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21 Life-changing Trips Everyone Should Experience at Least Once

From African safaris to must-visit cities, these once-in-a-lifetime trips will make you want to plan your next great adventure.

Elizabeth Rhodes is a special projects editor at Travel + Leisure , covering everything from luxury hotels to theme parks to must-pack travel products. Originally from South Carolina, Elizabeth moved to New York City from London, where she started her career as a travel blogger and writer.

travel ideas world

What's next on your travel list? With so many places worth traveling to, it can be hard to narrow down your top spots to visit.

Sometimes, it's the famous attractions, delicious food, and stunning hotels that draw us to a certain destination, and other times, it's the bragging rights that come with checking off every continent, country, or state. Whatever your motivation, we've rounded up 21 incredible trips, complete with once-in-a-lifetime experiences and iconic sights you won't find anywhere else in the world.

So, what makes a trip truly life-changing? That answer varies from traveler to traveler, but one thing is for sure: From African safaris to classic road trips, this list will make you want to plan your next great adventure.

Deciding between the historic cities of Rome, Venice, Naples, and Florence for the top destination to visit feels impossible, so the entire country of Italy deserves a spot on your list. Start in the Eternal City and head north through the rolling hills of Tuscany to visit Florence, followed by Milan or Venice, or go south to the beaches of the beautiful Amalfi Coast and Sicily.

New York, New York

Visiting the Statue of Liberty , standing at the top of the Empire State Building, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge: These are just a few of the things you can only do in New York City. Whether you dream of visiting all the places you've seen on screen, catching a Broadway show, or eating your way through the city's diverse neighborhoods, there's no doubt that NYC deserves a spot on your list.

Tokyo, Japan

Old and new come together in Japan's bustling capital city. Historic temples and shrines, busy shopping districts, delicious food, and some of the world's best theme parks and attractions — whatever your interests, there's something for you in Tokyo.

Paris, France

From watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle and viewing famous works of art at world-renowned museums to eating delicious French pastries, there are innumerable reasons that Paris deserves a spot on your list. Of course, other dreamy French destinations like Mont-Saint-Michel, Chamonix, and the Riviera are well worth a visit, too.

Busy medinas, intricate architecture, and a unique combination of cultural influences make Morocco unlike anywhere else on the planet. Whether you're traveling to bustling Marrakesh, pretty coastal cities, or remote desert towns (or hopefully, all three), a trip to Morocco is bound to be one to remember.

Monica Farber/Travel + Leisure

From the whitewashed homes of Santorini to the Ios party scene to the relaxing atmosphere of Milos, there's a perfect Greek Island for every type of traveler. Island hopping gives you the chance to experience more of what the country has to offer, but plan to spend a couple of days in Athens at the beginning and/or end of your trip.

T+L Backpack Quiz

Rory Fuller/Travel + Leisure

Machu Picchu

Seeing the historic ruins of the Incan Empire set among the breathtaking Andes at Machu Picchu is an undeniably life-changing experience. The stunning citadel ruins of Machu Picchu are worth the journey — and for some travelers, that trip, often taken by train or on foot as a multi-day trek , is a big part of the experience. Editor’s note: Machu Picchu is currently closed due to civil unrest in Peru. Visit the  official website  for the latest news and reopening details.

African Safari

Seeing majestic animals like lions, elephants, and rhinos in the wild is a dream best accomplished with an African safari . South Africa, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Kenya are among the most popular safari destinations — and in each of those countries, you'll find incredible lodges and tour operators who can help you spot these creatures in their natural habitat.

Whether you dream of cruising down the famed Nile River, seeing the Pyramids of Giza, or visiting the ancient Valley of the Kings, Egypt's historic wonders make the destination completely unique (and worthy of a spot on your travel list).

Unlike many of the action-packed trips on this list, the Maldives is synonymous with relaxation, luxury, and romance. A stay in an overwater bungalow set atop turquoise blue waters is the ultimate getaway that's worth the long-haul flight and oftentimes pricey accommodations.

Antarctica Cruise

Hoping to visit all seven continents? Cross Antarctica off your list with a cruise. Several major cruise lines have journeys to Antarctica, offering incredible views of the ice and wildlife from the comfort and safety of a ship. Travelers typically fly in and out of Buenos Aires en route to Ushuaia (where most cruises depart from); we recommend spending a few days in the fascinating Argentine city before your expedition.

Irjaliina Paavonpera/Travel + Leisure

Dubbed one of the natural wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef is a can't-miss for many wildlife lovers. Of course, Australia's gorgeous coastline, the iconic Sydney Opera House, and fuzzy creatures like kangaroos and koalas are also reasons to head to the destination. Fly into Sydney and spend a few days there before heading out to explore more of this expansive country teeming with natural beauty.

Galapagos Islands

Incredible and diverse plant and animal species make the Galapagos Islands another must-visit for nature-loving travelers. This stunning archipelago off the coast of Ecuador is best explored by cruise, so you can take in as many breathtaking landscapes and animals as possible during your trip.

Like the other countries on this list, India has countless destinations worth exploring, but one of the most famous attractions that travelers dream of seeing for themselves is the Taj Mahal. This 17th-century white marble mausoleum has drawn visitors to Agra for years. Luxury travelers might consider a train trip aboard the Maharajas' Express (with a stop at the Taj Mahal) as the ultimate experience. Travelers planning to visit the Taj Mahal or take the luxurious train ride will want to fly into Delhi, India's capital territory.

Petra, Jordan

The stunning ancient city of Petra is made up of several impressive structures carved into sandstone rock faces, including the famous Al-Khazneh. The city dates back thousands of years, making this UNESCO World Heritage site a must-visit for history buffs.

Passing through India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Bhutan, and Nepal, the Himalayas are home to some of the world's highest peaks — and that means breathtaking mountain views, too. For adventurous and active travelers, climbing Mount Everest (or at least trekking to Everest Base Camp) is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

American National Park Road Trip

The classic American road trip is a mainstay on many travelers' lists — and for good reason. The country's incredible national parks , including Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Yosemite, are best explored on road trips with stops at charming small towns and kitschy roadside attractions.

Great Wall of China

Stretching across China for thousands of miles, with sections dating back nearly 2,000 years, the Great Wall is regarded as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Visitors can hike along parts of the wall — some areas are located within driving distance of Beijing, so it's a perfect day trip from the city.

Easter Island

The hundreds of monolithic moai statues have drawn curious visitors to Easter Island for years. This remote Polynesian island is worth the lengthy trip for travelers hoping to see these impressive human figures, while also soaking in some incredible coastal views.

Northern Lights Trip

Catching a glimpse of the elusive northern lights is possible in several destinations close to the Arctic Circle, including Alaska, Iceland, Canada, Greenland, Finland, Sweden, and Norway. All of these places have incredible viewpoints (and even hotels where you can see the phenomenon from your bed ), in addition to great, wintry scenery. (The lights are best viewed from late fall through early spring.)

Thailand and Vietnam

A trip through Southeast Asia is a must for any traveler, especially foodies who love street eats. While you could spend weeks in each of these countries, Thailand and Vietnam can easily be paired for an exciting trip packed with lush scenery, cultural experiences, and delicious food. Have a little extra time to spare? Add Cambodia to the mix and include a visit to expansive Angkor Wat.

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Bucket List Journey | Travel + Lifestyle Blog

Travel Bucket List: 100 Best Places to Visit & Destination Ideas

If you’re anything like me, then there is nothing better than waking up in a new place and enjoying the best adventures that are a world away from your normal routine. These ultimate experiences around the globe are what I have found to be the best of the best, and I hope these ideas inspire you to add a destination or two to your travel bucket list (and to start checking them off!).

If you need even more motivation than just these traveling bucket list ideas, check out my 200 travel quotes for inspiration.

Top Travel Bucket List: Best Places to Visit & Destination Ideas for Your Next Adventure

Travel Bucket List Ideas: Ultimate Trip Destinations & Places to Visit

1. hike to the top of piaynemo in raja ampat.

Indonesia is filled with beautiful scenery, but for me none was more picturesque than the view from the top of Piaynemo Island in Raja Ampat. Pulling up to the small dock on the island, there was a set of stairs heading straight up into the forest.

These 318 steps (I counted!) were strenuous in the humid heat, but the view from the top was worth every single one. From the peak you can see an iconic karst island seascape, small islands surrounded by a dozen shades of brilliant turquoise. This million dollar view wasn’t my only reward, so was the fresh coconut juice waiting for me at the bottom.

Read More:   Raja Ampat Bucket List: 7 Things to Do

Annette at Raja Ampat

2. Pull an All-Nighter in Ibiza

Ibiza, an island off the coast of Spain, is notorious for its parties but also boasts crystal clear water and lux beaches. So experience the best of both worlds by staying up all night in the club and then drifting to the beach to see one of the islands infamous sunrises. Big-name DJs, and festivals are frequent on the island, and there are a wide variety of accommodation and food options, from high to low end. Your time will fly in this incredible destination.

  • From Ibiza: Full-Day Sailing Tour to Formentera
  • Ibiza: Town Highlights Tour by Bike
  • Ibiza: All-Inclusive Sunset Boat Trip

3. Spend the Night in Jordan’s Wadi Rum Desert

Wadi Rum is 720 square kilometers of heart stopping desert landscape, where a maze of sheer-sided sandstone and granite monoliths rise up from the valley floor. Touring Petra Archaeological Site and floating in the Dead Sea were absolutely unforgettable experiences in Jordan , but spending the night in the vast Wadi Rum Desert was an adventure.

In this UNESCO desert you can ride camels along the same path as Lawrence of Arabia, run down the soft sand dunes and sleep inside of a tent in a small Bedouin-run camp surrounded by sandstone rocks. It is the ultimate adventure!

Get booking information for these top rated camps: Luxury: Wadi Rum Night Luxury Camp , Moderate: Obeid’s Bedouin Life Camp , Budget Wadi Rum Camp > Bedouin Lifestyle Camp

Desert Camp Fire at Wadi Rum

4. Take the Walk of Faith at Tianmen Mountain in China

In the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park you will find a 196-foot long see-through glass path that stands over 4,000 feet above sea level. This adrenaline-producing walkway clings to the side of the Tianmen Mountain. A stroll along this path is only for the most adventurous, who will marvel at the crystal-clear view below their trembling feet.

5. Feed the Swimming Pigs of Exuma

Somewhere out there in the Outer Exuma Islands is Big Major Cay, a small island ruled by pigs—that’s right, actual pigs! It is in fact one of the biggest attractions on this island. The pigs will swim out to your boat as you approach the island and depending on how friendly they are on the day they will hang around, swim with you guys and have some of your lunch as well.

If you are pressed for time, there is a closer piggy island called White Bay. I booked the half-day tour there with Exuma Water Sports and it was GREAT! For the full day tour that includes a nurse shark swim check out this tour: Swimming Pigs & Tour – Morning Excursion with Transportation

The swimming pigs tend to come out to play when the midday sun cools down a bit. There are myths and stories of how the swimming pigs of the Bahamas got there. Some people believe that they survived a shipwreck while others think that they were left there by pirates who intended them to be a future meal but never came back. Whatever the case, they are interesting swimming companions and one of the most unique ideas on this list.

Read More: Pig Beach: The Bahama’s Swimming Pigs of Exuma Island and the Best Bahamas

Swimming Pigs in Exuma

6. See the Great Pyramids at Giza

The Great Pyramids at Giza have had a firm hold on the western imagination for generations… and with good reason. They are a true marvel to behold! The Pyramids were created as tombs for various pharaohs, and their consorts, to ensure transcendence into the afterlife. And thanks to the many artifacts the ancient Egyptians left within their tombs, we now have an incredible insight into their epic history. Still, there is nothing quite like seeing them up close… especially on camel back.

Read More: UNESCO Bucket List: 100 Top World Heritage Sites to See

7. Swim in Jellyfish Lake in Palau

Jellyfish Lake in the Micronesian country of Palau is home to millions of jellyfish that are deemed relatively harmless since their sting is so light. It was still frightening for the first five minutes to be surrounded by jellyfish, some brushing up against my body. But, after the panic dissipated, this was one of my all-time favorite bucket list travel adventures.

Read More: Swim in Jellyfish Lake in Palau

Jellyfish Lake in Palau

8. Sleep in an Overwater Bungalow in Bora Bora

You’ve seen the photos of a string of bungalows perched atop the azure waters below. A memorable trip to Tahiti’s Bora Bora must include a night in one of these overwater hideaways where you can wake by diving into the warm water and go to sleep to the sound of the swish of the water beneath you. One of the most luxurious ones you will find is at the Four Seasons .

9. Marvel at Guyana’s Kaieteur Falls

Venture into the Amazon rainforest to see Kaieteur Falls in Guyana, the world’s widest single-drop waterfall. Kaieteur Falls is one of the world’s most powerful waterfalls with an immense volume of water from the Potaro river plummeting down a cliff at a height of more than 700 feet in the Kaieteur National Park. Located in Guyana’s Potaro-Siparuni region, the waterfall nestled in the Amazon rainforest is the closest you can get to pure nature when compared with other well-known waterfalls. As you watch the more than 350-foot-wide waterfall plunge from the edge of the steep rock face, you will be in awe of the beauty and power of nature.

Read More: Guyana’s Kaieteur Falls: One of South America’s Best Waterfalls

Annette at Kaieteur Falls in Guyana

10. Walk Through Indonesia’s Tegalalang Rice Terraces

If you’ve seen pictures from Bali, you’ve probably seen a few of these stunning green rice paddies. They are some of the island’s most popular destinations for travelers, and they don’t disappoint!

The traditional Tegalalang Rice Terraces are just about half an hour north of Ubud, in the Tegalalang Village. The whole community pitches in to maintain the paddies’ complex irrigation system, which is centuries old. They also let tourists in to wander much of the terraces for free.

Read More: Bali Points of Interest: 1-Day Itinerary in Indonesia’s Popular Cruise Port

Tegalalang Rice Terraces

11. Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Take your life list to another level and trek through the dense rain forest of Uganda to get a close encounter with the mountain gorillas of the jungle. The fact that these species are on the brink of extinction and you need to travel to faraway lands to see them adds to the experience. A great place to see them is at Bwindi Forest National Park .

12. Drive Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway

The Million Dollar Highway is a 25 mile section of U.S Route 550, from Silverton to Ouray in Coloraado. It was initially built in the 1880s, and offers one of the most thrilling road experiences. The highway is part of the San Juan Skyway that snakes its way through the San Juan mountains passing through Dolores, Telluride and Durango.

You will go up and down three mountain passes – the Coal Bank Pass, the Molas Pass and the Red Mountain Pass during a ride on this route. All three have an elevation of more than 10,000 feet (3000 m) each. In certain areas, watch out for steep drops, hairpin bends and absence of guardrails. Keep your eyes on the road during the tricky sections, and admire the stunning vistas during the easy portions of the drive.

