As an avid traveller and adventure travel employee, travel in one way or another has pretty much infiltrated most spheres of my life. Most of the time when I travel, I try and fit as much as possible into my paltry 2-3 weeks holiday leave (my apologies to those who don't even get this) and include activities like hiking, kayaking, climbing and biking. If there's a live volcano to scale I'm there. Remote hill tribe village? Count me in!

It occurred to me recently that many don't share my view. In many peoples' eyes a holiday means just that, a break from having to work. It makes me wonder why I push myself so much when I take my annual vacation. Why can't I just sit still on a beach and work on my tan?

Do I have travel ADHD?

Perhaps, but then again perhaps not. Everyone travels for a different reason – bragging rights, relaxation, escape, discovery – and for me, travel means learning. I love the experience of seeing something 'in the flesh' and coming up with my own opinion of it rather than reading someone else's in a book or online. For me nothing compares to the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City and seeing the results of the Vietnam War from the perspective of locals. Or visiting the Vatican City and experiencing first hand the madness of the crowds going to see the Sistine Chapel (most of them ignoring the hundreds of fine Renaissance paintings that are also on display in the Vatican museums).

Sometimes I'm disappointed and feel like a place hasn't lived up to its reputation. Other times I'll find unlikely charms in the most unexpected of places. Often this happens in the same trip and the only way to know what you'll enjoy and what you could have skipped is to go and see for yourself. The beauty of travel is that every person, regardless of if they are doing the same itinerary as many others before them, will get something different out of their experience. They will meet different people, have different highlights, and form varying opinions on destinations seen through their own personal filter and set of tastes.

I'm willing to entertain the possibility that other forms of travel can be as rewarding as adventure travel, but so far as personal experience goes, it hasn't been the case. With that in mind I have compiled a short list of what's so good about adventure travel (in my humble and somewhat biased opinion).

I'm not an academic or even a history buff, but I can tell you all about Sarajevo during the Bosnian War, including how the pavement still has splatter marks from shells and mortar hits. I find history that much more interesting when it's right in front of me. Even better when I have a local telling me about what happened and why it was important.

This doesn't mean cultural shows in horrid tourist restaurants where people dress in traditional costumes they would never normally wear. I'm more interested in culture as it exists today – a messy, disorganised mash up of new, old and ancient. Despite the homogenising effect of globalisation the world is still a spectacular array of diverse, colourful civilisations and travel is the best way to start to understand even a small portion of them.

It seems counter-intuitive, but I like putting myself into challenging scenarios and enjoy the feeling of satisfaction when I've mastered a city's public transport system, managed a half decent conversation in broken Spanish or haggled for a good price in a market (which is still probably twice as much as I should have paid, but never mind). What is stressful at the time will ultimately be looked back on with fondness and recounted enthusiastically to whoever is polite enough to listen.

No photo of mine has ever been able to properly capture a moment when I see incredible landscape. The bizarre, the beautiful, the surreal, and yet when I get home the photos are merely shadows of the real thing. Seeing deserts, rainforests, volcanoes, mountains and rivers as well as man-made wonders – Petra, Angkor Wat, Machu Picchu – are experiences I can never forget.

The best part of travel is the thinking about where to go next. Luckily the world is a big place and with only 2-3 weeks off a year it's going to take me a while to get through all of it!

Author's Bio: 

Rebecca is a travel professional and personal travel enthusiast based in London, UK. She works for Adventure Tour Company Tucan Travel which operate various public transport and overland tours. She has been travel writing and involved in the travel industry for over seven years and has visited five continents and lived in three.