The recent hit movie “The Bucket List,” starring screen legends Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, is about two men, who, after finding out they are terminally ill, set out to have a series of travel and adventures together before they die. Fortunately, in the “real” world, many people are foregoing traditional vacations and are no longer waiting until it’s almost too late to experience first hand the drama and exhilaration of action adventure travel.
In the last several years, the action adventure travel agency industry has grown several times over as people seek to surpass their physical and, sometimes, emotional comfort zones to learn what life is like on a road less traveled. It’s not just macho thrill-seekers going to expensive, out of the way fantasy “training” camps to play out James Bond, “Mission: Impossible” or covert-ops style scenarios under supervision. These travel agencies clients are also families spending precious vacation time on “mission trips,” going to places like Mexico, Thailand and Africa to volunteer in communities that have been hard hit in a natural disaster. It’s also people, individually or as groups, embarking on conservational, spiritual and even genealogical journeys to understand the earth and their place on it.
According to these travel agency experts, the latest trends in adventure travel are volunteer and charity vacations, expeditionary travel and cruising, “soft” adventure trips centering on a theme like yoga, culinary or wine-tasting in different parts of the world, action-packed trips for physical endurance and mental challenges, and “roots” vacations to follow DNA and natural ancestry. Insiders also say that currently one of the most requested packages is the “girlfriend getaway,” with more than 50 percent of adventure travelers being women between the ages of 41 and 60. They are leaving men at home to explore the world with other like-minded women, making these travel agencies more and more successful and useful.
With global environmental awareness increasing, agency reports show that more people are traveling to more obscure places like Alaska, Antarctica and the Galapagos while others go gorilla tracking in Uganda and Rwanda or climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Parents are sending their recent high school graduates on backpacking-type walkathon tours in foreign countries to help raise money for charity through that famous action adventure travel agency.
Although baby boomers are still the biggest action adventure travel agency clients and patrons, travel agency experts say that the fastest growing demographic in the past 18 months is the age 20 (and younger) group, many of whom have already enjoyed a deeper bonding with their families through a prior experience.
The internet is a great place to begin a search for the perfect travel agency or package. These agencies can take the time and uncertainty out of planning your trip so that you can just enjoy the experience. But be careful to do your homework since in many places disreputable operators are still a risk, both to the success of your trip and your safety. Play safe now and enjoy your adventure to the fullest later.