New Travel Startup Unadventure Caters To The Whelmed

When she was 16, Londoner Jennifer Olive went on holiday with her parents to the British seaside resort of Blackpool. The weather was lousy, their hotel was bland and she can’t remember where they went or what they did. A disappointment? Not so.

“A year later I went backpacking round India, walking one of the spice trails near Kerala. When you got up in the morning you had no idea what would happen that day, or what was ’round the next corner. Plans fell apart; we had to take detours and at one point we got lost and ended up staying with some total strangers. There was this constant sense that anything was possible. I hated it. The following year I went back to Blackpool and I’ve been every year since.”

Like many Britons, Olive believes that good travel is about exploring your comfort zone. A 2012 survey by Rough Guides found that more than three-quarters of Brits have been to the same destination more than once, and one in ten have returned to the same destination more than 10 times. The chief reason? The satisfaction of familiarity. Olive believes this kind of travel meets a basic human need to put down roots wherever you go, making a travel destination feel like a second home.

“It’s obviously important to see the world – but life is just too short to have a string of experiences that fail to meet your expectations. In the 32 years I’ve been spending my summers at Blackpool, I’ve got to know the place in a really deep and lasting way. I know every rundown cafe; I see the same people getting older – it feels familiar in a way India never did. I’ve rented out the same cottage for the last two decades, and at the end of every stay I carve a notch in the wainscoting. There’s a little line of notches there now. It helps me keep track of where the years went.”

Now she’s putting that guiding ethos to work with a startup she hopes will revolutionize 21st century travel. Set to launch in early 2014, is a luxury tour operator that seeks to present its clients with the ultimate tailored travel experience – down to the very last detail. New customers fill out a 60-page application form and attend a series of interviews in order to build a detailed personality profile, and it’s this profile that determines the kind of holiday they’ll be given. Fond of the British cooked breakfast? That’s how you’ll start your days on your Unadventure holiday. No second language? Unadventure will find the perfect English expat enclave for you, or even ensure you don’t have to leave the country at all. From your favorite reading material to a sightseeing itinerary that guarantees no surprises, the aim is a bespoken holiday that will make you feel you’ve barely left home.

“They say that adventures happen when plans fall apart, and that’s exactly what we’ll seek to avoid at Tourism statistics show that most people don’t want to be overwhelmed by their travel experiences – and obviously they don’t want to be underwhelmed. What they want is to be whelmed. We’re going to whelm our customers. As part of the concept trial I anonymously put myself through the profiling process, and at the end, my team built the perfect holiday for me … in Blackpool. I feel that says a lot about the service we’re offering.” launches in early 2014.

[Photo Credit: Flickr user Яick Harris]