Experiential travel is an increasingly popular pursuit with adventurous tourists. No longer satisfied with the same old thing, more of us are seeking out unique and memorable experiences when we travel. Passive holidays lying on a beach in Spain or shopping in New York are all well and good, but some of us want more. Experiential travel is the answer, and we’ve picked out three experiential travel destination ideas that will satisfy your craving for adventure.
What is experiential travel?
Fundamentally, it’s about experiencing something different firsthand. Sometimes known as immersion travel, you’re talking tourism with the express intent of not just seeing a new place, but somehow getting involved with its culture or tradition. The traditional beach holiday on Spain’s Costa del Sol is not experiential travel per se, but a trip to Spain where you learn to cook local cuisine with local chefs or try your hand at making Basque cider – they’re experiences, for sure.
Three experiential travel destinations you can’t miss
Experiential travel can be as unique as you are, so keep an open mind and think globally. If you’ve always wanted to go whale watching in Patagonia, that’s an experience. Maybe you want to climb Mount Everest. Whatever you’re into, you can make an experiential holiday of it. With a little planning and creativity, there really are no limits. With that said, here are three of our favourites.
1. Make wine in Bordeaux
Bordeaux is the world’s wine capital and is the ultimate experiential travel destination for wine lovers. You can visit famous wineries, taste some of the greatest wine ever made and eat and drink like a pro. However, there’s nothing quite like the experience of getting your hands dirty and actually contributing to the finished product. To make wine in Bordeaux, experiential tourists have options:
- Winemaking workshops like Château Lynch-Bages‘ world-famous VINIV program allow tourists to make their own wine in style. Work with seasoned professionals and the best raw materials, and come away with your own barrel or custom label of wine. Be warned: It’s not cheap!
- Working a harvest in Bordeaux is some truly immersive experiential travel. Expect long hours of physically hard work, usually under a baking sun. On the plus side, you’ll probably get fed and they may even pay you – in wine or in money. Contacting individual producers is the way to go here.
2. Cook street food in Vietnam
Vietnam is a thriving culinary metropolis, and street food tops the table in popularity stakes. When it comes to experiential travel and wanting to discover local cultures, learning to cook the local food is hard to beat. You can do this by booking experiential vacation packages with a tour operator, or going it alone and contacting individuals yourself.
- Major cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi have bustling food markets and street food vendors, not to mention world-class restaurants. Approach individual chefs, vendors and restaurants in advance and many will be happy to oblige you.
- Take lessons in cooking Vietnamese food, or learn to navigate the street markets like a seasoned Vietnamese chef.
3. Go hiking in Patagonia
There are many reasons to visit Patagonia, the region offering more memorable experiences than perhaps anywhere else on earth. One of the most popular activities is hiking, and Patagonia has a wealth of hiking trails. Our favourite destination is El Chalten in the Los Glaciares National Park. This is experiential travel for the physically adventurous, and it is simply unforgettable.
- Climbing Mount Fitz Roy is a serious investment of time and energy, but this 26-kilometre hiking trail is more than worth it. Reach the summit and take in the absolutely spectacular views, and you will know why Patagonia is such a popular experiential travel destination.