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9 reasons why active travel should be on your bucket list

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. Well, maybe some more than others, but if there is anything that’s 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 there has never been a better time to take an active vacation. 

What’s more, now we have 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.

To answer that call Grasshopper Adventures Owner and Chief, Adam Platt-Hepworth, shares nine reasons below that may convince you it’s time to try an active vacation.

Biking through Angkor Thom Gate, Cambodia

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

What does it 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, enjoying nature, fresh air, boosting endorphins and sometimes trying or learning something new.

Rather than basing your travel on looking at things, you are basing it on doing things. Eschewing the supposed highlights for the subtle ones you only notice while riding a bike down a quiet country lane, walking through a forest filled with birds, or kayaking along an estuary with just the rhythmic sound of 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 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 to be able to share them with like-minded people.

The great thing about active travel is that those who enjoy it and consider it a vital part of life, are not from one generation or age group. A love for the outdoors is intergenerational, multigenerational, cutting across nationalities and socio-economics.

The experience is often further enriched by the diversity of the group with whom you travel. You will often be inspired to visit a new place through the stories of others in a group, and you might even wind up revisiting them. That’s the kind of bond active travelers often form.

Group photo cycle touring in the Mekong Delta

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Couple cycle touring in Sri Lanka

3.  It’s More Accessible Than You Think

To clarify, I’m not talking about Bootcamp, Tough Mudder, or any kind of masochistic self punishment. It’s all about enjoyment and achievability, because 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 an active trip, and possibly take someone with you, your wish list is sure to grow. It’s just taking that step, as heading out on the first trip can at first seem daunting.

The world is full of great riding routes, hiking trails and sheltered waterways where you can enjoy a low risk, high enjoyment day out. Of course, finding all these, planning activities and working out which are achievable on your own is time consuming. The logistics of moving between activities and sourcing 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 and make it easier.

4.  No More Crowds & Queuing 

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

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

Royal Palace Trikeshaw no crowds Cambodia
Trekking girl with lake view in Tasmania

5.  A Balance of Intensity and Calm

The yin and yang of active travel makes it feel like a quality vacation, you can still return rested, but with a sense of achievement and more energy than when you left.

For an active travel experience to be enjoyable and accessible to different age groups and abilities it needs the right pace, and that’s one of the big things you pay for on an organized tour. The experience and knowledge a provider brings should balance this, so you are satisfied and fulfilled by the day’s activities, not exhausted and beat up.

A good indicator is in the morning you should feel excited to pack your bags for more exploring, instead of feeling tired, rushed and wishing you didn’t have to move again.

Also importantly on group trips, is getting the right balance between organized group activities and solo, independent time. The perfect tour always has this just right.

6.  Creating Stories & Lifelong memories every day

An active adventure allows you to create incredible stories, lifelong memories and capture the best moments. You might only share them with those closest to you, but years later you will reflect on the memories and images and they will still be crystal clear in your mind. 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, frost sparkling on the long grass, and five of the most important people in my life being the only humans in sight.
  • Paddling through limestone caves and tunnels of Phang Nga Bay with my young son. His world expanding exponentially as he learned to paddle the narrow alleys of aqua blue water, with monkeys perched atop rocky crags our only witnesses.
  • Riding my bike behind a falcon through the forests of Angkor as it glided through a natural tunnel created by the jungle, eventually darting up into the clear blue.
  • The touching moment an elderly Japanese man handed me a box of Mochi cake after he found my friends and I resting with our bikes outside his home in the mountains of Shikoku.

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

Traveler with camels at yurt camp in Uzbekistan

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

If you are trying to just tick boxes on your travels you aren’t going to get under the skin of a place or gain an appreciation for the unique aspects of its culture. It’s just not possible if you are spending half a day in one place only to visit the well-worn tourist sites.

Instead, see more, move less. Active travel allows you to deeply explore a small area of a country and not be bothered by the fact you’re not visiting the places millions of other people are visiting. It just can’t be an authentic experience if there are that many people going to see it.

Outside, moving through the local environment, you are able to see things, absorb the atmosphere of a place and hear the people who live there. Maybe you won’t understand, but you will hear the tones, the laughter and the way they interact. And 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, why not combine that with travel? You can use it as an opportunity to disconnect and clear your mind of the cacophony of daily life, while also breathing clean air, getting out in the sun and enjoying some aerobic exercise.

Whatever your motivation, be it the stimulation of your immune system, enjoyment of the outdoors, shedding of unwanted weight or all of the above. You should be able to come back from a vacation 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 release bad habits.

Couple Kayaking at Inle lake Myanmar
Group making traditional paper in Japan

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. On an active adventure you might:

  • Master the paddling methods in a kayak for better steering and navigation.
  • Improve your riding technique for better comfort and enjoyment.
  • Learn yoga or how to cook something you love to eat.
  • Gain a new perspective on a historical point of knowledge or possibly even your own life!

The options are many, so try it out, give it a go. That’s what it’s all about. Step outside of the old routine and challenge yourself to learn or try something new daily.

I hope you’re inspired to give active travel a go. Remeber, like many things, you can start small and build your way up, or dive off the deep end and challenge yourself. The choice is yours, but you will never know what you are missing if you don’t try. 
– Happy Adventures

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