A Holiday4 Guide

How to Plan & Book Adventure and Activity Holidays

We look at new trends affecting the adventure travel sector, including the latest 'bucket-list experiences' and 'outdoor adventures' - we learn that adventure tourism is all about immersing yourself in the 'experiences' of a destination. We also take a look at holiday tour operators and various booking options.

Author: Chris Booth.

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What are Adventure Holidays & Tours?

Adventure holidays usually consist of a guided tour and a group of 10 to 15 like-minded travellers united by an adventurous spirit, a sense of fun, and a desire to explore the world and its wonders.
These tours usually involve physically challenging activities and frequently take place in remote or off-the-beaten-track destinations. They often provide a sense of escapism - plus exciting and memorable experiences that last a lifetime.

Our research finds that 'modern-day adventurers' continue to 'seek out' new and exciting challenges to push them out of their comfort zones. These challenges continue to evolve and typically include hiking through treacherous terrain, white-water rafting, cave diving, mountain paragliding, canyoneering, extreme bungee jumping and the increasingly popular - endurance adventures.

Favourite Tours: Below is a list of our favourite moderate-paced tours. These tours require an adventurous spirit, good fitness and stamina levels and tend to be reasonably well-paced, giving you time to recover and enjoy the views:

To compare the top 4 adventure tour operators, check out our Compare the best Adventure Holiday Providers here.

  • 8-day Cycle tour of the Balkans
  • Inca Trail & Machu Picchu (challeging)
  • Raft, Kayak and Hike in Albania
  • Cycle the Jordan trail to Petra
  • Kayak and Hike the Caves, Jungle and Coast of Vietnam
  • Exploring the Galapagos Islands
  • 8 day Walk of The Amalfi Coast
  • Walk through the Mountains & Villages of Corsica
  • Discover Rajasthan - Land of the Maharajahs
  • Tuscany and Umbria Italian Vineyard Walks

Not all adventure holidays are physically challenging or fast-paced.

As demand for adventure travel increases, Holiday4 has found that tour operators are adapting existing or developing new tours to appeal to a wider customer base - catering to a broader range of interests and age groups.

New adventure and activity tours now offer a varied level of 'pace and ability' and include different activity categories and comfort levels. We recently found a new type of tour experience, known as "relaxed-paced premium adventures", which allows you to absorb new sights and immerse yourself in local cultures & surroundings, with the addition of easy-going activities, plus more luxurious accommodation and general tour flexibility. This type of tour will often have fewer challenges but has the added benefits of premium comforts and ample opportunities for rest.

To sum up, Adventure Tourism represents many different experiences - allowing you to expand your interests and connect with people from different cultures and backgrounds. They can be action-packed, nature-based, cultural or involve different levels of exploration - but whatever type of activity you choose, you will likely witness spectacular sights, make new friends, and have memories that last a lifetime.

Rock Climber

Why is adventure tourism so popular?

Traditionally, a summer package holiday was all about lounging on the beach with family and friends, soaking up the sun and relaxing with a refreshing drink. Although this remains a popular pastime, we have noticed more holidaymakers are finding equal relaxation when engaging in adventure and technical activities, such as mountain paragliding, river kayaking, cycling tours or joining a group of like-minded adventures on a long trail or hike.

There has to be a degree of challenge (in an activity) for it to be considered adventurous (but it need not be extreme). We are now finding more companies offering a broader range of activity holiday across multiple ability levels. Adventure travel has become more accessible and therefore more attractive to those travellers looking for more meaningful holiday experiences.

Another reason for their popularity is flexibility. Some packaged holidays include the complete package, including flight transfers and a fully inclusive guided tour. Others are more flexible, providing the adventure tour only, allowing you to arrange your own transportation - this added flexibility gives you the option of adding a short (pre-tour) cultural city stay in the country you are adventuring in, or perhaps add a relaxing beach break tagged on at the end, the choice is yours.

What types of Adventure Travel are there?

Adventure holidays offer something for everyone. They're open to all adventurers (solo travellers, couples, friends and families), with most challengers and ability levels catered for.

