All travel is adventure but when your purpose for traveling is the adventure awaiting you at your destination, it becomes Adventure Travel.
Maybe it's your "bucket list". Maybe it's boredom. Maybe you just need the adrenalin rush. Whatever the reason, adventure travel has expanded far beyond the confines of the tired old safari vacation of bygone days. Now there are a plethora of things to do on your vacation, none of which include relaxing! Let me give you some examples. Mountain climbing, white-water rafting, sky-diving, bungee jumping, zip-line tours, hiking Machu Picchu, hot-air ballooning, dog sledding and sub-orbital space flights just to mention a few.
Yes, I said space travel! Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic is in the lead with sub-orbital flights already being tested. There are other players. SapceX and Bigelow Aerospace are two well-known companies working on commercial space flight and there are others with projects in various stages of development.
Let's focus on the term in its modern context. Many attribute the early stirrings of adventure travel to Grand Circle Travel, when in 1958, they offered travel services geared to older Americans with an interest in discovering local peoples and cultures first hand. Not terribly adventuresome on the surface, but it was a case of traveling for the adventure waiting at your destination. Remember our definition! Richard Bangs, the Yahoo adventure guru, probably has the best grasp of the adventure travel concept as defined here. I am in no way affiliated with him and have nothing to gain by giving him a plug, but have to acknowledge that his adventure travel articles are top-notch entertainment.
According to Richard Bangs' article in the New York Times on the history of adventure travel, it all began with merchants on expedition, various accidental discoveries, Leif Ericson, Columbus' discovery of North America and so on. It is Bangs' position that modern adventure travel began some 35 years ago. I'm not so sure I concur with that. So little research exists on the subject, it is difficult to make or defend any argument.
There is but one indisputable fact. Adventure travel is here, it is growing and it is a multi-million dollar business. The baby boomer generation is reaching retirement age. They are healthier and more vigorous than retirees of past generations. They seek a lifestyle that maintains that health and vigor. The adventure vacation fulfills that niche perfectly.
Countless travel sites on the Internet are catering to these boomers and capturing their share of this growing market. If you are interested in an adventure vacation, take a trip through the virtual world first. See what is available, see what interests you and pack your bags, your parachute, or your dog sled!