Passion – defined by Merriam-Webster “as a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something” – has become the buzzword of today. Philosophers, management leaders and talk show hosts alike have preached that following our passions is the roadmap to self-fulfillment, the key to happiness and the pinnacle of personal development. Passion and the weight she carries, has seeped into our collective consciousness becoming synonymous not only with pleasure, but a larger purpose. Following our passions may bring about a new business venture, guide us in our personal quest for meaning and change the very way we experience the world around us. When it comes to lifestyle, this passion principle may inform the way we spend our time, the way we interact, even the way we travel. More and more travelers are choosing to spend their time abroad being active and engaged on their vacations. They’re trading in their all-inclusive pina colada holidays for immersive experiences that get them out the resorts and into local culture. When it comes to actually booking a destination, the pursuit of a particular interest or passion is often the driving force. Whether it’s photography, surfing, fishing or cooking, travelers are eager to experience their favorite activities and live their passions across the globe.
Travelers like Jill Klopp, 31, and Davy Turner, 34, an engaged couple living in Los Angeles who have spent the last few months planning their honeymoon to the islands of Southern Thailand. They were drawn to this part of Asia for the unique culture, delicious food and world-class scuba diving. “We scuba dive every place we travel…it’s our passion and one of the common interests Davy and I share,” says Klopp, who’s been diving since the age of 11 thanks to her parents who are scuba diving instructors. “Swimming among sea turtles and tropical fish…it’s an amazing complex universe down there and we get to be guests in their serene underwater world. It’s an incredible feeling!” The couples’ passion for scuba diving has taken them to destinations like Honduras, Turks and Caicos and Costa Rica. “Through our travels, we’ve built a community of divers that has grown over the years. There’s an awesome bond and friendship among between us…that’s part of what makes me so passionate about it and keeps me coming back,” reflect Klopp.
Similarly, a passion for community building has played a big role in Jessica McKee’s vacation decisions. A Vancouver-born television editor, McKee, 33, tries to incorporate an element of humanitarian work on all of her holidays. From visiting the slums of Nairobi to pitching in on a Habitat for Humanity building project in rural Vietnam, one of McKee’s passion lies in giving back to the local communities she visits. “When I worked on the Habitat for Humanity build, I noticed a real sense of co-operation and camaraderie. Volunteers from all over the world come to join these projects. It’s very rewarding to get involved, get your hands dirty, make new friends…all while making a difference,” says McKee.
For those travelers who are looking to tap into their own passions but aren’t sure where to start, here are a few inspirational options for your next adventure:
1) For the Adventure Seeker:
Cycling enthusiast looking to take on the open road and infuse a little activity into their vacations may be interested in signing up for a Backroads adventure. Founded in 1979, this California-based tour company offers immersive biking, walking and multisport trips around the globe. While they offer many trips abroad, one of their new excursions includes biking through the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago just northwest of the African coast. A mecca for European cyclists that boasts panoramas of volcanic mountains and lush forests, the islands of Gran Canaria and Tenerife provide challenging coastal rides through quaint hilltop villages. If hiking is more your speed, Backroads also offers a new walking tour to Iceland and Greenland. From colorful Arctic towns to fishing villages at the edge of the Arctic Circle, guests will experience glaciers and plateaus, waterfalls and icefjords on foot, all under the midnight sun. Backroads offers multi-day excursions that can accommodate all activity levels. All-inclusive, with support vans, gear and expert guides included, they offer multiple route options for every type of traveler.
2) For the Nature Lover:
For those travelers with a passion for wildlife, a trip to Africa is a life changing experience. Live out your National Geographic wildlife fantasies by seeing your favorite furry creatures in their natural habitat. MICATO, a travel company offering luxury safaris, offers high-end tours throughout East Africa, in countries like Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, Rwanda and Uganda. Named the “#1 World’s Best Tour Operator and Safari Outfitter” by the readers of Travel+Leisure magazine nine times, MICATO offers nature-rich excursions across the African Savannah. Watch wildebeest migrate through the Serengeti, explore Botswana’s Okavango Delta by dugout canoe, photograph hippos in the Ngorongoro Crater and spot lazy leopards camouflaged in Acacia trees.