Of course you can drive your own car along this adventurous route, or a more unique idea is to do as I did and make the ride even more thrilling in a sporty Polaris Slingshot !

Million Dollar Highway

13. Tour a Monastery at Meteora in Greece

Greece is not all about white buildings with blue rooftops and delicious Greek food . There is so much more to explore. Like, the Meteora monasteries. Meteora, meaning “suspended in the air” in Greek, is a magical complex of six active monasteries that are strategically built on natural sandstone pillars, some that rise up to thirteen hundred feet in the air.

Perched on the pinnacles of the Thessaly region, worshippers came to this world heritage site to discover peace and absolute isolation. Many years ago, access to these monasteries was strenuous, using handmade ladders and baskets with a pulley system to hoist the monks and their goods up — this was a system that had long been abandoned by the time I had arrived!

You can admire the Meteora Monasteries from afar, but also take the opportunity to tour the interiors and get a glimpse into a monk’s lifestyle one thousand years ago.

You can attempt to navigate to Meteora on your own or for an easier option book a tour: 2-Day Trip to Delphi and Meteora from Athens .

Monastery at Meteora in Greece

14. Cruise through Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay

Just three-and-a-half-hour drive from the bustle of the city of Hanoi lays a peaceful set of 1,600 islands and islets, Halong Bay. This UNESCO World Heritage site has been the backdrop to many movies, including the Oscar-winning Indochine. Spend a day or a week cruising through the green-topped limestone islands and emerald waters on an ancient-style junk boat.

Read More: Halong Bay Day Trip: The Best Vietnam Junk Boat Cruise Book a Tour: Halong Bay Islands and Caves: Full-Day Tour from Hanoi or Halong Bay 2-Day Cruise with V’Spirit Cruises

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

15. Sleep in an Ice Hotel in Sweden

Each year in the village of Jukkasjärvi, in northern Sweden, the IceHotel is built from natural ice and snow. It is an art exhibition as much as a hotel, where the canvases span from floor to ceiling. Spend the night in one of their negative-five-degree rooms, where you will be surrounded by artistically chiseled ice. It’s a bonus that there is also a chance of seeing the Northern Lights from their location on the bank of the Torne River.

16. Marvel at the Taj Mahal

This incredible towering structure is a tribute to one of the greatest love stories of all time. Emperor Shan Jahan built it as the burial tomb for his favorite wife after her death in the 17 th century. It is perfectly symmetrical, built of white marble from around the world, and detailed with semi-precious stones. Due to his obsession with symmetry two identical mosques flank each side of the Taj Mahal itself and it is surrounded by lush green gardens. It is not hard to see why it is one of the seven wonders of the world.

I got to see it while on a luxury train ride through India aboard the Palace on Wheels !

Annette inside the Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh, India

17. Go Tidal Bore Rafting in Nova Scotia

The Nova Scotia tides cause 160 billion tons of water flow through the Bay of Fundy twice a day, which feeds into the Shubenacadie River. This surge of seawater creates a once-in-a-lifetime adventure like no other, tidal bore rafting . It’s a wild ride where you will zip through up to 10 foot waves, they will crash over your motorized raft drenching you from head to toe or submerging you completely. If you have only one adventurous thing you do in Nova Scotia, this is it!!

There are many companies that have Tidal Bore Rafting. River Runners , Shubenacadie River Adventures and Fundy Tidal Bore Adventures are amongst the most popular, plus have great reviews.

Read more: A Nova Scotia Adventure: Tidal Bore Rafting the Bay of Fundy Tides

YouTube video

18. Take a Gondola in Venice

At one time this truly iconic activity was the only way to get around Venice. Although today there are more than one way to see the city, taking a gondola in Venice remains the most magical. As you drift along waterways with a lover, friend, or group you will pass under stone bridges and by gorgeous ancient buildings, palazzos and churches to discover corners of Venice only accessible by water. This is one of the more common ideas that is still a once in a lifetime experience in one of the world’s most picturesque city’s.

19. See the Sunrise at Borobudur Temple in Indonesia

You will need to begin your day in the wee hours of the morning (we woke up at 3:30am!) to catch the sunrise over Borobudur Temple , but it will be worth it. The historical UNESCO World Heritage site is set on a mountaintop in the central Java area of Indonesia , amidst volcanoes and lush forest. It is the world’s largest Buddhist temple, with over 500 Buddha statues scattered around the site.

Climbing to the top of 95-foot high pyramid is like a pilgrimage in itself, providing an inner peace and enlightenment. Beware that the ascent of this monument can be difficult, but there are several terraces to explore along the way, each one giving a different perspective.

Read More: 3 Sacred Indonesian Places to Visit in Yogyakarta

Borobudur Temple Compounds, Indonesia

20. Climb Half-dome in Yosemite

This challenging hike is well-worth the effort to one of the world’s most iconic precipitates. The summit raises nearly 6000 feet above the Yosemite Valley, with the last 400 feet of the summit being assisted by metal cables. Needless to say this not for the faint of heart but it always exceeds expectations!

21. Explore the Ancient Ruins of Petra in Jordan

The ancient city of Petra was carved into the rose colored sandstone cliffs by the Nabataeans as early as 312BC. There are over 30 incredible sites spread over 60 square kilometers, from temples to tombs to elaborate buildings. No Trip to Jordan would be complete without a stop here.

Three days a week visitors can attend Petra at Night , where over 1,500 candles light the mile trek from the Siq to the Treasury, an elaborate two-story tomb. A group of roughly two hundred people will walk through the narrow rock fissures that are lit by candlelight. Walking through the Siq at night is a very mysterious experience. But, don’t miss Petra by day too.

During the day, you can wander way beyond the iconic Treasury building and explore trails that will pass by the Street of Facades, the Theater, countless tombs and through the Arch.

Read More: Explore Petra Archaeological Site in Jordan Book a Tour: Private Tour: Petra Day Trip including Little Petra from Amman

Colonnaded Street in Petra

22. Hike the Cinque Terre in Italy

Savor every moment of the Cinque Terre region by hiking from each charming village to the next and if you have time, staying at lovely guesthouses along the way. The path is well-maintained, well-marked, and affords truly astounding views of one of Italy’s most picturesque landscapes. You will discover various sections of the trail wind through fog covered mountains to only moments later reveal the sparkling Mediterranean coastline below! It’s a must-see and here’s everything you need to know about hiking Cinque Terre .

23. Explore the Silent City of Mdina in Malta

Mdina is the old capital of Malta and referred to as the “Silent City”. It’s not to hard to understand why. There are limited cars that can enter to immaculate town, mostly owned by the approximately 300 residents. This contributes to the peaceful atmosphere as you stroll through the narrow cobbled streets admiring the shuttered windows and a handful of quaint shops.

For a special evening, dine at The Mdina Restaurant , which specializes in Mediterranean and local cuisine, like the Stuffat Tal-Qarnit , a traditional stew consisting of octopus cooked in red wine, raisins, apples and roasted walnuts.

It’s easy to get around on your own or book one of these two tours: Mdina: Full-Day Tour with Lunch or Mosta, Crafts Village, Mdina & Valletta Full-day Tour .

Explore the Silent City of Mdina

24. Climb Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro

Standing at over 19,000 feet, Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak. The once-in-a-lifetime trek to the summit will have you hiking through lush rainforests, over glaciers, and across the Tanzanian landscape, plus traveling through four different climatic zones. It takes roughly six days to reach what has been called “the roof of Africa,” where the stunning view will be worth the challenge. This is one of the most popular ideas on people’s  Things to do Before You Die  lists!

25. Climb to the Peak of Sigiriya Rock in Sri Lanka

Sigiriya is an ancient palace built in 480 AD, located in the central Matale District of Sri Lanka. This  UNESCO World Heritage site  is known for its beautifully landscaped gardens, well-preserved frescos, and twelve hundred different anxiety-producing levels of stairs to reach the summit. These steps will bring you to the sky palace that sits atop the rock, a royal residence built sixteen hundred years ago.

Read More: Climb to the Peak of Sigiriya Rock in Sri Lanka

Annette at Ancient City of Sigiriya, Central Province, Sri Lanka

26. Dive the Great Barrier Reef

Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef stretches for more than 1,200 miles, running parallel to the Queensland coastline. It is the world’s largest coral reef system with over 2,900 reefs, 1,500 fish species, 400 types of coral, and 900 remote islands. Scuba divers flock here to glide with hundreds of manta rays, marvel at the colorful sea fans, and swim with schools of blackfin barracudas.

27. Kayak with Beluga Whales in Manitoba

Between mid-June to September one of Canada’s most incredible wildlife display happens — the beluga whales come to town. More than 50,000 of these sociable creatures patrol the Arctic in Northern Manitoba, and the Hudson Bay coastline sees the world’s largest population.

Nicknamed ‘melon heads’ these majestic, fluorescent white creatures will mesmerize as much as baffle you as they swim right up to your kayak. I glided along while whales swam underneath and next to me, a couple babies even came right up to the boat to inspect my GoPro .

Read More: Kayaking with Beluga Whales in Manitoba


28. Walk the Spanish El Camino de Santiago de Compostela

El Camino de Santiago  was originally a pilgrimage leading to Santiago de Compostela, to the tomb of the apostle St. James. Now, scores of people on a personal journey walk this five-hundred- mile network of routes across Spain and Europe. Whether the motivation is spiritual or adventurous, many choose to take this month long challenge.

29. Experience Istanbul’s Call to Prayer at the Blue Mosque

Five times a day throughout the streets of Istanbul you can hear the trilling call to prayer, also known as ezan. During this time the voice of the bellowing muezzin, the man who calls the Muslims to prayer from a minaret, can be heard over the loud- speakers at different mosques in the city. One of the best locations to witness this is while sitting on the benches between the  Blue Mosque  and Hagia Sophia as a quavering musical battle begins.

Read More:   Experience Istanbul’s Call to Prayer at the Blue Mosque

30. Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is an Incan citadel that stands 2,430 meters above sea level in the mountain forest of Peru. Getting to this ancient city can be done by train, bus, or a four-day Inca trail trek along the same paths that the Incans did years ago. People choose the challenging hike not only to see other ruins along the way, but for the sense of pride when reaching this UNESCO World Heritage Site by foot.

31. Swim with Whale Sharks in Cancun

Don’t let the name “whale shark” scare you, these enormous fish are gentle giants. During the warm season, hundreds migrate to the waters of the Caribbean Sea. A boat ride from Cancun will take you to a place where you can swim with several of the largest fish in the world that grow up to sixty feet long and can weigh over forty thousand pounds. It is a thrill to be face to face with their gigantic mouths that can extend five feet when open. You can get up close and personal with a Cancun Whale Shark Tour .

Read More: Swim with Whale Sharks in Cancun

Whale Sharks in Cancun

32. Trek to Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal

At over twenty-nine thousand feet, Mount Everest soars above Khumbu in northeastern Nepal. Though a rare few attempt to reach the summit, the trek to Everest Base Camp at 17,590 feet is still a challenging adventure and an achievable goal for the rest of us. Along the way the stunning Himalaya views, hospitability of the village people, and spectacular glimpse of its peak will take you aback.

33. Go on an African Safari

There are plenty of places in Africa to go on safari, but mine was done in Tanzania with the Shadows of Africa tour team. For four days we explored the surreal Ngorongoro, Tarangire and Serengeti National Parks. Though we missed out on spotting the big five, because of the elusive rhino, it was still one of the most memorable travel bucket list adventures on my list of things to do before you die.

Read More: African Safari in Tanzania: The Ultimate Itinerary and Tour

African Safari

34. Walk the Great Wall of China

Even if you’re not up for tackling the entire 1800-mile length of the Great Wall, taking the opportunity to walk even a section will give you a boundless appreciation for one of mankind’s greatest engineering feats. The beauty of the surrounding landscape is astounding as you meander along the ancient border of China and Mongolia. You will pass over steep mountain ranges, thick vegetation, and see dots of villages in the distance. As you walk along remember that it was built as early as the 7 th century- a truly impressive achievement!

35. Ride in a Vintage Car in Havana

For more than 50 years Cuba has lived in seclusion from the western world, so entering Havana feels like you are being truly transported back in time. Riding around in one of the beautiful vintage cars still on the road is a quintessential Cuban experience. You will fly by turquoise waters, and grand, ethereal buildings in various states of repair. But hurry before the hordes of tourists get there, and for good measure pop in a classic Cuban Cigar for the ride.

Read more: Havana Bucket List: 40 Things to Do In Cuba’s Capital

Vintage Car in Havana

36. Attend the Kentucky Derby

It isn’t just the world-class horses that set the Kentucky Derby apart from other horse races, it’s the spectacular hats. Let your inner Southern Belle emerge, and don your most dramatic bonnet while watching what has been called the “greatest two minutes in sports.”

37. Watch the Florence Sunset over the Arno River

There is a rumor that when the Germans were retreating, they were under strict orders from the Führer himself NOT to destroy the Ponte Vecchio Bridge. That is how beautiful this structure is, even today.

Lined with souvenir shops and high-end jewelers, this medieval work of art is something you have to cross at least once when in Florence. Be warned, it gets a little hectic because of the amount of human traffic it sees! After the chaos and shopping, simply walk to the next bridge over to watch the sun set over the Arno River as it illuminates the Ponte Vecchio Bridge in all its splendor.

Don’t forget to make a quick stop at Gusta Pizza beforehand to get a take out pie to bring to the river!

38. Shop the Souks in Morocco

The Souks in Morocco are nothing if not lively. The colorful stalls are filled with a myriad of patterns, details and countless aromas. You can buy anything from tapestries, to leather, and spices. And even if shopping isn’t your thing, the souks in Morocco are a must-see cultural experience. You will be graced with glimpses of the daily lives of the Moroccan locals. Just remember, if you are shopping don’t be afraid to haggle! It is all a part of the experience.

39. Visit Dracula’s Castle in Transylvania

High above the valley of Romania, in the principality of Transylvania, there lies an unusual castle that is said to have once been occupied by Count Dracula himself. You will find the gothic Bran Castle near the town of Brasov, which has long been linked to this ancient vampire, though Dracula probably won’t be there when you arrive. There is a mystical atmosphere surrounding  Bran Castle ; it looks like the perfect setting for a vampire novel, perched on top of a hill and filled with dozens of tunneled stairs, dark wood paneling, and stark white walls.

Read More:   Visit Dracula at Bran Castle in Transylvania, Romania

Dracula’s Castle in Transylvania

40. Climb the Eiffel Tower in Paris

If you think the city of Paris is beautiful from street level, you will be astonished to see it from the heart of the Eiffel Tower. There are three levels of the tower but the views from the top are truly breathtaking. The top level can be reached by lift, or steps depending on your preference. Did you know that every 7 years the tower is painted three different colors? Lighter at the top and darker at the bottom to give the tower the illusion of extra height. See for yourself if it is as tall as your imagined with this bucket list experience.

