As our name may suggest, we love adventure travel! This doesn’t have to mean hair-raising adrenaline rushes, jumping off cliffs or skydiving – in fact, that’s really not what we’re in to – but instead, a way of travel, an appreciation for the countries, cultures, and environments we travel through as we seek out new experiences and connections with people and places. It’s avoiding tourist hotspots, challenging ourselves and undertaking rewarding journeys.
To us, this goes beyond Instagramming ourselves on top of a mountain summit or, as we recently experienced at a popular tourist site in Morocco, queuing to have a photo in front of a particular backdrop! (Is this fun?!)
There are numerous benefits of Adventure Travel over mainstream tourism, both for the communities in the host destination and for yourself as a traveller. Here are our five favourites:
Money going into the local community
Adventure travel companies often work directly with local guides, porters and family-owned accommodation providers. This is a world away from big international chain hotels and air-conditioned group tours. Data collected by the ATTA showed that only 10% of tourist revenue filters into the local economy in mass tourism areas (e.g. the Dead Sea). This rises to 65 percent in an adventure travel area (the Jordan Trail). Often in these areas, locals are displaced or kept out of “private beaches” to allow the large corporations to keep a monopoly on tourists’ wallets.At The Grand Adventure Company, we work with personally approved local suppliers who share our ethos and passion for sustainable tourism and environmental conservation. By doing this we ensure we are providing fair wages and good conditions for trek teams and ground staff, local employment and supporting projects in the communities with which we work.
Seeking new and authentic travel experiences
The idea of paying specifically for “an authentic travel experience” is obviously somewhat of an oxymoron, and if you are reading about it in a glossy travel brochure it may well be that the shiny (and often cleverly cropped) photos don’t tell the full story. You usually find this out when you turn up to find 1000s of other travellers in the queue waiting for their slice of authenticity.Adventure travel, whether trekking a remote trail or exploring lesser-known parts of a country, puts you into a series of scenarios where you will find yourself in all kinds of interesting, and certainly authentic, situations – whether that’s finding an amazing meal at a roadside restaurant shack in Thailand, getting lost in the souks of Marrakesh or just sharing a beer with your porters at the end of your trek in Nepal. Our trips are designed to get you out into places where you can find real adventure and experiences. We can’t promise you’ll be blessed by a Buddist Monk while riding a camel, but if we could it probably wouldn’t be “authentic” anyway.
Gaining fitness and learning new skills
Needless to say, spending several days hiking up a mountain at altitude compared to lying on a beach drinking all-inclusive cocktails may produce slightly different fitness outcomes. But that’s not to say we don’t encourage relaxing whilst you are away – you are on holiday after all!One of the great things about adventure travel is that the very process of preparing to go on an adventure or overcome a challenge, like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, will have you smashing your fitness goals like never before! Your preparation can be varied and interesting and might even have you exploring exciting places closer to home, but having a challenge on the horizon will give you all the motivation you need to stick with your plan. This has to be better than endless monotonous hours at the gym aiming for that “beach perfect” body! Read more about why we think planning an adventure is better than generic fitness goals here.
Supporting sustainable tourism
Firstly, yes, you could argue that any travel is bad for the environment on the basis of the CO2 emissions of the flight alone. However, this doesn’t always tell the full story. The reality in many parts of the world, including some parts closer to home, is that natural spaces and unique environments will only be protected if they provide an economic benefit to that country or the local residents. This is usually done through the creation of national parks and other protected areas, where you will pay an entrance fee that, in most cases, goes to the upkeep and conservation of the area the park is protecting. Tourism can also provide sustainable employment and in some places provide means to uplift communities out of poverty, particularly in countries where the difference between the value of the local currency and tourist’s currency is extremely high. Essentially, sustainable tourism can become a way of using tourism dollars to incentivise countries and people to protect natural wonders and unique environments.
Unplugging from your digital life
Holidays are meant to be about leaving work behind and getting away from it all for a week or two, but with wi-fi everywhere and bleeping mobile phones it’s becoming harder to disconnect and have some much needed offline time. Being able to say “I’m going into the mountains for a week, and won’t be contactable” is certainly a liberating feeling and switching off social media for a few days can be great for everything from your mental health to getting round to reading that book you never quite have time for! Don’t panic though, most of our accommodation still has wi-fi (apart from the more remote mountain huts!) but there’s definitely something to be said for leaving the phone at home and enjoying being in the moment.
If you are already sold on adventure, why not check out our trips here.