Katie Bray

It’s the kind of trip that makes you feel like a part of the local culture. The kind of trip that makes you feel like you are not just a tourist but a visitor. The kind of trip that makes you long to go back.

Intrepid Travel offers custom or planned trips for any number of travelers wishing to pursue an adventure off the beaten path.

Miami University junior Laura Kavanaugh is acting as Intrepid’s student ambassador.

Kavanaugh said the diversity of the trips available through Intrepid allows students a personal look at the culture they are visiting.

“There are so many different types of trips,” Kavanaugh said. “Generally there are basic trips and active trips, each one makes a huge difference because of all the options. For an active trip you could be biking across France. And it’s so different than a typical luxurious trip, (Intrepid travelers) only eat at local places or locally owned hotels … you really get to be immersed in their culture.”

Since it was founded in Australia in 1989, Intrepid has been offering trips across the world to Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. The U.S. branch opened two years ago to bring the service to the western hemisphere.

Intrepid offers several different types of trips, each one emphasizing different aspects of the destined country and different group goals. The trips offered on Intrepid’s Web site include original, basic, comfort, family, active, independent, overland, special groups, out adventures, urban adventures and volunteering.

“Traveling to a new country, it’s really a big culture shock,” Kavanaugh said. “When you’re looking to book a trip, what kind of thing you want to do is going to be the main focus. What I think is really neat is (that Intrepid) is a travel company that really focuses on being sustainable. You could end up playing soccer with little kids of a small town, something like that. It’s a more meaningful experience.”

Jet setting

Junior Andrew Nordquist said he hopes someday to travel to Brazil or Amsterdam to expand his horizons and delve into new cultures.

“I’ve always wanted to travel to Amsterdam because it’s the party capital of the world and I would love to experience that lifestyle from a European perspective,” Nordquist said. “I would love to take that adventure if I could find an affordable package and some friends to go along with me.”

Likewise, junior Justin Deye said he would like to plan a trip to Germany that goes beyond the typical tourist agenda.

“It’s my heritage and I met some foreign exchange students from there,” Deye said. “You’ve got to hit the tourist hot spots, but I would definitely want a private tour with someone who knows the area who can show me the unique, local areas people don’t know about.”

Nordquist said he also likes the fact that Intrepid offers trips that aren’t typical tourist hot spots yet would allow him to get a unique experience for a low-end cost.

“I’d really like to go to Brazil because it’s so exotic,” Nordquist said. “I mean, when else are you going to have an excuse to plan a trip to Africa? From looking at (Intrepid’s) Web site, Intrepid looks like it would be a great way to get to go somewhere that most people don’t go while experiencing something different.”

Branching out

Kavanaugh said she first noticed an ad for Intrepid Travel in 2008 when she decided to become a student ambassador so as to bring awareness of the program to Miami students.

“After reading the brochures I got really interested and I hope to go on a trip some day,” Kavanugh said. “I got my training to be a student ambassador in the Boulder, Colo.

office (the only office in the United States) and pretty much I’ve been trying to create awareness for college students.”

Kavanaugh said she hopes to arrange a trip for Miami students, possibly for summer or spring break.

“It’s more than your typical spring break where you go to Cancun and party on the beach,” Kavanaugh said. “Instead, you could go to Costa Rica or Mexico and go surfing, hiking or create a volunteer trip in Africa. I definitely would like to take a group of students to go somewhere. So far, we’ve never done a spring break trip of college students at Intrepid. I’m sure if we get people to book these trips and it becomes bigger, then more people will want to go. We’re kind of in a growing phase.”

In addition to offering unique trip opportunities, Kavanaugh said Intrepid is planning to completely become a carbon neutral company by 2010, an initiative that began in 2006.

According to Kavanaugh, coupons offering $200 off for Miami students will be available Feb. 30.

Kavanaugh said she hopes more students will become aware of and more interested in different types of travel.

“I’ve been debating, but I really want to go on an African safari just because it’s not your normal trip,” Kavanaugh said. “Everyone goes to Europe, everyone goes to China but my top two are right now Africa and New Zealand.”

Kavanaugh likes the local aspects of the trips.

“What I definitely want people to know is that you can really get immersed in that culture through Intrepid and you really get to know different people,” Kavanaugh said. “You stay with actual people, have dinner with them and stay there and camp out in the Sahara Desert, for example. The guides stay with you and make this trip very safe and very affordable. It’s very different from anything else I’ve seen.”