How to Choose the Right Adventure Excursion Company
Ever dreamt of whitewater rafting in Ecuador or trekking through Nepal? Although independent travel can be right for some trips, choosing the right adventure travel company can turn a good trip into an unforgettable one. Here’s exactly what you need to know when picking an adventure tour company.
Do a quick scroll through any avid traveler’s social feed and you’re bound to find plenty of evidence of adrenaline-pumping experiences around the world: skydiving over mountains, scuba diving under the sea, ATV riding through the desert, and so much more.
One of my first adventure excursions was leaping from Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown, New Zealand (with a bungee attached, of course). That pulse-pounding minute spurred me to find other new-to-me activities while on the road, like mountain biking in Colombia and rock climbing in Ecuador. Adventure can be easy to find for adventure travel lovers, but if you're going to jump off of a bridge, it’s important to make sure the right people are watching out for you.
To help you make the best choice, follow these three key guidelines when choosing an adventure activity company at home or abroad.
Ask Lots of Questions
When choosing an adventure excursion company, it’s important to ask a lot of questions, such as:
● How long have you been in business?
● How long have you been in the area?
● What safety measures do you have in place?
● What’s your backup plan if something untoward happens?
Some friends and I took a mountain bike tour in Colombia a few years ago. While they were picking out their bikes, I asked the guide what I considered to be the most important question: “What happens if I crash in the jungle? How long will it take for you to reach me?”
The answer? “Less than five minutes.”
And sure enough, when my friend David careened off-course down the mountain, they were there right away to help him and make sure he was safe—ideal since there was only so much first-aid you can fit in a waist pack or crossbody day pack. You need the company to have it covered too.
A respected, well-established adventure travel operator shouldn’t be offended by these kinds of questions. In fact, the really good ones will answer them before you even ask, whether it’s on their website in an FAQ section or in discussions with you in person or over the phone. This isn’t to say that a newer company can’t be great—especially if it’s one that’s part of an established group operating in a new location. Regardless, it’s worth your while to ask lots of questions, so you feel confident in your guide and your adventure.
And question other people, too. What company do the locals recommend? Do your friends have specific recommendations from their own experiences? What about online reviewers? While website reviews aren’t the be-all and end-all, they can give you valuable insight into a tour company before you book—particularly if there are lots of reviews from people around the world saying the same types of things.
Assess their Gear
When I decided to take the plunge and try bungee jumping for the first time, I decided to do so in Queenstown, New Zealand, where the adventurous activity got its start. The adventure travel company I went through was well-established, the staff were efficient and knowledgeable, and the check-in process was smooth. Plus, I got to watch ten people jump from Kawarau Bridge before I did, which made me feel good about my decision.
But those weren’t the only reasons. Before my jump leader strapped me in, she showed me the bungees, demonstrating that they were new, not frayed, and designed for the activity. I felt as safe as I could before I flying down toward the river with some heavy-duty rubber bands around my ankles. Even if you’re new to a sport, be sure to check over the equipment. You can see if something is worn, a helmet has a crack, or a tire is losing air, even if you’re not a pro.
Trust Your Gut
In the end, use your best judgment. Remember: Nothing is set in stone. If you sign up for an adventure and the tour guide doesn’t seem to be at 100 percent, or the gear looks a little worn, or you just get an uneasy feeling, follow that feeling. Ask more questions that might reassure you, or opt out of participating. On one of my trips, my friend tried to convince me to join him on a questionable bridge jump in Banos, Ecuador. I took a look at the rusted bridge and the feeble-looking ropes and decided I was okay with sitting this one out. Ultimately, he took the plunge and was just fine—but I was perfectly happy to hang onto or travel bags and simply act as his videographer.
No matter what adventure you choose, having confidence in the company you go through means you can relax and focus on the experience. So why not pack your bags with your most adventurous items, then hit the road to find your unknown.
While Eagle Creek is here to provide tips and insights on travel, we cannot accept any responsibility for any potential consequences arising from the use of this information. Always conduct your own research and use your best judgment.