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What is Adventure Travel?

By Jacob Queen
Updated: Feb 23, 2024

Adventure travel is a term used to market travel experiences that offer people a particular kind of exhilaration or sense of danger. For example, white water rafting tours and mountain climbing vacations could both be considered adventures under certain circumstances. Different people have very different definitions of what qualifies as an adventure, and the definition can vary for each individual depending on her level of life experience or physical ability. In some cases, people create their own adventure travel experiences, but there are also companies that specifically tailor adventure packages for individuals or groups.

Some people consider almost any kind of sports-based vacation to be a kind of adventure travel. This could include anything from skiing vacations to surfing trips. Whether or not such a trip actually qualifies as an adventure will often depend on how much past experience the individual has with the sport in question. For example, a ski trip may not be an adventure to a skiing expert, but a beginner will usually get a special kind of excitement during her first trip.

People who enjoy adventure travel often focus on seeking out unknown experiences. In fact, these people often want to suffer a few inconveniences and maybe even a few scares during their adventure. For people who take it very seriously, adventure travel is often seen as a way of gaining a better perspective on life by exposing oneself to very intense circumstances.

There are many ways to experience a travel adventure. Some people enjoy the convenience of simply hiring a company to handle the details for them. Sometimes these companies offer guided adventures where people are grouped together. When it’s handled this way, adventure travel can be a very social experience, and some individuals really enjoy it as a way to meet people. Others prefer the sense of danger and exhilaration that total solitude can provide, and they may avoid these kinds of experiences.

According to experts, before people jump into adventure travel, it can be important that they gain an understanding of their natural abilities. If people don’t have a good perspective on their own capabilities, they might overextend themselves and get injured or worse. For example, if someone tries to ski on expert slopes before learning the basics, injuries are much more likely. There are adventure travel experiences available for people of all skill levels, so it’s usually possible for individuals to find something challenging without putting themselves in unacceptable danger.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By wavy58 — On Nov 21, 2011

For me, the best adventure travel destination ever is a place where I can swim with the dolphins. I have done this once in Florida, and it was so much fun that I long to go to another location and interact with more dolphins.

Packages like this can be expensive. I paid more for my ticket than I normally pay for an entire vacation, but it was worth it. It's not something that I get to do often, but I can now say that I've done it once in my life.

The dolphins were so friendly that they reminded me of dogs. They guided me along and even let me ride on their backs. It seemed like they were trying to talk to me.

The beautiful clear water alone was awesome, but the trained dolphins really made the experience an adventure. I would recommend that everyone do it at least once.

By cloudel — On Nov 20, 2011

@StarJo – It makes me nervous just to climb a few steps on a ladder. I can't imagine what you were going through!

I worry about my brother, because he loves to go waterfall climbing. He buys these adventure travel packages that include guided tours, and one of the adventures is scaling a frozen waterfall.

I think this is even more dangerous than scaling a mountainside, because ice is slippery, and it can break off easily. At least there is a guide to teach safety methods and provide equipment.

By StarJo — On Nov 19, 2011

I met some new friends who were into outdoor adventure travel. Personally, I preferred lounging on the beach somewhere, but they talked me into trying something different.

We went mountain climbing. I don't mean hiking, either. I mean driving spikes into the side of the rock and scaling a cliff.

My palms began to sweat when I saw the height of the rock we would be climbing first. Because everyone else was so cool about it, I tried not to show my fear.

About halfway up, I lost my grip and started to fall. The tour guide had a rope attached to my waist, and she kept me from crashing.

After that, I refused to go any further. I wasn't going to scare myself to death just to blend in with my new crowd. I kept them as friends, but I prefer to go on vacation alone, now that I know what they are into doing.

By Oceana — On Nov 18, 2011

I have a fear of water, so for me, even canoeing down a gentle river qualifies as an adventure. This is exactly what I did on my vacation, and I went with a group from my church.

The people at the canoe rental shop told us that the water level was pretty low that summer, and several of the people with me were very experienced, so they were disappointed. I think I was the only one who actually wore a life jacket down the river.

It was pretty serene, but I did have one scary moment. At one point in the river, the water sped up and pushed my canoe under a rock protruding from the bank about even with my head. I had to react quickly and lay down in the canoe to avoid being scraped out into the water!

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