Tours & Trips

How to Choose an Adventure Tour That's Right for You

Laura Carroll

Laura is a writer and international development professional based in the Washington, DC area. She has lived, worked, and studied in five different countries, as well as traveling to 20+ others.

You've stored up the days off from work, and saved up the funds; now it's time to book your next trip abroad. It's a chance to leave behind your 'normal' life and do something exciting!

While some people go on vacation in search of relaxation, others go on vacation in search of new experiences and adventures. Most of us only have a few weeks of vacation time per year, so how can you possibly fit everything in that you’d like to do on your travels?

One answer is to take an adventure tour. These types of tours typically cater to those who want to get off the beaten track and try new things, and they allow you to truly experience the heart of your destination. That said, there are many different types of adventure tours out there, offering different types of adventures for different types of travelers. Here are five questions to ask as you’re planning your next adventure trip.

Step 1. Decide What Type of Adventure You Seek

The first question to ask yourself when choosing an adventure tour is precisely what kind of adventure you’re seeking. Do you want your adventure to be physical, cultural, or both?

If you’re interested in a cultural adventure, a trip that takes you to a location outside your comfort zone is probably in order. Wandering the hutongs of Beijing or the souks of Marrakech might be perfect for you! If you’re interested in an adventure in a wilderness landscape, or if you’re interested in trying new physical activities as part of your adventures, you might be more interested in whitewater rafting in the Grand Canyon or hiking up Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Step 2. Figure Out What Gets Your Heart Pumping

Wherever you go in the world, there are always different types of activities that can make up your adventure tour. Which ones excite you the most?

Maybe you want to be super active in a challenging environment -- hiking in the morning and rock climbing in the afternoon. Maybe you want to go on a cultural adventure -- a city walk in the morning followed by a language lesson or a bout of intensive haggling. Maybe you want both! Think about the types of adventures that make you feel the most excited, and then choose your adventure tour to reflect that.

Step 3. Determine How Full You Want Your Itinerary to Be

On some tours, all the activities are included, whereas on others the activities are offered “a la carte.”

For example, one tour that features mountain hiking could also include rock climbing as an integral part of the tour, whereas another could give you the option of rock climbing for an added fee. Similarly, a tour that visits a coastal destination might include snorkeling or kite surfing as preprogrammed activities, or they might bring you to the destination and give you free time with the option of doing either of those activities for an added fee. Choose a tour that gives you the level of included activities you prefer.

Step 4. Consider the Pros & Cons of Private vs. Small-Group Tours

Some adventure tours gather like-minded travelers together in small groups, while others create personalized itineraries for private tours. Would you prefer the private guide to take you on a unique itinerary crafted just to your desires, or do you enjoy the socialization and bonding of a small-group tour?

If you’re looking for a tour that gives you plenty of room for individualization plus lots of quality time with your spouse or family, a private tour might be your preference. If you’re looking for a tour that lets you experience the destination and all its activities with fellow adventurers, then a small group tour might be more your style.

Related: What to Look for in an Ethical Tour Company

Step 5. Keep Your Overall Travel Style in Mind

Adventure tours can vary quite a bit in terms of accommodations, from super rough to clean but basic to eco-luxury to glamping. Here again is a good place to think about your preferred travel style -- do you want a tour that’s mostly camping and/or staying in basic cabins, or do you want a tour that lets you hike in the morning, rock climb in the afternoon, and then have a hot bubble bath, a soft bed, and a glass of wine in the evening? Maybe you want a little bit of both! Only you know the answer to this question.

Thinking about these five questions will help you make the best possible choice for finding the adventure tour that fits your needs. Once you know exactly what you’re looking for, you can find the perfect tour operator to match your needs and expectations. After that, you can pack your bags and enjoy your trip, knowing that the perfect adventure awaits!