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9 reasons why active travel should be on your bucket list

We keep hearing it, from every side, in anything we listen to or read that was written since the third month of 2020, things are going to be different after COVID-19. Well, maybe some more than others, but if there is anything that is set to boom, it’s active travel. A combination of a surge in people exercising outdoors and the inherent risks and discomfort associated with being in close proximity to large numbers of people, mean that there has never been a better time to take an active vacation. 

What’s more, now that we’ve all been locked down, locked in, restricted and told to be calm for an extended period of time, most of us are craving wide open spaces like never before. Grasshopper Adventures Owner and Chief, Adam shares 9 points that just may convince you that it’s time to give an active holiday a go.

riding at Angkor wat

1.  Active Travel, or as ‘we’ like to call it, Travel

What do we mean when we speak of “active travel?” It’s about centering each travel day around an activity that stimulates you physically and mentally. Where you can be outside, in the sunshine, the fresh air and in nature, boosting endorphins and sometimes learning how to do a thing something that you might not have done much before. 

Rather than basing your travel on looking at things, you are basing it on doing things. We are eschewing the supposed highlights for the subtle things that we notice while riding a bike down a quiet country lane, or while walking through a forest filled with birds, or paddling along an estuary with only the rhythmic sound of the paddles cutting through the water. 

It’s not just about physical activity though, it’s also about mental activity, learning and stimulation. Put simply, active travel is for those who like to develop themselves at every opportunity and who have a thirst for adventure and knowledge. 

2.  You meet the nicest people on an Active Adventure

It’s one thing to be having these great experiences every day, but it’s another thing to be able to share them with like-minded people. 

The great thing about active travel is that those who enjoy it and who consider it a vital part of life, are not from one generation or age group. A love for the outdoors is intergenerational, multigenerational and cuts across nationalities and socio-economics. In fact, the experience is often further enriched by the diversity of a group with whom you may travel. You will often be inspired to travel in a new place through the stories of others in a group. You might even wind up visiting them in their homes on your travels. That’s the kind of bond that active travelers often form. 

Tour group photo Mekong Delta

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riding through hills

3.  It’s More Accessible Than You Think

To be clear, we aren’t talking about Bootcamp, Tough Mudder, or any kind of masochistic self punishment. We are all about enjoyment and achievability, because really getting outside daily, raising your heart rate a little, using a range of muscles and stimulating the senses should be something everyone does. 

Once you successfully seek out some and join an active trip and take them, the your wish list is sure to grow. It’s just taking that first step, heading out on the first trip that can seem daunting. 

There The world is full of are many great bike riding routes, hiking trails and sheltered waterways where you can enjoy a low risk, high enjoyment day out. Of course, finding all of these, planning the activities and trying to work out which are achievable is time consuming. The logistics of moving between different activities and sourcing the necessary equipment can be overwhelming. So everything from joining a local hiking/biking/kayaking club, to  taking a bigger step and registering for an active tour, are great ways to meet like minded people.

4.  No More Crowds & Queuing 

We all know the feeling of dread as we walk into a crowded site, the crush of people, the impatience of many, the queuing, the feeling of being pushed through a process, a machine, all to take the same set of photos that millions of other people have taken, to buy the same junk souvenirs and to walk out of it thinking, maybe we should have just skipped this one and enjoyed the photo in the National Geographic instead. 

On a well-curated active tour, this situation rarely happens. Instead you’ll find yourself  in places that few travelers know about, enjoying the peaceful surrounds, or the din and chaos of a remote rural marketplace somewhere, but you won’t be queuing for entry, you won’t be looking at scenes that were fabricated for your leisure. Outside, with plenty of personal space and independent movement you’ll stop being a sightseeing tourist and start feeling like part of a community. 

Trekking lady overlooking lake

5.  A Balance of Intensity and Calm

For an active travel experience to be enjoyable and for it to be accessible to different age groups and abilities, it also has to have the right pace and that’s one of the big things that you are paying for on a tour. It’s The experience and knowledge that a travel company brings that can create the right pace, so you feel satisfied and fulfilled by the day’s activities, not exhausted and beat up. You are excited to pack your bags of a morning and keep exploring move on, instead of feeling tired, rushed and wishing you didn’t have to move again. 

Importantly, it’s the right balance between organised group activities, and solo, independent time. The perfect tour always has this balance just right. 

6.  Creating Stories & Lifelong memories every day

An active adventure allows you to create incredible stories, lifelong memories and often to capture images of some of the best moments. Who knows, you might only share these with those closest to you, but years later you will reflect on these memories and the images you captured and they will still be crystal clear in your mind as other things fade away. 

For me, I remember the incredible scene, standing by the Walls of Jerusalem on a hiking trail in Tasmania, with the dawn light bouncing off the rocks and frost sparkling off of the long grasses and trees with five of the most important people in my life being the only humans in sight. I remember paddling through the limestone caves and tunnels of Phanga Bay with my young son in the front seat, having his world expanded at a mind-blowing rate as he learned to paddle and work his way through narrow alleys of aqua blue water, monkeys perched atop rocky crags being our only witnesses. I remember riding my bike behind a falcon through the forests of Angkor as it glided through the tunnel created by the jungle and eventually darted up into the clear blue. I remember the touching moment that an elderly Japanese man handed me a box of Mochi after he found my friends and I resting with our bikes outside his home in the mountains of Shikoku. 

You can create amazing memories multiple times a day and they will stay with you forever. That’s the beauty of an active adventure. 

an afternoon in Uzbekistan
Lady boating up a river in Laos

7.  Slow Down, See the World for what it is

It’s obvious that if you are trying to box tick on your travels, that you aren’t really going to get under the skin of a place, to understand what makes it tick and gain an appreciation for the unique aspects of the culture. It’s just not possible if you spend half a day in any one place and you only visit the well worn tourist sites to do that. 

Instead, see more, move less. See a small area of a country and don’t be bothered by the fact that you are not visiting the places that millions of other people are visiting. It can’t be authentic if there are that many people going to see it. It’s just not possible. 

If you are outside, and if you can control your movement through an environment, you are able to see things, absorb the atmosphere of a place and hear what the people who live there are saying. Maybe you won’t understand the language, but you will hear their tones, their laughter and the way that they interact. That means so much more than ticking a box.

8.  Build your Health

It’s really a no brainer. Now more than ever, the building of a healthier body and mind should be paramount. We should use travel as an opportunity to disconnect, clear our mind of the cacophony of daily life. We should use the opportunity to breathe clean air, have the sun on our skin and enjoy some aerobic exercise. The stimulation of your immune system, the shedding of unwanted weight. You should be able to come back from a vacation or holiday in better shape than you left, both in a mental and physical sense. That’s what an active adventure does for you. It serves as a catalyst to turn over a new leaf upon your return home. To do things just a little differently and to shed bad habits.

Couple Kayaking at floating village
making paper

9.  Try something new

For most of us, the memory of first learning to ride our bikes has faded considerably, but you can have similar moments at any age. You might learn a better riding technique that allows for more comfort and enjoyment. You might master the paddling methods in a kayak to gain better steering and navigation. You might learn yoga or how to cook a thing you love to eat. You might learn a new perspective to an existing historical point of knowledge. Try it out, give it a go. That’s what it’s all about. Step outside of the daily routine and challenge yourself to learn a new piece of knowledge or a new physical activity daily. 

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