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Are you an ‘authentic’ traveller?

Sylvia (l) and Jessica (r)Editorial: I was reading the ITB World Travel Trends Report 2012/2013 and took note that millions of people want to travel and have the money to do so but stay at home because of a disability or physical restriction. I probably wouldn’t have paid much attention to that yesterday but today it resonates because I pulled a muscle and can hardy walk. Whatever would I do if I couldn’t travel? The report suggests that we need to reduce barriers and improve accessibility for restricted travellers and that suddenly seems like a very good idea to me. Judith Gooding, who is mobility challenged, has already shown us what a determined traveller can do if she has a scooter.

This report was the result of some 50 international travel experts who met at the 20th World Travel Monitor Forum in Pisa. One trend they predict is that consumers will be looking for more individual and authentic travel experiences. Chris Doyle, who is with the US-based Global Adventure Travel Trade Association, said “people are increasingly stepping outside of their comfort zones to seek self-discovery and authentic transformative experiences”.

But how should we define what is ‘authentic’?

For Barbara Reinhardus, a frequent contributor to Riding the buses, her travel experiences are often way-out-there, particularly when her work takes her to developing countries. She certainly was stepping outside most people’s comfort zone when she travelled from Bamiyan to Band-e Amir National Park in Afghanistan and she tells us about it this month.  Barbara went back to Afghanistan in May for a brief assignment and agreed to visit the Babur Gardens for another Riding the buses article. She’s now home and safe but it was the first time she had to get around in an armoured vehicle. Sounds like an authentic experience to me.

Jessica Sunter, my daughter and co-editor, was married in May and she and her husband, Ian Knight, went to Turkey for their honeymoon. One of her best moments was balloon riding over Cappadocia. Was that authentic? Read the article and judge for yourself.

Chad (l) abd Tyler (r)Is the younger generation following the trend and also seeking authenticity? I did a quick interview with two of Barbara’s grandsons about their trip to Alberta last summer. At the time, Chad was 10 years old and Tyler  8. They did all the stuff that one does in the Canadian Rockies, camping, hiking, climbing, walking on the ice fields, bathing in hot springs, spotting wildlife. Asked to choose one favourite thing, for Tyler it was climbing from the Jasper tramway to the mountain summit and looking down at the snow and the view. It’s a mighty special view, of course, for before you is Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Rockies.

For Chad it was without question the wave pool at the West Edmonton Mall. “It was great, awesome. Some of the biggest waves ever. They crash into you. I met a new friend there and we had lots of fun going down slides.”

I suspect both experiences were authentic and Chad will perhaps be into adventure travel when he’s older and maybe Tyler will follow his father in a love for scenery and wildlife. Chad told me that he’s going to get a job as a dog walker to earn money to go to the wave pool again. Love that travel determination!

Have a good summer.

Sylvia Fanjoy, co-founder and editor

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