Choose Your Own Adventure

There are few things more exciting than travel. And while all trips—even journeys just one state over—are an adventure, adding some athletic or nature-related activity to your next vacation can make all the difference in how memorable it is. As in, "Remember that time when we went heli-skiing in Alaska?" or "We should go back to that dive resort in Belize where we stayed in a treehouse."

Industry experts trace the origin of adventure travel as a genre back to 1967, when Leo Le Bon, the co-founder of Mountain Travel Inc. (now the tour operator Mountain Travel Sobek), got 32 people together to fly from San Francisco for the first visit to Nepal by an American trekking group. The adventure travel industry has since boomed, with hundreds of tour operators offering something for everyone. On a Butterfield & Robinson expedition from Thailand to Laos, clients ride elephants

All Over the World

Adventure tours exist for just about every destination, from Burbank to Beijing, and the level of adventure can vary just as greatly. Think about it: Instead of this year's vacation consisting of eating extravagant meals and lounging on the beach, decide to put a little step in it. (Remember those healthy New Year's resolutions? Taking part in an active adventure trip helps ensure that your progress doesn't fall to the wayside.)

Such getaways are perfect for individuals, groups and families. In the mid '90s, the Travel Industry Association reported that 98 million Americans had taken an adventure trip within the past five years. These travelers enjoyed such activities as whitewater rafting, scuba diving and mountain biking while on vacation. Since the TIA survey, the adventure market has expanded as people have become more conscious of the environment and desirous of "off-the-beaten-path"-type travels.

More recently, 2007 research by the Adventure Travel Trade Association shows an increasing demand for family adventure trips and customized itineraries, particularly in eastern Europe and the Asia/Pacific region.

What's more, as travelers grow more and more eco-conscious, tours are placing an emphasis on sustainability and respecting the land traversed, as well as ensuring that all trips leave a minimal or no "carbon footprint."

But why let the statistics direct you where to go? You're an adventurer! So be sure to consult your travel agent to see what trip suits you best.

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