Think Locally While Traveling Globally
By Dave Soref
With January behind us and the days growing longer, thoughts often turn to going to exotic places and doing exciting things. Most of us have our own wish lists of ultimate and meaningful travel adventures, but we don’t always know how to turn these dreams into reality.
Well, there is a company that does just that, bringing people of all backgrounds to the furthest corners of the globe, whether they’re seasoned travel veterans or have never set foot outside of their hometown before.
It’s called Intrepid Travel, and it started in 1988 when two Australian backpackers fixed up an old work truck, loaded it with a handful of enthusiastic travelers and headed out as a group to see Africa off the beaten path. The trip was a success, and a new kind of adventure tourism was born.
Today, still under the direction of its two founders, Darrell Wade and Geoff Manchester, Intrepid Travel offers over a thousand small group tours to more than a hundred countries on all seven continents, including Antarctica and the North Pole.
What makes Intrepid special in addition to its dream list of destinations is its immersive and responsible travel philosophy.
“The term immersive really speaks to the idea of getting under the skin of a destination,” Liz Manning, a member of Intrepid Travel’s Responsible Business team, explains to Calmful Living. “On an Intrepid Travel tour you’ll stay in locally owned accommodations, take local transport, and really experience the destination as a local would, including a homestay experience in many instances.
“Nearly all of our leaders around the world are local, meaning you’ll be guided by someone who is actually from the destination,” adds Manning. “That local knowledge and expertise is so important to having an authentic travel experience!
“A big part of what we strive to do is create meaningful connections while traveling,” Manning says. “That can be either with your fellow travelers or the locals you meet along the way.”
The modes of local transportation tend to be immersive too, including such things as camel, mokoro (a type of African canoe), rickshaw and tuk-tuk, plus many more.
An Adventure for Everyone
After eyeballing Intrepid’s mind-boggling list of travel packages, I ask Manning about a particular tour that catches my eye, the Antarctica expedition. “Antarctica is one of the most magnificent places on earth,” she raves. “It is one of the few places in the world that still exists (more or less) exactly as nature intended. With no permanent residents, it is truly a spectacle of breathtaking landscapes and incredible wildlife.” Intrepid Travelers are given the opportunity to camp in sleeping bags on the Antarctic ice shelf and to climb mountains.
As Intrepid continues to add new adventures to its catalogue, their guiding principle of responsible travel always remains the same. This includes everything from taking public transportation and using refillable water bottles to staying in locally owned accommodation and buying locally produced food and drink to ensure locals benefit from increased tourism as much as possible.
A big part of this commitment is reflected in the Intrepid Foundation, a nonprofit started by the company founders in 2002, which helps fund over forty grassroots community projects and international charities in the destinations to which Intrepid travels, and matches all donor gifts up to AUD$1,000.
Visit Intrepid Travel to learn more.
All images courtesy of Intrepid Traveler.