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The demand for travel that combines physical activity, a connection to nature and immersive cultural experience has never been greater. And with the ‘softening’ of many types of adventure travel excursions, and the growing ability to customise all aspects of travel, adventure travel has never been more accessible.  

According to Shannon Stowell, president of Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), “Adventure is moving towards the mainstream, and the mainstream is moving towards adventure”. Partly due to the rise in activity levels of baby boomers, he suggests that older generations are “adventure curious”, meaning they’re more and more willing to take on activities not generally expected from the ‘traditional’ retiree, like kayaking, horseback riding, and expedition cruising.

So big is this “adventure curious” notion, that travel companies all over the world are tapping into the market by offering “soft” adventures, specifically designed for those looking to combine comfort and adventure.

What is “soft adventure”?

Adventuring doesn’t have to mean “roughing it,” and it also doesn’t have to mean bungy jumping, white water rafting and snowboarding.

Soft adventure may mean that you can be active during the day and pampered at night. You might hike a treacherous trail in the morning only to return to the comforts of a nice hotel for a delicious meal and a soft, luxurious bed.

Soft adventure can also mean the opportunity to discover offbeat and exotic destinations, such as those offered in G Adventures’ Comfort range. Comfort trips open up the world’s incredible places, while at the same time offering certain conveniences from home. Adventurers can step out of their comfort zones in the great desert dunes of Erg Chegaga as part of a Morocco, Sahara and Beyond tour or take salsa dancing lessons in Antigua as part of a Central America Explorer tour. Each tour still offers the rawness, access, and authenticity that G Adventure’s tours are famous for, without skimping on the finer things.

Why is adventure so important?

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience”. In other words, we become our best selves when we take advantage of new adventures, and the quest for new experience shouldn’t have a cut off age.  

When you embrace adventure, it changes the way in which you view time. The more familiar your world becomes, the less information your brain writes down, and the more quickly time seems to pass. A little adventure interrupts your everyday flow to slow life down and maintain positive feelings.

Research tells us that even as they age, most travelers want to experience self-fulfilling leisure activities, so long as they have good health and the physical ability to enjoy them. Particular motivations for travel include: education and learning, visiting friends and relatives, physical exercise and health, and rest and relaxation.

What’s stopping adventure?

Still, there are many factors that restrict or prevent older people from participating in tourism and leisure activities, such as worrying about their health or lacking a travel companion. Perceived safety is also an issue, as is the giving up of home comforts and comfort zones.

So how do you stop fear taking hold?

For all the little fears that come with travelling, there are stronger reasons to jump head first into it. Travelling is an amazingly underrated investment in your older self; it exposes you to new people, cultures and lifestyles and with all this newness comes new insights, greater joy and more often than not, better health.

Smart shopping is the key, and that means researching your destination well and the safest ways in which to travel. Organised tours are a great way to go, as not only do they ensure you’ll see the best of your destination, they:

  • save you time and energy on planning
  • keep transportation simple
  • offer security in potentially dangerous areas
  • prevent problems caused by language barriers
  • offer insider knowledge and hidden gems
  • give more depth to your experience
  • add a social aspect to your travel – so even if you’re traveling solo, you won’t be alone

So what’s stopping adventure? You tell us!