Back to Basics Tourism, Or How to Survive the Zombiepocalypse

If knowledge is power, then self-reliance is the new luxury. As the routines of our lives are upended, more of us are seeking to travel in ways that prepare us for whatever the world throws at us next. We prep us for the survivalist-tourism trend.

By Jenny Hewett

Oct 8, 2020

BUTLERS AND PRIVATE CHEFS might be standard at one side of the spectrum, but the next big trend in travel is doing it yourself. All of it. There’s been a growing demand for immersive experiences that are heavy on practicality over the past couple of years, but since the pandemic disrupted the functioning of the world as we knew it, many of us have felt a strong urge to get back to nature and explore our connection with the land and, ultimately, ourselves.

In part, this is because our urban environments no longer feel as safe or liberated as they once did. Getting out of your comfort zone has taken on new meaning, as our desires shift toward experiences that develop our rapport with and respect for the natural world and fulfill us with a sense of purpose and achievement.

Survival mode at Kanuka Glampsite, New Zealand. Courtesy of Kanuka Glampsite.

According to a report earlier this year by Airbnb, the site’s Nature Experiences were up 103 percent year on year and it was the top trending category globally among Gen Z and baby boomers. This would suggest that in order to fill our hearts, we’ve got to get our hands dirty. Naturally, this requires us to go further off-grid than we have in the past, introducing new layers of skills and learning that could make a mockery of the old pre-packaged digital-detox resort trip.

And so tour operators are spicing up itineraries to offer interactive experiences that require us to fend for ourselves, whether foraging for food in the bush, sleeping in a mud hut or catching our own dinner. “With the destabilizing threat of COVID-19, many more people have become interested in growing food for themselves,” says award-winning Aussie adventurer Jon Muir, who has joined up with Australian Walking Holidays to offer a series of hands-on wild farm experiences on the 60-hectare property and sustainable farm he and his wife Suzy own near the Grampians National Park in Victoria.

Meanwhile, in Sri Lanka, a similar movement is gathering pace as independent operators look to immerse travelers more intimately in the local culture. “It’s about making a bit of an effort, roughing it a little, sacrificing a little comfort for authenticity,” says Miguel Canat, CEO of Pepper, a new short-trips experiential brand aimed at those looking to book insightful side trips while in the country. “We’re out of touch with our own humanity,” Miguel says, “and these experiences remind us of who we truly are: human beings.”

This series offers some ways to explore the world in a more considered way and, at the same time, learn how to fend for yourself post-pandemic.

Zombiepocalypse? You’ve got this.


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