Survival holidays are now a luxury experience. Being flown to a remote island where you fend for yourself is an increasingly popular idea, and ironically for a no-frills outdoor adventure where you do everything yourself, it’s more expensive than you’d imagine.
The increase in survival TV series filled with extreme explorers has boosted the trend—think of the episode featuring Bear Grylls and President Barack Obama Running Wild in Alaska, making tea from melting glaciers and hunting wild salmon.
Desert Island Survival is one company that caters to wannabe explorers—it takes adventurers to islands in the Philippines, Panama or Tonga, ten at a time. After one night in a luxury hotel, the group spends several days learning the survival ropes. How to make a fire, how to identify what you can and can’t eat, how to catch fish and collect fruit. After a few days, the instructors leave them alone for three days before everyone regroups back in luxury again to toast to the trip.
Untold Story, a British travel company specializing in planning special one-off trips, will fly clients onto a desert island for £3,500 ($4,000) and leave them there alone on a customized trip. It is currently the company’s most-in-demand holiday.
Co-founder Chris Brunning told The Telegraph, that “we’ve seen a shift from the consumption of luxury goods to the consumption of luxury experiences; people want to outdo each other now. Especially after the pandemic, it’s all about having the most impressive time, rather than the most impressive thing.”
The New Yorker reported on ‘the joys—and absurdities—of finding oneself abandoned in a desolate landscape” where travelers are dropped into the Atlas mountains of Morocco by former Royal Marine commandos and left alone to fend for themselves after a few hours of rudimentary survival training covering fire, scorpions and snakes. The rendezvous is 18 miles and a two-day walk away with travelers forbidden to carry matches, tents or phones. There is an SOS button to push in case of accidents or emergencies, and water and firewood are left at pre-assigned places to camp. The price tag isn’t cheap.
There are numerous other options for people wanting to stay closer to home or shorter initiation trips or do them with children. In the U.K., Bear Grylls runs his Survival Academy offering family adventure days or three-day intense survival weekends for the over 18s. Or would-be adventurers can join the newest addition, a 72-hour ‘MOT for Men’ extreme endurance test.
Clearly, the adventure travel world has moved on from the days when you were escorted through the Welsh mountainside by ex-SAS instructors and taught how to light a fire.