Adventure tourism is ever-evolving and has grown fast to provide a wide range of experiences, including slower-paced and less challenging activities - such as discovering a destination's culture and traditions, learning a local skill, or taking part in learning activities such as cooking and painting. An activity holiday can also be the perfect way to learn a new sport, such as canyoneering or scuba diving, as well as providing time to relax if required.

We found most Moderate and fast-paced adventure tours often combine elements of exploration, cultural immersion, and a wide selection of adrenaline-pumping experiences; we also found an increasing number of organised tours offering the newer 'premium grade' levels of experiences and comfort.

Below is a list of some of our favourite extreme adventures. These tours can be tough going, you’ll need to be fit, experienced and prepared to face steep slopes and accustomed to long tough hikes - as the environment may be more remote and challenging.

  • Kilimanjaro sumit Trek (5890M) Via the Machame Route
  • Trek the Salkantay Route to Machu Picchu
  • Snowshoeing in the Dolomites
  • New Zealand Multisport - Active Guided Small Group Adventure Tour
  • Trekking Mont Blanc
  • Trek to Everest Base Camp
  • Mount Toubkal (Morocco) Trek
  • Chase the Northern Lights from Tromsø

Who goes on adventure travel?

Adventure travel is available to (almost) everyone and across all age groups from 18 to 80 - you'll find groups are made up of solo travellers, couples and friends from all over the world. Some adventure tours include a guide, while others are set as a DIY itinerary - you travel at your own pace and learn about the culture, traditions and experiences as you go.

Most adventure holidays focus on experiences and places that are not usually included in a regular package tour and are therefore aimed more at those seeking a new challenge, experience, or simply an escape from the daily grind.

Petra Adventure

Types of travellers attracted to adventure holidays:

  • Solo travellers and couples
  • Friendship & sports groups
  • Active family groups
  • Explorers of all experience levels
  • Culture seekers
  • Sport enthusiasts
  • Those seeking educational experiences
  • New sport enthusiasts
  • Those seeking Escapism

"in today's busy world, more solo travellers are joining adventure tours than ever before"

How Does an Adventure Tour Work?

Adventure tourism is all about the experience and the destination. It's often suggested you consider choosing the country first - then the adventure to suit your needs, fitness level and experience.

To help narrow down a tour's suitability; most companies grade tours according to the necessary experience required, the fitness level and tour pace. Tours available include adventures for beginners to intermediates through to advanced and extreme exploration. Often companies will grade their activities by the pace of a tour, for example:

  • Relaxed Pace: Often includes easy-going activities with plenty of time to rest and enjoy local surroundings.
  • Moderate Pace: Tours usually strike a balance between busy days (with early starts) and a mix of active days, allowing time to rest. Good fitness and stamina are usually required.
  • Fast Paced: These tours can be tough, you’ll need to be fit and prepared to face steep slopes and long hikes packed with activities that combine early starts and long days.
  • Also, look out for 'Travel Style' tour descriptions - they can help save on research time. Some package organizers provide (early first glance) tour descriptions using a convenient Travel Style feature to identify the characteristics of a tour - Travel Style descriptions may include: "age groups 18-30" or "pace never slows down" or "made for young, budget-minded travellers" or "small group premium accommodation" - there are many travel style identifiers in use to help adventurers find the right tour experience.

What's included in a tour: Tours can be guided or self-guided (self-guided are great if you prefer to be independent and want to benefit from following a proven itinerary and route). Guided tours usually include an experienced guide (tour leader) who will look after you for the duration of the trip. The tour leader will have expert knowledge and usually local connections; they will guide and ensure your trip runs smoothly and help you get the most out of the tour.

Depending on the tour booked - most all-inclusive guided tours include services, meals, transport, accommodation and sports equipment (where applicable) - which are usually provided and included within the tour price - (see your tour's description for details on what's included and what you pay extra for).

Group size & accommodation: The size of the group can vary from just a small gathering to around 15 travellers. For solo travellers, accommodation is usually based on adult same-gender sharing to keep costs down (unless sole occupancy rooms are provided, which is rare). The group travels together, with free time built in for relaxing and meals, meal times can vary and are usually taken as a group.

