ing Mount Kinabalu is for oth­ers.

Where 40 years ago an ex­pe­ri­ence with AWT av­er­aged a two-star rat­ing, their tours now in­clude ac­com­mo­da­tion, trans­port and ameni­ties more con­sis­tent with a four- or five-star ex­pe­ri­ence.

Rodgers says that’s the true sign of the adventure travel evo­lu­tion.

“The Baby Boomers of to­day are the ones who were once back­pack­ing and now they want to travel again to adventure des­ti­na­tions in depth, but with a level of com­fort and style at­tached,” he says.

So what else is the new ad­ven­turer look­ing for?


If you counted the amount of times you had checked your iPhone in the past hour, you’d un­der­stand why adventure travel is be­ing used now as



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