Cleaning up on holiday, no fancy hotels: Would you go for this new UAE travel trend? – News


On a trip to Antarctica, travellers will be doing hiking and kayaking. — Photos: Supplied

On a trip to Antarctica, travellers will be doing hiking and kayaking. — Photos: Supplied

Published: Sat 11 May 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sat 11 May 2024, 8:38 AM

Imagine going on a holiday to a remote place where you are stationed on a ship alongside scientists and experts. While they collect samples from that area and study it, you navigate the place in a little boat, speak to the locals, and spend time cleaning up the area.

If such a situation kindles some interest in your mind, you are welcome to expedition travel.

Foreseeing demand for such sustainable and impactful trips, one company in the UAE started offering expedition travel in 2015. And over the years, Eduoutings, the company founded by college-mates Mohamed Sufyan and Payal Khubani, has catered to over 400 travellers of 35 nationalities.

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The company’s expeditions are mainly organised to 10 destinations including North Pole, Antarctica and Iceland. This year, at the Arabian Travel Mart (ATM), it introduced expeditions to the South Pole as well.

“When we started out, we were the only ones offering this kind of service in the region,” said Mohamed. “At the time, it was a challenge to get people to understand what expedition travel is. But we knew that the trend would take off. Especially after the pandemic, when it became a trend, we were ready.”

During expedition travel, travellers can do activities that are special to their destinations.

During expedition travel, travellers can do activities that are special to their destinations.

‘You have to be inquisitive’

According to Payal, what sets expedition travel apart from other trips is the experience it offers. “It involves a little bit of adventure and effort. You have to be inquisitive and it takes you a little bit off the beaten path. It is very different from commercial travel,” she added.

The itineraries in expedition travel are never guaranteed. “It depends on the sea and weather conditions. Even if you go to warmer destinations and are travelling around some archipelagos and islands, it is not guaranteed that the itinerary will go according to the plan. You have to expect the unexpected,” said Payal.

These trips offer a chance to get to see nature up close. “You get to see the geology and geography,” said Mohamed. “You get to see the wildlife that is unique to the area and understand the ecosystem. You do activities that are special to that region, for example, if they are in Antarctica, they will do hiking and kayaking. If they are in Norway or Iceland, they do Northern Lights, dogs ledding and snowmobiling. The idea is not that you just tour the place and come back. You understand the place on a very deep level. So, it is a very memorable experience.”

Life-altering experience

For many, the trips with Eduoutings have been life-altering. “Most of our customers keep coming back for more expeditions,” said Payal. “And many of them also bring in their friends.”

One such person whose life saw a great change because of expedition travel is Ankita. A corporate HR manager and self-confessed wanderlust, Ankita had already travelled to over 70 countries when she went on an expedition travel. Once she returned, she quit her job and started her own travel company. “I first travelled with them in 2022 when I went to Antarctica and Norway,” she recalled. “I wanted to tick off the seven continents and that is why I chose it. I discovered that expedition travel is very different to solo travel.”

Ankita during her trip.

Ankita during her trip.

Once in Antarctica, Ankita said she began to think very deeply about life. “It is one part of the world that makes you think very differently,” she recalled. “I began to take stock of my life. Also, my interactions with Payal and Sufyan gave me the courage to listen to my true calling in life. In June 2023, I gave up my very cushy pay package in the corporate world and started the scary journey of being an entrepreneur with my own travel company.”


Nasreen Abdulla


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