41. Bicycle (or Walk) Across the Golden Gate

Even though it happens often for me, driving over the Golden Gate bridge still is impressive. But, what is even more thrilling is taking a bicycle ride or a walk across San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge . You can bring your own bike or easily rent one nearby. Blazing Saddles is a reputable company that will take you on an 8-mile guided bike tour that includes a ride across the bridge or choose to do a self-guided trip ( booking information here ). Just be sure to abide by the laws of the bridge for bikes and pedestrians.

Book a Tour: Cycle The Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Ticket

Golden Gate

42. Go to Mardi Gras in Louisiana

Mardi Gras is often dubbed the “Great Show on Earth”, and with good reason. It is truly madness… but of the best kind! Several parades are held leading up to the main event, Fat Tuesday, which typically falls from early February to early March. On the day of, the French Quarter comes alive with people from around the globe for the parades, ceremonies and parties. Locals even liken the event to their version of Christmas, and spend the year leading up to it painstakingly preparing their costumes or floats. So don’t be afraid to don your own costume for this incredible experience. The locals love it when you do!

43. Float in the Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is a salt lake over thirteen hundred feet below sea level, making it the lowest elevation on Earth. Nestled between the  country of Jordan  to the east and Israel to the west, the unusually high salt concentration (8.6 times saltier than the ocean) causes a natural buoyancy that makes people float. Many people use this oasis as a chance to aimlessly drift while reading a newspaper.

Read More:   Float in the Dead Sea

A great view of Dead Sea in Jordan

44. See the Northern Lights

The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) are mysterious twists of multicolored lights that can only be seen in a handful of locations in the world, mostly in the Arctic Circle. To witness them is a once-in-a-lifetime experience whether you do it while relaxing in a thermal spa in Iceland, cruising on a yacht through Alaska, or night dogsled-ding in Norway. Check out the  Aurora Zone  for help.


This travel bucket list goal was definitely inspired by the movie Under the Tuscan Sun. There are plenty to choose from, but just a few kilometers South of Siena you will find  Villa Pippistrelli , a luxury Tuscan farmhouse located on the  Monstegliano  estate. This charming house is everything you’d expect from a Tuscan villa. It may be old in years, but the villa has been restored with present-day conveniences and elegant interiors while still keeping its rustic 17th century Tuscan feel.

Read More:  Stay in a Tuscan Villa in Italy  and if you are in the city check out the  Florence Bucket List: 40 of the Best Things to Do

travel ideas world


Blanketing more than forty-five hundred square miles, the Salar de Uyuni is a flat salt dessert that seems to go on infinitely. It is the remains of a lake that once covered the southwestern corner of Bolivia, but is now a vastness of white that plays an optical illusion on you. During the wet season, the shallow water that collects acts as a mirror of the sky, showing reflections of the sky and clouds, making the world seem endless. In the dry season, you can walk or drive across it, taking goofy photos that play with the lack of perspective created by the continuous sheets of hexagonal tiles.

travel ideas world

47. Volunteer at a Elephant Rescue in Thailand

In Northern Thaila n d , an hour from Chiang Mai ‘s city center, I spent a memorable day volunteering at the Elephant Nature Park . This is a special place where there was an eclectic bunch of Asian Elephants; some old, some young, some blind, some injured from working in the logging industry, some abused and some rescued from the circus. Not only will you be able to feed these majestic creatures, but you can also take them down to the river for a bath.

Want to know more about visiting an elephant rescue? Read about my experience: Bathe Elephants at a Rescue in Thailand and if your elephant volunteer travels take you to Chiang Mai, check out my Bucket List of 18 Things to Do in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Annette as a Volunteer at a Elephant Rescue in Thailand

48. Hot Air Balloon over Cappadocia

See the surreal landscape of Cappadocia from high above in a sky dotted with colorful balloons. Cappadocia is the land in central Turkey known for its fairy chimneys (rock formations), rolling vineyards, and troglodyte dwellings that are best seen from three thousand feet in the air. Butterfly Balloons can take you up up and away.

49. Hike the Active Pacaya Volcano in Guatemala

Just like skiing and mountaineering is a part of the culture of the Swiss Alps, volcano hiking is huge chunk of the culture in Guatemala. The country has 37 officially named volcanoes, three of which that are still active. And you can hike up one.

The Volcano of Pacaya is one of the most accessible volcanoes in Guatemala, which makes it very popular. You will be sharing the trail with many others. This, along with the food stands that you will find on different segments of the trail and the marshmallows you will get to toast on the heat of the volcanic rock, make the experience much more fun. Bring some graham crackers and chocolate if you want to make your marshmallow a s’more!

Read More:   Guatemala’s Pacaya Volcano Hike: What to Expect

Annette at Pacaya Volcano in Guatemala

50. Go to the City Where Your Family Comes From

This is always a truly incredible experience whether it is near or far. Maybe you will finally be able to put your eyes some elements of a story your family members have talked about for years or perhaps you will have an opportunity to meet family you didn’t even know you had. You never truly know what you will find on a genealogical trip because no two trips are ever the same! One thing is for sure though you will feel a sense of connection with your roots. Bonus points if you bring another family member to share the experience with.

51. See Mount Rushmore

Located in South Dakota, Mount Rushmore is famous for the sculpted heads carved into its granite, featuring former iconic presidents of the United States: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. It is so impressive that most people have it included in their travel bucket list – and you should have it on yours, too!

Mount Rushmore

52. Admire the Blue Flames at Ijen Volcano

Of all the thrilling volcanoes in the world, Ijen Volcano in Indonesia’s East Java is among the most gorgeous to view from up close. It is particularly loved for its acidic volcanic crater lake, the largest of its kind in the world, which is piercingly turquoise in its coloring.

Blue Flames at Ijen Volcano

53. Step Inside the Forbidden City

Do what the ordinary people during Ming Dynasty sadly could not do, and step inside the Forbidden City to discover the rich history one of the most significant palaces in the world holds within its premises.

the Forbidden City

54. Ogle the Golden Temple

The Golden Temple is one of the most sacred locations for Sikhs. It is also among the numerous bucket list places to visit in India, visitors frolicking to the site to admire the fully golden dome.

Golden Temple

55. Take in the View from Burj Khalifa

As the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa is quite the spectacle to view on the ground level. However, to enjoy even more spectacular views, you ought to head to the top of the building where one of the highest outdoor observation decks in the world exists. On a great day you may even see Iran in the distance.

Burj Khalifa

56. Take an Alaskan Cruise

Something that may still not come across often as epic traveling bucket list ideas is to embark on an Alaskan Cruise. Why do it when you can tour the Caribbean Sea or Antarctica instead? I’d say because it’s an incredible mix of wild animals and blue glaciers for you to discover from up close, and the cruises come packed with amazing excursions to take part in on the shore.

There are so many great things to do in Alaska , and by taking a cruise you will get to see a lot of them!

Alaskan Cruise

57. Attend La Tomatina Festival in Spain

If you’re in Spain in late August of any year, then La Tomatina Festival must get on your bucket list! It’s a really fun festival where you simply need to throw others with tomatoes – and expect to be covered in tomatoes yourself. Don’t wear your best clothes for the event, but definitely bring your fun loving attitude with you.

58. Be Intrigued by Stonehenge

Believed to be constructed sometime between 3000BC and 2000BC, this English marvel is another must for any travel bucket list. Stonehenge is seen as a cultural icon of sorts and is one of the most significant sites to set foot on in all of the United Kingdom. Although there is no one confirmed theory of why it was built, although it’s mostly seen to have been a burial site, it’s so important – and fun to see – as it is the most architecturally sophisticated stone circle in the world that dates back to prehistoric times.


59. Attend Cherry Blossom Season in Japan

Although you can also see some gorgeous cherry blossoms in Washington DC, around South Korea, and some places in Europe, there’s really no beating being in Japan during the cherry blossom season. Tokyo is dubbed the best place in the world for viewing cherry blossoms, and not without reason, with Kyoto being another top spot in particular. However, you can see cherry blossoms just about anywhere in mainland Japan.

Cherry Blossom Season in Japan

60. Climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Yes, while you can get a quirky shot posing with the Leaning Tower of Pisa on the ground, you might actually have a more fun experience by climbing up its nearly 300 steps to get to the top.

For more information check out our article: Leaning Tower of Pisa: Insider Facts for Your Visit

Leaning Tower of Pisa

61. Climb the Mount Fuji

For the Japanese, climbing to the top of Mount Fuji is one of their most sacred traditions. It’s an incredibly strenuous hike up, but of course comes with amazing views from high up. Although just getting a picturesque shot of Mount Fuji from a distance is on many travel bucket lists, Mount Fuji itself is also one of the greatest bucket list places to visit in Japan.

Mount Fuji

62. Discover Al-Masjid an-Nabawi

Not only is Al-Masjid an-Nabawi , Mosque of the Prophet, the second largest mosque in the world, it is also the second holiest Islam mosque to set foot on. Prophet Muhammad himself built this mosque, and it is absolutely among the biggest bucket list destinations for anyone with interest in touring different religious sites in the world.

Al-Masjid an-Nabawi

63. Marvel at Iguazu Falls

Bordering Brazil on one side and Argentina on the other, the Iguazu Falls have Niagara Falls paling in comparison. It is the world’s largest waterfall system, consisting of 275 falls altogether. Quite impressive to see indeed!

Iguazu Falls

64. Explore the Jeita Grotto

Located in Beirut, these two interconnected limestone caves referred to as Jeita Grotto are the longest caves you’ll find in the Middle East. Although it ultimately did not get chosen as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature (which the above mentioned Iguazu Falls has an honor of being!) it is still a wondrous creation of nature.

65. Discover the Magnificent Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is a temple of significance within the city of Angkor, the former capital of Khmer Empire. It was built at the start of the 12th century, and is essentially seen as the peak of Khmer architecture. Although the city was abandoned in the 16th century, Angkor Wat has remained a majorly significant religious site to date.

Angkor Wat

66. Discover the Remains of the Berlin Wall

Although it may not be the most aesthetically pleasing place to visit, the Berlin Wall – or what’s left of it – is one of the most significant sites detailing the times of the Cold War. For that reason alone, it deserves to be placed on any travel bucket list, and Berlin is such a cool place to visit in general that you’ll want to go there one day anyway, so why not have the Berlin Wall included in that itinerary?

Berlin Wall

67. Witness the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem

Also known as Western Wall, this is the holiest place for the Jewish people after Temple Mount, to which they only have restricted access these days. It was built before AD by Herod the Great, and just like Al-Masjid an-Nabawi in Saudi Arabia, is a must visit for anyone interested in discovering important religious sites, and especially to those with a direct religious connection to the Wailing Wall.

Wailing Wall in Jerusalem

68. See the Pamukkale Hot Springs

Not only are these hot springs in Turkey believed to contain numerous healing properties, they are absolutely stunning to see in person. Not to mention, the tale goes that even Cleopatra herself has bathed here once upon a time!

Pamukkale Hot Springs

69. Walk the Las Vegas Strip

Even if gambling isn’t your thing in the slightest bit, walking at least a portion of this 4.2 mile strip is a sight to see as many of the world’s largest – and flashiest – hotel and casino complexes reside on both sides of the Strip. It is a significant piece of street in one of the most iconic tourist areas in the world.

70. See a Show at the Sydney Opera House

While the Sydney Opera House is primarily famous for its external architectural qualities, it’s totally worth catching a show if you’re in the area. It is so large it can house half a dozen venues and theaters, largest of which is the Concert Hall that can seat up to 2,679 people at once. Besides opera, you can also see symphony concerts, popular music shows, dance performances here, and even film screenings in the smaller theaters.

Sydney Opera House

71. See the Wildlife on the Galapagos Islands

Although at first thought you might not consider the wildlife on Galapagos Islands anything special due to only a few certain species living there, where the secluded island wins is in how pristine its environment is. More than that, its specialness lies in how clearly the islands can showcase how natural selection operates. Thus, while the amount of species may be limited, visiting the wildlife here is bound to be more unique than embarking on a safari.

Read More About the Galapagos Islands:

  • See the Blue-Footed Booby Mating Dance in the Galápagos Islands
  • See Galapagos Penguins in the Wild

Wildlife on the Galapagos Islands

72. Explore Sensoji Temple

Located in Tokyo’s Asakusa District, this Buddhist Temple is among the most colorful you can find in Tokyo. Beyond its gorgeous architecture, it is one of the most important temples in Tokyo as well as its oldest one.

Sensoji Temple

73. Explore the Waitomo Glowworm Caves

With thousands of glow worms lighting up the grotto ceilings, hopping on a boat to explore the Waitomo Glowworm Caves is perhaps even more magical than seeing the starriest of night skies. As this experience is unique to New Zealand, you really have no choice but to add this on to your bucket list destinations.

74. Explore Brazil’s Lençóis Maranhenses National Park

Lençóis Maranhenses National Park  is an incredible site to visit especially during the rainy season when the rain fills up the rolling sand dunes with small lagoons. The national park is especially popular among the ecotourists, and is home to four different endangered species.

Lençóis Maranhenses National Park

75. Get Splashed at Niagara Falls

Now, while I may have said above that Niagara Falls pales in comparison to Iguazu Falls, they’re not a world famous waterfall for no merit. This ancient waterfall may not be the largest but it is the fastest-moving one, and witnessing its water flows can be quite the spectacle.

Niagara Falls

76. Hike on the Rainbow Mountain

Peru’s Vinicunca , aka Rainbow Mountain, is one of the most distinctive hikes you’ll ever embark on, thanks to the mountain’s unique coloring. It’s especially interesting as its unique striped features were actually hidden under thick layers of snow until just a few years ago, although even today the stripes are caught in their full beauty only outside of the rainy season.

The Rainbow Mountain is on our  Cusco Peru Bucket List that has the best things to do in Machu Picchu’s gateway city.

Rainbow Mountain

77. Hike to Christ the Redeemer of Brazil

Even if you’re not the least bit religious, this Art Deco statue placed on a mountain above Rio de Janeiro is a must see. It’s pretty glorious to see from numerous angles, including from the ground below. It should only take an hour or two at most of your time to hike up and find yourself standing right at the roots of the statue.

Christ the Redeemer of Brazil

78. Relax at Blue Lagoon

One of the many reasons people flock to Iceland, this geothermal spa is beautifully blue and an incredibly relaxing place to spend a couple of hours in. The Blue Lagoon itself is manmade, using a nearby geothermal power station’s waters, which have been proven to help with psoriasis symptoms especially.

79. Sail to the Statue of Liberty

Undoubtedly among New York City’s most iconic attractions, seeing the Statue of Liberty on a boat ride may be the most fun way to get close to it. By joining a cruise to the statue, you’ll get to enjoy seeing how NYC looks from a boat.

