The demand for off-the-beaten-path holidays
Whilst relaxed and cocktail-fueled beach holidays are, without a doubt, the key to our sanity, our curiosity surrounding experiential travel is peaking! Off-the-beaten path holidays are in huge demand, and we’re constantly on the look out of the next, cool travel trend and ‘unexplored’ itineraries. The rise and popularity of travel documentaries like David Attenborough’s ‘Planet Earth’ has us chomping at the bit and booking trips to foreign lands that hold a treasure trove of memories and experiences.
So, to get to grips with as to why exactly we’re going crazy over adventure, we spoke to Lucy Jackson, founder (and travel expert!) of luxury tour operator, Lightfoot Travel for her take on the ever-growing trend. Plus, we’re beating the crowds with Lucy’s top recommendations for the hottest trips of 2017…
Tell us a bit about your background. What ties do you have to Hong Kong? What inspired you to set up Lightfoot Travel?
My connections to Hong Kong hark back to the late 1800s when my Great, Great Grandfather became Chairman of HSBC – his tale of Irish roots to implementing the changes in banking infrastructure led to a key role within HSBC who financed the future of Hong Kong as the commercial hub it is today. Having visited friends in 2008 and being attracted to the energy of the city, I found myself on a plane just two month later, following my seven year career path creating bespoke itineraries for discerning clients. The opportunity to establish and launch the development of Lightfoot Travel’s second office in Hong Kong came at the perfect time back in 2010.
Experiential travel has become increasingly popular. Why do you think there’s such a demand for unique experiences?
With so many travel opportunities out there, it can be difficult to qualify what ‘off-the-beaten-path’ really means. Guests want to be re-inspired and re-invigorated about where to go and when. They’ve travelled a lot before but want a new angle of approach. There’s more willingness to jump at any opportunity to travel and immerse themselves in new cultures but avoid the hassles of travel whilst travelling in a certain level of comfort. Although with that said, this ‘style’ of travel in Hong Kong is still in its infancy, really, so it’s a very exciting time!
Lightfoot travel offers up an incredible range of tailor-made holidays, how has the company stayed relevant and up to date with the ‘off-the-beaten-path’ travel trend?
We have the best global contacts and scope compared to any other travel company within Asia. We are ahead of the trend due to our connections – we hear of the hot-spots because we have region specialists that have personally ‘tried and tested’ the experiences that they recommend. We invest in the Lightfoot Travel team and ensure that we are in the know to recommend the newest trends.
Where in South East Asia would you recommend to our readers, if they were looking for a truly bespoke experience?
We are huge fans of the Indonesian archipelago and doing a boat charter to access the less accessible spots is a great way of exploring the region. The newest boat out of the dock is the gorgeous Phinsi boat Rascal, which has been seen by some of the Lightfooters and comes with a big seal of approval.
If money and time were no object, what would your first trip be?
The White Continent – Antarctica. Nothing says exploration like Antarctica – it’s the most alien and austere environment you can go to on the planet. Until space travel is a reality, then Antarctica is still one to tick off my hit-list. I just need to be prepared to be ‘off-line’ for a little while.
Tell us about one especially memorable ‘off-the-beaten-path’ experience you’ve had.
Kayaking down the ocean fjords of Chilean Patagonia – 150 nautical miles to get to Laguna San Rafael over the course of ten days in relentless rain! Thankfully the clouds parted once we reached the glacier and the magic of those translucent blue icebergs and kayaking amongst the mirror like waters was completely mesmerising and etched on the memory forever.
Travel is clearly one of your passions. What do you look for when planning your own trips?
Precision itinerary planning – I like to maximise any day off I have with new experiences. It’s become a running joke in my family that I give them itineraries for any trip that I’m doing. In terms of destinations, I like a range from fly and flop beach chilling over a long weekend with my eight- month baby boy and husband, to big villas filled with friends and then the odd adventure thrown in for measure – next up is likely to be Russia.
What words of advice would you give to those exploring a new country?
Expect the unexpected and roll with any changes – it’s those chance interactions with locals that make the memory of holidays live on. Whether it’s pottering through a village and having a cup of yerba mate (drink) with the Argentine gauchos, playing volleyball on the beach with Cariocas (Rio de janeiro) or being part of a Buddhist ceremony (Sri Lanka / Bhutan experiences). Experiential travel is really just about having an authentic experience and one that does justice to the beauty of a place.
Read more: 10 Tips for Solo Female Travellers
Which places/itineraries are currently trending for 2017? We want to beat the crowd!
Namibia – Those wild landscapes, tracking lions through the Namib desert and seeing the Skeleton coast.
Mongolia – Culture untouched by Westernisation eg. Eagle Hunters combined with vast landscapes and still in its infant stages of tourism
Cuba – Before it changes and on topic following Castro’s death
Tibet – location of mythical ‘Shangri-la’. Go now, while it’s still authentic.
Iran – why not? Rich cultural tapestry. Easy to access.
Read more: 10 Reasons to Visit Iran
Where do we start? How would you recommend planning and organising ‘your not-so-typical’ trip?
Get in touch with our knowledgeable travel designers who can walk you through how to book an ‘off-the-beaten’ track adventure, taking you through the pitfalls and speak with brutal honesty to manage your expectations, whilst giving you packing advice and booking the best guides in country. Call Lightfoot Travel and we’ll do it for you!