In a Nutshell: Traveling the world is a dream many share, but not everyone’s idea of the dream travel experience is the same. With a focus on small-scale travel experiences, Adventure Life creates custom, authentic trips designed to immerse travelers in unique places and cultures. Adventure Life trips lead off the beaten path, exploring dozens of countries and reaching the corners of all seven continents. Adventurers can sail the seas around the Galapagos Islands, hike across the snows of Antarctica, or get their blood pumping while they mountain bike Machu Picchu. Many visitors build lifelong connections to the people and places they visit, and travelers are often inspired to give back to local communities by partnering with Adventure Life’s community grant program, which has provided funding for dozens of local projects.
After months of toiling away the hours at work and diligently amassing your credit card miles, you can finally afford to go on that vacation of your dreams. Maybe you envision sandy beaches or pillowy snow, exotic flora or wild fauna; you picture mountains and waterfalls and amazing views.
The problem is, unless you are willing to spend hours researching, planning, and arranging, that dream vacation may end up anything but dreamy. Without the right know-how, your trip is more likely to include chain hotels, canned tourist-trap tours, and about as much local flavor as a used piece of bubble gum.
“Travel is so personalized, and people want to create an experience that is new to them, or tailor-made to their interests. That’s what we do for them,” said Jonathan Brunger, General Manager for Adventure Life. The 18-year-old travel company focuses on private and small group travel, leading travelers to destinations around the world and creating truly authentic experiences.
“We offer trips to all continents, including Antarctica,” said Jonathan. “Our trips are somewhat in the adventure travel realm. We help people get out and explore new places, in a sustainable and responsible manner.”
Adventure Life’s dedication to authentic experiences and responsible travel are what make it stand out from the crowd of run-of-the-mill travel companies. Team members carefully craft trips to not only be minimally invasive to nature — the company enforces “Leave No Trace” principals — but also to immerse travelers in local cultures.
“We’re utilizing local communities and local resources such as local guides, locally-owned hotels, and community services,” Jonathan explained. The company also gives back regularly through its community grants program, enriching the destination communities as well as fostering relationships between travelers and those communities.
Indeed, being immersed in the culture of the places they visit often encourages travelers to make lasting connections with locals. “We’re here to put these trips together for people, but there’s more to the experience than just the trip,” said Jonathan. “It’s awesome to see the long-term relationships develop between our travelers and the places they visit.”
Custom Trips That Help You Explore the World Your Way
Part of the magic behind Adventure Life’s dynamic experiences is the focus on small-scale travel. The company offers land tours and destinations, but also has an abundance of small-ship cruises. Many of Adventure Life’s cruises sail with fewer than 100 passengers, and the small yachts and expedition vessels can travel to places inaccessible to traditional cruise ships.
“When you’re on these boats, the focus isn’t the on-boat experience like you might find with large cruise ships. Instead, the experience is getting off the boat and seeing unique places and cultures,” described Jonathan. “The boat in more of your platform to get to places rather than being a destination itself.”
Travelers can explore dozens of countries across all seven continents, from a safari in Botswana, Africa, to cruising and wine tasting in Uruguay, South America. Wildlife watchers can cruise around the planet’s polar regions to spot penguins or snorkel with sea lions as you sail around the Galapagos. For more energetic explorers, Adventure Life has trips where you can bike the back roads of Colombia, navigate a kayak in Nicaragua, or gallivant across glaciers in Greenland.
To really get your blood pumping, try one of the award-winning Multisport trips, which offer a variety of physical activities, including mountain biking Machu Picchu. Or, take a Trek, where you can explore exotic locations and off-the-path destinations on foot.
With such a wide range of destinations and activity levels, it’s easy for many travelers to find an awesome adventure. According to Jonathan, matching travelers with the right kind of adventure is the key to making the most of their Adventure Life experience.
“We can customize a trip so that our travelers also have experiences that are immersive and personal. We’re very hands-on,” he said. “Some of our trips are going to remote areas or have an active component, so we always strive to make sure it’s a good fit. We try to have a phone conversation or exchange emails with someone to ensure the trip will meet their preferences.”
Community Grants & Local Connections That Change Lives
At its heart, that immersive Adventure Life experience is about the local communities and cultures with which the team helps travelers connect. With this in mind, the company does more than simply get to know their destination communities, but also tries to contribute to and enrich those communities through its community grant program.
“Working with local communities has always been an important thing for us, and so about seven years ago we implemented a way to give back to the communities we work with,” Jonathan said. “We came up with a platform, our community grant program, where local communities can assess their needs and come to us with action plans and requests for funding.”
Ranging from $200 to $2,000, Adventure Life’s grants — or micro-grants, as Jonathan calls them — serve the odd funding niche of projects not large enough or attractive enough to draw the attention of larger organizations.
“It’s an opportunity for people to apply for funding for those projects where the request may not be large enough for a bigger organization to even take the time to review, let alone fund,” explained Jonathan. “We’ve had projects up to $2,000 to build water supply systems in Myanmar, down to a few hundred dollars for a Christmas party in an orphanage in Costa Rica.”
The company sets aside a set amount of its budget each year specifically for the grant program. It also has a partnership with an online gear store, committing all of its profits from commission on the sale of clothing, books, and other trip supplies, toward the grant fund.
The grant program receives an average of 10 requests a year and is able to usually grant seven of those requests on a first-come-first-serve basis as the money holds. The team’s favorite projects, however, are often those carried out in conjunction with travelers inspired by their trips.
“We’ve partnered with some travelers to go to specific areas, and done some co-funding on certain projects, where we’ve split the cost with a traveler,” Jonathan said. “A lot of this comes from these people going to these areas and having such an impactful experience that they want to continue the relationship with these communities and places.”
In one such situation, a family returned to the small village in Vietnam where their adopted son was born. Together with Adventure Life, they were able to provide almost $1,000 worth of supplies for the community orphanage and make a difference in the lives of dozens of children.
Experience the Adventure of a Lifetime
If your dream vacation involves chain hotels and fast food joints, with little variation from your normal routine than the view out the window, then Adventure Life is not for you. Now, if you dream about exotic locations, stunning scenery, immersing yourself in local cultures, and making inspiring connections, then you’ve found the right people to make it happen.
Whether you want to explore the bottom of the world or its tippy-top, Adventure Life can not only take you there, but can also help you experience the people who live there. Adventure Life experiences build memories — and relationships — that last a lifetime.
Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.