Statue of Liberty

80. Visit Santorini in Greece

Although there’s numerous gorgeous places to visit in Greece, Santorini in particular seems to top many bucket lists. It offers a display of authentic and charming architecture, plus a whole lot of stunning views, and even with the magnetic pull it has on travelers, it’s managed to stay quite true to traditions.

If you do decide to visit read this first: Santorini Bucket List: 30 Best Things to Do on the Greek Island

Santorini in Greece

81. See the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace

Once you’ve made your way to London, don’t just run past Buckingham Palace after snagging a quick photo of it, stay to watch the changing of the guards – in fact, time your visit to Buckingham Palace so that you don’t miss it! It’s one of the most iconic and popular ceremonies in the world, and worth seeing at least once.

To learn more, read  A Guide to Changing of the Guard at London’s Buckingham Palace

Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace

82. See your reflection at Salar de Uyuni

If you want to see the biggest and most magical salt flat on the planet, you’ve got to go visit Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. It’s intriguing to see any day of the year, but especially just after it’s rained, as the thin layer of rainwater stuck on the salt flats turns the whole site into a huge mirror.

83. See the Dragons on Komodo Island

Sadly, they may not look like the dragons in fairy tales and fantasy movies, nor do they hold the same powers, but they’re a rare and intriguing animal to witness in the wild. They do also have the title of the world’s largest lizard going for them! And you can visit them on Komodo Island .

Dragons on Komodo Island

84. Tahiti in French Polynesia

Besides offering those dreamy overwater bungalows and fun snorkeling opportunities, Tahiti is a great destination also for its dramatic mountains and gorgeous waterfalls. You’ll also find yourself falling in love with the local cuisine and culture, I bet.

Tahiti in French Polynesia

85. Visit The Maldives

Similarly to Tahiti, The Maldives are another hot spot for those longing to go on a once-in-a-lifetime romantic holiday by the turquoise waters. The overwater bungalows of The Maldives are possibly the most famous ones in the world, and besides an incredible marine life to discover underwater, it’s not only romantic but a truly tranquil travel destination.


86. Stand in Times Square in New York City

Times Square is the most famous spot in all of New York City to stand in. It’s pumped up with billboards and neon lights, and you’ll absolutely find yourself marveling at all that after dark.

Times Square in New York City

87. Visit Meiji Jingu Shrine

Although the original Meiji Jingu Shrine was unfortunately destroyed during World War 2, another one was quickly built in its place. It is dedicated to Emperor Meiji, modern Japan’s first emperor, although you won’t find his grave here. The Meiji Period is notable for its modernization of Japan. As an additional plus, this shrine is located in the middle of a forest, for that extra layer of serenity and beauty.

Meiji Jingu Shrine

88. Visit Pompeii

Only ruins remain of Pompeii , which was destroyed in 79 AD during Mount Vesuvius’ eruption. Even so, it remains a spectacular display of Ancient Roman times, and thanks to all that ash, the remains of Pompeii have actually remained exceptionally preserved to date.


89. Visit St. Peter’s Basilica

One of the most significant monuments and religious sites for Christians, especially Catholics, this magnificent St. Peter’s Basilica  is also the largest church in the world. It’s also a burial site for previous popes, and unless you’ve got a ticket in advance, you may end up waiting hours to get in.

St. Peter’s Basilica

90. Visit the Acropolis of Athens

The most iconic mainland Greece item to add onto your travel bucket list is the ancient Acropolis. It is an incredibly popular destination to visit and is an amazing representation of the Ancient Greek times.

Acropolis Athens

91. Visit the British Museum

Among the oldest museums in the world is the massive British Museum , where you can find awesome collections from many different cultures including Egyptian, Etruscan, and European. And the best bit? It’s free to enter!

92. Visit the city of Lhasa and the Potala Palace

Located in Tibet, Lhasa is famous for its numerous historical attractions with roots in Buddhism, including the Potala Palace , which used to be the winter palace for Dalai Lamas for over three centuries. This palace is also one of the most famous spiritual sanctuaries you can find on the globe.

Lhasa and the Potala Palace

93. Tour the Colosseum in Rome

The impressive Colosseum is Italy’s most visited attraction, and while it’s quite extraordinary to view from the outside alone, to get the most out of it, you’ll of course want to walk through it and discover bits of Ancient Roman times.

Colosseum in Rome

94. Visit the Grand Canyon in Northern Arizona

This magnificent canyon is one of the biggest natural wonders in the world. Although it is actually not the deepest or widest canyon you could come across, it is indisputably significant in displaying natural history. Plus it’s simply gorgeous to visit. For an extra bucket list worthy experience, take a helicopter ride into the grand canyon !

Grand Canyon in Northern Arizona

95. Visit the Grand Palace

At the heart of Bangkok you can find a complex of buildings forming the famed Grand Palace . Since the late 18th century, it has been the residence of kings of Siam, and kings of Thailand today. It’s considered special for its style of architecture, and one of its main attractions is the 14th century Emerald Buddha.

Grand Palace

96. Visit the Great Mosque of Cordoba

Formerly a mosque and currently operating as a cathedral, this Andalusian site , built as early as the 8th century, is most famous for its influential and ambitious style of Islamic religious architecture. Stepping inside of its doors feels as if you’ve been transferred way back in time.

Great Mosque of Cordoba

97. Visit the Louvre Museum

Besides just having the famous Mona Lisa in its collection, Louvre in general has one of the most diverse art collections in the world, dating back as far as 11,000 years ago. Formerly a royal palace, its interiors are quite spectacular to walk through.

Louvre Museum

98. Visit Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia

This magnificent and ambitious Roman Catholic minor basilica is not only absolutely stunning, also unique for the fact that it has actually still not finished building. Despite that, it was consecrated just a little over a decade ago, and is popular to visit for its truly iconic display of Gaudi’s distinctive architecture style.

While you are there, make sure to work on your Barcelona Bucket List !

Sagrada Familia

99. Visit the Sistine Chapel

Once you’ve finished ogling at the majestic St. Peter’s Basilica, make your way to the Vatican Palace, particularly into its Sistine Chapel . The palace in general is intriguing to explore through, but the Sistine Chapel is something else. It is famous for its frescoes painted by Michelangelo, including the absolutely amazing The Last Judgment piece. Here is also where the process of selecting a new pope takes place.

Sistine Chapel

100. Visit the Summer Palace in China

Also often called the Imperial Garden Museum, the Summer Palace is significant for the preservation of Chinese national heritage. It is a stunning and iconic site to visit in Beijing, even if not quite as famous as some other ones.

Summer Palace in China

101. See the White House

The White House is of course the most iconic presidential office and residence in the world, not to mention a rare opportunity to view a head of state’s private residence. Although you’ll get the best out of the visit by knowing historical key points in advance, it’s worthwhile to tour the White House and learn more of its rich history.

White House

102. Visit Versailles

The glamorous Versailles is possibly the best example of French Baroque style of architecture – it most certainly is the most lavish one. It’s beautiful throughout, but one of its most unique points is the Hall of Mirrors, complete with 357 mirrors.

103. Explore the Canals of Amsterdam

Amsterdam is known for its many canals, which offer a gorgeous backdrop to its already beautiful historic city center. The city center is easily walkable, making its canals accessible to you; alternatively, hopping onto a boat and touring through the canals on water can be quite a fun experience as well.

Canals of Amsterdam

104. Walk around on Mont Saint-Michel

Located in front of Normandy, Mont Saint-Michel is a tidal island famous for its abbey, which remains a significant pilgrimage site for Christians in the West since the middle ages, until today. It’s a beautiful abbey structure, with plenty of historical and cultural heritage to go around.

Mont Saint-Michel

105. Walk on Giant’s Causeway in Ireland

Formed through a volcanic fissure eruption in ancient times, the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland’s north coast is famous for its 40,000 or so basalt columns interlocked with each other. It’s a distinctive and picturesque slice of nature to walk on.

Annette at Giant’s Causeway in Ireland

106. Tour Chichen Itza of Mexico

This archaeological site is a must add to any travel bucket list, especially among those with interest in discovering Mayan ruins or similar sites. There are 26 different Mayan ruins to discover between Old Chichen and Chichen Itza, each with a story to tell.

Annette at Chichen Itza of Mexico

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46 thoughts on “Travel Bucket List: 100 Best Places to Visit & Destination Ideas”

Regarding gorillas in Uganda – it’s much easier to climb up to the same mountains on Rwanda side!

Thanks for the tip!

Wow, that’s one heck of a bucket list! I’ve been to many of these places, but so many more than I want/need to go! As soon as I knock one off, I end up adding several more. So many places, so little time.

Same for me! There are just too many amazing places in the world.

Nice post! Thanks for sharing!

Amazing Guide! Best places to visit around the world in a single blog!

There are many beautiful destinations await for us. I planned to travel aboard and I bought a new camera and can’t wait to hangout with great views!

What a great list! Thanks for this post!

It’s as if you were in my mind when you wrote this. I feel like you wrote down my actual bucket list. I didn’t know about that pig island though, definitely adding that one!

Hi Annette, again I’m so amaze with the choices of your travel list. Your one of the best!

Wow! It looks like the ultimate bucket list for any traveler. I would prefer visiting Wadi desert (Jordan) as my first one in this list.

thank you for some great ideas and inspiration.

Thank you for this post!! There is so much travel inspo contained here and I’m so excited to revise my list of potential 2020 travel destinations!

Mdina ❤️❤️❤️

This list is amazing! I hope I get the chance to visit even half of these places. The Dead Sea has been on the list since forever!

The Ultimate Travel Bucket List is very interesting! No wonder that trek to Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal is on the list. Obviously, mountain regions of Nepal offer great hikes and climbs. Travelling through the mighty Himalayas, you can feel like visiting the ultimate kingdom of the world. After all, the Himalayas lodge Mount Everest, the highest elevation on our planet.

Would love to do Raja Ampat and Jordan, as soon as travel opens up again ;) thanks for the inspo, it’s a great list with hidden spots!

Nice post, Thanks for sharing

thank you for sharing this useful information, this really helps. this is like reading an entire book and I can utilise this entire knowledge into my personal growth.

So many great things on this list! I’ve done quite a few on the list but still have a long way to go. My #1 bucket list item right now would probably be seeing the Pyramids in Egypt!

I love a good bucket list – and there are so many great ideas on your list! Visiting Sigiriya and hiking along Cinque Terre in Italy were fabulous experiences and I hope to dive the Great Barrier Reef before climate change impacts it forever.

Pamukkale Hot Springs are so high on my bucket list. I would love to visit Jordan too. This is a great list, thank you for sharing :)

Hot air ballooning in Turkey is one of my most favorite things I have done in all 78 countries I’ve visited. It’s a must experience for sure. So many more to add to my list. Thanks!

Checked 19 out of this list. Still plenty left to explore :) The world keeps flooding my never-ending to-do list

19 is still a good number. And I bet all those adventure are fun

Thanks, Annette, for such a great list. I loved that your list includes so many new places for me that are unfamiliar. Often, these lists are pretty typical. I added so many places to my personal list. The jellyfish in Palau sounds particularly intriguing. I find them to be beautifully scary creatures.

How do you determine where you are going to go next? Do you plan years in advance or one year to months to days in advance?

I actually don’t plan it a year in advance. Sometimes I go on a spontaneous trip or a month in advance planning.

I’ve done a large amount of these, but there are still so many more that I want to do! I’m doing most of the eastern/southern Africa ones next year as I’m spending a few months exploring 10 different countries.

Great list! Thanks for sharing. I’m copying some items from this list to my bucket list especially Camino de Santiago.

I’ve done sixteen on this list, but mine is a very different list of things that I want to see and do. The three places we have in common are Angkor Wat, St Peter’s and the Sistine Chapel. I don’t think great white sharks and whale sharks are on many people’s lists?

16? Wow, that’s amazing

Amazing list. Am glad to have done a few of these things and ticked them off but there are many more that need to be followed through. Wadi Rum for instance as well as EBC might get crossed off soon

Hi really nice article is given by you explained very well and proper explanation with image. i got a lot of idea from this post thanks for sharing the post and keep tough with us

thanks for such an amazing and informative blog

I read multiple articles and this is certainly one of the best and productive content I found. Thanks for sharing the useful article.

It’s really amazing places and destinations for travel

Thanks for the list we have been to some of these places such as Ha Long Bay and the Taj Mahal but so many more to visit. Enjoyed the article.

Wonderful article! Highly appreciate for putting in so much effort. This place will surely be on my upcoming bucket list. Waiting to have the best experience!

Thanks for such an amazing Bucket list! Many more places to visit have been added now by going through this!

Glad to hear that. Would be lovely to hear about your travel stories too.

Thank you very much for sharing those information. I got important information from here. Those are helpful information.

This extensive list of 100 best places to visit and destination ideas is an absolute treasure trove for avid travelers and dreamers alike. It covers a wide range of breathtaking locations, from iconic landmarks to hidden gems around the globe. Whether you’re seeking natural wonders, cultural experiences, or adventurous escapades, this list has it all. It’s filled with wanderlust-inducing descriptions and stunning visuals that transport you to far-off lands. From the magnificent temples of Angkor Wat to the vibrant streets of Tokyo, each destination is unique and promises unforgettable memories. Get ready to embark on an extraordinary journey of exploration and make your travel dreams a reality!

Thank you so much.

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100 Travel Bucket List Ideas

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Are you looking for travel bucket list ideas for your next trip? Running out of ideas or looking for fresh ones? From epic classics to exciting newcomers, we have selected the 100 best places to visit all over the world.

Where will 2024 lead you? 🙂

1. Get stunned by the Great Pyramid of Giza

The Great Pyramid - Bucket List Ideas

The Great Pyramid of Giza defines bucket list goals. Built over 5000 years ago, it’s the oldest and the biggest of the pyramids, the last structure of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World that survived.

It is a marvel of human engineering and construction, and a defining symbol of the Egyptian world.

Read more: Things to do in Cairo

2. Walk along the Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China -Bucket List Ideas

The Great Wall of China is a good reason for the existence of the Bucket List! It’s an astonishing relic of China’s history, and it’s a must for many travelers and tourists around the world, in fact, it is considered as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Identified as one of the most important symbols of China, it consists of numerous walls and fortification, many running parallels to each other for a measure of 8,850 km. The Great Wall can be visited from Beijing .

3. Explore Petra

Petra in Jordan - Bucket List ideas

Jordan’s rose-colored sandstone city is an extraordinary experience. On the border of the Arabian desert, hidden in the mountains of the Dead Sea, Petra is one of the most notorious archeological sites in the world.

The city’s architectural beauty comes from the fact that it was directly chiseled from the sandstone mountains. Temples, tombs, and monastery that you cannot miss!

4. Visit the Colosseum

The Colusseum - Bucket List Ideas

Recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Rome’s great gladiatorial arena is the most exciting of the city’s ancient sights. Also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, the Colosseum is the perfect example of Roman engineering and architecture.

It’s the largest amphitheater in the world and the site of some of the bloodiest and most brutal contests in history.

