25 Experiences to Add to Your Travel Bucket List

PHOTO: Float around in the Dead Sea. (photo by Michelle Rae Uy)
Will McGough
by Will McGough
Last updated: 7:00 AM ET, Tue May 21, 2019

Discover a Whole New World

The more we explore, the more the world opens up. Here are 25 unique experienes to add to your bucketlist.

Walk the Cotswolds With Your Significant Other

Spending time alone with your significant other, surrounded by wild open spaces, is a good idea in any part of the world. But the charming countryside of the Cotswolds makes it the setting for one of the most romantic walks in Europe. Pick out a section of the 102-mile Cotswolds Way and plan a few days walk between villages. Don't worry, you don't have to rough it-you can sleep at small, historic inns along the way.

Go on Safari on a Private Reserve

Going on a safari under any circumstances is the experience of a lifetime, but doing it without the company of hundreds of other vehicles can make it a little better. Find a camp that is attached to a private reserve, where you can cruise around without the crowds. Mara Plains in Kenya, for example, gives guests exclusive access to the 100,000-acre, privately-owned Olare Motorogi Conservancy, meaning you'll explore the wilderness in complete solitude. Except, of course, for the wild animals.

Experience a Live Aboard Scuba Trip

Many people make scuba diving their main platform for travel, seeking out dive destinations around the world where they post-up in a beach-side dwelling and dive their hearts out. Consider taking it one step farther by going on a live aboard dive boat. Trips can be a variety of lengths-a couple of days to a couple of weeks-but most access hard-to-get-to dive sites and bring together people from all over the world, uniting them under a common appreciation of the underwater world.

Spend the Night in a Treehouse

A quick Internet search will reveal that there is no shortage of treehouses in the world, whether they are a part of an official hotel or a private rental. Regardless of where, when or how, you should make a point to experience an overnight. Not only are the structures interesting and unique in their own right, but the experience brings you right back to childhood.

Experience Snow in Hawaii

You can't predict the weather, but if you happen to be traveling to Hawaii in the winter, pencil in a visit to the Big Island or Maui, where the volcanoes go way up past 10,000 feet and where winter weather-like ice and snow-are a real thing. You might get lucky, and if you do, you will bear witness to a unique novelty: standing on the beach, looking up at the mountains, seeing snow at the top. Or better yet, drive up to the top and experience it up close.

Go Coasteering in Ireland

Never heard of Coasteering? It's a relatively new thing in the adventure travel world. The premise is simple: you make your way along the coast, partially walking on the rocks, partially swimming, sometimes cliff jumping. There are different routes for all ability levels, even beginners. And Ireland, with its epic coastlines, is the perfect place to try it out.

Witness the Scarlet Ibis in Trinidad

Make your way to Caroni Swamp in Trinidad to witness one of the Caribbean's most epic bird migrations. Each evening, hundreds if not thousands of the bright-red feathered Scarlet Ibis return from sea to the island's green treetops to roost. Best seen from a kayak, the combination of the green trees, red birds and blue sky make for something of a spectacle.

Snorkel in Alaska

What's the last thing you think of when it comes to Alaska? Probably getting into its chilly waters. But we encourage you to rethink that stereotype. Wetsuits protect against the cold, and the underwater world of Alaska offers an amazing collection of life-bright starfish and crabs, healthy kelp and even orca whales. Try it out in Ketchikan or another Alaskan port.

Stay in an Ice Hotel

Need we say more? There is only one ice hotel in North America, in Quebec City. You can get a feel for the experience in our recent dispatch.

Road Trip Across America, Without Staying at Campgrounds

If you're an American and you don't dream of driving the open road, of cross-country cruising, then are you really American? The traditional way is to rent (or buy) an RV and stay at campgrounds across the country. But a new-ish website called Harvest Hosts, the Airbnb of RVing, can help you find other interesting places to park-vineyards, farms, breweries, museums-where you can mingle with locals.

House Swap

House swapping has existed for a long time, but have you ever really considered it? Why not? It makes perfect economical sense-you don't have to pay for lodging wherever you are going, your house is not left vacant while you're away and it opens you up to having a really unique experience. It's basically Airbnb without the monetary exchange, which perhaps makes its a little more interesting and a lot more genuine.

Sleep Under the Stars in Africa

Most safari lodges are off and away in the wilderness as it is, but many offer the chance to take it one step farther, a place that's even more removed. Ruckomechi Camp in Zimbabwe, for example, has a secluded star bed-and a really comfortable one at that-a short jaunt from camp, where you can sleep outside on an elevated platform, amongst the savannah.

