Outside Magazine gets our inside story on adventure travel
At Classic Journeys, we’ll talk about travel with anyone who will engage with us; fellow travelers, our guides around the world, and members of the traveling media. Recently, the editors of Outside, a terrific active-lifestyle and adventure-travel magazine, invited me to talk about topics like the direction of adventure travel, conservation, and what’s hot and new. They’re all subjects that are really close to my heart, and I hope you enjoy these excerpts from the conversation.
WHAT MAKES CLASSIC JOURNEYS THE BEST ADVENTURE TRAVEL COMPANY?
Classic Journeys is the adventure travel company for time-starved adventurers – the people who crave the adrenalin, but who can’t commit all the time and resources that major expeditions demand. We have the access to places from Patagonian glaciers to awesome Saharan dunes to the Mekong and the Irrawaddy. We leverage long, close relationships with the world’s best local guides and outfitters. We deliver the intensive personal service that keeps the focus on adventure instead of logistics. And we are deeply connected to the life of every region so the experience is both visceral and culturally satisfying.
DOES CLASSIC JOURNEYS PERSONALLY VET ALL OF YOUR TRIPS?
Absolutely. I, or one of our staff travel logisticians, or one of our trusted guides scouts every destination. It’s how we’re able to speak so knowledgeably about our trips and share our personal insights and favorite moments with our guests. It’s also how we’re able to provide the exceptional personal service that our guests have come to associate with Classic Journeys. We’re travelers. Not tourists. Just like our guests.
WHAT’S YOUR MOST AMBITIOUS/EXCITING/INTERESTING ITINERARY FOR 2013?
It’s Myanmar. Outside Magazine ID’d the country as a new frontier in 2012, and few travelers have gotten in due to infrastructure that can’t handle the gold-rush demand. Classic Journeys holds “positive space” in Myanmar, guaranteeing that our Myanmar travel adventures will run. The itinerary emphasizes authentic experiences, including visits to native tribes, “field-hopping” in the floating farms of Inle Lake, extreme shopping at local markets, and explorations of Bagan’s temples on foot and by hot air balloon.
Beyond that, and on the other side of the world, is Iceland. Here we’ve worked with our local adventure guide extraordinaire, Atli, to craft an amazing cultural walking adventure that connects our travelers with great streams of lava, glaciers, and fjords teeming with whales. Whether you’re marveling at an endless colony of cartoonish puffins or watching the clouds turn shades of sherbet at sunset, you’ll experience this place with remarkable intensity. With Atli, we introduce guests to everyone from a shark fisherman to a Viking priestess. And even with all of the adventure, we manage a high comfort quotient, digging into a lobster feast, soaking in a geothermal spa and staying in luxury hotels that capture the island’s unique vibe.
HOW DOES CLASSIC JOURNEYS CONTRIBUTE TOWARD CONSERVATION AND THE COMMUNITIES IN THE AREAS YOU VISIT?
We never “helicopter” travelers in and out of a region. We spend time on the ground, inside the local cultures. In countries from Peru to Vietnam, we’ve adopted a policy of supporting schools and orphanages. In Myanmar, we participate in programs that dig wells for villages and we put our backs into road-building projects deep in the countryside. From elephant preserves to craft collectives, our travelers see, learn about and impact local society.
CLASSIC JOURNEYS IS KNOWN FOR ITS GUIDES. WHAT ARE YOUR GUIDE REQUIREMENTS?
Classic Journeys only works with highly qualified local guides who live in the region. By definition, they are fluent in the local dialects and English. They have large networks of local friends and colleagues, and they share those relationships with our travelers. The guides accompany the travelers 24/7 and are supported by local experts or professionals who provide extreme connectedness to the region. Our guides become like family at Classic Journeys. Some have been with us since the beginning of the company. And on average they’ve been guiding for us for over a decade. That connection with Classic Journeys, combined with their connectedness to their regions, really pays dividends for our guests.
WHAT’S NEW AND EXCITING TO YOU IN TRAVEL, HOW DO YOU SEE THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY CHANGING, AND WHAT IS THE VISION FOR CLASSIC JOURNEYS GOING FORWARD?
Experiences. Experiences. Experiences. The best trend – which we anticipated from the founding of Classic Journeys – is the search for authentic travel experiences. Travelers want more and more engagement, less drive-by touring. They want unpackaged, one-of-a-kind encounters that give them bragging rights.
There’s rapidly growing emphasis on family travel too. Even adrenalin junkies grow up. They still want the visceral thrills of adventure travel, but they want to share their interests with other family members. Our Multi-Sport Family Vacations plug into this trend with high-energy itineraries like our island-based Galápagos family vacation that ditches the cruise ship. Instead, we stay on the islands in eco-lodges and amp up the nature visits with mountain biking, volcano climbing, kayaking with sea lions and iguanas and more.
We think the best vacation is both mentally and physically stimulating. With ongoing trip refinements and forays into new destinations, the Classic Journeys vision is to reveal the true personality of every region through concise, high-impact adventure activities blended with authentic cultural experiences.
Don’t just listen to what we have to say, though. Check out our Guest Reviews page to see what our guests have to say about the Classic Journeys experience.