Read more how to book Colosseum tickets and the best things to do in Rome

5. Walk to Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza in Yutacan, Mexico - Bucket List Ideas

Located in the Yutacan state of Mexico, Chichen Itza is the best place to visit in the world if you are interested in an ancient Mayan city featuring ruins and architectural wonders that captures the culture and history of the people from the past.

For a cultural experience and a chance to discern a significant part of Mayan heritage, this is the right trip.

Read more: Things to do in Cancun

6. Trek to Machu Picchu

Trek to Machu Picchu in Peru - Bucket List Ideas

A trip to Incas’ lost city in Perù is a dream trip for many travelers. Machu Picchu is an Inca citadel situated on a mountain of 2,430 meters above sea level, that can be reached by a hike on mountain trails or a train trip through the valley of the Urubamba River.

As one of the best places to visit in the world and most visited tourist destinations in South America, Machu Picchu is sure to fill travelers with high expectations.

Read more about how to visit Machu Picchu

7. Discover the Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India - Bucket List Ideas

An enormous mausoleum of white marble, built in Agra between the 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Janan in memory of his beloved wife, the Taj Mahal is the jewel of Muslim art and one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Nowadays, the Taj Mahal is one of the best places to visit in Agra , attracts over 3 million visitors each year and has become an unmissable attraction for anyone traveling in India.

Read more about Taj Mahal tickets price and timings .

8. Hike to Christ the Redeemer

Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Bucket List Ideas

Situated at the top of Mount Corcovado overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro, the statue of the Christ the Redeemer not only captures tourists’ attention with its breathtaking views but also with the imponent statue of the Christ, considered as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Standing with his arms open, the Christ is one of the most recognized and photographed monuments in Brazil.

Read more about the best Rio De Janeiro tours and the best things to do in Rio de Janeiro .

9. Be intrigued by Stonehenge

Stonehenge in Salisbury, England - Bucket List Ideas

One of the wonders of the world and best-known prehistoric monument located near the city of Salisbury, England.

The structure that we call Stonehenge was built between roughly 5,000 and 4,000 years ago and was one part of a most extensive sacred landscaped.

10. Discover the Amazon Rainforest and River

Amazon rainforest and River - Bucket List Ideas

Also named “lungs of the world”, the Amazon rainforest produces an important share of the oxygen for the entire planet and is made up of a mosaic of eco-system and vegetation types.

Live an experience in the Amazon rainforest and its River is to experience a lifetime of moments in one single trip.

It is difficult to find another place in the world as rich in adventures and unique experiences as the Amazon. You can visit the Amazon from Manaus (Brazil) or Iquitos (Peru) .

11. Sail on Ha Long Bay

Halong Bay

The ethereal beauty, Ha Long Bay is located in the area of the Gulf of Tangkia, in the north of Vietnam.

Frequently included in lists of natural wonders of the world, Halong Bay is famous for its scenic ocean karst topography and its crystal waters.

Read more: Best Halong Bay luxury cruises

12. Discover the Milan Cathedral

Milan Cathedral - Bucket List Ideas

Standing proudly in the main square of the city center, Milan’s Duomo is decidedly the most impressive structure and the emblem of the city of Milan.

Stay speechless in front of the majestic and Gothic style of the church and admire the breathtaking views of Milan (and on clear days, the snow-capped peaks of the Alps) from the rooftop of the Church.

Read more: Things to do in Milan

13. Visit Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre-Dame de Paris - Bucket List Ideas

One of the major attractions in Paris , the Notre Dame Cathedral is known as one of the most notorious of the Gothic cathedrals of the middle age and is distinguished for its size, antiquity and architectural details.

Its stained glass windows and sculptures show the influence of naturalism that serves to contrast the Romanesque architecture. It’s also said that the cathedral’s tower has one of the best views of the city.

Read more: Things to do in Paris

14. Drink wine under the Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower in Paris - Bucket List Ideas

The Eiffel Tower was the principal exhibition of the Paris Exposition of 1889. It was constructed for the commemoration of the centennial of French Revolution and to demonstrate France’s industrial power to the world.

Nowadays is the emblem of the city of Paris and it’s considered an architectural wonder of the world, in fact, each year attracts more visitors.

Read more how to book Eiffel Tower tickets

15. Enjoy the view from Marina Bay Sands rooftop

Marina Bays Sands, Singapore

Visit Singapore’s best luxury attraction and soak in the world’s largest rooftop infinity pool with the glittering expanse of the city.

For the ultimate experience, head to Ce La Vi and dance all night long with your friends.

Read more: Fun things to do in Singapore , Best things to do in Sentosa

16. Visit the Acropolis of Athens

Acropolis in Athens - Bucket List ideas

The Acropolis of Athens and its monuments are the universal symbol of the classical spirit and civilization and form the most significant architectural and artistic complex of the Greek antiquity.

The Acropolis in Athens was a military fortress during the Neolithic period, due to its position which offers a great view of the land and sea. Now it’s one of the most important ancient monuments in Europe.

Read more about Acropolis tickets price or the best things to do in Athens !

17. Visit Easter Island

Easter Island in Polinesia - Bucket List ideas

Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to visit one of the most isolated and mysterious islands on Earth?

You can not miss the enormous volcanic craters, preserved stone villages, beaches and, in particular, 900 Moai giant stone figures. You should definitely add The Easter Island to your bucket list.

18. Enjoy yourself at Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House - Bucket List ideas

Opened in 1973, the Sydney Opera House is a multi-performing art center in Sydney and great architectural work of the 20th century that is synonymous with creativity and innovation.

Set in a remarkable waterscape, these shell-structures are nowadays a world-famous icon of architecture.

Read more: Things to do in Sydney , Top tourist attractions in Sydney

19. Discover the magnificent Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is the ultimate expression of the genius of Khmer, an impressive temple that is stunning for its grand scale and its incredible details.

One of the most important archeological sites in Cambodia, the Angkor Wat is considered the largest religious monument in the world.

Read more: Things to do in Siem Reap

20. Visit the Summer Palace in China

The Summer Palace in Beijing - Bucket List ideas

The Summer Palace is a vast conjunction of lakes, gardens, and palaces in Beijing and is said to be the largest and most well-preserved royal park in China.

Known for being the playground for emperors during the summer of the old imperial city, the Summer Palace is a marvel of design and offers an exciting escape into the traditional Chinese landscape.

21. Visit Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia in Turkey - Bucket List ideas

The most important Byzantine structure and one of the world’s great monuments. This church was built at Constantinople (nowadays Istambul) in the 6th century under the direction of the Byzantine emperor Justine I.

Hagia Sophia , that means “Church of Holy Wisdom”, each year attracts over 3 million visitors. The monument, which is now a museum, once was a church and then a mosque.

Read more: Things to do in Istanbul

22. Dive on the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef - Bucket List Ideas

Located on the coast of Queensland in Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is famous for being the world’s largest coral reef system.

Viewing it from a greater distance, you can understand why it is considered as one of Australia’s most remarkable natural gift and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

Due to its natural beauty, the Great Barrier Reef has become one of the most touristic destinations to enjoy many experiences, including scuba diving; it is definitely one of the best things to do in Cairns !

23. Participate in a hiking tour in the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon - Bucket List ideas

As one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Grand Canyon , located in the high desert of northern Arizona (USA) will take your breath away with its ever-changing scenery of enormous proportions.

Thanks to its forest, painted deserts, sandstone canyons, to the Colorado River and the waterfalls, Grand Canyon is one of the most beautiful sceneries in the world. Grand Canyon helicopter tours are an amazing way to visit the impressive scenery of the national park.

Around 5.5 million of people visit the Grand Canyon each year and its 277 miles of superlative beauty, making it the most visited National park in the United States, and also one of the top tourist attractions in the US .

Due to the vicinity to Las Vegas, it can be easily visited through day tours from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon .

Read more: Things to do at the Grand Canyon

24. Sail to the Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty in NYC - Bucket List ideas

Inaugurated in 1886, the sculpture stands at the entrance to New York Harbour and from the beginning has welcomed millions of immigrants to the United States.

For this reason, the Statue of Liberty  more than a monument is a symbol of freedom to millions of people around the world and a point on your bucket list that you cannot miss!

Read more: Things to do in New York City

25. Visit the city of Lhasa and the Potala Palace

Lhasa in Tibet- Bucket List ideas

In the center of Lhasa (Tibet), literally “Land of the Gods”, you can find the Potala Palace, that once was the principal residence of the Dalai Lama.

If you want to live a spiritual experience, this is the right place because you can chat with monks, learn more about Tibetan culture and experience the mystical atmosphere of Lhasa. Setting eyes on Potala Palace for the first time is a moment you’ll never forget!

26. Climb the Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro - Bucket List ideas

The Kilimanjaro is famous for being the highest mountain in Africa and the tallest freestanding mountain on earth. It is a possible bucket list option for most people and 20.000 people every year climb it.

The Kilimanjaro is an extraordinary experience if you want to stand on the roof of Africa.

27. Discover the Wailing Wall

Wailing Wall in Jerusalem - Bucket List ideas

Erected initially as part of the expansions of the second Jewish temple begun by Herod the Great, it’s one of the holiest sites in the world.

The Western Wall is a surviving trace of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which was destroyed by the Romans.

The Temple was the center of the spiritual world, the primary conduit for the Godliness. For this reason, the Wall is the holiest place where Jews are permitted to pray.

Read more: Things to do in Jerusalem

28. Admire Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore - Bucket List ideas

Attracting approximately 3 million of tourists from all over the world each year, Mount Rushmore is one of America’s most important attractions. Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a large-scale mountain sculpture created by the artist Gutzon Borglum.

On it, you can admire America’s most prominent U.S. presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.

29. Swim in Palawan, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

Palawan, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park - Bucket List ideas

It’s not complicated to understand why Palawan , in Puerto Princesa National Park, was chosen as one of the New Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

This park features a spectacular limestone karst landscape with an underground river, it’s considerate one of the world’s most impressive natural place. Famous because its lower portion is subject to tidal influences, emerges directly into the sea.

Read more: Fun things to do in Puerto Princesa

30. Visit St. Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica in Rome - Bucket List ideas

Located in the Vatican city, the center of Christianity, St. Peter’s Basilica is Italy’s largest, most luxurious and most spectacular basilica. One of the largest churches in the world, St. Peter’s Basilica, was built during the Italian Renaissance and it’s located in the Vatican.

The imposing structure was built over a span of more than one hundred years by the most excellent Italian architects of the period. Learn hot to skip the line to enter the St. Peter’s Basilica .

31. Admire an aurora borealis in Norway

The Northern Lights in Norway - Bucket List ideas

Every traveler’s bucket list should include viewing the Northern Lights , one of the most naturally spectacular phenomena that have the power of taking your breath away.

The Northern Lights are a natural light display in the sky, and Norway with its open spaces and little light pollution is one of the best places to try to see the most impressive lights show. So try to discern the Northern Lights!

32. Search for Nessie in the Loch Ness

Lake of Loch Ness - Bucket List ideas

Located in the Great Glen which stretches from Inverness, Loch Ness is the longest and deepest of all the loch in the area.

One of the best ways to enjoy the beauty of Loch Ness is by taking a boat cruise or a kayaking trip on the water of the lake where you’ll be able to appreciate the surrounding landscapes and villages and, who knows, maybe even catch a glimpse of Nessie.

In fact, this is the place, if rumors are to be believed, where Nessie the Loch Ness monster resides.

33. Explore the Incredible Temples of Bagan

Bagan temples in Myanmar - Bucket List ideas

Built between 1057 and 1287 by a series of kings, this massive expanse of thousands of temples (estimates over 2.000) is one of the most precious archeological sites in Asia. Bagan’s Temples are the key to experiencing authentic Myanmar’s life and understanding the religious devotion of its people.

The most exciting way to see the temples is doing a hot air balloon trip. With over 2000 pagodas and temples spanning across 40 miles of land, it is truly magical to stand in a hot air balloon and to look out over the countryside and the entire complex of Bagan.

34. Discover the Iguazu Falls

Foz de Iguazu - Bucket List ideas

Recognized worldwide as natural beauties and one the best places to visit in the world, the Iguazu Falls are located on the border between Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.

If you are searching for an immersive experience in nature, this is the right place thanks to the possibilities to walk into the woods and to the proximity of the immensity of the Iguazu waterfalls in the Iguazu River. Iguazu Falls is one of the 100 best national parks in the world .

35. Tour in Patagonia

Tour Patagonia in Argentina - Bucket List ideas

Wherever you visit, Patagonia maintains an exclusive, secretive charm. Well known for its picturesque mountains, grassland and windswept coastlines, Patagonia is famous for its precious wildlife that never fails to astonish.

It is the perfect bucket list material, including watching the Perito Moreno ice dam break, the whale watching or biking the Torres del Paine Circuit.

36. Watch whales at Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park

Whale Watching at St. Lawrence Marine Park in Canada - Bucket List ideas

Do you dream of seeing whales? The Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park in Québec (Canada) is one of the best whale-watching sites in the world.

Not only you can admire these magnificent animals, but you can also see Québec’s famous coastal landscapes.

37. Trek through the Himalayas

Trek through the Himalayas - Bucket List ideas

The Himalaya is the world’s mightiest mountain system, containing nine of world’s ten highest peaks and stretching more than 2,500 km across India, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, and Tibet.

Associated with high adventures and mountaineers, this place is like no other, with its remote and majestic scenery.

38. Get splashed at the Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls in Zambia, Zimbabwe - Bucket List ideas

Commonly referred to as “the smoke that thunders” due to the columns of spray that can be seen from miles away, the Victoria Falls are one of the greatest attractions in Africa and the most spectacular natural beauty on the Zambezi River.

Considered as the largest fall in the world, is a point on your bucket list that you cannot put into consideration!

39. Skydive the Great Blue Hole

Great Blue Hole in Belize - Bucket List ideas

A giant underwater sinkhole off the coast of Belize, the Great Blue Hole is one of the most famous destinations for scuba divers that are attracted by the chance of diving in crystal-clear waters and see millions of species of marine life including spectacular coral formations and tropical fish.

40. Participate in a wild safari at Serengeti National Park

Serengeti national Park in Tanzania - Bucket List ideas

Experiencing a safari in Africa has to be one of the points of your bucket list. Here, you have a lot of places where you can see an abundance of wild animals. Serengeti is one of the most famous national parks and is synonymous with wildlife and outstanding African scenery.

It’s Tanzania’s oldest park and a Unesco World Heritage Site. Furthermore, it’s home to the spectacular wildebeest migration and offers wildlife viewing throughout the year. Serengeti National Park is one the best places to visit in the world if you are interested in African wildlife safaris.

41. Be amazed by the Great Geysir in Iceland

Great Geysir in Haukadalur, Iceland - Bucket List ideas

Iceland is a magnificent country and one of the most spectacular and breathtaking geysers in Iceland is the Great Geysir.

