Perhaps the first thing that crosses your mind when you see that question is, ‘Am I typical’? Well, I’m not sure there is such a thing.
Last month I did a series of rather comprehensive interviews with nature travelers. Nature travel is a kind of a broad umbrella that includes ecotourism, but I was interested in finding out what people were seeking on their trips into the wilds and how they were finding it. Not surprisingly, it’s all over the map (pun intended). Even within a particular category, like say, birdwatchers, there is a division between the birdwatchers who will get up before dawn and travel for hours to see one species, and those birdwatchers who will notice other wildlife. Similarly, there are people who bike for the challenge of racking up the miles and elevations and there are those who love to stop in all the little villages to try out the pastries. These people don’t mix so well on generic group trips!
What I may be able to generalize about, is that pretty much everyone is trying to customize their experiences in nature. They may go on organized nature tours, but will add time before or after the tour to check off some bucket list items or they will opt out of certain activities while on the tour. Many people are also doing intensive research in order to create their own trips. This piece was not news to me. I designed EcoTripMatch.com to help them streamline the search for accommodations and tours that fit their interests as well as address questions about stamina, health precautions, and transportation to remote locations.
What did strike me in these interviews though, is that many people are putting in a tremendous amount of time looking for insider knowledge to help them plan their travel. They seek authenticity. They want to immerse themselves in a location and they seek information that helps them put together a custom itinerary. Because of my direct communications with the ecolodges and eco-tour companies that are on EcoTripMatch.com, I know that these businesses are a wealth of knowledge and customizing their services is already part of their repertoire. Some ecolodges offer their own guides, transportation, and day trips while others can easily connect you to those services based on what you want. Perhaps if nature travelers contact them earlier in the research process it will streamline their search even more.
So in the coming months I will be working to reconfigure EcoTripMatch.com to better match the research styles of nature travelers. In the meantime, know that all of ecolodge, eco-hotels, eco-resorts and ecotour companies are more than happy to help you design your ideal trip. Not only do they want their businesses to thrive, they are also deeply committed to protecting the natural and cultural resources you’ll find there.
Terry Lawson Dunn, Founder