Let’s talk about summer adventure travel destinations. But first: This happens every summer: I get a new pair of cute sandals that fit nicely in the store, and then the first day out – bam! Sore feet and blisters. This may sound familiar to fellow fans of soft adventure travel. Non-stressful hiking, plus walking tours, pretty much make up the kind of summer vacation (non-aquatic) exercise I get. That’s why, for me, the who-knows-what-technology-based stuff that goes into Gore-Tex fabric, makes their shoes a real plus. The Gore-Tex fabric is waterproof and wicks away heat, and feels kind of squishy in the sole (but it’s not a gel-based insert, so the TSA won’t make you surrender you shoes on the airport security line). My Ecco and Clark’s shoes have the Gore-Tex insignia, and Merrell, New Balance, and Timberland brands also use the special patented fabric. The company joined with the Adventure Travel Trade Association to suggest a Top 10 list of Summer Adventure Travel Vacation Destinations.
Top 10 Summer Travel Destinations, via Gore-Tex and the Adventure Travel Trade Association
- Australia - From the walkabouts to the rain forests of Queensland to the Great Barrier Reef, there’s adventure travel of almost all sorts here. If shopping is more your summer vacation speed, spend that cash in Sydney and Melbourne.
- Brazil - The jungles here are disappearing at a rapid clip; tourist dollars may show the government a viable alternate use of this great resource. And the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana are fantastic!
- British Columbia - start at my favorite airport hotel, and have fun in Vancouver, Victoria, and Granville Island for your summer vacation. Migratory marine mammals like whales spend their summers here too; they have the right idea!
- California - Even Los Angeles, with its sad reputation as a faceless city of strip malls, has some challenging hiking trails. I’d also suggest a drive north to Santa Barbara, my favorite spot along the Central Coast. There are also Napa Valley and other less famous “wine countries.”
- France - Can’t beat Paris as a cultural, historic walking city, but you might wear out your shoes trying to see it all. Then there’s Provence, Versailles, biking in the Pyrenees (bordering Spain), and the forests of Fontainebleau. Adventure travel and luxury vacations both fit together perfectly in France!
- Madagascar - The Malagasy, native to Madagasacar, could really use some tourism dollars. The forests of this unique island are disappearing at a pretty rapid clip, and ecotourism may help stem the loss. The lemurs, chameleons, and other interesting critters are endemic to Madagascar, and need their habitat to continue starring in all those nature specials.
- Nepal - Kathmandu is the star here, of course, though getting to Nepal is an adventure in itself. Nepal would be the right fit for someone seeking a special, unique cultural trip; if that’s you, visit Boudhanath Stupa, home to Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal.
- New York - New York City is hot, humid, and gross in the summer – I lived through too many summers there to be in denial. But the Hudson Valley, Niagara Falls, and Adirondacks region are all lovely.
- Norway - This one was included on the Top 10 Summer Travel Destinations list, presumably because it’s too dark and cold to vacation there in the winter. The gorgeous waterfalls and fjords can be toured via walking tours, or hiked and splashed in by more intrepid vacationers.
- Switzerland - An outdoor adventure vacation would feature a hike up the Alps, and possibly hang-gliding back down. Leisure travelers can explore Basel, Geneva, and Zurich.
These disparate vacation destinations were chosen by the quality of both adventure and leisure travel options. Factors considered include uniqueness and authenticity, adventure activity resources (bicycling, hiking, etc), need for sustainable tourism, and undiscovered or little known natural and cultural assets. I think this list represents a nice blend of very popular summer travel spots, and some that are less so.
And me? Well, I have 2 weeks of vacation travel in New York planned for this summer, one of which is in the humid stickiness of NYC. In August! Wish me luck.