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Experiential travel was the talk of the hour during October’s #TWChats, led by Explorer and TravelAge West. The hour-long conversation started at noon on Wednesday, Oct. 12, touching on a variety of adventure-centric topics, including recent trends, cultural traditions and hot destinations. With more than 20 million timeline deliveries and 1,700 tweets exchanged, travel agents, bloggers, social media experts and writers alike contributed to the discussion.
The conversation was led by co-organizers Mindy Poder, Executive Editor for TravelAge West; Valerie Chen, Senior Editor for TravelAge West; Rebecca Tobin, Managing Editor for Travel Weekly; and Carrie Finley-Bajak, a contributing writer for Travel Weekly.
Co-hosts included Adventure Flow, Access Trips, Alaska Travel, Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), Backroads, Collette, Intrepid Travel, Fathom, G Adventures, GeoEx, Paul Gauguin Cruises, Shannon Stowell of ATTA, Tara Russell of Fathom and Visit Costa Rica.
ATTA opened up the chat by asking: “What is your personal definition of adventure travel?”
Words like “exploring” and “exciting” peppered responses, in addition to images of specific destinations. This included the pristine mountains of Alaska, as well as a wild elephant stomping beside a safari jeep.
GLP Films celebrated the simple pleasure of getting out and enjoying the journey, a sentiment shared by many. Ultimately, participants agreed that adventure travel is about experiencing the destination, whether through food, nature or local culture.
The next question asked by Mindy Poder of TravelAge West appropriately touched on favorite cultural traditions — things that scream “culture shock.”
“I love the tradition in Greece of celebrating name-days, and not birthdays,” tweeted travel photographer Larissa Rolley. “All about appreciating the person, not age.”
Shannon Stowell, president of ATTA, shared his love of a Taiwanese tradition.
“I like how Taiwanese tap tap tap on the table while you pour tea in their cup as a sign of respect,” he said.
Other responses varied, from the Russian superstition of attaching a safety pin to your car seat for good luck to reciting the simple mantra of “pura vida” in Costa Rica, shared by Visit Costa Rica.
Intrepid Travel then raised the important question of how suppliers and travelers can take a stand on global issues while traveling.
Many pointed to the power of respecting local communities and taking an interest in their culture.
“Ensure travelers & suppliers have an understanding of the environmental issues the destination may be facing,” tweeted Caradonna Dive Adventures.
Fathom noted its support for brands the company sells in its onboard shop, such as Krochet Kids Intl., WeWood Watches and Bajalia, whose missions are rooted in humanitarian and eco-friendly causes.
G Adventures’ Kim McCabe was thoughtful yet straight to the point: “Simple. Go Abroad. Be curious. Show humility & kinship. Think like an ambassador. Be the change you wish to see.”
Access Trips said that suppliers should lead by example, treat local teams fairly and offer fair wages.
Another easy fix, according to Chez Chesak, executive director for Family Travel Association, is to refuse plastic bottles and bring reusable ones, instead.
The fifth question asked by Travel Weekly opened up the floor for favorite adventure travel destinations in general.
Responses ranged from visiting tropical areas, such as the Dominican Republic and Cuba, to swimming with sharks in Bora Bora, a “must” according to Paul Gauguin.
When it came to thoughts on the increase of cruising in adventure travel, participants noted that some destinations are best visited by ship.
Intrepid echoed this, tweeting, “Some places are only accessible by ship, which is the ultimate adventure!” GeoEx agreed, adding that when guests do make these trips, they should do so in luxury.
ATTA’s Stowell approached the question from a sustainable mindset, recommending UnCruise for its small boat options with intimate nature experiences.
Backroads included a link to its unique river cruise journeys created in partnership with AMA Waterways, offered on the Rhine, Danube and Seine rivers.
Lyndon File, customer satisfaction and safety manager for G Adventures, summed up the adventure appeal of cruises, perhaps contrary to popular belief: “Adventure travel is about challenging yourself, not how you get around. Cruises have as much to offer, if not more.”
For the seventh question, TravelAge West asked participants to share a photo taken in the midst of heart-pumping adventure.
Many images came from Alaska, including local Alaska operator Adventure Flow’s shot of stand-up paddleboarders in front of Dawes Glacier and Alaska Travel’s photo of explorers in the ice caves of Root Glacier. Alaska also emerged as one of the top destinations in general for adventure travel, particularly as a hot spot for viewing bears.
Maureen Seeley, a consultant for ATTA, was among these fans of Alaska. In her photo, she can be seen paragliding over rugged mountain terrain.
The final question addressed how travelers can splurge when they want to unwind from an adventurous excursion.
Images of blissful relaxation flooded the #TWChats stream, from tour operator Alltournative’s post of folks sleeping in hammocks at Snorkeling Adventure Beach Club in Cancun to a spa day in the warm hot springs of Iceland from Access Trips.
Other more accessible options included throwing a costume party with champagne or simply sipping a delicious martini.
Experts agreed that massages, fine wine and enjoying being at home were all ideal methods of acclimating before the next adventure.