April 2017 Travel Destination

Immersive Travel: Prepare for Adventure

Now more than ever, people are traveling in search of authenticity. They no longer wish to simply visit a destination; instead, they yearn for a deeper sense of understanding and connection.

Not content to just visit Paris, bucket list travelers now want wine and cheese pairings or pastry baking workshops. Rather than wishing to see Peru, travelers now dream of watching the sun rise at the sun gate at Machu Picchu. Travelers are striving to experience what makes a destination truly unique and are not content with simply visiting to check off a box to say they’ve been there. What experiences are tied to a specific place? How may a traveler better understand the places visited? Moving beyond the simple guidebook recaps of a country’s history and a travel writer’s one-and-done recommendations, what emotional connections can be made to the land and people encountered?

The very idea of getting off the beaten path – exploring a destination under one’s own terms – is part of what defines adventure travel. Many hear the word “adventure” and assume it means climbing mountains or jumping out of airplanes. Nowadays adventure travel encompasses much more. Now, adventure can also define emotionally expanding beyond one’s comforts of home. From this, we see a shift in the definition of adventure travel. Adventure no longer needs to mean just adrenaline, but immersion, too.

Of course, traditional “hard” adventure travel still exists – but it is celebrated for what it is, rather than assuming that all adventure travel falls into this definition. Athletic-minded travelers can still enjoy long hiking and cycling trips; but for those who might not find this type of travel to be their preference, soft adventure – or immersive travel- is the new trend.

Instead of a being in a large group bussed from place to place with a day jam-packed with photo stops while following a flag on a pole, immersive travel is designed to help travelers truly understand the places they visit by offering interactions with locals, eating at traditional restaurants, staying in locally-owned, character rich accommodations, and tends to be more education-focused. Immersive travel introduces activities that are not available for traditional forms of tourism, giving travelers a chance to participate in traditional activities, culinary practices, and other activities that foster a deeper understanding and connection to the destination.

For travelers whose wish lists include experiences rather than destinations, who want to get more off-the-beaten path, who favor authentic interactions, and who prefer to get a more in-depth and meaningful understanding of the people and places they visit – immersive travel is the best way to go.

About the Authors: Tamara Olton is with G Adventures, specializing in small group travels. Sue Shimkus, President of Lake Zurich Travel & Cruise, provides custom travel itineraries for the discerning traveler. To learn more, visit www.lztravel.com or call 847.438.5551.