Get on your marks with Katie McGonagle’s guide to adventures for 18-30s
While the thirst for adventure may never die, life can get in the way. So there’s no better market to target for adventurous trips than the young.
Catch them before the kids, the mortgage, the grey hairs and the dicky ticker kick in, and make the most of their gap years and career breaks, or even just their action-packed holidays.
Operators offer product ranges specifically tailored to suit the 18-30s market, teaming them with like-minded travellers of a similar age and including more challenging activities.
Contiki, Explore’s new Edge range and G Adventures’ You Only Live Once brand have carved out niches in the sector by dedicating themselves solely to the youth market.
However, don’t discount more general products, as specific itineraries do well with younger travellers. It’s worth a call to ask the age profile of others already booked on a departure so you can steer your clients towards the one that’s right for them.
SO NEAR AND YET SO FAR
Clients may think they have to travel to far-flung corners of the world for a sense of adventure, but don’t overlook what’s on their doorstep.
Few experiences will get the adrenaline pumping more than running with bulls in Pamplona, one of the Europe-based adventures from 18-35s specialist Contiki, teamed with Spanish music festival Bilbao BBK Live (from £425 land-only).
G Adventures also has budget-friendly adventures between Europe’s iconic cities, as well as itineraries like Cairo to Amman with a hike up Mount Sinai (from £649 excluding flights).
Exodus reports walking, trekking and cycling programmes are a hit with the 18-30s. Options include mountain biking through the Pyrenees, cycling in the Tatra Mountains between Poland and Slovakia and pedalling through the Moroccan desert.
The operator has introduced a Lycian Activity Week in Turkey’s Taurus Mountains, an eight-day itinerary including canyoning, scuba diving and trekking through Patara National Park (from £729 including return flights).
Encounters Travel says activities such as camping in the Moroccan desert or a felucca boat trip down the Nile appeal most to younger travellers, making its Nubian Adventure and Moroccan Mosaics tours its best-sellers.
Europe is also an accessible option for adventurous types who prefer an independent trip.
Crystal Summer offers active holidays with thrills ranging from mountain biking and river trekking to white-water rafting and paragliding in Austrian destinations such as Zell am See and Mayrhofen. There you can also join the long-distance Eagle Walk or Harakiri mountain run on August 5.
If your clients want adventure on the open seas, suggest a Stay and Sail holiday with Neilson Beachclubs, where guests combine time on the beach with a week on a yacht, sailing the beautiful waters of the Ionian Sea – perfect for friends travelling together (from £1,835 including flights for 14 nights in Halkidiki, with four sharing).
Those yet to get their sea legs might prefer Club Mark Warner Weeks, which include added excursions and sports aimed at a younger crowd.
From voyaging through the vast expanse of the States to sampling vibrant Latin culture and scenic beauty in the south, there’s no end of adventure in the Americas.
TrekAmerica, which targets 18 to 38-year-olds, has seen its mini-adventures boom as customers add them to independent holidays. One of its biggest sellers is a four-day Las Vegas to Grand Canyon trip, which has overnight stays in a ranch and with a Navajo tribe (from £409 land-only).
The granddaddy of US tours – the three-week east to west coast trip through 13 states – remains a huge draw. Intrepid also reports the US to be one of its best-selling destinations for this age group, with its ‘basix’ California Discovery itinerary proving popular (from £760 without flights).
For a real voyage of discovery, try sea-kayaking in Baja California, Mexico, where Journey Latin America’s tour sees clients camping on a different beach each night (from £1,569 with international and domestic flights).
Contiki has expanded its South America programme with new Galapagos & Ecuador and Costa Rica Unplugged tours, which respectively include riding the famous Devil’s Nose Train or ziplining and abseiling face-forward in Sarapiqui Rainforest.
History meets adventure along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru, a hit for Journey Latin America and Exodus among others, while Explore has seen its 15-day Cuba Adventure, which takes in revolutionary history plus trekking in the mountains, become a best-seller from its Edge range (from £839 without flights).
Central and South America feature heavily in G Adventures’ youth range, with longer itineraries of up to 82 days more suitable for gap-year or career-break clients.
ASIA and australia
India, Vietnam and China are some of the most popular destinations for this sector.
Inntravel has seen its Deserts and Palaces of Rajasthan tour through India sell well with younger travellers, including camel trekking and four nights in a desert camp (from £1,730 including flights), while in the south of the country, Intrepid’s South India Unplugged is also a popular choice.
For serious trekkers, suggest Exodus’s Everest Base Camp tour, which visits Sherpa villages along the way.
Australia and New Zealand are also prime destinations. Contiki has added a seven-day Ultimate NZ Ski itinerary in Queenstown, while in Oz the ever-popular Sunsets & Surf itinerary ticks off Sydney, surfing and skydiving (from £1,469 land-only).
Austravel’s new Journeys brochure also includes adventure tours, including a Best of the Red Centre option with safari-style tents.
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