It’s fairly active and erupts on a daily basis. See the mighty geyser erupt and send a spectacular water and stream column into the air have to be on your bucket list.

Iceland is the best place to visit in the world if you are interested in geological formations, geysers, volcanos, glaciers, etc.

Read more: Best things to do in Iceland

42. Admire Big Ben’s mighty clock

Big Ben in London - Bucket List ideas

The Elizabeth Tower, known as the Big Ben, is one of the best tourist attractions in London ! Big Ben is the name of the impressive bell inside the clock tower, which weighs more than 13 tons.

The clock tower looks spectacular, in particular during the night when the four clock faces are illuminated. When you see Big Ben, it feels like you are in London.

Read more: Fun things to do in London

43. Visit the Louvre Museum

Louvre museum paris - Bucket List ideas

Unquestionably one of the most excellent art galleries in the world, the Louvre Museum contains thousands of classic and modern masterpieces.

As a symbol of the French culture and a testament to European art history, it’s not surprising that it’s also the most visited art gallery in the world. Every trip to France’s capital deserves a visit to the Louvre to discover the wealth of treasure it contains.

Read more how to book Louvre Museum tickets and discover the best museums in Paris .

44. Relax at Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon in Grindavìk,Iceland - Bucket List ideas

Surrounded by fantastic nature, the Blue Lagoon is an oasis of relaxation set in the pure heart of the Icelandic landscape. It is one of Iceland’s most popular attractions, and it’s not hard to understand why.

The beautiful milky-blue opaque water contrasts with the surrounding black lava field covered with green moss. Combined with its excellent location and its relaxing pools with their rich skin nourishment, the Blue Lagoon quickly became one of Iceland’s most visited attractions.

Read more: Fun things to do in Reykjavik

45. Walk around on Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre in Italy - Bucket List ideas

A century ago the Cinque Terre (Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore) were merely five fishing villages on an unforgiving stretch of the Ligurian coast.

The vibrant color of the Mediterranean, the wild coastline with the tiny towns placed like puzzle pieces on the cliffs make the Cinque Terre a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Read more: Fun things to do in Cinque Terre

46. Visit Pompeii

Pompei, Italy - Bucket List ideas

Famous for being the Roman city that was destroyed by the Vesuvius eruption in 79 a.C. Two thousand people died, and the town was abandoned for many years. When a group of explorers rediscovered the site in 1748, they were surprised to find that Pompeii was practically intact under a layer of dust and debris.

Thanks to the buildings, artifacts and skeletons found in the buried city we were able to discover a lot about everyday life in the ancient world.

Read more: Pompeii skip the line tickets , Best Pompeii tours , Things to do in Naples, Italy

47. Visit the Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel - Bucket List ideas

The Sistine Chapel is a chapel in the official residence of the Pope and one of the greatest treasure of the Vatican city. Not only it is known for its decoration, but also for being the temple in which popes are chosen and crowned.

What captures the attention of the Sistine Chapel is not only its architecture but in particular the frescoes that completely cover the ceiling and the walls. All the frescoes of the roof of the Sistine Chapel are the work of Michelangelo. Read our guide about the Vatican Museums .

Read more: Best museums in Rome

48. Discover Venice on a Vaporetto

Venice - Bucket List ideas

Italy is full of charm, but nowhere can be compared to Venice, the floating city. Not only it is known for its canals, its art and its rich cultural heritage, but it’s one of the world most romantic destinations.

Take a gondola ride through the canals of Venice is a point on your bucket list that you cannot miss.

Read more: Best things to do in Venice

49. Visit the mighty Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona - Bucket List ideas

The basilica Sagrada Familia is one of Barcelona’s most famous tourist attractions . One of the world’s most prized architectural marvels, despite the fact that the Gaudi’s construction has not yet been completed.

This Church will leave you breathless, not only because of its giant size but primarily because of its pioneering architecture, which perfectly shows off the genius of Antoni Gaudì.

Although the outside is a work of art, the interior of Sagrada Familia is inspired by nature. The columns seem tree trunks, giving the idea of being in a forest instead of inside a Church.

Read more how to book Sagrada Familia tickets and the best things to do in Barcelona .

50. See your reflection at Salar de Uyuni

Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia - Bucket List ideas

It’s the world’s most significant and most unusual surface area. One of the things we insist you get on your bucket list is the stunning Salar de Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia.

A salt flat is an expanse of ground that is covered with salt and other minerals that make incredible patterns and visual wonders. The Bolivian salt flats are just fabulous, and they need to be discovered to be believed.

51. Walk in the Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park in California - Bucket List ideas

Known as “Giant Forest” the Sequoia National Park preserves the landscape that still resembles the Southern Sierra Nevada.

You’ll find yourself gazing by the towering, majestic and picturesque stretch of trees of the beautiful Sequoia National Park, located just next to the Yosemite National Park .

52. Ride through the Sahara

Sahara desert - Bucket List ideas

There are only a few beautiful places in the world that can be compared to the incredible landscape of the Sahara Desert, the most extensive hot desert in the world. Its landscape is so vast that it’s impossible to judge the distance.

The color palette makes it difficult to distinguish specific forms, and the intense sunlight that reflects on the sand will show you things that don’t exist. In Morocco, you can visit the Sahara Desert from Marrakesh .

53. Hike through the Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon in Arizona - Bucket List ideas

The unbelievable beauty of Antelope canyon waits for the adventurous traveler who wants to discover one of the most spectacular attractions.

These impressive caves, the spiral rock arches, and stunning colors make the caves look seriously of another planet. It’s a canyon of thousands of years just outside of Page, in Arizona.

Read more: Best Antelope Canyon tours

54. Explore Bali island

Bali, Indonesia

Famed for its island vibes, stunning beaches and of course, its epic surf breaks, Bali is a must-visit destinations.

Go scuba diving, visit amazing temples, climb a volcano, enjoy the crazy nightlife, there is so much fun things to do in Bali .

Don’t miss to explore the Monkey Forest. Make sure to check out our list of activities in Ubud .

55. Climb the Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji in Japan - Bucket List ideas

Mount Fuji is one of Japan’s pride that you should never let go when you visit this country. A beautiful snow-capped rising from the earth, it’s the highest Japan’s mountain.

The mountain may seem more beautiful seen from a distance, but the views on clear days and the experience of climbing it during the early morning hours it’s an experience that you won’t forget.

Read more about the best Mount Fuji tours and fun things to do in Tokyo .

56. Visit the British Museum

British Museum in London - Bucket List ideas

The British Museum is the house of a vast collection of world art and artifacts. Its collection includes fabulous Egyptian sarcophagi and mummies, hard of treasure from British archaeological digs, and Roman antiquities.

Furthermore, the museum is a Greek revival building designed by Sir Smirke.

Read more: Best museums and art galleries in London .

57. Explore the Moma Museum

Moma Museum in NYC - Bucket List ideas

The Museum Of Modern Art of New York is one of the largest and most influential museums of modern art in the world, in fact, it’s presenting one of the best in contemporary art.

It has been influential in developing and collecting modernist art, including artists such as Van Gogh, Cézanne, Dalì, Monet or Andy Warhol.

Read more: Best museums in New York City

58. Walk along the Canals of Amsterdam

Canals of Amsterdam - Bucket List ideas

A visit to Amsterdam isn’t complete without enjoying its canals. In fact, Amsterdam is famous for having more than one hundred kilometers of canals and wandering through the city along the canals is one of the favorite activities of the tourist.

The main canals, laid-out in a pattern of concentric half-circle, chronicle the growth of the city of Amsterdam. For this reason, they are considered as a symbol of the town!

Read more: Best Amsterdam canal cruises , Best things to do in Amsterdam

59. Discover the remains of the Berlin Wall

Berlin Wall - Bucket List ideas

One of the most potent and strongest symbols of the Cold War, for 28 years the Berlin Wall sliced the city.

The construction of the wall began in the summer of 1961 by the authorities of the Communist East German that were trying to stop people from escaping to the Westside.

Read more: Best things to do in Berlin , Best tourist attractions in Berlin

60. Visit Versailles

Versailles - Bucket List ideas

Versailles is best known for being the site of the vast royal palace and gardens built by King Louis XIV on what had been the grounds of a royal lodge.

The Palace of Versailles has been the scene for several historical events, and it’s today inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage List. Versailles is definitely amond the best palaces in Europe .

Read more how to book Versailles tickets

61. Explore the Glowworm Cave

Glowworm Cave in New Zealand - Bucket List ideas

The Glowworm Caves include a labyrinth of limestone caves and formations which began developing about 30 million years ago. Thousand of tiny, glittering glowworms inhabit these subterranean caverns, making a light show that’s memorable.

62. Walk on Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco - Bucket List ideas

The Golden Gate Bridge that connects the city of San Francisco to Marin County (in California) is an architectural emblem nad one of the most famous SF tourist attractions .

It is stretching on over two miles across the Golden Gate river, and it’s a must-see iconic architectural marvel of the city of San Francisco.

Read more: Fun things to do in SF

63. Visit the Great Mosque of Cordoba

Great Mosque of Cordoba in Spain - Bucket List ideas

The Mosque of Cordoba is the most important monument of all the Western Islamic world, and one of the most amazing in the world.

A great symbol and reminder of the golden civilization that Muslims did in Europe over one thousand years ago, it’s now the symbol of Cordoba.

Read more: Fun things to do in Cordoba

64. Walk around on Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint Michel in France - Bucket List ideas

On a rocky island in the middle of vast sandbanks between Normandy and Brittany stands Mont Saint-Michel, a gothic style abbey dedicated to the archangel St Michael and the village that grew up next to its great walls. In 1979 was classed by Unesco as a world heritage.

Read more: Best places to visit in Normandy , Best Normandy tours from Paris

65. Enjoy yourself at Las Vegas Strip

Las Vegas - Bucket List ideas

Las Vegas Strip offers so many gambling, restaurants and entertainment options, that you can take a trip there and never get bored.

A Las Vegas ‘ trip is one of the principal American experiences. From the Strip’s bright lights to the world-class museums, this little Nevada city is everything you’d expect it to be and much more.

Read more: Fun things to do in Las Vegas

66. Admire the Forbidden City

Forbidden City China - Bucket List ideas

Located in the center of Beijing, the Forbidden city it’s the world’s largest and best-preserved palace complex. This palace served as the home of two Chinese dynasties and can give you an idea of the Chinese history.

The name is referred to the fact that no one could enter into the palace without the emperor’s permission.

67. Get splashed at Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls - Bucket List ideas

Six million cubic feet of water flows over Niagara Falls every minute, offering what is considered one of North-America’s most spectacular views. In fact each year around 28 million people visit the Canadia-US border.

It consists of three distinct waterfalls: Horseshoe Falls, American Falls and Veil Falls, that functions as one of the primary power providers to the state itself.

Read more: Best things to do in Niagara Falls

68. Climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Leaning Tower of Pisa - Bucket List ideas

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is the campanile of the cathedral of the Italian city of Pisa, known worldwide for its unintended tilt. Humans make mistakes, and one error was made in the XI century with the tower of Pisa.

This calculation error would later become a symbol of civic pride. This tower represents an advanced understanding of weight and load characteristics, showing the Italian knowledge in architecture.

Read more: Things to do in Pisa

69. Walk on Giant’s Causeway

Giant's Causeway in Northern Irland - Bucket List ideas

The Giant’s Causeway is a beautiful, mysterious geological formation on the Ireland’s North East. This formation it’s steeped in myths and legend.

The setting is a spectacular, dynamic coastal landscape of Atlantic waves, cliffs, fascinating geographical antiquity, bays, and magnificent views.

70. Visit the White House

White House - Bucket List ideas

Often seen as a symbol of American power and splendor, the official residence of the President of the United States of America, also known as the  White House  is a point of reference for all the American citizens.

So join the over 70.000 people who visit the White House each month, one of the best Washington DC tourist attractions .

Read more: Best things to do in Washington DC

71. Snorkel on Komodo Island

Komodo Islands - Bucket List ideas

One of the islands that compose the Republic of Indonesia, Komodo Island is a place with unique fauna and flora, beautiful from the bottom of the sea to the top of the mountains.

This island is also known as the “dragon’s Island” since the world’s biggest lizard lives here.

72. Times Square

Times Square - Bucket list ideas

Square in Midtown Manhattan, formed by the intersection of Seventh Avenue, 42nd Street and Broadway, Times Square is one of the most tourist places in New York City .

Let yourself be conquered by the flashing neon lights and giant digital billboards, the brilliant Broadway marquees, the costumed characters and musicians. Times Square is big, bright and unforgettable.

Read more: Fun things to do in Times Square

73. Drive through the Black Forest

Black Forest - Bucket List ideas

A different holiday destination , the Black Forest gets its name from its dark, slightly sinister canopy of evergreens.

With its mountains located in the southwest corner of Germany, the Black Forest has never been a distressing place, only enchanting and is an opportunity to tick this very picturesque place off your bucket list.

74. Climb the stairs at Tianmen Mountain

Tianmen Mountain in China - Bucket List ideas

Has been defined one of the most beautiful mountains in the world by many travelers who have been in China.

The Tianmen Mountain is famous for its stunning views that include the “heaven’s door”, 99 bends, vertical cliffs, the thrilling cliff-hanging walk away, the glass skywalk and the world’s longest cable car ride.

75. Visit London’s Warner Bros Studio

Warner Bros Studio London - Bucket List ideas

At Warner Bros. Studio Harry Potter fans could experience the magic of the films and discover the real magic that brings the movies life.

The Harry Potter Studio Tour offers to its visitors the unique opportunity to explore the original sets, to see the animatronic creatures and the breathtaking special effects. Step into the world of everybody’s favorite boy wizard.

Read more about Harry Potter Studio Tour London Last Minute Tickets

76. Admire the view from Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa in Dubai - Bucket List ideas

Dubai takes pride in having the tallest building in the world. Standing at 829,9 meters tall, the Burj Khalifa with its 360 degrees view on the 124th floor is one of the best tourist attracitons in Dubai . Get ready to enjoy the highest observatory in the world.

Read more how to book Burj Khalifa tickets and other 100 things to do in Dubai !

77. Explore the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park

Lencois Maranhenses national park in Brazil - Bucket List ideas

It’s a vast area of undulating sand dunes between which are formed rainwater lakes at certain times of the year. The result is blue lakes surrounded by brilliant white dunes.

Stretching on for miles upon miles, the dunes in Brazil are so vast and so blindingly white that it’s easy to understand where the park got its name, Lençóis Maranhenses in Portuguese, that means “bedsheets of Maranhão”.

78. Admire The Great Sphinx

The Great Sphinx in Egypt - Bucket List ideas

The first truly colossal royal sculpture in Egypt, and one of the oldest, largest and most mysterious monuments ever created by man.

The Great Sphinx with the lion’s body and the human’s head offers us an invaluable glimpse into the past.

