A few months ago the virus had the world hogtied, with people justly frightened of a deadly invisible enemy we knew almost nothing about. But as more is being learned about the disease, people in all walks of life are learning about ways to navigate safely through a world menaced by COVID, to begin to resume some semblance of what was previously called normal life, and to get back to business.
Profound change, such as that forced on the world by COVID-19, provides opportunities for innovators who use their ingenuity to introduce new ways for people to resume some of their previous activities without increasing their risk of catching the Coronavirus.
Intrepid Travel, the Melbourne, Australia-based adventure tour operator, rolled out a series of 30 new tours based on the company’s forecasts of how travel will evolve as the world emerges from the clutches of COVID-19.
Intrepid Travel has adapted to the crisis by devising travel plans that make it possible to travel while staying nearly as safe as when you are home in your bubble.
Since its founding in 1989 by Darrell Wade and Geoff Manchester, Intrepid Travel has been a forerunner of the trend toward sustainable, nature-based, small-group adventure travel. The business model the founders created for adventurous travelers like themselves has become increasingly popular, and many variations of it have moved into the mainstream of the travel industry.
Intrepid lays claim to being the world’s largest adventure tour operator. Before the Coronavirus brought worldwide travel to a halt, it was operating more than 2,700 tours in 120 countries on seven continents.
Intrepid continues to explore the frontiers of the evolving travel market with its latest round of tour packages, applying its talents of innovation to an unprecedented crisis. The company recently presented a new roster of tours for 2021, a series of more than 30 programs based on Intrepid’s forecasts of what the future of travel will be like.
Applying institutional knowledge gathered over 30 years of adventure tour operating, as well as analysis of booking trends, search data and observed social trends, the company has put together a list of ways that it expects travel to change as the COVID period evolves. The fundamental principle underlying this list is the idea that, as the world opens again to travel, the importance of how you go, over where you go, will become more pronounced than ever before.
So instead of the traditional “Where to Go in 2021” list, Intrepid has produced a “How to Go 2021” list. It is made up of five ways that travel will change from how it was pre-COVID.
How to Go 2021
- Go slower: Travelers will spend more time in a single destination. That trend was well in progress before the Coronavirus, but has become even more pronounced since the arrival of COVID because of security considerations. Those considerations are also influencing people to prefer travel that avoids crowds and stays in controlled environments.
- Go into the wild: The COVID plague has rekindled a love of nature. Partly it’s because the virus has revealed to us our vulnerability and dependence on natural systems for our survival. It’s partly because epidemiologists have learned that the open air is a less dangerous environment in regard to risk of catching the virus. And partly because people have been cooped up for way too long and need to get out. Intrepid’s website has seen a 70% spike in searches about Antarctica.
- Go on your terms: In the age of COVID, travelers can reduce risk and feel more secure if they can create their own terms and control their own movements. So customization and flexibility are ruling the tour market for the foreseeable future.
- Go on a human-powered adventure: With climate change increasingly manifesting in natural disasters, travelers are increasingly concerned with sustainability. They don’t want to be part of the problem. And that concern is part of what has sparked a biking boom for Intrepid.
- Go to regenerate, not just sustain: Intrepid is reinventing itself in the world of the pandemic as an agent for responsibly rebuilding the travel industry. In order to encourage sustainable and responsible practices in the global travel industry, Intrepid is offering to share the best practices it has pioneered and developed in regard to decarbonization, animal welfare, and other concerns of responsible travel.
New packages for 2021
Intrepid’s new series of programs for 2021 includes the following:
Greece Retreat: Syros Island. Nothing says security during a global pandemic like a five-day retreat on an island in the Cyclades Island archipelago, in the Aegean Sea. It starts with a small-ship cruise to the island from Athens, and includes hikes through hilltop villages and a day trip to Mykonos.
Croatia Retreat: Lastovo Island. A small group trip, maximum 12 people, to the small island of Lastovo, off the Adriatic coast of Croatia. The itinerary includes a fishing trip with local fishermen, an island exploration on bicycle, a wine tasting, and a boat ride among surrounding islands.
Antarctica 2021-2022. The classic Antarctic voyage on a ship with an ice-fortified hull, taking hikes at various stops along the Antarctic Peninsula during twice-daily excursions onto the land, observing penguins, seals, dolphins, walruses, and a whale migration.
Galapagos Islands Tours and Travel. A trip to the legendary islands that sparked much of the insight that led Charles Darwin to develop his theory of natural selection. This is another trip far from the crowds, where it’s possible to maintain a low-risk travel bubble. On the Galapagos Islands travelers will observe the diversity and uniqueness of the wildlife that Darwin observed, including the giant tortoises, sea lions, iguanas, and blue- and red-footed boobies.
Africa Safari Tours and Travel. Keeping with the theme of wide open spaces far from crowds and in environments that are controllable against COVID, the African safari looks better than ever. Intrepid is offering three distinctly different kinds of African safari experiences in its new series of tours, including the Okavango Delta in Botswana, with its unique inland water experience; as well as a safari that combines the high plains of Kenya with the gorilla encounter in Uganda; and a trip that follows the Great Migration through the Serengeti of Tanzania and the Masai Mara of Kenya.
England: Peak District Walking Retreat. A little less remote, and also less expensive, is a walking trip through Britain’s first national park. Based in the country town of Castelton, the program includes hikes to the nearby villages of Bamford and Bakewell, trails between villages, visits to local pubs and stores and wide vistas of pastoral English countryside.
Cycle New Zealand: Otago Rail Trail. Where better to go during a worldwide pandemic than New Zealand, which virtually defeated the virus last April and has remained almost free of Coronavirus? This trip includes cycling through some of the most exhilaratingly beautiful countryside in the world, exploring pristine wilderness, mining towns, vineyards, and villages with lively pub culture.
Intrepid’s brand has always stood for fearless travelers exploring the world, but in the age of COVID, common sense security measures are more important than ever in freeing those intrepid travelers to conquer the world.
The company continues to place itself among the thought leaders of the travel industry, providing encouraging ideas and ways to go forward from the travel industry’s most trying times. And that’s a good thing.
David Cogswell is a freelance writer working remotely, from wherever he is at the moment. Born at the dead center of the United States during the last century, he has been incessantly moving and exploring for decades. His articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, Fortune, Fox News, Luxury Travel magazine, Travel Weekly, Travel Market Report, Travel Agent Magazine, TravelPulse.com, Quirkycruise.com and other publications. He is the author of four books and a contributor to several others. He was last seen somewhere in the Northeast U.S.