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Americans Not Very Adventurous Travelers, Survey Says

November 4, 2010 by

motoconcho Dominican RepublicIf you need any extra incentive to add a dash of adrenaline to your next trip, consider this: Americans came in dead last in a recent survey designed to gauge travelers’ taste for adventure, behind Kiwis, Canadians, Australians and Brits (in order of most to least adventurous).

The survey, done by adventure travel specialist Intrepid Travel, asked 1,000 respondents from five countries to reveal how likely they were to try a variety of travel experiences. The “intrepid” survey choices included eating a deep fried tarantula, sleeping in village hut, going on safari, haggling at local markets and exploring ancient ruins.

Of course, surveys like this should be taken with a grain of salt, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t consider haggling in a local market or traipsing around ancient ruins all that intrepid (though yes, eating a hairy arachnid, deep-fried or not, would certainly earn you that honor in my book). But the survey did provoke a fun trip down memory lane to some of my most exciting – and, therefore, cherished – travel moments. Here are a few:

Traveling by motoconcho in the Dominican Republic. Standing at the corner of two remote roads on this friendly Caribbean island, I was already late (even for island time) for an appointment. My choices: Wait for the achingly slow local bus, pay through the nose for a taxi or hop on the back of a local guy’s motorbike and go via motoconcho for a few bucks. I chose the latter (that’s my driver, Luis, in the photo above after safely delivering me to my destination), and the helmet-free, exhilarating ride past sugarcane fields, tiny houses and crumbling cemeteries was a travel moment I will never forget.

(Visit our Dominican Republic Travel Guide for more ways to experience the real DR.)

La Bombonera Buenos AiresA soccer match in Buenos Aires. In Argentina’s hip capital, futból falls among the most cherished passions. During a trip several years ago, I begged our guide to let me go, solo, to a match at La Bombonera, the iconic stadium of the city’s favorite team, Boca Juniors (photo courtesy of Flickr/Eduardo Lacerda). Risky, yes, but one of the most exhilarating travel experiences I have ever had. The stadium swayed with jumping fans. Cheers and songs echoed for the entire 90 minutes. A must-do, whether you’re a soccer fan or not.

(Fancy more than a  futból match in B.A.? Be sure to check out our Buenos Aires Travel Guide, which has more must-do’s in this exciting city.)

Trout fishing in remote Montana. Well, the fishing itself wasn’t the most intrepid part (although I did catch 50 trout in one day); it was the journey to get there: 26 miles into the wilderness via horseback that took us through rivers and along narrow trails with precarious drops. (Not to mention, horses make me nervous.)

Exploring a coal mine in Chile. Like the rest of the world, I was riveted with the October rescue of the 33 Chilean miners. But, thanks to my own experience venturing into a Chilean mine several years ago, I had an especially deep appreciation of their strength and courage. The town was called Lota; the mine, Chiflón del Diablo, which means “whisper of the devil,” and the four-hour tour, which took us more than 1,000 feet below sea level, left an indelible impression on me.

Now, readers, it’s your turn – please weigh in below with your most intrepid travel experiences. Crewing a catamaran in the Greek isles? Hiking in Nepal? Or just camping in your backyard (which, depending on where you live, could be adventurous in its own right)?

4 Comments

  • Dawn Dreyer says:

    I consider myself to be pretty adventurous and I have done the standard white water rafting, rappelling, hanggliding, skydiving, camping, spelunking adn four wheeling. Some of the scarriest ones were not so typical. I also went to Montana horse back riding. I had never rode very much but by the end of the week I did a barrel race in the local rodeo. I came in dead last but I did it. I traveld to Hong Kong and Beijing right after SARS had gone through. Everywhere I go I try the local cuisine although I have never been offered insects to try, I have eaten alligator and many things in foreign countries that I had no idea what they were. I look forward to hearing more of your adventures so that I can get ideas for my own travel.

  • panczkid says:

    In 1960, fifteen American college age students and 2 leaders joined fifteen Nigerian college-age students for a life-changing eight weeks working and traveling throughout the fledgeling nation. At the Onitsha Market Place, a crowd of about 300 curious onlookers followed us to our lorry, eager to talk to, and learn, about us.

    They answered our questions with many of their own. and responded to our songs with songs of their own. The 32 of us, 2 Nigerian masons, and some local villagers, built about 5,000 concrete blocks, dug the foundation for 20 market stalls, and started construction of five stalls during the five weeks that we stayed in Eha-Amufu in Eastern Nigeria. During that time we came to know each other and many wonderful people in our village. The strong palm wine didn’t cut the bitterness of the traditional kola nuts that warmly welcomed us into peoples’ thatched roof huts. Two of us coaxed a village drummer to beat the drums used for a big game hunt…drums that had not been heard in generations due to the extinction of big game in that area. Drums also told all within hearing distance that the next wrestling match was about to begin. A blind man led me by the hand, as he raced from area to area, pointing our out the new Eha-Amufu Community Center and proudly showing off his family’s compound. We walked our bicycles across a rickety bridge made of whatever twigs and small branches the people could fasten together with ropes made from the vines hanging from the nearby trees. We traveled around the country, watching the landscape change from trees and greenery to sub-Saharan Desert. The culture varied from ancient to modern to Arabic influenced. We saw a country which was attempting to evolve from ancient to modern within a matter of a few decades. We were universally greeted by people waving enthusiastically and sending us even broader smiles as we drove by in our cramped dust producing lorry. The Nigerian friends we made were amazing people! This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for all involved, a learning experience unlike any other.

  • Darla says:

    Did a helmet dive in Bermuda in March…it was very cold (yes, had to wear a suit) and I am not a swimmer and not fond of water at all. Got to the bottom and had to talk myself through a panic attack…really, really, really, wanted to go straight back up to the boat! However, after the panic and suffocating feeling passed…it was totally awesome!!! Worth enduring the panic and cold for! The coral and fish were beautiful and serene! Missed the last bus on the Island…and hitched a ride with a local who saw us standing at the bus stop and knew we had missed it and was kind enough to ask us where we needed to go and take us there! Snorkeled to see sea turtles in Hawaii…took me forever to get brave enough to let go of the rope to the boat! lol! But once I did once I got comfortable putting my face down in the water. And, again, it was worth overcoming all the anxiety! It was fun to watch the turtles and see the fish cleaning them. I would say that what is adventurous to one person may not be so adventurous to another…so my adventures may seem like child’s play to some…but that’s okay…they were thrilling to me!

  • Lynn Clemons says:

    Two trips come to mind. One was spending a week on a canal boat with an old friend. This was in France and neither of us could speak French. Neither of us are very mechanically inclined but we were responsible for the diesel motor. One night, the roots that we had moored to had pulled out and we were adrift in the mikkle of the canal while still asleep! Another time we had to go through a tunnel that was only a few feet wider than the boat. Boat horns had to be sounded before going through the tunnel to make sure that you didn’t run into anyone in the middle.
    The second trip was a solo eight day back packing trip in the Olympic Mountains in Washington. For safety’s sake, I did mainly take trails that were used by other hikers but for a 48 hour stretch I didn’tsee a single soul.

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