Spotlight on Adventure Champions: Don Mankin

8 November 2021

Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) Adventure Champions are the vanguards of the adventure travel industry having been members of ATTA and leaders in the community for a minimum of 15 years. They are true believers in the power of adventure travel and have made an impact on the direction of ATTA and on the industry as a whole. To honor their commitment to their ethos and lasting contribution to the adventure travel industry we are spotlighting Adventure Champions through a series of interviews.

Don Mankin, Adventure Transformations
Media Member
United States
ATTA Member since 2005

Introducing Don Mankin of Adventure Transformations
Don Mankin

Tell us about Adventure Transformations: I am the only member of my company. Originally conceived as an umbrella for a number of activities including writing, speaking, and consulting on issues related to leisure needs and desires of boomers and seniors, travel writing makes up most of what I do these days.

Why have you stayed an ATTA member for 15+ years?

Two reasons. One, the Summit is my primary resource for connecting with operators and DMCs to identify trips and destinations I can write about. The second reason is that the opportunity to interact and work with lively, intelligent, personable, adventurous people half my age (I will turn 80 in the Spring of 2022) has inspired me and kept me young (relatively speaking) and active. Without ATTA I would probably be a miserable, cranky old man.

How has your company changed over the last 15 years? 

It is more successful in terms of writing. I get offered better trips and I'm making more money from my articles (still a pittance, though). Less successful in terms of making money from my speaking and consulting. But that is to some degree a personal choice, a decision to spend more time doing the things I enjoy best.

What is the greatest force that drives you to work every day? 

To quote a song I hate, "staying alive." Seriously, staying active and engaged and hanging out with others who are active and engaged is the key to a long and fulfilling life. I love writing and traveling. I don't call it "work." It's just living.

What gives you hope about the next generation of adventure travel leaders?

I have been so impressed by the people I have met through ATTA -- smart, passionate, compassionate, vibrant, good values, and a positive and optimistic outlook about the future. How could I not have hope? I just wish I can be around long enough to see and experience it.

What is your advice for young adventure travel companies?

As Woody Allen in one of the last scenes from Annie Hall notes, sharks need to keep moving to stay alive. So to make sure you don't have a dead shark on your hands, keep moving forward and looking ahead for the next opportunity. Be flexible. To quote one of my favorite Yiddish expressions, "man plans, God laughs." The opportunities that come your way may not be the ones you hoped for or expected. It doesn't matter. Just keep on striving and adapt to whatever comes up. It will all work out in the end... probably...

What gets you excited about the future of adventure travel?

New destinations, new challenges, new opportunities, new ideas, and concepts. I just signed up for a balloon trip to the edge of space in 2024. I just wish I was young enough to be around when space travel becomes more affordable and I could travel to Mars or Venus

Is there anything else you would like to say?

My thanks to everyone at ATTA, especially Shannon, for making this third (fourth? fifth?) stage of my life so much fun.

Connect with Don: 

Don's blog, The Adventure Geezer: 

Photos below with captions provided by Don.

Day of Adventure, Adventure Travel World Summit 2018, Anchorage, Alaska. Don is the one all the way to the left sucking in his stomach.
Don, nursing a bum knee on a six-day hike, leans on his trophy wife in front of the Chateau Valice in the Czech Republic.
In a zodiac on Don’s third trip to Antarctica, one of his favorite destinations.
On a scenic overlook in Raja Ampat, Indonesia after a short but sweaty climb.
Partying with several suspicious characters at the Jordan party at the Adventure Travel World Summit in 2015.
Don sucking in his stomach once again during the Pre-Summit Adventure in Salta, Argentina, 2017.
Hard to tell, but that is Don, bundled up on Wrangel Island off the northern coast of Siberia.