Hikers in Zion Natioanl Park, Utah

Hikers in Zion Natioanl Park, Utah (Photo by Maridav on Shutterstock)

NEW YORK — Whether you’re a homebody or a constant traveler, it turns out most people want more excitement in their lives. Nearly three in five Americans (58%) wish they were more adventurous, new research reveals.

A survey of 2,000 American adults revealed that 41% have an adventure “bucket list” — a series of adventures they’d like to go on or places they’d like to visit. If all goes according to plan, the average person is aiming to cross off every item on their adventure bucket list by the time they turn 56.

In fact, 25% of Americans are interested in climbing a mountain range, despite only 11% saying they have the skills and the know-how to do so. Almost a third (32%) are planning to visit a national park in 2024. Of those, Yellowstone (39%), the Grand Canyon (38%), and the Great Smoky Mountains (28%) ranked as the top three must-see destinations.

Conducted by Talker Research and commissioned by Mountain House, the study found that more than six in 10 (62%) reported they want to spend more time outdoors than they currently do. So what’s holding them back? The top concerns were things like insects and pests (56%), running into wildlife (40%), getting lost (36%), needing a bathroom (35%), and running out of food (19%) and water (34%).

To overcome their fears and get outside their comfort zones, respondents would be most willing to try camping (35%), fishing (32%), hiking (26%), and road-tripping (25%).

The survey also divided respondents into categories based on their level of adventurousness and found several key differences between the groups. According to the results, 11% consider themselves to be “expert adventurers” or those who go on outside adventures multiple times per month. These expert adventurers spend an average of 18 days per month in the great outdoors and tend to enjoy camping (55%), hiking (52%), and hunting (24%) more than other adventurers.

A hiker looking at Mount Rainier in Washington
The average person is aiming to cross off every item on their adventure bucket list by the time they turn 56. (Photo by Rajat Chamria on Shutterstock)

Others fall into the “average adventurer” (16%) category, who find themselves exploring about once a month. Compared to others, these Americans most love looking at the stars (66%) and are most likely to say they feel at peace when they’re outside (70%).

Interestingly, one-third of respondents say they align with the “social adventurer” group, who will get outdoors occasionally with their friends and family. Almost one in five (19%) consider themselves “inside cats” and prefer to avoid the outdoors altogether. One-quarter of baby boomers selected this category, more than any other generation.

“Social adventurers” and “inside cats” of all ages are most likely to worry about finding a bathroom while on an outdoor adventure (27% and 31%), as well as fearing they’ll cross paths with wildlife (20% and 21%).

The survey also looked to define an adventurer and found that being someone who loves the outdoors (63%), is curious (44%), and is high-energy (40%) are all necessary characteristics. When it comes time to get some grub, adventurers of all types and experience levels prefer to have a meal where they cook their food over a fire (38%), eat meals that require as little cooking as possible (30%), or even meals that require as little clean-up as possible (29%).

“Planning snacks and meals tops the priority list for 35 percent of Americans when preparing for outdoor adventures,” notes Jim Cohen, CEO at Mountain House, in a statement. “Knowing you have a warm, delicious, convenient meal to enjoy at the end of the day gives you time to do the activities you love, spend less time cooking, and feel that sense of comfort – whether you’re a seasoned outdoor veteran or a social adventurer.”

Looking further into outdoor adventures, more than nine in 10 respondents (94%) find time to connect with nature and get outside on a regular basis. In fact, 40% of respondents are spending more time outdoors today than they were five years ago. Regardless of where they’re heading, the most important factors for a travel adventure include the weather at the destination (39%), the activities you can do (34%), and the people they’re traveling with (33%).

“It’s exciting to see how Americans have increased their time spent outside over the past five years and are finding opportunities to personalize the experience to fit their needs. Whether you’re a stargazer, a rock climber, a kayaker, or a leisurely hiker, the outdoors offers a chance to unwind and explore,” Cohen continues.

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 general population Americans was commissioned by Mountain House between May 1 and May 6, 2024. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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