Despite much negative talk about what seems to be a now overused word, ‘recession’, the adventure travel and luxury travel sectors are fast growing segments of the travel market. Regardless of this I think many travel agents are still unsure how to approach this growing market. The term ‘adventure holiday’ cries out for a personal service. After all my perfect adventure might be your hell! The concept of personal service is further complicated since many potential travellers often don’t really know what they want out of an adventure travel experience. The solution? Know what adventure travel really is, search out what you want to do and dare I say it – ‘be your own travel agent’!
So, what exactly is adventure travel?
There is still a preconceived idea that adventure holidays are solely about high impact active experiences such as battling white water rapids, rock climbing or abseiling down a cliff face. This may be true to a point but adventure travel goes much deeper than this and can encompass a huge range of options with a cultural, wildlife and more easy going flavour.
Adventure travels involve exploration or travel to remote and more exotic destinations as opposed to an experience exclusively for the adrenaline junkie. If you intentionally step outside the box and choose to go further afield, deliberately looking for new experiences in otherwise unfamiliar off-the-beaten track territories then adventure travel is in your heart.
Many would wrongly associate adventure travels with ‘roughing it’ when in reality it can be about distinctive accommodation and surroundings that reflect the locality and culture, something that is comfortable and character driven as opposed to opulent style and luxury.
Adventure travel can offer rest and relaxation, stimulation and variety, inspiration and well earned treats as well as high quality and safe expedition environments for family trips.
So why is the adventure travel market expanding?
Escapism is a key factor! More and more people who are dissatisfied with their current situation and negatively affected by the economic downturn are looking for travel experiences that will inspire and invigorate them. Adventure travel is certainly personally rewarding and time spent in nature is a remedy for dissatisfaction, frustration and boredom.
Another reason also linked to the economic climate is that adventure travel can now combine with activities and voluntary work in local community projects. This, together with the group one often travels with on an adventure travel experience can provide an opportunity to develop social experiences, new skills and knowledge which can relate to an individual’s career often providing travellers with a competitive edge on their return.
And so to the final question – if travel agents are failing to provide the kind of personal service required for such an experience then how should you go about an adventure travel experience?
The first thing you could do is practise. Allow yourself to go out and get lost! You’ll be surprised what you’ll find out there when you don’t plan anything.
You can subscribe to outdoor adventure magazines and subscriber based newsletters to get a feel of what is out there, how it all works and what would suit you.
The most effective tool you have is the web. There is so much information out there in cyber space on the big wide world and how you can explore it! The whole point of ‘adventure’ travel is to have an ‘adventure’ so you could take the bull by the horns and plan your own adventure holiday by using the growing number of information portals (like the Best of Zambia) that aim to give you everything you need to provide yourself with your own personal service.
Finally, if that thought is way too scary then there are a number of top quality adventure travel tour operators who can help you – and they are not your standard high street travel agents who usually only provide off the shelf, over done and commercialised experiences.
Sara Brown is instrumental in the running of the Best of Zambia site (http://www.thebestofzambia.com/), a website ded