What You Should Know About Extreme Travel

Does the thought of sitting around a pool for two weeks leave you cold these days? Not feeling the prospect of a cosy city break immersing yourself in ‘culture’? Feeling a little bored by life in general?

Then you are a prime candidate for a craze that is proving particularly popular among travelers at the moment – ‘extreme’ travel. Whether it’s volcano boarding in Nicaragua, sand surfing in the Sahara, trekking bears in the Canadian wilderness or mountaineering in the Himalayas, there’s nothing quite like an adventure holiday to shake off the cobwebs and make you feel alive again.

mountaineering travel
Source: Unsplash.

There’s nothing new about this particular brand of traveling, of course. But whether it’s the pandemic sparking a renewed hunger in people to get the most out of life or something else, extreme travel certainly seems to be having a ‘moment’.

According to reports, it’s proving particularly popular with middle aged travelers – to the point where some people are throwing the phrase ‘mid life crisis travel’ around! Although we should be careful of being disparaging about such a notion. Studies into patterns of contentment and mental health throughout life have confirmed that we are indeed at our unhappiest in our 40s and 50s.

There are far more destructive ways of trying to find meaning and equilibrium in life when you’re at a low ebb than hankering after some adventure. If more ‘extreme’ experiences are what it takes to get you through, then more power to you.

That said, extreme or adventure travel involves subjecting yourself to a certain amount of risk. That’s entirely the point – the thrill of putting yourself outside your comfort zone, experiencing things outside the realms of normal life. They say that as we get older, as we become increasingly aware of our own mortality, our hunger to experience new and incredible things increases. We just need to be careful not to push the limits of our mortality too far in our pursuit of these thrills…

With that in mind, here are some top tips for traveling extreme, but safe!

Banff, Canada.

Choose guided tours and packages

Part of the appeal of an adventure holiday might be the romance of going DIY, of standing on your own two feet as you face the challenges of the wild head on. But unless you are an experienced trekker or mountaineer or whatever, you’d be well advised to steer clear of going it solo. Having an experienced guide accompany you, or being on a group excursion somewhere truly breathtaking, takes away none of the thrill. But it will keep you safe – and if something does go wrong, you will have experts on hand to help.

Take out appropriate travel insurance

Like we say, risk is part of the appeal of extreme travel. Danger and exertion can be exhilarating, especially if the reward is seeing some of the world’s most wild and wonderful places, or having unforgettable one-off experiences. But at the same time, occasionally things will go wrong. As far as adventure travel is concerned, that usually means some kind of injury.

Hiking, trekking, diving, swimming, cycling, kayaking, skiing – doing any of these things raises the risk of injury compared to lazing around a pool all holiday. If the accident is bad enough, you could end up in hospital, which you’re obliged to pay for in a foreign country.

Single trip travel insurance does protect you. But it’s important to tell insurance companies exactly what you plan to do on your trip. They will charge more to cover any kind of ‘adventure’ activity. But as the chances that you could end up making a medical claim are higher, you should see this as money well spent.

Single trip insurance

Think outside the box on destinations

Extreme travel doesn’t have to be all about picking the ‘wildest’ places you can think of – the Himalayas, the Sahara, the Amazon rainforest etc – and making it your mission to ‘tick them off’. There are wild corners to be found pretty much everywhere, and sometimes the best adventures are those that are a little less obvious.

For example, if you like the sound of conquering a mountain or two, you don’t need to head to the Himalayas or the Andes or the Rockies. You don’t even need to leave the British isles – why not go ‘Munro Bagging’ in the Scottish Highlands, strapping a tent and a sleeping bag to your back to make the most of Scotland’s relaxed laws on wild camping?

Similarly, you don’t need to go all the way to Canada to go bear watching. You can find trekking adventures that involve bear spotting as close to home as Sweden, Finland, Slovenia, Greece and even Spain!

Similarly, adventure is not just about where you go. It’s how you get there and what you do when you are there. Trips to otherwise ‘ordinary’ places can be transformed by ‘living local’ – staying in people’s homes via sites like couchsurfing.com, exploring a region on public transport, taking local tips on places to see and things to do. For many people, this kind of ‘authentic’ travel experience is as much an adventure as the craziest ‘extreme’ activity you can think of.

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