When I say adventure, what comes to mind? Chances are that your definition will vary from mine, which will vary from someone else’s definition. The Oxford dictionary defines adventure as “an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity”. However, what is unusual and exciting to one may be ordinary to another.
Within the past few years the Adventure Travel Industry has seen a great shift in who is undertaking adventure tours. No longer is adventure travel the exclusive domain of the young and extremely fit. Instead, we are seeing a higher percentage of older travellers who are active, but not necessarily super athletic or risk-taking.
This change has created a bit of a Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde adventurer (though by no means as extreme a case). Let me explain the strange case of the modern adventurer.
Regardless of your definition of adventure, you don’t go on an adventure tour if you are looking for a sedentary bus tour that shuttles you between sights and doesn’t let you really delve into the local culture. Instead, you go on one expecting to experience the culture of the destination, and, of course, to be active. While the amount of risk and extremeness of this type of travel may have reduced over time, being active, truly exploring, and pushing boundaries have all remained constant factors of adventure travel.
While the day traits of adventurers have remained fairly consistent, their night personality has seen a massive transformation. Traditionally, adventure travellers have spent their nights in tents, homestays, or other forms of rustic accommodations that are usually not equipped with Western conveniences. Of course, the sleeping arrangements are usually clean and decently comfortable, but may not include private baths, consistent hot water, or, most importantly, Wi-Fi.
However, many modern adventurers now prefer to stop the adventure when the sun goes down and spend their nights in a high level of comfort that may not give a fully authentic experience. There are many reasons for this change, including the change in demographics and what we are used to at home. And there is by no means anything wrong with preferring comfort at night since it allows for a more restful evening and the chance to recoup from/prepare for the active days.
Unfortunately the new expectations of some travellers are not always realistic. After all, a lot of the destinations that adventure companies take their guests to are still developing, or are in rural areas, where the infrastructure is not necessarily up to our Western standards. Things are slowly changing, though since part of the joy of adventure travel is having the chance to explore places away from the well-worn tourist paths, the best thing an adventurer can travel with is an open-mind.
One consequence of this trend is that the focus on accommodation has been ramped up to heights not previously seen in the industry.