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Even more relevant today - Why The Best Vacations Are Active Travel Vacations

I just came across this article written by Larry Olmsted from Forbes.com and I could not agree more and, the best part of it is that Latin America is one of the best places in the world to get active and be mesmerized by its natural beauty!

There are a lot of different styles of travel and reasons to travel, from laying by the pool relaxing to visiting art museums. I’ve experienced just about every kind of vacation imaginable during twenty-plus years as a travel-focused journalist, and I have become increasingly convinced that the best are active vacations. A lot of people seem to agree, as this sector of the leisure travel industry has been booming.

Traditionally, active travel meant sport-specific kinds of trips, primarily cycling, hiking and skiing, along with watersports such as scuba diving and surfing. But in recent years the options have expanded greatly, and today people also go on yoga or wellness vacations, to running camps, or on the many variations of “multi-sport” trips combining permutations of cycling, mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, rafting and other pursuits.

Active travel is different from the often-hyped category of “Adventure Travel,” which in many cases involves no more effort than sleeping in a yurt or standing on the deck of an icebreaker and observing glaciers. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is not active.

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There are several reasons why active vacations are so appealing. One is the feeling of accomplishment you get when you challenge yourself physically. For example, to hike every day for a week in mountainous terrain, perhaps at altitude, is exertion most of us would not do at home. Then there is the health benefit of active travel, especially given that on vacation, many tend to overindulge in food and drink. Personally, I am going to have gelato anytime I visit Italy, regardless, so it’s better if I’ve burned a few hundred calories first! Meals are sweeter, cold beer more refreshing, and generally you feel better about yourself after a day of physical effort. In addition, just the knowledge that you have a trip like this scheduled often promotes preparation and training, fitness benefits that span months for a week or two on vacation.

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But these trips also self-select some of the most beautiful places to visit, active or not. For instance, the most popular classic biking vacation destinations are Tuscany, Provence and California’s wine country. Hiking hotspots include the Alps, New Zealand, and the Himalayas. Top surfing and scuba diving destinations are almost always in tropical paradises.

These types of vacations are in gorgeous scenery, and often destinations you might not otherwise visit except to be active, such as Patagonia, Norway or Chile’s awesome Atacama Desert. But seeing them by foot or paddle or pedal also allows you to explore them at a pace that lets you enjoy the locales far more intimately than you can from a car or train window. One of the world’s oldest and most established active travel companies, Butterfield & Robinson, after half a century of cycling and hiking trips, has long made its motto, “Slow Down to See the World.” There is a lot of truth to that (read my in-depth piece about B&R here).

There is also a good reason why the active trips offered by companies specializing in these draw such a high level of repeat clientele, and when I have traveled with leading companies in any of these niches, many of my compatriots were on their third, fifth or tenth such trip, and are always looking forward to the next new destination to explore actively.

I could go on virtually forever describing all the options and ins and outs of active travel, but instead I am going to recap a few major categories and the highlights of the best tri