3) For the Angling Addict:
Those with a passion for perch should head to Brooks Lodge in Katmai National Park, a remote and rustic resort that offers world-class freshwater fly-fishing. Depending on the season, Katmai offers anglers a chance to catch rainbow trout, grayling, lake trout char, Sockeye salmon and silver salmon. Located on the Alaska Peninsula, some 290 miles southwest of Anchorage, Katmai also promises epic landscapes, active volcanoes, glacier-clad mountains and up close encounters with grizzly bears – the continent’s largest land predator. Whether you’re an expert angler or just a newbie who’s watched “A River Runs Through It” too many times, Brooks Lodge offers guided and independent fishing packages. For more information about Brooks Lodge and their sport fishing trips, check out http://www.katmailand.com/bear-viewing/index.html
4) For the Beach Bum:
While there are surfing meccas all over the world, from Costa Rica to Indonesia, Maui’s gentle waves and warm waters make it a great choice for beginners with a passion for surfing. The birthplace of surfing, Hawaii is a great choice for those who love the ocean and want to learn how to surf. One of the many surf schools in the area, SwellWomen offers week long surf and yoga retreats along Maui’s west coast, just a few miles north of Lahaina. Offered from April to September, SwellWomen is an all-inclusive, all-women’s wellness program where guests can give back to themselves, feel empowered and master a new sport. Surf students will learn how to read the waves, control the board, navigate in the right direction, do a turtle roll and abide by the unspoken code of surf etiquette. http://www.swellwomen.com
5) For the Wannabe Tiger Woods:
While there are many golf courses in Scottsdale, Arizona, a top choice for travelers with a passion for golf is We-Ko-Pa, Fort McDowell’s premier golf resort with two 18-hole courses in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. The 36-hole package will grant you access to both the Saguaro and Cholla courses, which Sports Illustrated dubbed one of the ten best public courses in the world. Check out the full-service clubhouse, with design features inspired by the Yavapai culture, and sip back malt Scotch while overlooking the Superstition Mountains.
6) For the Adrenaline Junkie:
If your passion is heights and speed, Aventuras Tierra Adentro, a Puerto Rican-owned company, offers a caving adventure where you zip-line, climb up ferratas (vertical pathways equipped with cables, metal rebars and ladders), and spelunk through the famous Rio Camuy. One of the most popular natural attractions in Puerto Rico, Rio Camuy is a network of natural limestone caves and underground waterways. Aventuras Tierra Adentro is the only company with rights to access the Angeles Cave, an underground gem that’s part of the cave system. Picture soaring high above the rainforest canopy, over a lush abyss of giant ferns, mosses and neon-orange orchids. Then, rappel hundreds of feet into a canyon and hike into a dark, bat infested cave. From free jumping and body rafting through underground rivers, this day long excursion is perfect for the thrill-seeking tourist who wants to get their heart pumping and test their boundaries.
7) For the Sommelier:
If you have a passion for crisp Chardonnays and bold Cabernets, a specialty theme cruise aboard Celebrity Infinity will surely delight your palette. Celebrity Cruises’12-night “Immersive Wine Cruise” takes visitors to some of the world’s most well known wine producing regions; from the coastal town of Harwich, England through the Bordeaux region of France, to Porto in Portugal and Bilbao, Spain. Itinerary highlights include visiting the vineyards of LaRochelle, France, sipping Port while overlooking a backdrop of ancient fortresses in Portugal and tasting Sangria in Spain’s most popular tapas bars. On board, Celebrity Cruises offers a wide selection of wines from around the world. Cellar Masters, the Celebrity wine bar, boasts a selection of specialty wine tasting courses and an Enomatic wine-by-the-glass dispensing system.
*This article was first published in Escape Magazine. http://travelspecialists.americanexpress.com/travel-guide/
*Photo credit: Bending Photography