79. Hike on the Rainbow Mountain

Rainbow Mountain in Peru - Bucket List ideas

The Rainbow Mountain , otherwise known as Vinicunca Mountain, is about three hours away from Cusco. Towering at 6.000 meters, it’s coat of many colors is attributed to its sedimentary layers exposed for years to environmental conditions and mineralogy.

Hiking the colored mountain is no joke, due to the combination of the weather and the high altitude.

80. Sandboard at Huacachina

Huacachina in Peru - Bucket List ideas

The natural oasis of Huacachina inside the expansive sand dunes, is a desert paradise with a dreamy lagoon surrounded by palm trees.

The perfect place for doing sandboarding and dune buggies, the most famous activities there.

81. Visit Quito

Quito - Bucket List ideas

Quito , the Ecuadorian capital, is not only the largest and best preserved colonial center in Latina America but also the first Unesco World Heritage City. If you want to stand with one foot in each hemisphere, there you can find a monument and a museum marking the general location of the Equator.

Know as “The Middle of the World” because is located about 25 kilometers south of the equator and the city extends about 1 kilometer of zero latitudes.

Read more: Best things to do in Quito

82. See the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

London’s magnificent Buckingham Palace is more than just the home of the British monarchy, it’s one of the most visited attractions in London. It’s possible to visit this grand mansion and it’s over 700 rooms including 19 staterooms and 78 bathrooms.

You can also enjoy the Changing of the Guard ceremony, a unique celebration of British pageantry and the major event happening all year in front of the Palace that attracts the biggest crowds.

Learn how to book Buckingham Palace last minute tickets .

83. Take a boat to Jeju Island

Jeju Island in South Korea - Bucket List ideas

With breathtaking natural wonders and hundreds of unique attractions, Jeju Island is one of Korea’s best travel destinations.

Korea’s largest island offers many attractions, including a volcanic Hallasan commanding the Island from the center, a 224 km semi-tropical forested national park, a wild coastline dotted with waterfalls and the most extended lava tube in the world.

84. Admire the Zocalo

The Zocalo in Mexico - Bucket List ideas

The Zocalo is the center of Mexico City and one of the Mexican capital’s most well-known landmarks and squares. Formally known as Plaza de la Costituciòn, this grand square once constituted the ceremonial hub of the Aztec city.

Measuring 220 m from north to south, and 240m from east to west, it’s one of the world’s largest city squares. It’s undoubtedly one of the city’s most historically and culturally exciting destinations.

Read more: Best things to do in Mexico City

85. Enjoy a bath in Pamukkale


You can now relax and bath at Pamukkale so it should definitely figure on your bucket list.

86. Hike to the Vesuvius

Vesuvius - Bucket List ideas

Located on the Gulf of Naples, Mount Vesuvius is the only active volcano in Europe. It’s best known because of the eruption in 79 a.C. that destroyed the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Seen as one of the most dangerous Volcanoes in the world, is the emblem of the city of Naples!

87. Admire the Ganges River in Varanasi

Ganges River in Varanasi in India - Bucket List ideas

Varanasi is a city on the banks of Ganges, the largest river in India who basin is the most populated river basin in the world, with over 400 million people.

Varanasi is the holiest of the seven sacred cities in Hinduism and Jainism, for this reason, many Hindus believe that death at Varanasi brings salvation.

Furthermore, there is a spectacular Hindu ritual called “Ganga Aarti” (consisting in a ceremony that dispels darkness) which takes place in the banks of the Ganges River.

88. Discover Al-Masjid an-Nabawi

Al-Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina - Bucket List ideas

Also known as Prophet’s Mosque, it’s a grand mosque in Medina and the second holiest mosque in the world. Built by the Prophet Muhammad, the construction stands on the site of a mosque and contains the tomb of the same Prophet.

One of the holiest sites in Islam and one of the principal destinations for religious pilgrimage.

89. Bath in the Dead Sea

The Dead Sea in Jordania - Bucket List ideas

Salty lake located on the lowest place on the face of the heart, the Dead Sea (431 m below sea level) is a breathtaking natural beauty surrounded by the stunning landscape of the Negev Desert.

Takes its name from the saline water of the lake because no fish can survive in the salty waters. The other result of the salty water is their renowned health and healing properties and the unique feature that one can float naturally in them.

90. Admire the blue flames at Ijen Volcano

Admire the Blue flames at Ijen Volcano – Bucket list Ideas

Indonesia’s Kawah Ijen Volcano , on Java’s Island, has two of the most unusual occurrences on the hearth. The first is electric blue flames, difficult to see during the day but illuminate during the night.

This is possible because the sulfur combusts on contact with the air creating stunning blue lava. The second occurrence is the Kawah Ijen Crater acid Lake, at the top of the volcano, filled with blue water. In fact, it’s due to the acid that the water assumes this strange color.

91. Visit Meiji Jingu Shrine

Meiji Jingu Shrine in Tokyo - Bucket List ideas

It’s a large Shinto shrine in Tokyo, built in 1920 in memory of Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shoken, under whose reign Japan became a modern state. T

his shrine, surround by a vast forest, it’s the most visited religious site in Japan.

92. Ride a horse in Mongolia

Horse riding in Mongolia - Bucket List ideas

It’s typical say that “a Mongol without a horse is like a bird without the wings”. Immerse yourself in the Mongolian nomad’s timeless way of life. You’ll ride through the vast, treeless steppes of Mongolia with the largest herds of horses the world has ever seen.

Enjoying a Mongolian ride means choosing to experience nomad’s life and experiment a way of life so different from ours.

93. Explore Sensoji Temple

Sensoji Temple in Tokyo - Bucket List ideas

Sensoji Temple, founded in 628, is the oldest and most visited temple in Tokyo. Many people believed that the temple brings good luck, happiness and make all wishes come true.

In front of the principal hall of the temple, you will see many people covering themselves with smoke. This because the smoke they are covering themselves with, is believed to make the part they covered better.

94. Visit the Grand Palace

Grand Palace in Bangkok - Bucket List ideas

Located in the heart of Bangkok, the Grand Palace is one of the most famous landmarks of the country. And offers spectacular sacred sites and buildings. This Grand Palace served as the official residence of the Kings of Siam since 1782.

Nowadays the Palace is used for many Royal rituals and other official functions. The Grand Palace is one of the best places to visit in the world and must-do in Thailand.

Read more: Best things to do in Bangkok

95. Walk on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Hollywood Walk of Fame - Bucket List ideas

One of Los Angeles’s most famous tourist attractions, attracting 10 million visitors each year. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is the stars embedded in the sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine St. in Hollywood.

The name on each star is the people in the field of television, music, drama, radio, and film that influenced the entertainment industry. Visiting the Walk of Fame is one of the most emblematic things to do in Los Angeles .

Read more: Fun things to do in Hollywood, California

96. Hike on Trolltunga

Trolltunga in Norway - Bucket List ideas

After an arduous hike, that takes 10-12 hours, there is a breathtaking view over lakes and snow-capped mountains, ending at the Troll’s tongue, a thin sliver of rock.

97. Visit Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street in New Orleans - Bucket List ideas

If you’re looking for a street with lots of people, bars, and live bands, you are in the right place. Welcome to Bourbon Street in the famous French quarters of New Orleans.

Read more: Fun things to do in New Orleans

98. Visit the Paricutin Volcano

The Paricutin Volcano - Bucket list ideas

Located in the state of Michoacan (Mexico) near the city of Uruapan, the Paricutin Volcano is considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Famous for being the youngest volcano formed in the Northern Hemisphere, developing in a farmer’s cornfield.

The eruption of the Paricutin scoria cone from 1943 to 1952 marks the first time that scientists have been able to observe the complete life cycle of a volcano, from birth to extinction.

99. Shop at Tsim Sha Tsui

Tsim Sha Tsui in Hong Kong - Bucket List ideas

Situated in the south of Kowloon Peninsula, Tsim Sha Tsui is known as the shoppers’ paradise thanks to its malls and colorful shopping streets. It’s a giant world bazaar, where Hong Kong ’s Harbour meet stands, shops, markets and malls.

Take a walk for Canton Road where you’ll see the best the world has to offer in luxury designer goods.

Read more: Fun things to do in Hong Kong

100. Admire the Golden Temple

Golden Temple in Amritsar, India -Bucket List ideas

The Golden Temple in India is not only a central religious place of the Sikhs but also a symbol of equality and human brotherhood and one of the oldest worship places in the Indian Sikh.

The Temple takes its name from the fact that the entire top of the temple is made of pure gold. Sikhs all over the world would like to make a visit and to pay obeisance at the temple. In fact, the tank is said to have healing powers, and pilgrims come from across the world to bathe in its sacred waters.

Hopefully, you could do most of them! Do not hesitate to tell us in the comments below which one you have already done and which one you recommend to us!

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Bucket list ideas

A Little Adrift Travel Blog

How to Plan an Around the World Itinerary in 8 Steps

Last updated on January 5, 2024 by Shannon

You’re planning an around the world trip . Congrats! My one-year trip turned into a decade of wandering and it transformed my life . My own one-year trip itinerary took me through 15 countries and countless experiences—but narrowing down my dream countries to just 15 was hard.

In my world travel route, I planned the itinerary to pass through Agra for the Taj Mahal.

After so many years on the road—and after several round the world trips since that first one—I have some hard learned advice for anyone planning their own route and building their own trip around the world. If you’re planning a world trip, it’s usually a long-term route of at least a few months and up to a year around the world, or more.

These are eight ideas—eight steps really—to help narrow your travel itinerary down to those stops along your route that will fit your budget, highlight the most memorable places to you, and make sense for the trip you’ve always dreamed of taking.

Table of Contents

1. Make an itinerary bucket list for the entire world.

Great Wall of China on RTW trip itinerary

The inspiration phase of planning your round the world trip itinerary is one of the most fun. Maybe you already have a laundry list of places you hope to cram into your world trip itinerary. Or perhaps you’ve nailed down a few key experiences but you’re open to more inspiration. You should absolutely start with a long bucket list of locations all over the world, because weather and route might automatically strike a few off the list for you.

If you’re curious for more travel ideas, browse the  best travel books sorted by destination , or search for long-reads and podcast recommendations on my Destination Travel Guides . Use these books and resources for inspiration on not only places to add to your round the world route, but activities, too.

Perhaps you read The Devil’s Picnic and subsequently add Paris to your list for that stinky but toothsome Époisses de Bourgogne cheese, or you add Bhutan because of its intriguing portrayal in The Geography of Bliss (that’s what has it on the itinerary for my next around the world trip!).

Books and podcasts are a phenomenal way to expand your idea of what is possible on your trip.

Once you have a list of dream destinations for your travel itinerary, highlight up to five that are your absolute priorities—these will become the bedrock of your around the world trip. The rest of the places on your list will slot in around those stops based on timing, weather, and more.

How granularly you plan is personal—some travelers leave with a precise list of destinations and timelines, while others plan the first couple of months of their round the world trop.

My three key travel destinations:

For my first year, I had three key activities on my list. The first was diving the Great Barrier Reef —that’s why my trip started in Australia . The second was meeting my cousin in India and backpacking north from Mumbai together for two months before ending our time together at a volunteer placement in Nepal . The third was time-sensitive as I had always dreamed of attending the Edinburgh Fringe Festival , which takes place every August in Scotland.

Later, when I traveled with my 11-year-old niece for six months in Southeast Asia , I led her through some basic Google searches so that she could see what was on offer. We planned our joint world trip itinerary together centered around her three biggies: an ethical elephant encounter , ziplining somewhere, and visiting Angkor Wat .

2. Pick a direction around the world.

Napping on long-term round the world trip

From your home country, your travel itinerary will take you either east to west, or west to east around the world. Backtracking is not ideal—it’s expensive, causes more jet lag, and is bad for the environment. Use this strategy whether you use a round the world ticket (which requires this stipulation) or if you book flights as you travel.

Pros and cons of traveling east:

  • Science says this direction is harder on your body and produces more jet lag . The short of it is because you are losing time when you fly through time several zones, but your body actually prefers cycles slightly longer than 24 hours, not shorter.
  • You’ll need to become a pro at minimizing jet lag so you don’t lose several days to it in each new location.
  • If you’re planning a very long RTW trip, perhaps 18 months or more, and your itinerary creeps around the world, then you will likely not notice the difference much.

Pros and cons of traveling west:

  • As noted, your body actually prefers days that run longer than 24 hours, so your internal clock has a much easier time adding hours into your day. This means fewer nights adjusting and staring at the hotel ceiling at 3am.
  • Your body can do at least two hours of time zone jumping in this direction without having a noticeable effect on you, so it’s ideal to slowly hop west around the world. And if you’re crossing the Pacific from the U.S., your largest time zone change will likely occur at the beginning of your trip, so you can then enjoy more relaxing travel for the many months afterwards.

How I decided my world trip direction:

I was lucky that two of my key experiences could bookend my trip. Scotland and Australia are not close, so it was easy to plan many of my other dream destinations to fill the space between these countries.

Since I planned to leave the U.S. in November, it was easy to surmise that starting my trip in Australia, which was entering summer, made the most sense. Then I would make my way west toward Scotland for Edinburgh Fringe, handily skirting both winter in Europe and summer in Asia.

3. Find creative overland routes.

taking a train on my trip around the world to get around thailand with my niece

Whew, you now have a list of dream destinations for your world trip and a direction of travel. Now it’s time to fill in the space in your itinerary. And you’ll do that by using local transportation, which is a lot more fun than flying—you’ll see more of the country and culture, and you’ll have richer travel experiences .

Go back now to those handful of key destinations from your bucket list that. These are the foundational bedrocks of your world trip itinerary. These dots on the map should lend a rough overview of a route. If they don’t, if one is just an outlier that makes it hard to see logical jumps, narrow your list down to four, and see if that helps—if you truly love the idea of an experience, but it doesn’t fit this trip it might make a great trip on its own in a couple years time.

Now, your world trip itinerary needs the details, and those usually come from visiting clusters of bordering countries—you’ll be crossing overland among many of these destinations. (For that to work, however, check visa restrictions for your nationality as some countries require visas in advance, or don’t allow crossings at certain borders).

Popular routes ( backpacking Southeast Asia , for example), have only a few restrictions and those are easily handled online, or in the days before your border crossing.

Start dotting the map with the countries that are very close to your bedrock destinations. That looks like this: If trekking in Nepal is a bedrock item, and India’s Golden Triangle and Sri Lanka were both on your dream list, then it makes sense to add them into your route, since you’ll definitely be in the region.

My creative overland routes:

As I planned my itinerary, a dear friend announced she wanted to meet me in Florence, Italy in June. That became another bedrock item with a firm date, so I now had a time I had to leave South Asia and head to Eastern Europe.

Nearby Croatia was on my tentative list, and I had a friend in Bosnia , so both of those became stops on my itinerary that helped give it shape. Prague hadn’t been on my list, but I decided to move north through Eastern Europe after leaving Bosnia.

