As new research reveals that travellers are looking for personalised experience trips, we explore some alternative bucket list trips that also seek to avoid crowds of tourists.

The demand for personalised leisure experiences has risen over the last year with new figures suggesting that travellers are placing greater significance on experiences rather than on destinations.

Based on a survey of 2,000 adults in the UK, the report by the University of the West of England (UWE) found that more people wanted to undertake bespoke activities, including sports-related trips, city breaks and high-adrenaline experiences, than had done so in the past.

Following the increase, tourism company Responsible Travel has reported on the impact of ‘over-tourism’ and wants to see travellers seeking out ‘brave, alternative adventures’. Ideas include everything from small ship cruising to wild whale watching in destinations such as the Azores.

Here are five ideas that will take you off the beaten track and out into the wild – great for those organisers looking to offer more experiential travel options to their group.

1. Alternative winter holidays

Hiking in the snow

Snow shoeing (hiking in the snow), cross-country skiing and ski touring holidays are all alternative winter holiday ideas, and often suitable for large groups. The Dolomites, the French Alps, Finland and Iceland are all beautiful destination choices, with highlights to visit including remote villages, mountain cabins and wilderness retreats.

2. Genuine tribal encounters

‘Staged experiences can sometimes be uncomfortable for travellers’, according to Responsible Travel, and with so many cultural experiences across the planet that can benefit communities, there are plenty of alternatives to ‘fake Maasai encounters or pygmy experiences’. In Thailand, for example, travellers are able to head north to visit native hill tribes and eat with them, while in Vietnam local tribes can be visited on a walking holiday.

3. Small ship cruising

From classic wildlife cruises in the Galapagos to traditional vessels on the Nile or characterful houseboats in Kerala, cruising doesn’t always have to take place onboard a huge vessel. Smaller cruise ship holidays can allow a more personal experience and a good choice for first-timers.

4. Watch dolphins and whales in the wild

Visits to see marine life in the wild don’t have to break the bank and many travellers are now heading for the wild oceans to experience dolphin and whale spotting. GTOs can create their own bespoke experience by pairing whale watching with activities such as spotting the Northern Lights, fishing or other wildlife tours.


5. Take a walking safari

Walking safaris can bring you up close to Africa on its own terms. Opt for a low key option by using a local guide and track wildlife, discovering the savannah without noisy jeeps (this also contributes to their conservation). Examples of walking safaris include trekking through Tanzania’s Silela Forest following elephant and buffalo trails to secret waterholes, or exploring Zambia’s Mupamadzi River in search of lions, buffalo and birdlife.

These travel ideas are courtesy of Responsible Travel. You can find out more by visiting

What’s on your ‘alternative’ bucket list? We’d love to hear your ideas, get in touch by emailing

(Lead image photo credit: Richard Mortel).