What to look for so you have an amazing experience
Maybe you’ve seen friends post on Facebook about their latest trip – hiking and sea kayaking in Alaska, biking and hiking in Italy, biking and snorkeling on Caribbean islands. The views are amazing, and everyone seems to be having the time of their lives.
Have you’ve been thinking about doing a multi-sport trip, but when you start looking at options, it seems overwhelming?
Multi-sport adventure trips have become increasingly popular and accessible for more people, including multi-generation groups from kids to grandparents.
I love multi-sport trips because they give me a chance to experience a location’s beauty and culture, while engaging all of my senses as I get up close and personal with the environment.
You definitely don’t need to be a super-athlete to enjoy a trip that involves several hours a day of physical activities. If you’re not sure about what to do to get ready, check out my article on Preparing for your first multi-sport adventure. The first step is to pick a trip that’s right for you and your fellow travelers.
Let’s start with the basics: who, where, what, when, which and a few hows, plus a couple of other key considerations.
Who is going
Is this a family trip, you and your partner, a few friends, or solo? Do a quick assessment of everyone’s comfort level with various activities that could be involved in your trip.
If you aren’t sure how your travel partners feel about an activity, ask up front. You’ll save yourself valuable research time and avoid awkwardness later.
Where to go
For your first foray into a multi-sport trip, you and your crew may feel more comfortable being closer to home. Many parts of the U.S. have multi-sport adventure opportunities – from California to Maine, Alaska (of course) and Hawaii to Florida.
If you have the time, money and ambition to go a bit farther afield, some top multi-sport adventure destinations include the Ecuador (the Galapagos most famously), Peru, Costa Rica, Italy, Vietnam, Thailand, and South Africa.
What type of climate and environment is appealing
With all of the options available, narrowing them down by the type of climate and environment you prefer will help you keep your sanity.
At the most basic level, decide between warm and cool. Then factor in if you want to be in the mountains, on or near water, in the desert and/or in the jungle. Want to experience all of those? You’re a multi-sport adventurer at heart already!
When do you want to go
Some destinations have more distinct seasons than others, and in some locations, tours only run at certain times of the year (corresponding with the “best” weather conditions, as a general rule).
If you have a specific time requirement, that may rule out trips in certain locations.
Which activities, and how many
The list of options is pretty long, and the possible combinations are almost limitless. Some of the most common activities are hiking, biking, sea kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), river rafting, climbing/rappelling, and snorkeling or diving.
A few of the unusual include spelunking (aka exploring caves), dog sledding, and fly fishing.
Pick one or two “must haves” and then prioritize a few others to help with your search. Most multi-sport trips will have 2-4 different activities.
How long do you want to go
The minimum number of days is usually 3 for multi-sport adventures, and some are 3 weeks or longer. Most fall into the 5-10 day range, though.
Plan to have a couple of days in the area you’re traveling to before (often required) and/or after the organized trip to relax – especially if the trip is action packed!
How intense are the activities
Many trip organizers have rating systems and/or detailed itineraries available to help you gauge how much activity is really involved. The level of detail varies, though, so if the following isn’t specified for trips you’re considering, then ask:
- Hiking and bicycling – How rough is the terrain? How much elevation change is there in the hardest day? What’s the highest elevation?
- Sea kayaking, SUPing and snorkeling – How deep is the water? What is the typical temperature range? How rough is it during that time of year?
- Unusual activities – How much instruction is provided? Is the activity adjusted based on the guests’ comfort and ability?
Just because you’re doing a multi-sport adventure doesn’t mean you have to pack all of your gear in a backpack, traipse into the wilderness, and sleep on the ground – though that is definitely the experience for some trips.
Many trip operators offer “glamping” accommodations – such as huts, luxurious platform tents with restroom facilities, or campers. And certain trips – especially in water-intensive areas like the Galapagos, Greece and the Caribbean – offer sleep aboard ships/yachts, or boutique hotels for land-based trips. If you have a preference, make sure the trip operator offers it for your destination.
Trip operator and guides
Last but definitely not least, research the trip operator and guides you’re considering for your multi-sport adventure trip. Cost can vary widely, and so can the experience that you have – though those factors don’t necessarily correlate.
First and foremost, make sure the company you’re working with has trained guides, safety equipment and procedures. The Adventure Travel Trade Association has initiated the International Adventure Travel Guide Qualification and Performance Standard. Although it’s not regulated, companies that have signed it have indicated they’ll support it.
If you work with a travel agent, s/he can help you sort through the various tour operators and trip options based on your preferences and personality. Even if you don’t usually work with a travel agent or company, these experts are especially helpful when picking this kind of trip since there are so many options.
Of course, other travelers can offer tips and guidance too. I recently listened to an episode of the Active Travel Adventures podcast, hosted by Kit Parks, where she shared tips on picking a tour company.
When I was researching trips in the Galapagos, I realized that doing a Google search and checking TripAdvisor for ratings brought up far more options than I had the time and energy to research. I found a company that specializes in adventure travel in South America, Detour Destinations, that had already fully vetted tour companies in the Galapagos.
I told them how long my husband and I wanted to be there, what activities were important to us (snorkeling and hiking), what size group we preferred (small) and how much we wanted to spend. They hooked us up with exactly what we described!
Now that you know more about how to pick a multi-sport trip that’s right for you and your crew, go find some awesome options and book it!
Want more personalized support on picking and preparing for a multi-sport adventure trip? Contact me at email@example.com to ask questions and find out about getting personalized support for you and your travel companions.