How do you spell adventure?
For some, it might be scaling Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro. For others, it could be riding Class II river rapids in North Carolina’s Nantahala National Forest.
There’s an outdoor adventure for even the most inexperienced traveler. But where and how do you begin to book outdoor adventure travel tours? As a retired travel agent, I have some things to share from my experiences that I think might help.
Tips for Booking Your Next Outdoor Adventure Travel Trip
The most reasonable way to start your adventure travel planning is to ask friends, neighbors, or coworkers for recommendations and tips.
Many variables play into which adventure is best for a solo voyage or ones with friends or the family.
Here are some things to consider:
- Quality doesn’t come cheap, so don’t scrimp too much. Companies often have multiple guides, top-of-the-line equipment and comfortable and reliable transportation to offer, whether it be a kayaking trip, canyoning or biking in Tuscany. The best outdoor specialists are highly experienced and can point you to the most-suited experiences for you.
- Search for company reviews using online and social media outlets to get customer reactions and references.
- Book with companies that employ experienced adventure travelers and who understand all of the aspects of adventure travel. Avoid companies that just process bookings.
- Choose a company that considers the impact your trip may have on the local environment and wildlife.
- Look for companies that are members of travel associations that are vetted and reliable. Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) has more than 1,000 global members with a focus on tour operators in the adventure travel industry and supporting sustainable adventure travel. United States Tour Operator Association (USTOA) tour operators are experts at finding off-the-beaten-path experiences that enrich and enhance every vacation.
- Other online networks include Virtuoso, connecting luxury-seeking travelers to the world’s best travel advisers (with a portfolio of over 17,000 advisers).
- Vetted and road-tested trip planners around the world are compiled into the Wow list, based on feedback from the readers of Wendy Perrin, traveler and journalist and formerly of Conde Nast Traveler.
- As you should booking any travel vacation, adventure or otherwise, read the fine print! An extensive multi-day adventure itinerary could be disrupted or parts of the trip substituted/shortened based on local events, weather, or more, without reimbursement to the traveler.
- Be sure to have the proper insurance coverage. Ask the tour operator for recommendations, but do your own research at InsureMyTrip.com. Look closely at medical coverages and also cover any non-refundable parts of a trip like airfare and prepaid arrangements.
Some of the Most Popular Tour Companies To Check Out for an Adventure Vacation
If you’re ready to book you adventure vacation, consider checking out one or more of these reputable companies to figure out your options:
Formerly a safari company, Overseas Adventure Travel (operated by Grand Circle Travel) offers small-group adventure travel with a focus on good-value experiences and small ship cruises for vacationers ages 50 and up (ages 13 and over permitted, but the company cautions that some flights and ground transfers may be too long for some).
Destinations include Europe, Israel, Central and South America, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, and Antarctica. Trip duration ranges from from 11 to 28 days, with per person rates from $2,900 (no supplement for solo land travelers).
OARS, a California-based rafting company leads trips around the country and the world. Destinations include Canada, Cuba, Latin and South America, Fiji, Mexico, Cuba, and Africa, with trip durations from one to eight or more days. Per person rates can be as affordable as $289 for a one-day whitewater rafting trip in Yosemite to $5,699 for an 11-day Galapagos adventure.
OARS can also arrange for special interest trips like women-only, astronomy, wilderness gourmet, and beer vacations — even bachelor and bachelorette parties.
REI Adventures offers more than 150 unique trips to every continent for every skill level, ranging from relaxed to strenuous — and most are led by top-notch local guides. Trip prices range from $799 for a 3-day Pacific Crest Backpacking Trail trip to more than $7,000 for a 13-day Patagonia Hike and Camp adventure.
For more than 40 years, Backroads has offered award-winning family vacations worldwide with an emphasis on biking, walking and hiking. The company hires its employees versus using subcontractors to lead trips and those guides have an average tenure of 16 years.
Backroads also runs active river cruises on the Danube, Rhine, Seine, Portugal’s Douro, in the Galapagos, on the Andes and Amazon Rivers, and on the Mekong River.
Sample 4-night/5-day bike trips in Arizona start from $2,699 per person, double. An Iceland and Faroe Islands walking and hiking tour is priced from $4,599 for the 6-days/5-night adventure.
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