adventure travel

Adventure Travel — More Than Just a Day at the Beach

Article Highlights

  • Adventure travel gives people the chance to participate in once-in-a-lifetime activities.
  • People can learn a lot about themselves by going on adventure vacations.

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Many people choose to embark on adventure vacations as a way to see the world and participate in once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Adventure travel can also teach a person a great deal about themselves and what they’re capable of doing, if they put their mind to it.

“At G Adventures, we approach each trip as an experience, not a vacation,” says Melissa McKee, U.S. marketing & public relations specialist for the company. “Our trips are different from the average vacation in that we escape the confines of all-inclusive resorts and big bus tours, and take our travelers off the beaten path to experience the raw, rich, and real beauty of our world. We aim to create true, lifelong connections with the people and places we visit.”

G Adventures travelers are a diverse group driven by all sorts of talents and interests, McKee says.

She says G Adventures offers trips in a number of different styles to fit the needs and desired activity levels of travelers. Adventure vacations can include activities such as trekking, biking, kayaking, whitewater rafting, camping, culinary classes, zip lining, and hot-air balloon rides.

McKee says G Adventures rates its tours on a scale of one to five, for participants to gauge the level of activity involved. Trips rated a one do not include much of a physical demand, while those rated a five typically include physically challenging activities.

She says a trip rated a one could be focused on areas of travel such as food, wildlife, and culture, while a trip rated a five might include activities such as high-altitude trekking or cycling.

Is Adventure Travel Safe?

McKee says adventure travel is definitely safe, and G Adventures makes it a top priority. She says all tour guides employed by the company are professionals that are prepared and more than capable of managing any potential bumps along the road.

“Keep in mind that adventure travel does not necessarily mean rock-climbing, rafting, or biking,” McKee says. “While those activities can be classified as adventure travel, for G Adventures, the category also encompasses active exploration and culture immersion.”

McKee says travelers typically keep coming back for more after taking their first adventure vacation.

“We have many repeat clients and common reasons for traveling with us again include the small-group, intimate experience, and the amount of free time we provide our guests to explore their own interests.”

McKee says many of their travelers have also described their experiences as life changing.

“I think that can be attributed to our commitment to sustainable tourism,” McKee says. “When you travel responsibly and respectfully, the cross-cultural experience becomes mutually beneficial for the traveler and host alike. Our travelers appreciate the opportunity to support and celebrate the local communities we visit.”

Psychological Reasons for Choosing Adventure Vacations

Survey research has shown that people travel for a number of different reasons, says Tamara Avant, Psychology program director at South University, Savannah. These can include celebrating an event, visiting family, educating themselves, taking a break from their normal lives, or a desire to experience a new adventure.

Travel is one way to disconnect from our busy lives and to disengage from pleasing others and focus on our own needs and wants.

Avant says she isn’t aware of any research examining why different people choose different types of vacations, but it may be related to personality types.

She says Costa and McCrae’s Five Factor theory of personality is probably the most popular and widely used method of understanding personality traits.

“They suggest that across culture and time, people tend to express five consistent personality traits,” Avant says. “The Big Five factors are openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.”

Avant says the personality trait most relevant to adventure travel is openness to experience.

“People who score low on openness to experience measures tend to be cautious and reserved with new experiences and would probably be unlikely to plan adventurous vacations,” Avant says. “However, those who score high on openness to experience measures tend to be daring, courageous, and approach new experiences with excitement rather than fear. These are the types of people who would be most likely to seek out vacation experiences that are filled with excitement rather than relaxation.”

Learning About Yourself Through Adventure Travel

Avant says people can learn something about themselves by participating in adventure vacations.

“Oftentimes we become so overwhelmed by our busy lives that we forget to take a moment to spend time with ourselves,” Avant says. “Travel is one way to disconnect from our busy lives and to disengage from pleasing others and focus on our own needs and wants.  Taking an adventure vacation allows a person to express characteristics that they may not be able to express on a daily basis.”

She says if a person works a desk job and follows a regular routine, he may not consider himself to be spontaneous or courageous, but if they put themselves in a situation that allows those traits to be expressed, they may develop a more complex view of themselves, which could positively impact his self-esteem.

“We know from research that vacations are beneficial in terms of increased happiness and better creativity.  Anticipating and experiencing a vacation does improve overall happiness levels, but those levels tend to return to normal quickly when people return to their regular lives,” Avant says.

Avant says the happiness we feel from vacation fades quickly, so the reason we are always planning our next big trip might be an attempt to reach that same level of happiness, as even the process of planning a getaway can be enjoyable.

“When people are able to mentally separate themselves from problems in life or at work, this psychological distance allows them to untangle themselves from it and to think about it more clearly,” Avant says. “Similarly, many people have epiphanies when they travel because they can view their lives from a more detached, outsider's view.”

Author: Laura Jerpi

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