Bicycling through Holland. Riding an elephant in Thailand. Viewing polar bears and the Northern Lights in the Arctic. Kayaking in the Galapagos Islands.
Those are just some of the bucket-list experiences you can have thanks to a Virtuoso program that’s been bringing people life-changing adventure travel for 15 years.
Since 1999, Virtuoso Active and Specialty Travel (better known as VAST) has been at the forefront of providing travelers with unusual opportunities. VAST brings together companies that offer these experiences with travel advisors who specialize in this style of travel. More than 500 advisors and 41 partners participate.
The key to a VAST experience is engagement, whether it’s physical activity, connecting with nature, or interacting with a culture. “You’re not watching it happen,” explains Sue Kasmar, a Virtuoso travel advisor in Santa Barbara, California and a longtime VAST participant. “You’re a part of what’s happening.”
According to the 2013 Adventure Tourism Market Study, active vacations are a $345 billion industry. Travelers are craving this style of vacation, as the market has grown 65% each year since 2009. Nearly 42% of travelers say an adventure activity was the main focus of their last trip. To learn more about the latest trends in adventure travel, click here.
VAST is here to provide travelers with expert advisors and unique experiences in both “hard” and “soft” adventure. While not everyone is into hard adventures, like mountain climbing or paragliding, many more are interested in soft experiences. You don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy soft adventures such as archeological expeditions, horseback riding and safaris.
Loretta Carson, a Virtuoso travel advisor in New York City, is another longtime VAST participant. On an early trip, she rafted down the Snake River in Idaho. More recently, she was the oldest person in her group to complete a high ropes course in Colorado. “When I finally ziplined down, they were all cheering,” she recalls. “It made me feel so good.”
Carson’s experiences showcase why adventure travel can be life-changing. “I’ve challenged myself, and I encourage my clients to challenge themselves,” says Carson. “I give people the opportunity to reach for something they haven’t done before.”
Better Adventure Travel Value
When you book an adventure travel experience through Virtuoso, you’ll receive an exclusive amenity. Virtuoso travel advisors can give you this extra value because of the close relationships they have with suppliers as part of VAST. For example, if you take a small-ship cruise to destinations as diverse as Alaska or Tahiti, you’ll receive $100 to spend on board.
To view adventure travel ideas from VAST partners and discover the added value each offers to clients of Virtuoso advisors, click here.
And if you’re looking for a VAST specialist to plan your next adventure vacation, visit www.virtuoso.com and type VAST into the search box. You’ll see an array of extraordinary experiences displayed as well as Virtuoso travel advisors who can design those for you.