Friday, November 8, 2002

Fear of Travel

Not that long ago, a voyage to the other side of the world took months and was fraught with all manner of dangers from disease, shipwreck and even piracy. Driven by the passion for discovery, or the desperation for a new life elsewhere, people still undertook these journeys aware of the many tribulations likely to befall them. Even the great Marco Polo was quoted as saying, “An adventure is misery and discomfort relived in the safety of reminiscence.” How things have changed!

In truth, travel is still not without its hazards, but risk is still an unavoidable part of life, even if you never travel. Statistically you are much more likely to hurt yourself at home or in the immediate neighbourhood, than while undertaking any sort of journey. Aircraft travel is the safest form of travel bar none – even considerably safer than walking! The most dangerous thing you do is to get in a car or cross the road.

Recent events have sent shockwaves through the travel industry and many tour operators, destinations and transport companies have been severely affected. But often a tragic event can create unnecessary panic and alarm. In 1933, the great Franklin D Roosevelt addressed his economically challenged nation with the words “… the only thing we have to fear is fear itself …”. I contend that phrase also applies to adventure travel, and has always done.

Sure, one should never disregard warnings or advice about particular destinations or activity but, on the flip-side, one can’t become so paralysed by fear as to destroy our enjoyment of life completely.

In our thirty years of adventure travel experience, including time at the very forefront of destination touring to Antarctica, many different events and experiences have shaped the way we do business. Locations go in and out of vogue for various reasons, but there is always somewhere isolated from the prevailing conditions that make it all the more attractive.

Arctic and Antarctic destinations revel in their remoteness, and now South America returns to the spotlight as a desirable adventure travel location. Pleasantly removed from the Asian disturbances, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Argentina and Brazil are enjoying a pleasing rebound in tourist numbers. With recent economic developments in places like Argentina, travel to South America is now more affordable than ever before – and the variety and diversity is, as it always has been, vast and supremely enriching.

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