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Travelers who have it all, seem prepared to risk it all. With one boutique luxury adventure travel company stating they'll push the boundaries to match the expectations of their high-level clients.

Are super-rich travelers pushing the boundaries for extreme luxury adventure too far? This was one of the questions I posed to the founder of boutique travel company Insider Expeditions.

“We’re not pushing the boundaries far enough,” Founder Carl Shephard stated candidly. 

My interview was set up long before the OceanGate submersible, the Titan, went missing on June 18 while taking five passengers on a tour to explore the Titanic wreck. But Insider Expeditions, a 15-year-old boutique travel company, specializes in extreme and expensive experiences. 

“Safety should always be the number one priority. I can’t comment specifically about Titan because I don’t know all the details about that operation,” said Shephard. “But even now with space tourism, there’s been casualties in the research and planning of that. That’s been the nature of global expeditions. As long as safety is the top priority, I think we should keep exploring.” 

And affluent travelers appear ready to do so, from a reported $100,000 for a South Pole adventure to as much as $450,000 to experience the Milky Way views in a suborbital space trip.

According to Shephard, their high-end clients are looking for “something very special that’s never been done before.”

A 10-Day Trip Designed Around a Remote One-Minute Eclipse

Virgin Galactic, a long-time client of Insider Expeditions, recently went on a 10-day experience. The group of 30 Virgin Galactic future astronauts, headed to one of the most remote islands off the coast of Australia in April for a trip designed around a one-minute solar eclipse. The cost was $15,000 per executive. 

“Every other company said they can’t do it. It’s on an island, it can’t happen. And they really wanted to see it,” said Jules Schroeder, Insider Expeditions chief operating office, as she explained how it required travel to several islands and a helicopter.

“We were able to pull it off, even with the degree of remoteness. An incredible, very high-end, but very special experience that matched the caliber of people that were on the trip,” said Schroeder. “It’s not just let’s spend a bunch of money and go somewhere. It’s the full immersion of someone else’s world. And I think in general, we as people don’t do that enough.”

‘The Ultimate Drug of Life’

Insider Expeditions does an estimated 30 experiences in a year, and half of these trips are for repeat clients, according to Shephard, who described the experiences as “the ultimate drug of life.” 

“For people who have made enough money, experiences are like the new and most powerful currency. Time is your most important sort of asset,” said Shepard. “You want more and more unique experiences that allow you to experience anything that’s possible. That high is something we enjoy giving to people. It’s really special.” 

While never-been-done-before is the company’s “sweet spot”, according to Shephard, he added that retreats for a group of board of directors or bespoke birthday parties were all fair game for the Insider Expedition in-house team of 15 to design and plan. 

Schroeder compares what the company does to that of a master conductor, and it can take nine months to a year from the conceptual design to the actual trip.   

Current itineraries include anything from creating a tennis court in the middle of the Serengeti with hosts John and Patrick McEnroe to taking in a live concert in Antarctica. 

It’s no longer about seeing your favorite music artists in a local concert hall or auditorium. The idea of seeing them on the last continent of the earth creates a hybrid model that shakes things up, according to Schroeder. 

“I think that is resonating with people. To echo Carl’s point, what else becomes possible when you’ve done a fair amount of things? We push the barrier of what else is possible.”  


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Tags: adventure travel, experiences, luxury, tourism

Photo credit: Adventure Tourism in Antarctica. Source: Unsplash.

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