“In a post-COVID world, we’ll be seeking purpose and growth and connection more than ever, and travel is about connection at a basic human level,” said Jordan Harvey, co-founder of Minneapolis-based Knowmad Adventures.
Local adventure travel specialists discern a silver lining to the current pause in travel. Theirs may be one of the first tourism sectors to rebound — and some of their practices could be adopted more widely when the world opens to travel again.
Adventure trips tend to bring people to out-of-the-way destinations. They also often require travelers to be self-reliant, from carrying their own food and gear, to hiking or paddling themselves to a destination. Some popular stops for these kinds of trips, such as the Galápagos Islands and Peru’s Inca Trail, have quotas that limit visitors. These approaches could help travelers stay healthy by allowing space for social distancing.
“The outdoors is where people are turning right now,” said Greg Lais, founder of Wilderness Inquiry, a nonprofit organization that makes outdoor adventures accessible to people of all abilities. Wilderness Inquiry typically runs small-group trips to destinations ranging from Uganda to the Apostle Islands, though they are now focusing on regional overnight and day trips for families and other small groups who are sheltering together.
July 4 is their projected startup date. Over the next several weeks, they plan to nail down best practices, like shelving gear for several weeks after a trip.
Knowmad Adventures specializes in arranging trips to the Galapagos, Patagonia and other South American destinations, earning national accolades from the likes of Travel + Leisure magazine. Harvey is also currently establishing safety protocols for his customers and their in-country guides and hosts, even as trips have ceased. But he sees a bright future.
The current pause in travel — and the fears of contagion — will make people “really open to what is less known and less traveled.”
Knowmad’s trips focus on sustainability, often with stays at lodges in remote places. Through July 1, the company is offering bookings with a 10% deposit, refundable up to 95 days before departure. Despite the trying times, Harvey is bullish on the future.
“When it comes to travel, we have an insatiable, undeniable need to explore our world — and ourselves.”