After a protracted downturn because of COVID, resulting in losses of $4.5 trillion and 62 million jobs in the sector last year, there are some encouraging developments for the adventure travel industry. The travel industry generally and the adventure travel subset, in particular, have now experienced a resurgence of optimism.
According to a February news report from the Adventure Travel Trade Association, over half of all travelers worldwide intend to travel for a domestic holiday this year, with the percentage being higher in the US. The increase is not unexpected, given that the pandemic kept individuals confined to their homes for a considerable amount of time.
Tourists are keen to get back in touch with nature. The adventure travel company Flash Pack co-founder, Lee Thompson, told CNBC: “People are desperate to get away. They've been waiting to get back out there and are not shying away from those international destinations and big, once-in-a-lifetime adventures.”
More Reasons for the Boom
According to Alexis Bowen, co-founder of Elsewhere, the acceptance of remote work has contributed to the recent boom in the sector. She explains that the boundaries between work and travel are becoming increasingly blurred. Noting that weekend trips have turned into week-long stays and more in-depth explorations of a place because of the flexibility of remote work.
The function of social media is worthy of note, which has helped make adventure travel more appealing and well-liked. According to 2019 Facebook research, 67% of travelers visit Instagram before booking a vacation. And continue using the site to get pumped up for the adventure ahead.
Bowen agrees that visually engaging content is key to inspiration. Hence the relevance of social media. For example, Bowen's travel firm, Elsewhere, recently featured a trip deep into the jungle of Guyana that required bushwhacking through dense forest, sleeping in hammocks, and testing the local specialty — termites.
Bowen admits that this trip would be a hard sell without live blogging and visual guides of the experience. “But we saw an increase in trip requests to Guyana after featuring it on our social channels,' she tells Wealth of Geeks.
What Motivates Travelers?
Many things inspire adventure travelers; for some, it has become a lifestyle. It is driving them to make drastic changes and go to great lengths to meet their goal of becoming adventure travelers. A study by the Travel Trade Association and East Carolina University researchers shows that transformational experiences drive adventure travelers more than anything else.
Courtney Newton, a 31-year-old solo traveler, loves hiking, bamboo rafting, ziplining, and adventure motorcycle tours. She comments that she chose to be an adventure traveler full time. Newton says the exhilarating feeling she gets when she discovers something new inspires her.
According to Newton, “Experiencing something new and getting out of your comfort zone shifts your perspectives and ideals about the world and opens your mind to a greater level of understanding and being.”
Couples are not left out! Interestingly, Grand View Research data indicates that the couples segment held the largest revenue share of more than 40.0% in 2021. Anna Cook, founder and editor of Stuck On the Go, and her husband make a good team. They started traveling together to ski, snowboard, whitewater raft, hike, and kayak as soon as they began dating.
“We're inspired by the gorgeous landscapes you can see while traveling and how they give you perspective on your place in the world and the problems you're facing. We also both love a good challenge.”
Funding Adventure Travel
Adventure travel means spending money as well. It requires a lot of planning, budgeting, and savings once you prioritize adventure travel and know what to expect.
About how they fund their trips, Cook states, “We saved a large amount of our income since we have no kids. We're also frugal to a fault. I wear many of the same clothes that I had in college; we never go out to eat when we're home (maybe twice per month), and I buy no decorations for our house. Knowing that traveling is a priority, it's one of our top budget items.”
It also required Cook to give up her well-paying job and make the leap to start her own business earlier in the year.
Similarly, Newton says she had to pay off her debt and save for a year. Only then did she quit her job. “To continue funding my travel adventures, I began a travel blog— Disorderly Drifters — that helps inspire others to begin their travel adventures,” Newton says.
Part of what makes travel so significant is the sacrifices people make to pay for it. Given that such lifestyle decisions are a chance to learn, which becomes a part of the adventure.
Adventure Travel Trends
According to Bowen, post-covid, remote, and nature-based adventure trips have been very popular. “This past year,” she says, “the number of sales to Tanzania impressed us. Safari trips are naturally socially distanced, the hotels we book are small and boutique and safari jeeps are open-air. So having a nature-based and naturally socially distanced trip was a draw for travelers.”
Bowen notes that one significant trend in the industry is the search for experiential travel over luxury. For example, she says that 1,000 thread count sheets no longer mark luxury. But by that awe-struck moment that only happens when you are experiencing something entirely different from your daily routine.
She further explains, “It's the bowl of dahl baht while trekking the Himalayas in Nepal or watching the sunset on the Pumalin fjords in northern Patagonia after a day of kayaking.”
Regarding the difference between how the older generation traveled compared to how millennials travel, Bowen says, “The older generation relied on travel specialists when planning their trip, but with the amount of information online and on social platforms, millennials are almost exclusively DIY travel planners.”
Nevertheless, she adds that this trend is shifting, stating that millennials are overwhelmed by the quantity of information and returning to expert advice to sift through the noise. “Millennials are going back to travel agents or local experts to help them find relevant and reliable options because it's hard to find this kind of personalized curation on the internet,” Bowen says.
What the Future Holds
Bowen projects that experiential travel will continue to grow and thinks we will see the biggest growth in the return of expert and specialist travel advisors. As for what may hinder market growth, she says, “Travel and economy are connected. If we see a downturn, we will likely see a slowdown in international travel.”
One thing is for sure. The travel industry is adapting quickly and seems to be making a strong recovery. As long as travelers have an insatiable quest for authentic experiences, the adventure travel niche is going nowhere.
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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Amaka Chukwuma is a freelance content writer with a BA in linguistics. As a result of her insatiable curiosity, she writes in various B2C and B2B niches. Her favorite subject matter, however, is in the financial, health, and technological niches. She has contributed to publications like ButtonwoodTree and FinanceBuzz in the past. In addition to ghostwriting for brands like Welovenocode, Noah and Zoey, and Ohcleo, amongst others. You can connect with her on Linkedin and Twitter.