The best Holiday Operators for Active and Adventure holidays?

Choosing an Adventure Travel company can be a challenge. There are many tour operators specialising in different types and levels of activity, from challenging and extreme adventures (including long and remote treks) through to sports-based adventures and much less physical challenges such as cultural and educational breaks.

Some tour operators display their tours with convenient "Travel Style" or "Is this tour for me" identifiers at the beginning of each tour description. These identifiers outline the tour's characteristics, making it easy to check if they are suitable. Examples of tour identifiers include "age 18-to-Thirtysomethings only", "fast-paced tour that never slows down", "made for young, budget-minded travellers", "small group relaxed pace experience". Travel Style descriptions quickly identify a tour, saving you time when researching for suitable experiences.

Holiday4's Top 5 Activity & Adventure operators:
  • G ADVENTURES - an award-winning adventure operator of small-group escorted tours. The company offers more than 700 itineraries in more than 100 countries. Visit Site
  • EXPLORE - offers over 350 trips; from worldwide discovery group tours, solo traveller holidays & active family adventures, to walking holidays and cycling trips. Visit Site
  • NEILSON - multi-activity holiday experts for over 40 years. Holidays are inclusive, active and fun - specialising in Beach Clubs, Ski, Sailing and Cycling holidays. Visit Site
  • EXOTICA - Providing affordable trips for all tastes, from fully escorted to self-guided. Most all-inclusive packages include flights, hotels, tours, transfers and some meals. Visit Site
  • TITAN TRAVEL - the UK’s most awarded escorted tour company. Covering all seven continents with itineraries for small groups and solo travellers. Visit Site

Choosing the right company: We recommend choosing an adventure or activity, that not only fits your desires but also suits your abilities and aspirations. For example, if you're considering an Alpine Snowshoeing Trek in the Dolomites, you'll find some operators will detail the minimal experience and fitness levels required to complete (and enjoy) the tour. This detailed information also helps to inform whether you are joining a group with similar fitness levels and ambitions.

Speak to a tour expert: You will likely have questions not answered within a tour's online description - we recommend choosing a tour operator that actively encourages contacting them by phone to speak directly with an expert travel adviser. The travel adviser you are connected to should have in-depth knowledge of the tour you are interested in and be able to answer any general or technical questions you may have. Speaking with a travel advisor can help you make an informed decision - or perhaps help you find alternative experiences you hadn't considered.

Top Tip: Speaking directly with a travel company is always recommended. It's a great way to gauge a company's knowledge, expertise and experience - which can be helpful when planning and choosing a challenging adventure.

Can you travel Solo on Adventure Holidays?

Travelling solo has become more and more popular with lots of people of all ages now travelling alone for the first time. Adventure escorted tours are ideal for those who choose to travel solo, with the majority of tours now geared up for those travelling alone. Travelling in a group with like-minded travellers is usually great fun, you'll make new friends and it's a lot safer than travelling alone.

Hotel Accommodation: On escorted and guided tours, most solo travellers are paired with someone of the same gender (and age if possible) for accommodation purposes. Alternatively, solo travellers can opt to have their own room if available (usually with a supplement).


Holiday4's Favourite Activities & Tours:

  • Husky Sledding Holidays in Finland.
  • Wild Swimming in Windermere.
  • Trekking the Bernese Oberland & Valais.
  • Explore Norway’s Lofoten Islands.
  • Alpine Trek & The First Glider, Grindelwald.
  • Sea Kayaking In Dubrovnik.
  • Tour Italy in a Fiat 500 and cities on a Vespa.
  • Cycle Tour of the Loire Valley.

Top Tip: Europe has some of the largest selections of activities and adventure tours - so start exploring now.

Compare the Top 4 Activity and Adventure Tour Operators

Compare the UK's Top 4 Holiday Adventure Holidays - find the tour operator that can provide the experiences you're looking for.

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Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents of this article. The use of this site and third-party links is subject to our T&Cs.

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