When Vacation becomes PLAYcation!

March 17th, 2014 | By Marjie No Comments


One of the biggest challenges when we vacation can be sticking with a healthy diet and exercise regime. It’s easy to forget to watch calories when we’re enjoying new foods and eating out. And it’s easy to forget about exercise when we’re lounging on the beach or sightseeing from the deck of a cruise ship. So if you’re considering ‘shaking things up’ during this year’s vacation, consider “adventure travel” as a vacation option!

What exactly IS
“adventure travel”?

Adventure travel helps you stretch your mind or body – usually both! – while you have a great time on vacation. It might be hiking a hill (or a mountain), cycling across a state or two, paddling on a river trip or floating over Albuquerque (or the African veldt) in a hot air balloon. What you do during your “adventure travel” doesn’t matter as much as what you experience!

Adventure travel close to home

The Chattahoochee, Georgia’s longest river, is an adventure vacation that is right in your own back yard. You can paddle through the heart of metro Atlanta and work your way through four counties of our state’s lush landscape … granite bluffs, white water, Civil War crossing sites, waterfalls, and even tourist attractions. A Chattahoochee paddle vacation offers a combined fitness-learning-fun adventure for the whole family.

Adventure travel a few hours away

You might want to head to North Carolina for some rock climbing in Pisgah National Forest. First, you’ll get training on climbing techniques and on gear and safety information. Then you can practice your new skills in the beautiful hills of our neighboring state, camping at night and climbing during the day. Another great option is paddling in a kayak or canoe down one of the many rivers in Georgia. If you prefer going with a group consider the annual Paddle Georgia trip (see article in March/April 2012). Other options are whitewater rafting, hiking in Okeefenokee, or learning to scuba off the coast of Georgia.

Adventure travel that takes you far from home

Let your imagination (and your vacation itinerary) wander a little farther this year! Consider hiking and camping in the Grand Canyon … spending a week at a dude ranch out West … swimming with dolphins off the coast of Florida … climbing the pyramids in Mexico … exploring the waterfalls of Hawaii … photographing lions on the Serengeti. Your options are limited only by your dreams, and perhaps your budget.

Whatever you decide you’d like to try, here are some pointers as you plan your adventure:

  • Do your research. Make sure you know the best route to travel (and the best mode of transportation), what to pack, what health and safety issues to prepare for, and what cultural and political issues you might encounter (if any). Use guide books, travel magazines, and your favorite web browser to learn as much as you can.
  • Consider going with an adventure travel group. If you would prefer to let someone else handle all the planning details, you might want to use a travel agency, guide or group that specializes in adventure travel. They can provide a wide range of services from helping you find and plan the best vacation for you to actually making all the arrangements, providing equipment and guiding you and/or a group on a travel adventure you will never forget.
  • Know when and how to book your reservations. Once you’ve decided where you want to go, and what your adventure might entail – hiking? swimming? exploring? – find out when it will be most cost-effective and comfortable for you to travel. Think about weather, seasonal crowds, peak pricing, and more. And remember, some of the world’s most popular playvacations may also be reserved well in advance, so don’t wait ‘til the last minute to book your trip!
  • Select a proven, reputable guide/outfitter. Don’t skimp on safety. Be sure your guide’s safety record is unblemished. Check their references, investigate them with online travel reviewers, and check their certification, trade memberships, and accreditations.
  • Be sure you’re getting a good value for your budget. Be sure you know every cost involved. Read the ‘fine print’ so you’re not surprised by add-on fees, gratuities, etc. Are accommodations included? airfare? meals?
  • Know your skill and fitness level. You wouldn’t climb Mt. Everest without the proper training, equipment, and preparation. By the same token, don’t sign up for a deep-sea fishing trip if you get seasick unless you take the proper precautions. Ask about ways you can prepare physically, mentally, and financially before undertaking your adventure trip.
  • Consider purchasing travel insurance. This is not about fear. It’s just common sense. Adventures sometimes do lead to problems, whether it’s a bloody nose or a loss of a suitcase. It’s worth the peace of mind to pay those few dollars. If you are planning to travel out of the US, consider ‘medical evacuation coverage,’ which will cover transportation costs if you need emergency treatment.
  • Pack everything you need, then take 50% of it out of the suitcase (but remember all the absolute essentials). In our family, we joke about the fact that we have a “packing gene” that allows us to pack incredibly efficiently, using every bit of space and remembering every single item needed. And to some degree, packing really is an art. The critical piece is to remember the needs and be skimpy with the wants. Don’t hesitate to ask your guide for a packing list!
  • Remember your documents and money. Know what you’ll need for border crossings if you’re going out of the US. Check with the embassy of the country you’re traveling to as well as the US State Department. And follow the advice of your friends and family who have traveled … they’ll have stories to illustrate why and what you’ll need to have with you! This includes money. How much and what type of money do you need … ATM cards? credit cards? traveler checks? cash?

Adventure travel is just that … travel with an element of adventure. It can be fun, educational, physically challenging, or all of the above. But it will undoubtedly be something you and your family will always remember, and you’ll feel good about your healthy approach to vacationing!

For more information
about some of the adventure travel
options discussed in
this article, visit:

Southern Expeditions

REI Adventures


About.com Adventure Travel


Trusted Adventures


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