If you’re anything like me, you’ll be off exploring when you go on holiday – trying new activities, finding out where the locals go to eat and sourcing little-known hideouts to explore.
Yes, the beach has its appeal for the kids, but I’m easily bored and I need adventure in my life.
Plus I like to try and instil an adventurous streak in the kids as I think it widens their cultural, social and historical awareness of destinations. A bit of education never did anyone any harm…
Helping to fuel the appetite for adventure, the nice guys at STA Travel have come up with their top ten tips for 2016 escapes…and if you’re over the age of 30-ish, let this be some travel inspiration for you to create your own special must-sees.
- Go on an adventure cruise
Think cruising is pretty dull and staid? Think again! Adventure cruising is one of the very best ways to see multiple destinations in a new light, for a great-value price.Popular destinations for ocean and river cruising include Cambodia, Vietnam, India and the Maldives.
- Check out Bhutan
This isolated, mountainous country is still pretty unknown, making it intriguing for travellers looking to go somewhere truly off-the-beaten-track. What it is known for though, is its expensive visitor tariff of US$250 minimum per day, making it out of the price bracket of many.Lucky for some, STA Travel offers a 21-day overland adventure from £2,510 that starts in Kolkata and finishes in Kathmandu, and includes 10 days in the mystical kingdom of Bhutan.
- Explore Indonesia beyond Bali
Everyone knows Bali, the paradise island for yoga and meditation – with a side-order of nightlife and neon. However it's just one of thousands of islands that make up Indonesia, why limit yourself to just Bali?Go forth and explore this incredible country. A 16-day island hopping ‘Best of Sumatra and Java’ with the company starts from £1,499 and includes the chance to explore coffee plantations, search for orang-utans and marvel at landscapes from volcanoes to rainforest.
- Help look after pandas in China
There’s a new ‘voluntour’ option for 2016 – looking after pandas in China, which has got to be an experience to remember. The 11-day trip starts in Chengdu and ends in Beijing, and includes 5 days in Dujiangyan Panda Research Centre helping to care for pandas.Other highlights include a Kung Fu lesson from Shaolin Masters, and hiking and camping on the Great Wall of China, with prices start from £1,045.
- Go on tour in Hawaii
Go beyond the beaches in Hawaii (if you can peel yourself away from topping up your tan) and get active by checking out the wildlife. STA Travel's new tour, the only one specifically for young travellers aged between 18 and 38, kicks off in April 2016. The eight-day tour starts in Kailuna, ends in Kona, and starts from £774.Highlights include snorkelling with sea turtles, kayak tours to see wild dolphins, camping on the water's edge and cool hiking trails – take me there!
- Luxury camping in Airstream campers on the Bolivian Salt Flats
We all love a bit of camping (or glamping) and the incredible Bolivian Salt Flats are on most travellers' must-see lists. However, for 2016 STA Travel is bringing a touch of luxury to this other-worldly landscape where you can spend three days in a cool retro Airstream camper-van as you travel across the salt flats. Each has a double bed, bathroom with hot shower, air-conditioning/heating, iPod dock and fully-stocked mini-bar. Each camper is towed by a 4×4 vehicle which is driven by a guide and, on top of all this, there's a chef serving up delicious meals, including cocktails at sunset. Prices start from £1,640. Bring on the #roadtrip!
- Discover Lady Elliott Island
Situated on the very southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef, Lady Elliott Island is a tiny island with world-class diving and snorkeling and amazing wildlife.For the first time in 2016, STA Travel is offering a ‘Lady Elliot Island and Fraser Island Experience' which includes two nights in either an eco-hut or en-suite room on Lady Elliot Island, one night in Hervey Bay and 1 night on Fraser Island.It also includes flights from Hervey Bay to Lady Elliot Island and 4WD bus to Fraser Island. Prices from £640 per person and you don’t necessarily have to be a lady to go visit. I’m sold!
- Book an adventure in the Philippines
The Philippines has been the company’s fastest growing destination for 2015, and its popularity shows no sign of abating.The great news for explorers is that it's still relatively unknown. STA has five adventure tours for 2016, plus a selection of ‘mini-adventures' of around five days, ideal to incorporate into a round-the-world itinerary.
- Head to Costa Rica as it becomes more accessible
From May 2016, British Airways is introducing new direct flights from Gatwick to Costa Rica, meaning that this fascinating country has never been more accessible from the UK.STA offers a range of adventure tours, from budget options to more luxurious options, taking in the highlights of this diverse country: volcanoes, wildlife, rainforests and beaches. Must-do highlights include zip-lining through Monteverde cloud forest, soaking in the hot springs of La Fortuna, trekking volcano El Arenal, checking out the Caribbean vibes of Puerto Viejo, watching turtles hatch at Tortuguero and catching a wave on the Pacific coast.
- Tailor your own Colombia itinerary
Last but not least, the number of flights from the UK to Colombia has increased in the past couple of years so it's now easier to create your own bespoke Colombian adventure.Thanks to the new airlift, more and more boutique hotels have opened throughout Colombia, such as hillside bungalows overlooking lush countryside and beaches in Tayrona National Park.Why not go beyond Bogota and Cartegena and check out the coffee region from Manizales, take part in The Lost City trek – which has been dubbed the ‘new Inca Trail' – and enjoy Caribbean beaches?