If adventure has a middle name – with my apologies to Indiana Jones – it’s the summer of 2022. Neither Covid-19, nor inflation, nor war in Europe will stop Americans from taking this trip of to-do list adventure.
I know this because I have met the adventure travelers. While in Dubai a few months ago, I had lunch with two American couples from Washington State. They told me the threat of Covid infection would not keep them home. No, it was their time to travel. In Cape Town, I met Americans who defied their government’s warnings to experience a spectacular South African summer and go on safari.
And in Turkey, I met many Americans who simply didn’t care what the State Department said or where the political winds were blowing. All they had to do was go for a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia or go shopping at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.
Do you already have that Indiana Jones vibe? Well, the polls — and there are so many — say you’re right.
Nearly half of Americans (45%) say they will travel more this year than last, according to a ValuePenguin survey. Dig deeper into the data, my fellow archaeologists, and you’ll notice that many travelers have planned unique trips. Nearly a quarter of Gen Z and Millennials with travel plans take a vacation “on the to-do list,” and a third of travelers with incomes over $100,000 are planning a trip international.
But if you are looking for an adventure trip, how to choose the right one? Where are you going and how do you execute your plan without getting in trouble? Glad you asked.
Choose your adventure trip
If you’re one of the millions of Americans looking for adventure travel this summer, you’re spoiled for choice. Here are some ways to reduce it.
National or international?
Most people assume that you can only have an adventure by leaving the United States. It’s not true. But you can also disconnect from the grid in the United States. Try hiking the Grand Canyon’s North Rim or head to Angels Landing in Zion National Park, widely considered the scariest hike in America. But if you have to go out of the country, there are plenty of places to consider. You might consider a travel consultant or travel coach to help you narrow down the list.
What is your budget ?
If you haven’t been anywhere in the past two years, you have a generous vacation budget and can probably afford to go almost anywhere. But if you’ve taken a quick vacation here and there during the pandemic, maybe a luxury African safari is out of your budget. There are ways to reduce your costs. For example, you can book a few nights at Aquila Private Game Reserve, which is only a two-hour drive north of Cape Town, and at a much more reasonable price.
How much risk are you willing to take on your adventure trip?
With adventure comes risk, of course. How much can you handle? Kulveer Tagga, CEO of rental company Zeus Living, kept a close eye on the risks. “With each new variant of Covid, it seems people are becoming less responsive,” he says. “They assess the personal risks and make the decision that’s best for them and their families.” So if you’re looking for advice on what level of risk you should take on your adventure vacation, you’re out of luck. It is, as Tagga says, a personal decision. If you need peace of mind, you should consider a reliable travel insurance policy.
Choose your destination
You know that routine where the adventurer spins the globe and then puts his finger on a random spot? You can do it online if you are feeling very adventurous. I like this random location picker, but I often find myself in the middle of the ocean. For a more organized experience, you can also try Earth Roulette. You won’t end up in the middle of nowhere, but they will also try to sell you a vacation.
Destinations that specialize in adventure travel are gearing up for an influx of summer travelers from the United States.
“July and August will be busy,” predicts Funda Eratici, regional sales manager for Turkey at Hilton. “We are expecting a lot of North American and British travellers.”
Eratici says the Bodrum region of Turkey attracts adventurers. They come to go boating, see ancient places such as Bodrum Castle and buy Turkish carpets in the nearby village of Etrim. Hilton recently opened a new LXR Hotels & Resorts branded property, Susona Bodrum, which has become a favorite with well-heeled guests from Europe and North America.
Just a short flight away, you may find one of Turkey’s premier adventure travel destinations, Cappadocia. Here, among the volcanic ignimbrite rock formations, you will find ancient churches, underground cities and some of the best hot air balloons in the world. Here too, hotels and tour operators are looking for a busy summer.
“People want to fly with the balloons and see the churches,” says Deniz Karkin, general manager of Argos in Cappadocia, a luxury hotel carved into the side of the mountain. He says that over the past two years, American visitors have compromised by vacationing closer to home and playing it safe. But not this summer. Bookings for this year are strong.
Turkish tourism insiders mentioned a tip that might make the adventure a bit lighter on the wallet: Wait until early September to visit. The Turks call it “yellow summer” because the trees turn yellow, but the weather stays warm. All the tourists leave, except the smartest ones. They take advantage of the good weather and don’t have to worry about crowds.
Now go on an adventure
Experts say wherever you decide to go, make sure there’s something to discover. Europe ranks high on this list because many of its artifacts are still being discovered.
“You dig somewhere for the metro, and you discover the remains of an ancient civilization,” says Y. Murat Ozguc, managing partner of Turkish tour operator Travel Atelier. “My advice would be to go somewhere like that.”
There are places like that all over the planet. You can find ancient obelisks at Cromlech des Almendres in Alentejo, Portugal, or Gobekli Tepe, considered the oldest temple in the world, in Urfa, Turkey.
But how do you put it all together? Here are a few tips :
1. Hire an expert. Speak to a travel consultant or coach or contact a knowledgeable tour operator who can help navigate your adventure, from booking your plane tickets to planning your itinerary. Planning an adventure trip probably isn’t the kind of thing you’ll want to try on your own.
2. Protect yourself. Make sure you have sufficient travel insurance, but also consider a medical evacuation program like Medjet, which will allow you to get home if you are injured while climbing. This is especially important if your adventure trip takes you to a third world country, where medical services are limited.
3. Be careful. Traveling is inherently risky, but adventure travel can be very risky. For example, if you are going to the Greek islands to go wreck diving, make sure you complete your PADI wreck diving course and are in good physical shape. Adventure activities can be fun, but with that fun comes risk.
Going on a must-do adventure trip doesn’t have to be difficult or dangerous. All it takes is a little planning and expert advice. No matter where you go this summer, you can be sure of one thing: it will be an adventure.