After culinary and wellness, the third part of my travel niche is active adventure. This is probably the smallest segment of my specialty, as there aren’t as many opportunities for this specific travel in this area. 

One of the most appealing aspects of active adventure (or “soft adventure”) is its flexibility. It doesn’t have to be a rigid, pre-planned itinerary. You can easily infuse elements like walking, hiking, biking, running, kayaking, or any activity that gets your heart racing into any trip, particularly in a picturesque setting.

No matter what kind of travel I do, whether it’s land or cruise, I always try to add active adventure elements to my daily schedule. I don’t count gym workouts as part of this. Rather, I’ll find local trails to trek or bike or find an unusual activity like rowing to participate. I always feel better after I’ve done something that makes me feel more energized than when I started.

What are some trends I’m observing in active adventure travel? Here are some I've seen in my work as a travel advisor and content creator.

Hiking or trekking is one of the most popular active adventure travel modes around (Photo by Ben Maxwell, Pexels)

What active adventure is and isn’t

If you hear this phrase, do you think of mountain climbing, base-jumping or extreme skiing? Many people do. That’s why most travel experts and professionals put the term “soft” in front of adventure. That includes any activity that most of the population can do and enjoys on a weekend, like those mentioned above. But it also encompasses fishing, sailing, safari expeditions, horseback riding and many others.

Because of its accessibility to more people, soft adventure is one of the fastest growing segments of travel. More travelers are likely to do these activities over jumping off cliffs or climbing the Himalayas.

Whitewater rafting in Costa Rica can be part of an active adventure vacation (photo courtesy of Backroads)

Active adventure travel companies

Backroads, the pioneer of active adventure travel, has led the way since 1977.  They started with cycling trips in their home state of California and have now expanded to offer multi-sport itineraries across six continents. Their partnerships with cruise lines allow them to combine land- and water-based adventures, providing a unique and diverse experience.

Other companies cater to active adults and families. While Backroads aims at more luxurious experiences, G Adventures is slightly more budget-friendly and appeals to a wider audience. However, active travel is just one type they offer among several. Exodus Travels takes guests on hiking, trekking and walking tours in over 100 countries. Intrepid Travel promotes its carbon-neutral travel and places a greater emphasis on local cultural activities. Of course, these are just a few active adventure travel companies around.

One of the ways to be more active while traveling is sign up for a bike excursion, like this one in Juneau, Alaska

How to make your travel more active

Of course, the most obvious answer is going out for a walk at your destination, which is one of the best ways to explore. I suggest doing some research and looking at maps to find trails or pathways— well-established ones recommended by the tourism bureaus. If there are bikes you can easily rent, I would try to go for rides, like you can along the beach in Santa Monica and Los Angeles.

For a more structured yet equally invigorating experience, consider organized activities through reputable companies like Viator. These adventures not only offer physical activity but also provide a guided tour, enriching your journey with educational insights. From walking tours to bike tours and even kayaking, there's a myriad of options to choose from.