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.
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.
A vast, sparsely populated nation whose apocryphal origin story lies in taming the wild. A continent whose original inhabitants lived at one with nature for eons. Zero surprise that Australia is leading the trend in self-sufficiency stays.
In this lush land of hippies and holistic healing, we could’ve come up with dozens of ways to be at one with the earth. Here are four fully immersive activities that’ll put a roof over your head and fill your belly with both flora and fauna (of the fish variety).
Going back to basics starts with walking there yourself. Head up to the Himalayas for some mandatory meditation and enforced check-out of the Internet. You can post photos of those sweeping mountain views when you get home.
If your idea of a Kiwi adventure involves DIY RVing around the two islands, the fend-for-yourself offerings highlighted here will make that plan look like the luxe life. There’s foraging and trekking, but the many ways to cook without a stove are alone worth the long-haul flight.
Only in Japan would a rustic country farmstay include a disco greenhouse. A quick hop from Tokyo takes you straight into this organic wonderland. Strawberries and sweet potato heaven.
When Bodhi’s 50-Year Storm comes (yes, we just name-checked Point Break), you want to be ready. Grab some extra-long flippers and learn to swim like the fishes in the Philippines.
There’s a reason so many independent-minded travelers want to keep the Teardrop of India on the DL. Inland from Sri Lanka’s gorgeous southern beaches, the simple, sustainable, spiritual life beckons.
Thailand is world-renowned for its service with a smile, but there are plenty of places to learn a little self-reliance, too. Set sail on the high-seas, or just in your own imagination.
A long-time partner of T+L, Black Tomato specializes in crafting bespoke travel experiences around the globe, and their foray into tailor-made survivalism trips offers the ultimate sense of freedom.