Española Island, Galápagos
Lindsay Taulbee

Essential Tips for Choosing a Private Travel Expedition

Essential Tips for Choosing a Private Travel Expedition

Aug 20, 2020|Independent JourneysTraveler Resources| by Holbrook Travel

Traveling with friends and family to destinations away from home has always been a great way to share life-changing experiences. But now, in the age of the pandemic, private travel is growing in popularity. A recent study by the U.S. Travel Association cites increased demand for travel in private vehicles and to outdoor spaces like national parks and beaches.

Private travel offers lower risk than traveling with a larger group. The group members know each other and can venture to areas off the beaten path with fewer crowds and human touchpoints.

Planning a well-designed private travel experience in the current environment can be overwhelming. Navigating the current restrictions, selecting the right destination to fit the common interests of the group, and designing the best itinerary and activities can be very challenging.

Here are some helpful guidelines to set you on your way to planning a safe and rewarding private travel experience.

 Glacier hiking in Patagonia

Photo by Laura Hare

1. Develop a proper mindset – Before even selecting a destination, an important step is to assess the group’s aversion to risk. Any travel can involve risk, but now there is the added complexity of individual health concerns. Are there group members that have underlying health issues or age-related concerns where contracting the coronavirus would be especially risky? Private travel can lower risk but not eliminate it. Related to this is the issue of in-country medical facilities, and knowing what to expect if you need to seek treatment. Once you’ve crossed this understanding, then it’s time to have an open mind to the experience you’re looking for in a destination with a “growth mindset” to explore.

2. Research different destinations – With the right mindset, now it’s time to focus in on the specific country you will be visiting. In order to truly find the ideal destination that’s best for you, do research on possible destinations based on your preferences for adventure and where travel meets your safety requirements. Over the course of the next year, the restrictions will be changing regularly, so flexibility is key with your group and your providers. It's most likely that, regardless of a vaccine, the country you visit will have a thorough list of safety protocols in place. Learning more about these as well as a country’s culture, food, natural features, ecology, and tours offered will help you get a better idea of what best fits your needs and wants and can help you make an educated decision.

 Horseback riding in New Zealand

Photo by Debbie Jordan

3. Decide what type of adventure you want – Next, narrow down your decision by deciding what type of trip you want to take. If you seek active outdoor activities, look for countries that provide superior hiking, rafting, zip lining or kayaking. If your true passion is birding, choose a country with high levels of bird populations like Colombia or Costa Rica with both endemics and migrating species. If you prefer cultural immersion or history, pick a place that offers community interaction or archaeological ruins, like Peru or Panama. Choosing a destination that best fits your preferences will help you achieve your dream expedition.

4. Know when to go – Now that you’ve figured out where you’re going, it’s time to decide when you’re going. As noted above, the changing nature of restrictions may affect your timing of travel. It’s also important to know the different seasons and weather patterns year-round to determine the best time to visit. Avoid going at times of year when the weather conditions are too harsh, like excessive rainy seasons where activities like rafting, hiking and snorkeling may be less safe and not as pleasant an experience. Also, be aware of peak visiting times to avoid bigger crowds.

On a game drive in Kenya

Photo by Eric Lindberg

5. Choose your itinerary and organization wisely – Now it’s time for the fun part – organizing all of the fun activities you will be doing abroad. When figuring out your itinerary, it’s important to keep a couple things in mind. First, determine whether you want it to be jam-packed with activities or whether you'd prefer more leisure time in between excursions. It’s advisable to select lodging that provides a variety of activities to give your group a choice. Also, when booking travel, make sure the company or tour guides have the credentials or certifications to ensure they are trustworthy and experienced. Learn about the organization you’ll be traveling with – each has its own personality. And always keep your safety in mind when choosing activities to go onto the itinerary.

Although planning and executing a private travel experience can sound overwhelming, these guidelines can get you started as you take your first steps to venture out in a world that eagerly awaits visitors, safely.

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