Mary Gadams plans trips across the world's deserts to see them before they change. But will travel hasten that change? I FOUNDED RACING THE PLANET, a company that encourages people to explore the world by participating in long-distance runs across some of the most forbidding places on Earth, in 2002. My reason for setting it up was to see remote, interesting, pristine places before they change. Our flagship event is '4 deserts', a series of 250km foot-races across the Gobi, the Atacama, the Sahara and Antarctica (above). Each race lasts seven days and participants carry all their own food and gear. Fifteen people signed up for the Antarctica race the first day it was advertised, which is a lot, because it's not cheap. I don't think it is detrimental to the environment to have people journeying to these 'remote, pristine' places. Certainly, flights are becoming cheaper, bringing semi-adventurous tourists who are travelling further and further, but most visitors still stay on the tourist trail. Concerning the ecological impact, though, of taking multiple long-haul flights, yes, the world needs to find an alternative fuel. I definitely wouldn't recommend flying to Singapore for the weekend, for example. Everything we do at Racing the Planet is green, from using as little paper as possible in the office here in Hong Kong to training people in China to keep the desert clean. I'm not seeing damage done in these remote areas - except in China, where there are great changes in the desert. A lot of housing blocks are being built for the nomadic people there and much of their culture is disappearing. Of course, there are always two sides to every argument. I am encouraged by the Egyptian and Chilean respect for their deserts, though. I love to rough it but I love luxury, too. In fact, I particularly enjoy the Oriental Spa in Bangkok. It is so fabulous you don't even need to venture out on to the street. I wouldn't be tempted to add a touch of luxury to my Racing the Planet trips, though, even if trends in adventure travel demanded it. The participants don't want these trips to change. It's all part of the challenge. There is something appealing about having only basics on a trip. You don't have to worry about what to wear the next day, for example, because you're already wearing it. As for the next big trend in tourism, it's impossible to say. Tourism has become so segmented these days. Cruising is a wonderful way to see the world. The Chinese have a different way of travelling and prefer tour groups. But this is a golden era of adventure travel and now is the time to see these places. GPS and Google Earth will bring about the biggest changes in travel. All you need to do is focus in, key in the co-ordinates and go.