Pat Rochon likes to tell the story about climbing Machu Picchu, Peru with this then 50-something father who, while an enthusiastic traveller, had never before embraced such a physically challenging trip. "Wouldn't you know it, Dad out-hiked me. He wasn't huffing and puffing nearly as much as I was – and it was his first adventure trip of this kind," recalls Pat, who is the national sales manager for Adventure Travel Center. Surprising? Yes, but not uncommon for many people who tackle their first adventure trip and decide they love it. Where they once shied away from "adventure travel" (and the visions of Indiana Jones it once conjured up), they soon make it their preferred mode of travel.
"When I first called my dad about going on an adventure travel trip together after my mom died, back in the mid-1990s, he was hesitant. He thought his travelling days were over. I remember how he dismissed the notion of joining me on an active trip because he wasn't fit enough, he wasn't young enough, he hadn't done any kind of wild adventure before."Pat, who's not without a sense of humour (a valued trait in any world traveller!), didn't even tell his father that their Peruvian trip was billed as 'adventure travel' until the trip was over. Cagey guy. Says Pat, "I realized my dad had the same misconceptions shared by a lot of people. The label 'adventure travel' scares them. I clearly remember him saying, 'You’re an adventure travel guy. You’re going to do all that camping and that bug stuff. I don't think I can.’" [caption id="attachment_13501" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Hiking in Peru, challenging but ultimately very possible! (Courtesy: Allard Schmidt)[/caption]
•••Pat's doubting dad was proved wrong. The father-and-son duo have since been on 40 such trips together, to such destinations as Jordan, Nicaragua, India, Costa Rica and Panama. Pat, who has waved his passport through the borders of 125 countries, is seeing a lot more adventure travellers in all shapes and sizes these days. "Solo travellers, honeymooners, thirty-something couples, families with kids, and quite often, three generations of one family travelling together - and they're all looking for some kind of adventure." But, as Pat explains, many people come to adventure travel after long bouts of 'yes, let's do it' and 'no, somehow I don't think it's for us.'" The reason? There are some fairly common myths and misconceptions about adventure traveller. They go some like this:
1. I'm not fit enough. 2. It's too risky. 3. It's too expensive 4. I've never done it before. I'll hold everybody back. 5. I'll get bored and be left out if I want to stay back and not join the activity on certain days.And the list goes on. Increasingly, more and more companies, just like Pat Rochon's Adventure Center, are addressing these misconceptions and tweaking their marketing message. "I tell people that I’ve got this company that specializes in worldwide small group holidays. Are they interested?'" says PAt, "Without exception they will say: ‘Sure I can do that.’ Then I tell them, 'Well, that's adventure travel.'" [caption id="attachment_13504" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Zip-lining near Arenal, Costa Rica (Courtesy: Keith Haufle)[/caption]
•••The actual activities in each adventure trip vary. "Different types of adventure trips speak to different types of people," says Pat, who has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, canoed in the Amazon, trekked in Nepal and bathed elephants in Thailand. Trips at the Adventure Center run the gamut from Family Trips such as the one in Costa Rica that's billed as the "Turtles, Rivers and Mountains," package, whereby clients participate in a turtle conservation project in Tortuguero National Park. Families can get hands-on experience protecting the nests, tagging turtles and hiding them from poachers. "And," says Pat, "of course they'll want to go zip-lining through the rainforest, as well." Couples could consider one of the Wildlife Adventures, such as the five-day Remote Amazon trip which gives clients the chance to tour the Amazon jungle by boat in Bolivia and Peru. Then again, for travellers looking to experience some adventure closer to home, there's a variety of hiking and trekking holidays in the Canadian Rockies or in the Charlevoix area of Quebec. Which of the following options would be your No. 1 pick for an adventure travel option: