Not All Who Wander Are Lost: A Blog for Adventurous Women

Adventure Travel for Women Over 60

Posted by Marian Marbury on Jun 25, 2013 11:13:00 AM

I've written before about adventure travel for women over 50 - how, barring illness or physical disability, women over 50 were just as capable of hiking, backpacking, kayaking etc. as women moyher and daughter canoeingunder 50; and that the major element to consider when choosing adventure travel was not your age, but your level of conditioning and desire for physical activity. It's not so much the level of fitness you can achieve (unless you are into competitive sports) that declines with age, but how long it takes to get there, how soon fitness declines, and how many recovery periods you need. Age also has the advantage of experience and attitude, which often compensate for any physical differences.

But honestly I, and many of the women who have traveled with us over the past 14 years, passed the 50 year-old mark years ago. So how about adventure travel for women over 60?

I was very lucky to have a mother who went on a 5-day canoe and camping trip in the Boundary Waters with me when she was 79 - but not many of us have had the good luck to have such active role models.

This probably explains why, when women call the office about a trip, they may preface their questions with "I'm 52 or 62 (or whatever) but I'm very active". Whenever I hear this, knowing that I sound very young on the phone, I usually tell women that I am 61. This is always met by a relieved laugh, and agreement that I do indeed sound about 25 and they had just wanted to be sure they hadn't accidentally stumbled into a group for 20-somethings.

Fortunately as our generation has aged, our perspective on what is possible has changed - and our daughters have many more role models for active aging then we did. We continually see women celebrate turning 60 by signing up for challenging trips, be it trekking To Machu Picchu, backpacking the Appalachian Trail, or climbing Kilimanjaro.

Now most women (and men) actually have no interest in doing something that strenuous - but that lack of interest is not age-related. If you don't want to climb Kili to celebrate turning 60, the chances are really good that you didn't want to when you turned 40 either.

This is not to deny that as we age, the probability of developing a life-threatening or -limiting illness increases. And even if we have remained healthy, most of us have more morning stiffness and a variety of aches and pains. But there is a silver lining here; these consequences of aging strip us of THE ILLUSION THAT WE CAN PUT THINGS OFF that we want to do. We will not be fitter or more skilled next year  - unless we make that a goal right now and start actively working towards it. Our 60s are when we start realizing that making a decision not to do something this year could, through circumstance, become a decision never to do it. A choice to pursue one path is a choice not to pursue other paths -  so we better choose wisely.

Do we offer adventure travel for women over 60? Absolutely. It's called our Trip Calendar.

Topics: adventure travel, womens travel, miscellaneous

Five Ways to Celebrate the Summer Solstice

Posted by Katie Flanagan on Jun 13, 2013 5:00:00 AM

The ‘official’ start of summer is around the corner! I have always been drawn to the season of summer, as a child it meant no school, long days at the pool, family vacations, and evenings spent chasing lightening bugs through the neighborhood. As I’ve grown older – my summers revolve less around the seasonal pastimes – but I do have an ‘itch’ to celebrate the change of season. The summer solstice, June 21 (in the Northern Hemisphere) is a perfect opportunity to celebrate summertime and soak up the sun in the great outdoors.

Throughout history and across cultures, the summer solstice has been marked with celebrations including religious ceremonies, rituals, and festivals. It is the longest day of the year and for many signaled the beginning of the growing season representing fertility and fulfillment.

  1. Do some sky observation. From an astronomical point of view, the summer solstice occurs sometime between June 20 and June 21 (sometimes June 22) in the Northern Hemisphere, and December 21 and December 22 (sometimes December 23) in the Southern Hemisphere. Most years it is on the 21st but due to the leap year in the Gregorian calendar, there is a change every few years to the date, to account for the leap years. If you'd like to witness the actual moment of the summer solstice in the sky, read How to witness the summer solstice and be sure to take all precautions to prevent eye observations
  2. Sit outside and read a book. This is a good way to get connected with the sun and nature. Its simple, relaxing, and can be done morning, noon, or night on the longest day of the year whether it’s in your backyard, on your porch, or at a coffee shop. If you need a suggestion, here is a link to list of a “good summer reads” for women.
  3. Plan some travel. Consider spending summer solstice away from home, at one of the key destinations where the summer solstice has been celebrated for centuries. In particular, Britain's Stonehenge is a must for the avid observer of the summer solstice. Stonehenge aligns with the sunrise on the solstice, making for spectacular viewing. However, you need to be there very early in the morning well rugged up because thousands of others will also be attending to celebrate the day as the sun rises. Two other places where people like to celebrate the summer solstice are Sedona in Arizona and Cairo (where an ancient sun temple was discovered in 2006). A list of summer solstice celebrations can be found in Wikipedia at
  4. Honor the sun. If you enjoy doing yoga, there is a set of exercises known as the Sun Salutation or Salute to the Sun which you can perform. These exercises are intended to exercise both your body and your soul, balancing both in harmony through both meditation and physical movement in one. Begin this exercise on the morning of the summer solstice and aim to make it a daily habit from this time on. For more detail, refer to How to do sun salutations in yoga and How to do the sun salute.
  5. Join an event near you. Communities and groups in your city may be celebrating the solstice in their own special way. Checkout local event boards at coffee shops or Google the name of your town and summer solstice to see if events are planned. There may be an annual event that can become your solstice tradition. Here is a link to a few community events throughout the U.S. and world:



Topics: miscellaneous, how to

Should you have expectations for adventure travel?

Posted by Marian Marbury on Jun 11, 2013 5:25:00 PM

I started thinking about the issue of expectations
and adventure travel after receiving a trip being open to adventure travelevaluation from a woman returning from her second trip with us. To paraphrase, she said that there had been some disappointments on the first trip so she had gone into this trip with no expectations; she had had an amazing time and totally loved it. My first (internal) response was - yes, exactly, when we don't have expectations, then we can be fully open to whatever happens. And since the nature of adventure travel is that there is some inherent unpredictability, we want to be open to embracing what presents itself, not clinging to our expectations of what we thought it should be.

Bu then I thought - OK, but does it follow that a company can offer anything and you shouldn't  complain because you're so living in the present moment that you don't notice that all the cool things on the itinerary aren't actually happening? That doesn't seem right. Not having expectations shouldn't mean that there are no standards and that anything goes.

Many adventure travel companies do try to set expectations in their trip descriptions, either implicity or explicitly. From a purely business standpoint, much less an ethical standpoint, you don't help your business by misleading people about the experience they've signed up for. Yes, sometimes things change, but no one wins by setting it up for that to happen.

Sometimes people don't even know what their expectations are until they're not met. A minor example? Americans often dislike that dinners in Italy are usually large and late; in Spain they are even larger and later. You probably wouldn't have put dinners at 6pm on your list of expectations until you were trying to get to sleep with an uncomfortably full stomach. Experience is how we learn what is truly important to us and how to deal with an expectation that can't be met. Maybe we learn to leave food on our plate; maybe we carry Tums with us; maybe we just don't travel in Italy.

The bottom line is that we all have expectations, and to the extent possible, we need to know what they are. If we do, then we can decide if they are something we can let go of, adapt to, or make sure they will be met. So read the itinerary carefully. Ask the company questions. Chat with people who have been on the trip. Do everything you can to make sure you get on the right trip. And then be open to the experience that unfolds.

Topics: adventure travel, miscellaneous, trip preparation

What is small group adventure travel?

Posted by Marian Marbury on Jun 4, 2013 8:27:00 AM

The other day I was perusing another company's website and saw the claim "Small group adventure travel, never over 18". For non-adventure travel companies I've seen the same claim for groups up to 25. Which got me thinking - what is a small group and is that desirable?

For thoughts on optimal group size, I posted the question on our Facebook page. The majority of people thought it was 8 to 12, a few thought 6 to 8, and a few thought up to 20. A number of people raised the issue of the nature of the trip: whether it was wilderness based, or active adventure vs city touring. But obviously there is no standard definition and as long as a company is clear about what the group size is, people can decide for themselves what size they find acceptable.

My own experience is that if there are no other considerations, then 10 to 12 plus 2 guides is most likely to provide the best combination of flexibility and group cohesion. Once beyond 12, the potential for group cohesion doesn't disappear but it does decrease. Below a size of 8, the group can be very cohesive or it can be so small that people start getting tired of always talking to the same people, or find someone's irritating mannerisms more difficult to ignore. But it's really just potential we're talking about. There can be large groups of 6 (lots of very divergent personalities) or small groups of 15 (everyone very group-oriented and sensitive to the needs of others) - I've been in both. Like a party, it depends on who shows up.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately as I've worked on pricing our 2014 trips. There are 2 trips that were very popular last year, Adventures in the Caribbean and Northern Lights and Natural Beauty of Iceland, where we faced large price increases. For the Caribbean trip, the price increase from our partner was due to a change in lodging that was necessitated by the closing of Maho Bay. For the Iceland trip, part was an increase from our Iceland partner because of inflation in Iceland, new taxes, and the US dollar weakening against the Icelandic kroner; and part was the fact that we had not charged enough to cover our overhead in 2013. On the Caribbean trip, the size is limited to 10 so the full increase had to be passed on. However, for the Iceland trip there was more flexibility in size and our Icelandic partner was encouraging us to increase the group size to 20. After much agonizing I decided that increasing the price by $100 and going up to 16 was preferable to keeping the group size at 12 and going up $300. But should I have gone up to 20 and kept the price the same? Or held it at 12, knowing that the price would be discouraging for some people? I don't know.

But in addition to keeping the cost of a trip down, a larger group can be fun. It offers the opportunity to socialize with lots of different people and sometimes get to know a few more in depth. Again, the party analogy is apt. If you enjoy going to large parties and connecting with lots of different people, then traveling in a group of 16 or more may be perfect for you. If you tend to avoid large parties and instead prefer to have dinner with a few friends, then small group travel may be more your style. Both can be delightful experiences, just different.

However, aside from the social aspects, adventure travel often has the additional consideration of impact on the environment, both physical and cultural. Large groups undoubtedly cause more wear on trails and more trampling of vegetation. In wilderness they also impact the solitude of others and can scare animals away from water sources. Impacts of large groups can also be cultural. Any time a destination becomes of interest to travelers, there will be an impact on the culture. But larger groups, particularly groups over 30, will have more of an impact as the infrastructure is developed to meet the demand. This is why most adventure travel companies keep their group sizes under 20 but also why prices are higher for this kind of trip.

Like everything else in travel, the size of the group is a tradeoff and you, the traveler, need to decide what is most important to you. Sigh....

Topics: adventure travel, miscellaneous

Being an Adventure Travel Guide: Part 2

Posted by Marian Marbury on Apr 24, 2013 7:20:00 AM

I intended to write the second part about being an adventure travel guide before leaving on my latest trip (Exploring Utah's National Parks) but I'm glad I waited. Being in a spectacular place with a lovely and very diverse group of women reminded me both of how much I love guiding, how much work it is, and what qualities make for happy and successful guiding - at least for You don't need to be Xena to be an adventure travel guideAdventures in Good Company. Different companies have different philosophies and non-adventure travel companies undoubtedly have different requirements. But here is what we think is important.

  1. Experience in the outdoors. Guiding is not the way to get experience, and going on trips where others are guiding is a good start but not enough. Having a base of personal outdoor experience, where you are responsible for yourself, is critical for developing both judgment and self-confidence.

    "Good judgment is the result of experience. Experience is the result of poor judgment". You want to gain experience when you aren't responsible for the safety of others. Which is not to say that you won't continue to gain experience as you guide, but you want to have a sufficient base that you have enough judgment to not put others at risk.

  2. A keen interest in others' stories. If you are more interested in telling your stories than in listening to other people tell their's, then look for the types of guiding that are one day adventures (e.g. river rafting or ziplining) or are more oriented towards didactic teaching. A guide who loves to be the center of attention can be very successful short term;  on longer trips, where group relationships are key to everyone enjoying themselves, the focus needs to be on group members. Interest in other people is not something you can fake for an extended period of time.

  3. Safety awareness. This is a particular challenge on adventure travel trips because adventure is not compatible with keeping people totally safe all the time. If you are hiking in the mountains, you need to know to avoid the predictable afternoon thunderstorm. But how about the unpredictable sleet storm that comes up? What have you brought with you to deal with emergencies and when do you turn back? Safety awareness is gained from experience, from talking to others, and from reading about others' mishaps.

  4. Patience. This is another quality that is impossible to fake over a long period of time. On adventure travel trips, many people are out of their comfort zone; even just meeting up with a group of unknown women can be an adventure. As a result, things that are obvious to you may not be obvious to them, timelines may not be clear, people go at different paces. Always keep in mind that everyone is truly doing the best job they can and your role is to figure out the support they need, not to become impatient.

  5. Organization and flexibility. It may seem like a paradox, but the more organized you are, the more flexible you can be. Guides need to have a clear timeline of the day in their mind; then if something comes up that is going to affect it, they can understand exactly how the whole day will be impacted.

    Here's an example: Our plan is to arrive at point X at 6 pm. Some of the group wants to go on a side trail to an overlook and it will take about 45 minutes. If the day is clearly planned, then you know whether there are other aspects you can shorten to make it still possible to arrive at 6 pm. And if you are in touch with your groups' energy and needs, you can make a decision whether keeping to the 6 pm arrival time is more important than going to that overlook.

  6. Being your own best critic. You need to be able to look at yourself clearly, without beating yourself up, and see what you are doing well and what you need to change. If you look to others for validation, you can easily make safety mistakes. For example, you may need to tell people they can't do something they really want to do, if you are clear that it is not safe. (One of the hardest things I ever did a s aguide was tell someone on my Kilimanjaro trip that she would not be allowed to try for the summit). You have to be OK with people being mad at you. At the same time, you have to know when you have made a mistake, even if no one else recognizes it as such. You have to thoroughly look at why it happened and what you need to do differently so it doesn't happen again. And you need to do this without beating yourself up about it.

  7. Good technical skills and experience in the activity you're guiding. Frequently people who want to be guides focus only on this aspect- and it is very important. But in some ways its the easiest part of becoming a guide because you can take classes and then work on developing your skills in different ways (when I was into rock climbing 15 years ago, I used to practice how to "escape a belay" in my bedroom).
Guiding is an endless opportunity to learn new things, meet a variety of fascinating people, and learn about yourself. It isn't for everyone, but for those with a passion for the outdoors, travel, and other people, its incredibly rewarding.

Topics: adventure travel, safety, miscellaneous

Being an adventure travel guide: Part 1

Posted by Marian Marbury on Apr 2, 2013 5:57:00 AM

We're frequently asked how one becomes an adventure travel guide. Less often asked, but at least equally important for anyone who is thinking about it, is what being a guide is actually Two Adventures Travel Guideslike.

Everyone assumes that it is the best job in the world. And the reality? It is!! At least it is for some people. But the actuality may be different in some ways than it looks from the outside, so here are some things to consider. (The particulars of the job can vary with the specific trip or type of guiding you do; what I discuss here is most relevant to the trips we do).

  • Hours can be very long. On a recent trip where I was a solo guide and preparing breakfast, lunch, and appetizers, I was working until 11:30 cleaning up and preparing for the next day; and then getting up at 6:30 am to make the coffee. Typically the guide is not only doing everything the participants are doing, but also putting a lot of time in during the trip to make sure everything runs smoothly.

  • As a corollary, the amount of personal time you have is often effectively zero. I have learned how to take personal time while preparing dinner or brushing my teeth, but I'm always aware that it may end at any moment. If you need real personal time every day, guiding may not be a good fit.

  • You should not expect to be physically challenged. Sometimes it happens, but remember that you have to have the energy at the end of the day to do anything that needs to be done - from checking in with everyone to getting the appetizers out. It's not to say that you can't be a little tired, but being exhausted just doesn't work.

  • It's not your trip. Your job is to make sure that everyone is having the trip they want as much as possible, which may not really be the trip you would choose. For example, everyone may want to hike the shorter trail rather than go explore that very cool-looking canyon.

  • You're part of the group but you're often apart from the group. While they're all sitting by the waterfall sharing stories, you're back at camp cooking or planning or cleaning. You may need to leave an interesting conversation because someone ro something else needs your attention.

  • You can't always say what you think; in particular you need to learn what opinions to keep to yourself. The classic example is politics. You may assume that everyone who is interested in the kind of travel you are (especially women's adventure travel) shares certain political beliefs. You would be wrong. It may or may not be possible to facilitate an atmosphere of respectful sharing of diverse viewpoints, but it certainly won't work if you are other than neutral.

The question to ask yourself is whether you want to guide trips or you want to go on trips, because they are two very different experiences. Having a passion for travel and the outdoors is an essential starting point for an adventure travel guide, but it only gets you so far. You also have to have a passion for meeting and working with lots of different kinds of people, enjoy helping people have a great experience, and love sharing your knowledge about different destinations. If that describes you, then being an adventure travel guide may be a great choice.

In Part 2 we'll consider what it takes to become an adventure travel guide. If you are interested in spending a long weekend exploring the ins and outs of guiding, particularly if you are interested in working with Adventures in Good Company, consider joining us for our Leadership Training Workshop December 5 - 8 in Georgia.

Topics: adventure travel, miscellaneous

Pinning your way to Adventure Travel

Posted by Katie Flanagan on Nov 29, 2012 5:00:00 AM

If we are not out hiking, biking, paddling, or backpacking (or planning a trip) – we may be pinning! AGC recently added Pinterest to our social media mix and we are having a lot of fun with it. Via Pinterest you can browse boards containing interesting images, innovative ideas, fun facts, and words of wisdom (among many other themes). You can also create your own electronic bulletin boards that represent you. It is like an electronic rack of magazines covering a range of topics, hobbies, and interests. Best of all its FREE and easy to use. AGC pins because, through Pinterest…

You can get to know us. Through our boards you can get to know the personality of our company. A website can only convey so much. Via Pinterest we can tell you about books we like, outdoor tips, recipes, and our favorite gear. It is just another way to help you decide if AGC is the right tour company for you.

We learn a lot “re-pinning.” Some of our pins are original, but others are re-pinned from fellow Pinterest users’ boards. There are tons of great ideas, inspiring quotes, and beautiful pictures that you add to your own collection and mental file cabinet  and use when planning a trip, choosing your next book to read, or training for an active vacation.

It makes us laugh. Our board ‘smile-makers’ does just that – they are images that bring a smile to our face and quite literally can improve your mood. Many pinners post humorous quotes and jokes that will induce a grin after just a few clicks.

Marketing. Honestly – Pinterest is a marketing tool for AGC. Yes, we enjoy it for all of the reasons above (just like we enjoy Facebook, writing blogs, sending newsletters). Each of these outlets is a way for us to spread awareness about AGC and invite women of all ages and backgrounds to consider travelling with AGC.


Whether you have a Pinterest account or not, you can browse our boards by clicking HERE.


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Topics: miscellaneous

Can adventure travel be too cheap?

Posted by Marian Marbury on Oct 29, 2012 12:15:00 PM

I've written before about why adventure travel is so expensive and what goes into the the price of a trip. But can adventure travel be too cheap?

Eight years ago, when Adventures in Good Company was still fairly new to planning international trips, I decided to offer a trip to climb Kilimanjaro. I did some research, talked to some people, and decided to book the trip through a small company in England that represented local companies in different destinations. They were responsive to our inquiries and it was obvious we would be going with a Tanzanian company that did a lot of trips and had a porter on Kilimanjaro - can adventure travel be too cheapgood safety record. Best of all, the price was quite reasonable and it allowed us to charge a lower price than I was seeing many other companies charge. I am embarassed to admit that I did not know anything about sustainable travel, what questions to ask about porter hiring and treatment, how to tip etc. I was pretty naive, to put it mildly

The trip itself went fine - the equipment was good, the food decent, and most of us reached the summit. But little things nagged at me. The first thing was that I did know there was supposed to be a weight limit on how much porters carried and it seemed to me that our porters were carrying more. The second is that our head guide had me sign in fewer people at each ranger station than we actually had in our group. The third was that the one time we could have used the oxygen that the head guide assured me he carried, the day we were climbing to the summit, he said he didn't bring it. And finally he told me that I should give him all the tip money and he would distribute it to everyone else. I did. How dumb was that!

When I got back to the US, I started reading about the whole issue of porter conditions on Kilimanjaro and realized all the ways that our head guide was maximizing his own profit. I don't know if the company I worked with gave him a set amount of money and he could pocket anything he "saved", or if there was agreement between them about not paying all the climbing fees, how many porters to employ etc. What I did know was that I never wanted to be that ignorant again or contribute to the exploitation of people whose opportunity to earn money is limited.

Then I had the good fortune a few months later to have a participant on one of my trips who was good friends with the woman who had started the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project. That was the beginning of a long relationship that has been mutually beneficial. We became a partner company, make donations, and have helped transport clothing and equipment from the US for porter use. She directed us to a local partner company, the one we currently work with. Their guides and porters are all longtime employees, we know the porters are paid a fair wage, and we have had the same guides every year. It feels (and flows) much better. And yes, now our trip price is higher.

You may think that the moral of the story is that if the price of a trip is too good to be true, it's too good to be - and that you get what you pay for. But actually it's not. I recently had someone ask if we stayed in tents or hostels on our Bulgaria's Mountains and Monasteries trip because the price was so low - $1895, lower than many of our domestic trips. In this case, though, the price is low because Bulgaria has never adopted the euro and has a struggling economy so their currency is depressed. We have worked with our Bulgarian partner for years now and we know that the price they charge us represents a great value.

So the real moral of the story is that price is a signal, but not necessarily a straightforward one. A low price can be a good deal. But it can also represent cost cutting of a kind you may not want to support.

 Our EBook will help you get ready ready for your next interational trip

Topics: adventure travel, miscellaneous

Adventure travel for women over 50

Posted by Marian Marbury on Mar 2, 2012 8:07:00 AM

On our Facebook page last week we posted the question: "Iadventure travel for women over 50n planning 2013 we're thinking about adding one adventure travel trip specifically for women over 50. The median age of our participants is probably 52 or 53. If you're over 50, is this appealing? If you're under 50, does this feel discriminatory?"

The responses were as varied as we've ever seen. No one seemed to think it was discriminatory but one under 50 noted that she she wouldn't like it if it was a trip she wanted to do, like Kilimanjaro. The disagreement was more over whether it was appealing. Some people said yes. Of these, one person said she liked the idea of being with women her own age but wouldn't want it to be less challenging, while others liked the idea specifically because they thought it would be less challenging and they liked the slower pace they assumed would be involved. Other women on both sides of 50 weren't interested, saying that they loved the mix of ages we have and that energy, health, and fitness were what was important, not age. One person warned u not to because of the assumprions it involves about what that age groupp can and can't do.

I've always been in this latter category. In my 20 years of experience as a guide, I've often noted that age and fitness were only loosely correlated, with fit 50+ women more than "keeping up". Recent scientific research bears this out: older people are able to attain much higher levels of conditioning than we used to think; the culprit in physical decline has been inactivity much more than physiology. I've also noticed that women who have hiked or paddled for 20 or 30 years have an efficiency of movement that more than makes up for any difference in energy. In addition Adventures in Good Company has always offered less challenging trips (those rated 1 or 2) for women who preferred that for whatever reason. And like many people stated, as someone who does not have enough younger people in my life, I have always enjoyed the mix.

But this exchange convinced me that we should try offering one or two trips specifically for women over 50. In order to avoid cutting off options for anyone, we'll offer an established trip twice, suggesting that one is specifically for women over 50 and the other is for women of all ages. That way everyone can choose the age mix they prefer. We appreciate all the input- it was very helpful.

On a related note, a few weekends ago I had to recertify my Wilderness First Responder status. (WFR  teaches you what to do if 911 is more than 2 hours away and most companies that offer outdoor trips trequire it for their guides - including us.) I was the oldest by 10 years, and the next oldest woman was 30 years older than the majority of students. But I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with kids who were so much younger and had many interesting conversations during the weekend. At the end of the course, I turned to a young woman that I had chatted with and told her how reassuring it was to me to see her generation so active and concerned about the world. She told me how reassuring it had been to talk with someone who had had 3 careers, as she was at the beginning of her work life and was glad to know she could always change if she didn't like the one she picked. it was a great end to a great weekend.

June 12 update: We have posted our first two trips for women over 50: Wildflowers and Waterfalls and Exploring Utah's National Parks in Fall. These are slightly modified versions of two of our most popular trips.

 Our EBook will help you get ready ready for your next interational trip

Topics: adventure travel, miscellaneous

Adventure travel: What's the real price of your trip. Part 2

Posted by Marian Marbury on Jan 29, 2012 4:44:00 AM

In the last blog post I said that, in considering the price of a trip, you wanted to know:

  1. What are you getting for your money?
  2. How much else will you need to spend (i.e. what is your total cost)? Other adventure travel costs

I covered the first previously. For the second question, how much additional will you end up spending, here are the issues to consider:

    •    what meals are included? How many meals will you be responsible for and what is the cost of an average restaurant dinner, breakfast etc. Are there options for buying food from a local grocery store or deli, or are you limited to restaurants?

    •    what activities are included? Is it an all-inclusive package (more expensive, less flexible) or are there lots of optional add-on activities? If the latter, are there other things you can do that are inexpensive or free, or are you going to be twiddling your thumbs if you don't sign up for something? As an example, on our Grand Alaska Road Trip most of the activities are included. But we leave one day at Denali open because there are some expensive things people might choose (flightseeing, rafting, tundra buggies) or lots of free things (hiking, ranger talks, a dogsled demo.

    •    what gratuities are included? Typically gratuities for your main guides are not included, and suggestions can range from $7/day to 10% of the trip cost. But how about incidental guides - the rafting guides, the guide who takes you glacier walking one day or shows you around a town? Those can add up so know what you should expect to budget for them.

    •    Are there additional flights? Very few adventure travel companies include flights to the trip starting point in the price of their trips. With small groups and people coming from all over the world, it is just too much of a logistical nightmare. However there may be additional flights during the trip and if they are not included, can you get an estimate of the additional cost.

    •    what else? If you're not sure what the total price is going to be, a good general question is "What additional costs can I expect to pay?"

Topics: adventure travel, miscellaneous, trip preparation