Adventure travel is skyrocketing. Forget traveling to the safe and normal places, this is the age of adventure, writing and fulfilling bucket lists in the far corners of the world.

Statistics, according to the Adventure Travel Trade Association, stats are increasing every year, and there seems to be no hint of a slowdown. The world is a big place, full of exotic locations, but they aren’t just for the few any longer, they are available to anyone who has the budget and motivation to get off the couch and make some memories.

If you’re not familiar with the term Adventure Travel, basically it means getting out of your comfort zone and taking a physical approach to your surroundings. This isn’t your granddads trip to Alaska about a Princess Cruise line; this is getting out and diving into the countryside, whether that be oceans, mountains or anywhere you can safely arrive. Beyond this, you meet locals, develop relationships, immerse yourself in local life. You’re building memories to last a lifetime and proving, that no, you’re not over the hill, instead, you’re going to climb it.

There is no end to the list of Adventure Travel destinations like

  • Lake Louise, Banff, Canada. …
  • Moab, Utah, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. …
  • Rain Forest, Costa Rica,
  • Rio de Janeiro,
  • Isle of Bute,
  • Scotland

and tons more. A simple Google search will set the dreams afire and stir the emotions But all of this destination, as well as much more; all have one thing in common, a hefty price tag. Think about it; you may be deciding to fly halfway around the world, those tickets don’t come cheap. If you have the money, then go for it, but if you’re on a budget, like so many of us, are there any alternatives? The simple answer is a resounding, Yes, it simply takes a bit more effort.

So how can you have a grand adventure without emptying out the savings account? Think locally.

There are a million, and one domestic destinations the budget conscious can reach. Sure, a trip to the Mt. Everest base camp would be a thrill, but it would also be unattainable for those with less than a small fortune sitting in the bank. America, indeed the world, is full of beautiful, breathtaking overnight treks.

Consider camping, and we’re not talking about the latest RV, but backpacking into the wilderness, setting up camp and enjoying the serenity and beauty of Mother Nature. A good camping setup doesn’t cost a lot, and it’ can be used over and over again.

Consider national parks, of which there are more than 400 designated and 84 million acres. Some, like Yellow Stone and Yosemite, charge a fee, but there are hundreds that are the free and open to exploring. This is an excellent jumping off place for the adventure-minded on a budget. Certainly, we’ve all heard of Yellowstone, The Grand Canyon, and Yosemite, but there are hundreads of others to choose from, some possibly within a day’s drive. They are full of majestic beauty, wildlife, short and long hikes, and chock full of history and lore. Don’t let the fact there in the U.S. dampen your enthusiasm; they are treasures to be enjoyed and most offer challenging trails and views to stimulate the imagination.

FACTOID: While some of the larger parks charge a fee for entrance, most have certain times of the years when fees are waived. Details can be found on the National Park Website.

DIY – Do it yourself Trekking

If National parks simply aren’t your cup-of-tea, and you’re determined to visit some far off land, then great, but skip the big advertised tours and do it yourself.

It will take a good deal more planning, but realize that tour companies charge a premium for doing all the leg work and making sure your adventure happens without a hitch. There is always a local guide, and outfitters close to your chosen destination and most of the details can be worked out on the ground after you arrive. This way, not only are you going to save money, often quite a bit, but you’ll be engaging the locals, learning more about the customs and stimulating the local economy. Doing it yourself can turn into a Win/Win for everyone involved.

Thinking It Through

If you’re planning a mountain trip in the Alps, it’s going to cost you plenty. The airfare alone is expensive, not to mention the local outfitters. What about a trip that fits your dreams, but is closer to home? If you live in the U.S., then traveling to Mexico or Central America is a lot less expensive than a plane flight halfway around the world.

Then consider your lodging, do you need a 4 or 5-star hotel? Most do not, since most of their time will be spent exploring and enjoying the local culture. If you can, consider downgrading the accommodations, saving dollars on lodging can be better allocated to staying longer, or participating in a side trip you only learned about when you arrived. Afterall, you’ll likely only be sleeping at the hotel, so plan accordingly.

Plan Your Trip in The Off Season

If possible, plan your adventure holiday in the offseason. You’ll save money, avoid the crowds and find locals much more willing to help and share local legends and hideaways.

Volunteer Vacations

If money is tight, consider a volunteer vacation. This isn’t something for everyone, but if money is in short supply, this is an excellent way to meet the locals, learn the area and help out where help is needed. Sure, you won’t have the same free time, but you’ll have an experience that few others can match.

Be Safe – Book Basic

If you’re dead set to visit some of the most exotic locations in the world, consider booking a basic tour. A basic tour is going to cost more than a do-it-yourself journey, but you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing your trip is being handled by professionals. Think of it like having membership in the AAA Auto Club, sure you can fix your flat tire, but if it’s at night on a rainy highway, it’s nice to know you can call someone. If you’re new to the game of adventure travel, knowing that a professional guide has your back is money in the bank if you’re deep in the wilderness, or kayaking down a raging river.

FACTOID: Professional adventure travel tours are expensive based on multiple factors, accommodations (particularly single travelers), safety, support personnel, and vehicles.

The Spur of The Moment

Not all of us can travel, particularly for an adventure, on the spur of the moment. If you can, however, keep a watchful eye for early bird and last minute booking opportunities, these trips are usually discounted substantially. There are also adventure tour companies that cater to the budget travelers, offering trips without all the add-ons.

RECOMMENDATION: when speaking with tour companies, ask if they charge extra for single travelers.

If you know you want to participate in adventure travel, but aren’t sure whether to do-it-yourself or hire a tour company, then it’s time for a bit of homework. You’ll want to consider your tolerance for being on your own vs. a measure of support to make the trip more comfortable. There isn’t one right answer as one person’s needs and tolerance can vary greatly from another, it’s a personal choice. Compare prices, not simply between tour companies, but against doing most of the work yourself.

You’ll want to consider your tolerance for being on your own vs. a measure of support to make the trip more comfortable. There isn’t one right answer as one person’s needs and tolerance can vary greatly from another, it’s a personal choice. Compare prices, not simply between tour companies, but against doing most of the work yourself.


Plan, make a decision, then get out and create some great memories.