On Extreme Tourism

Last night, I received a call from my girlfriend to ask a fairly simple question:


“This trip to the North Pole isn’t dangerous, is it? You are going to be careful, right?”

As I reassured her that this would be no more dangerous than any other trip I have done, I found myself questioning my own answers. I ran through a checklist of all my past trip preparations and how this differed:

  1. We have never needed a rifle on the equipment list, before;
  2. I have never bought emergency evacuation insurance, before; and
  3. I haven’t ever felt the need to ‘get my things in order’ before leaving.

So, maybe there is just a bit more danger…or is it the perception of danger that makes extreme tourism so attractive?

We live fairly stressful, yet, mundane lives punctuated by the odd adventure and occasion. We go to work, pick up the children, drive to after school activities, meet friends and invariably go to bed at the same time every night. We take business trips and vacations; family reunions and weddings; birthdays and funerals…and, more or less, we know what to expect from any occurrence in our lives.

That is the true value of a adventure tourism: placing ourselves in unfamiliar circumstances with enough risk to get adrenaline flowing and leave us with stories to tell for years to come. It takes us outside our element into uncharted territory opening the floodgates of unused emotions…and makes us feel alive!

When you find yourself hanging by ice axes from a 300 foot glacier face, you quickly forget the office politics, ex-wives and bills. Alone in the desert miles from any sign of civilization with little hope for survival if your guide doesn’t return, who thinks about their work travel schedule?

Maybe our lives have become too routine; maybe we need a bit of adventure and risk to feel alive…to connect with the meaning in our lives…to appreciate what we have. Discomfort is a sure way to remember just how good we have it.

The truth is, yes, I hope this is more risky! I hope we do face challenges! But, what good are they, if I don’t come home to recount my adventures!

Enough danger, not too much. let’s face it, we aren’t real explorers…we just would like to feel like them for a few days.