Adventure Travel Re-Defined

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “adventure” as “an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks, an exciting or remarkable experience…”

And as adventure travel has grown in popularity these last few years, I would venture to argue that most people stop at the first half of that definition, focusing on and abruptly halting at two keywords: danger and risks.

Images of jumping from the safety of a helicopter as you free-fall from 14,000 feet over the snow-capped Austrian Alps or cage-diving with great whites off the coast of South Africa might be more aligned with your definition of adventure travel. But adventure travel is so much more.

It’s those heart-pumping, eye-opening moments where you’re pushed out of your comfort zone – and that doesn’t always mean it’s physical.

It can be those moments you simply know you’ll never forget. Like meeting a local who becomes a best friend in just a few hours, or laughing till you cry with your fellow travelers. Let’s look at the broader definition of adventure travel.

“Exciting or remarkable experiences,” according to our friends at Merriam-Webster. I love the broadness of this definition because it leaves it up to you to decide what qualifies as an adventure.

Remember when we were kids? Everything seemed like an adventure, especially when you did it for the first time. Running the old Volvo through the car wash was awe-inspiring. The same can be said for travel.

Visiting a foreign (to you) destination, trying new foods, or venturing off on a solo trip can sometimes create the same reaction as ice hiking after a helicopter-jump in Patagonia.

Adventure travel doesn’t have to be extreme to be extremely memorable. Instead, think of it as a way to push yourself beyond your limitations – new ways to experience the world around you. For some of us, it might involve diving Belize’s Great Blue Hole or sitting passenger-side in a hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia, Turkey. But for others, adventure travel might mean our first trip abroad without the safety-net of accompanying family, or taking a food tour through Vietnam when our stomachs are accustomed to more typical American fare, or sitting down to learn the traditions of a local artisan in Morocco when making new friends can open our eyes to the beauty in the world and how much there is to be discovered.

Now, I don’t want to get too caught up in what adventure isn’t – because truthfully, it can be anything. It’s a personal definition meant to evolve with your own boundaries. For some people, bungee jumping off the Kawarau Bridge in New Zealand and thriving in the adrenaline-seeking world is the best vacation they could ever dream of. However, we recognize these experiences aren’t for everyone. No two travelers are alike and while these adrenaline-high trips can be found on a number of adventure travelers’ bucket lists, they’re not at the top of everyone’s list. And that’s OK. Because the beauty of adventure travel? Well, it’s that you get to decide how you define it.

How will you define your next adventure?

May we suggest a few of our favorites here?