Sleep in a Yurt in Patagonia

Patagonia is one of the wildest environments on earth, and there's something about it that just screams yurt. You can find many different varieties throughout the region, with the top offering coming from Patagonia Camp, near the entrance to Torres del Paine National Park. The luxury yurts will tame the wild and its 131-square-mile private reserve gives you plenty of room to maneuver.

Try a 'Lake Spa' in Finland

"Lake spas" can come in all different shapes and sizes in Finland, from a simple sauna to more elaborate wellness centers. With most of them being in scenic locations, you really can't go wrong. Plus, they are a nice, culturally-backed way to relax in the natural beauty of the country.

Take a River Cruise Through Champagne

We probably don't need to sell you on taking a river cruise through Europe, but if you're looking for an excuse, allow us to narrow it down to one region: Champagne. Known for its bubbly goodness, fresh cheeses and stunning wine terraces, the combination breeds relaxation, with lots to see along the way. This cruise with CroisiEurope, for example, starts in Epernay and ends in Paris.

Tackle Austria's First Iron Road

The Austrian Alps has over 100 via ferratas, also known as "iron roads," courses that combine alpine hiking and rock climbing. The country's first, known locally as the Arlberger Klettersteig, is located in St. Anton. Completely exposed above treeline, climbers go up and over four consecutive crags before reaching the summit at just above 9,000 feet. This one is for extreme adventurers only.

Skydive Over the Blue Hole

The Blue Hole is one of the most stunning and recognizable ocean formations on the planet, so why not jump out of a plane above it? Seriously, it's definitely a thing. And if you only plan to jump once in your life, this might be the place to do it.

Get Your Fortune Told in Sedona

Sedona is known as a new-age and cosmic type of town, thought to be a place rich in energy. Drive down the streets of the town and you'll see, one after another, many different types of fortune tellers and tarot card readers. Seek out a natural energy vortex on a local hike, and then seek spiritual guidance from one of the towns many practitioners.

Ride an Olympic Bobsled Course in Park City

It's been a long time since the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, but you can still have a flashback when you pass through town. The original track where the bobsled, luge and skeleton events took place is still standing, and for $175, you can ride down it with a professional.

Go Heli-Hiking

If you like hiking, you'll love heli-hiking. This isn't a shortcut-ala a gondola-to the top of a mountain for a viewpoint. Rather, think of it as adventurous transportation to a more scenic starting point, high above in a remote area where you can explore untouched terrain. Opportunities are becoming commonplace now across North America, especially in areas like Alaska and Banff.

Try a Mountain Retreat in Vietnam

Traveling through Southeast Asia can be grueling, especially if you're on a low budget. But, the flipside is that many luxurious options that would be priced out in other parts of the world are affordable in Vietnam (relatively speaking). Consider a jaunt out to the Topas Ecolodge in Sapa, where you get an equal dose of luxury and ruggedness for the price of a 3-star hotel in New York City.

Trek for Orangutans in Boreno

There are many sanctuaries where you can see orangutans on Borneo, but like any animal, seeing it in the wild is more rewarding. Try out a hiking tour like this one in Tanjung Puting National Park to find them in their natural state.

Go 'Crack Camping' in Mexico

The mountains surrounding Malinalco, Mexico, are by no means set in stone-they are crusty and layered, with many small foothills, bluffs and cliffs. A tour company called Maliemociones takes advantage of this topography with an accessible yet exhilarating outing they call "crack camping." Using a harness and ropes, you sleep with your feet towards the ledge and the ceiling just feet from your face. Adventurous? You bet.

Read a Newspaper in the Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is so salty-nearly ten times more salty than the Pacific Ocean-that you float with absolutely no effort, so much so that you can read a newspaper while you float! It's a sensation no description does justice. To experience just how "cork-like" you really are, you need to experience it for yourself. Just make sure you are free of cuts, haven't shaved in the past day and don't put your head underwater (very bad idea).

Take a Beer-Focused Train Trip Through California

Did you hear that Southern California has a lot of breweries? Did you hear it has a lot of traffic? Well then, the only logical conclusion would be to plan a trip to drink beer and to travel by train. Check out our complete guide to train travel along California's south and central coasts.

Looking for inspiration? Add these experiences to your bucketlist.

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Helping leisure selling travel agents successfully manage their at-home business.

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Agent Specialization: Group Travel

Laurence Pinckney

Laurence Pinckney

CEO of Zenbiz Travel, LLC

About Me