I filled in adventurous stops that would take me from my friend in Italy in June to Scotland in August—plenty of time for rafting in Slovenia , finding charming towns in Czech Republic , biking Amsterdam like a local, and walking through the Lake District of England first!

Research activities in countries you’re considering.

If there are countries nearby your “must-visit” locations, use a site like GetYourGuide to research the types of activities you could see and do if you visited these adjacent destinations as well. I like checking out the day tour sites more than a guidebook at this stage because it’s a very quick overview of the must-dos in each location.

4. Research festivals in your favored locations.

Festivals are an important part of your round the world trip planning itinerary

Local festivals around the world are amazingly full of life, culture, and fun. It’s a huge letdown when you learn too late that you missed a major religious and celebratory festival by just a few days. And it’s also a shock if you arrive thinking it’s shoulder season but you really arrived during Brazil’s carnival.

Plan your route to coincide with the dates of festivals that seem most fun for you (this is especially important for trips with kids, because they love the excitement, colors, and foods at these types of events. You’ll need to book accommodation early depending on the event, so that may take some flexibility from your world travel route, but it’s worth it.

Here are a few favorite annual festivals that many travelers plan around: La Tomatina in Spain in late August; Holi the Festival of Colors  in India around early March; Thailand’s Songkran Water Festival often falls within April and its Loy Krathong Lantern Festival falls in late October or early November.

Festivals around the world I sought out:

When my cousin told me should could only meet in India in February, and I knew we’d be there for two months, I went into planning mode to decide where we should celebrate Holi the Festival of Colors . It was a real highlight of my trip and I am so glad our world travel itinerary allowed us to experience this incredible Indian festival.

Then, of course, was the Fringe Festival —that was one of my bedrock destinations so it was definitely on the planned route.

5. Play Tetris with locations to fit your travel budget.

plan a RTW itinerary that fits your travel budget

I stuck to an amazing year-long world travel budget that came in under $20,000. The only way I could do that was by carefully planning my time to favor budget-friendly countries, and then add in high-cost countries in smaller supply.

Research each of your dream destinations ahead of time because some places you might assume are budget actually cost more than you imagine (a safari in Africa is not cheap, nor is accommodation in much of Africa, but visiting a dream destination on the continent is worth it). Japan may be in Asia, but it’s pricey, too. Central America and Mexico are easy on your budget, as are parts of South America.

How I made my RTW travel budget work:

Australia , England, Scotland, and Ireland were mega expensive and represented three of my eleven months on the road. India and Nepal were, by far, the cheapest places (even cheaper than backpacking Southeast Asia ), and it was actually difficult to go over budget during the three-and-a-half months that I backpacked South Asia.

I spent the other months in Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe, two regions that are in the discount to mid-range. All told, I was able to easily average $50 a day, even though some days in Europe topped $100.

6. Plan around weather trends.

planning my rtw trip to start in Australia, where i could dive and swim

On your trip, research destinations ahead of time and plan according to your own weather preferences. While it’s not likely you will hit every destination in your preferred season, you should know when monsoon season makes a paradise island unenjoyable, or when blizzards will thwart a planned ski trip.

Research using this great rundown of shoulder season locations around the world, and this European shoulder season list , and this very cool map of a a sample round the itinerary featuring perfect weather in every location.

Why I chased summer around the world:

I planned my trip itinerary to chase summer around the world. As a native Floridian, my tolerance for heat is higher than most others, and I deeply enjoy warmth. A year of summer was lovely.

Whether your around the world trip chases summer or snow—and note it’s way easier to pack for long-term travel when you can leave behind thick jackets and boots—you’ll want to pack effectively using packing cubes .

I have probably 20 packing cubes after 15+ years of travel—cubes of all shapes, sizes, and uses to fit every trip. This eight-pack starter set is well-priced, durable, and will give you a worthy introduction into the sheer magic of packing cubes.

7. Consider how you will fly.

Flying on a RTW trip can make your itinerary more doable but more expensive.

When planning your itinerary, you have to consider more than just major long-haul flights. On my travels, I research local budget airlines too, and I always have a good idea of which regions of the world offer affordable puddle-jumper flights. If you’re considering buying round the world tickets , read my insider tips and advice first!

Southeast Asia has AirAsia and Vietjet, among others. Europe has many budget carriers: Vueling, Ryan Air, and EasyJet. And JetStar has good flight deals in South Asia. By checking for budget airline routes, I know that I can easily visit more countries in a region if there are sub $100 flights around the area. (Tip: this is an amazing interactive map of low-cost airline routes ).

My transportation choices:

I priced out my year on the road and found it was cheaper to combine overland travel with local carriers than it would have been to buy a RTW ticket up front. I also have a guide to how I find good flight deals , since I never buy round the world airfare.

Generally, flights are likely necessary unless you plan an entirely overland route around the world , but flights are harmful if you solely rely on this form of transportation, so truly consider how you can incorporate other options, such as buying a Eurail ticket in Europe, or a Greyhound bus ticket to travel down the east coast of Australia.

Don’t forget to  book travel insurance for your trip —a great policy provides coverage in case of medical emergencies, lost or stolen gear, adventure sports riders, and more. I’ve used  IMG Global  for more than a decade  highly recommend it !

8. Remove some destinations from your world trip itinerary.

Remove some destinations on your trip itinerary.

There is no wrong way to plan your route around the world, and there is no perfect number of places that you can visit in a year—it all depends on what you’re looking for on your trip. And no matter how carefully you plan, you will love some places, feel mediocre toward others, and perhaps even leave early from a few. You won’t know until you set out which type of places and experiences best fit your long-term travel style.

But please keep in mind that the pace of short-term travels is very different from a multi-month trip. Create a route that travels slowly, avoids the dreaded travel-fatigue , and includes destinations you have long dreamed of visiting. To do that, you now need to take a critical eye to your trip and trim the fat.

Is there something you added it because it seemed fun and was moderately close, but it wasn’t a bedrock item? Or perhaps it’s a location you love the idea of so much that you know you will plan a trip there in the future if you skip it now. Snip those from your world travel itinerary right now and you will be shooting me an email of thanks once you’re on the road.

The countries I cut from my around the world trip:

The best advice other travelers gave me when I asked for itinerary advice in a travel forum was to remove an entire leg of the trip. I had hoped to backpack Scandinavia between my time in the Czech Republic and Amsterdam, but long-term travelers assured me that I would be grateful for wiggle room in my itinerary by that stage of my trip (nine months into it).

Plus, they accurately pointed out that I just couldn’t swing these very expensive countries on my limited travel budget.

Turns out that I burned out a month before reaching Czech Republic and camped out in Slovenia for an extra two weeks—if I had been dead-set on Scandinavia, I would have never had time to do that while still making it to Edinburgh Fringe in time! (And let’s not even think about what Scandinavia would have done to my travel budget!).

If you’re overwhelmed about planning the nitty-gritty details on a months-long trip around the world, know that a rough route suffices. All you truly need before you leave home is logistics for the first couple of weeks—you can easily sort out the rest on the road. I promise.

Really, I promise. It seems scary but I swear to you that you will be grateful for flexibility once you land, and that it’s completely possible to plan the smaller details as you go. Moving between countries and regions was infinitely easier than I had anticipated before my first round the world.

Your Next Steps for Planning an Around the World Itinerary

Research places around the world and assemble a dream list of locations. That’s really the first step and should be a lot of fun.

While my travel books selections are a starting point, you can also peruse guidebooks for inspiration. I always buy a Lonely Planet or Rough Guide for my first planned destination (and then I swap it along the way for each new country), and before my first round the world trip I checked out a stack of 25 guidebooks from my library. Do your research and dream big before you even begin selecting an itinerary and paring down your list of destinations.

This is my core page compiling resources on How to Travel the World and here are a few other pages sharing advice specifically for long-term travel planning.

  • How Much Does it Cost to Travel the World
  • How to Save for Travel
  • Free Destination Travel Guides
  • Best Credit and Debit Cards for Travel
  • How to Pack for Long-Term Travel
  • How to Pick the Right Travel Insurance

How to Travel the World

Free resources and first-hand advice on how to plan long-term and round the world travels.

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The Planet D: Adventure Travel Blog

Bucket List Travels – 52 Places to Visit in Your Lifetime

Written By: The Planet D

Travel Bucket Lists

Updated On: February 14, 2024

travel ideas world

We have put together the ultimate travel bucket list to spark your imagination. Dave and I made a dream list of our travel bucket list travels way back in 2006. And we fulfilled every travel adventure we ever dreamed of. Now we want to help your dreams come true and share the best bucket list travels that we’ve ever done.

These are 52 destinations that you need to do at least once in your lifetime. We’ve got one idea for every week of the year! You may also like The Best Adventure Destinations For The Ultimate Vacations

Table of Contents

Travel Bucket List Ideas

So, let’s look at the most mind-blowing beautiful places in the world. Oh, by the way, these are bucket list travels that we’ve done ourselves. It’s not a Google search like so many things on the internet these days.

1. Iguazu Falls

bucket list travels iguazu falls

There was something magical about staying right in the heart of Iguazú National Park at the Belmont Hotel Das Cataratas. Having this natural wonder all to ourselves in the early morning was like a fairytale. We walked from our hotel to the long platform leading to the center of the massive cascade surrounded by thundering waters.

travel bucket list iguazu falls

For a bucket list experience, this was spectacular. Be sure to take a helicopter tour over the falls and hop on a jet boat to get soaked. They seriously put the boat right underneath the waterfall. If there is one item on your travel bucket list. This should be it!

  • Getting Soaked – The Ultimate Iguazu Falls Tour
  • 11 Fun and Unexpected Things to do in Iguassu Falls

2. Amalfi Coast

amalfi coast italy bucket list vacations

We thought we had seen the beauty of Italy when visiting the Cinque Terre, but the Amalfi Coast is the Cinque Terre on steroids. The beautiful coastal towns along the Gulf of Salerno took our breath away at every turn. Rent a car and drive this famous highway that clings to the side of sea cliffs. There is nothing more romantic than driving the towns of Positano , Ravello, Amalfi, and Sorrento. Make sure to splurge on a room overlooking the terraced buildings of Positano and its beach.

  • The Best Things to Do in Amalfi Coast, Italy
  • 10 Most Romantic Italian Coastal Towns for Couples
  • Watch our Amalfi Coast Video
  • Hiking Cinque Terre – The Beautiful Five Villages in Italy

3. Maldives

maldives over the water bungalows vacation bucket list travels

Staying in an over-the-water bungalow in Bora Bora or Tahiti is on everyone’s travel bucket list. But we did this in The Maldives and I cannot think of a place that is more beautiful in the world. The turquoise waters surrounded our bungalow complete with a glass floor so we could watch the fish swim by was superb. I don’t think I have seen such white sand beaches anywhere on earth.

  • 15 of The Best Things to do in the Maldives
  • Scuba Diving in Maldives – A Beginner’s Journey
  • Best of the Maldives Video – On YouTube
  • Snorkeling in the Maldives

4. Petra Jordan

petra jordan - petra monastery bucket list travelers dream

By the time we made it to Petra Jordan, we had seen a lot of famous ancient cities with our own eyes. We expected to like it, but we didn’t expect to be wowed by it. Boy were we wrong! Petra is in a league unto itself. The hidden city of Petra is located within a 1.2 km rock passage reaching 80 meters into the air. Once you arrive at The Petra Treasury you are treated to an awe-inspiring scene. A massive building complete with columns is carved into the stone.

  • Watch our visit to Petra on YouTube

5. African Safari

male lion chasing female lion serengeti tanzania on everyone's travel bucket lists

There is nothing more magical than an African Safari. We’ve been lucky to go on Safari in Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa , and Botswana. And trust me, it never gets old. Seeing the majestic lion stalk its prey and watching a herd of elephants walking through the African savanna is a scene that is forever etched into our brains. There is something special about visiting Africa. As the saying goes “I left my heart in Africa” and every time we leave the continent we feel the same way.

  • African Safari Animals: 34 Photos to make you want to visit Tanzania
  • What to Wear on Safari – Africa Travel Inside and Out
  • Kenya Safari – The Masai Mara Experience

6. Churchill Polar Bears

polar bears in manitoba canada travel bucket list

Speaking of safaris, have you ever thought of a safari in Canada? I don’t think there was anything more awe-inspiring than seeing polar bears in the wild. It is even more of a bucket list ticket to be able to walk with polar bears. Going up to the arctic tundra in summer is not only unique, but it is also a chance to see polar bears in a different environment than in snow. We visited the Polar Bears twice with Churchill Wild . Once in the winter and once in the summer.

  • Walking with Polar Bears – The Greatest Arctic Safari
  • Kayaking with Beluga Whales – A Paddlers Dream
  • The Ultimate Arctic Safari on YouTube

7. Santorini Greece

bucket list ideas santorini greece

We had seen Santorini in the yogurt ads for years and dreamed of one day visiting. Once we arrived, we understood why it has been featured in so many commercials. When we looked over the cliffs of the caldera, the views didn’t seem real. Whitewashed buildings with blue domes lined the high cliffs of the caldera. Staying in a cave hotel overlooking the Aegean Sea was the ultimate dream.

  • 25 of The Very Best Things to do in Santorini
  • Where to Stay in Santorini
  • Places to Visit in Santorini, Greece
  • A Photography Guide to Santorini – Getting that Postcard Shot
  • Iconic Santorini: A Cave Hotel Experience

8. Kayak and Camp in Antarctica

bucket list vacations antarctica iceberg with kayakers

If you haven’t noticed on our blog, a lot of our bucket list adventures have been in cold regions. And Antarctica truly tops the list. We were lucky enough to visit Antarctica with Quark Expeditions where we fulfilled every travel dream. From camping on Antarctica to kayaking around icebergs, Antarctica was an adventure lover’s travel dream.

  • 11 of the Best Things to do in Antarctica
  • Sea Kayak Antarctica – The Adventure of a Lifetime
  • Camping on Antarctica
  • See our complete Antarctica Expedition on YouTube

9. Trek to Mount Everest Base Camp

bucket list ideas for travel dave and deb at mount everest base camp

Staying in the cold weather for a moment, the ultimate bucket list adventure is to trek to Everest Base Camp. When we can all travel again, this is something anyone can do regardless of climbing skills Follow the footsteps of Sir Edmond Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa to see the Khumbu Ice Fall, Everest Base Camp, The Tengboche Monastery, and Mighty Mount Everest herself. Secure the ultimate bragging rights among your friends and trek to Everest. Our friend Dipendra at SimRik Real Nepal Treks is waiting for you.

  • Everest Base Camp Trek – All You Need to Know from Start to Finish
  • Remarkable Everest Base Camp Trek in Photos
  • Flight to Lukla – A Scary Thrill Ride to Everest
  • See our Full Everest Playlist on YouTube

10. Cappadocia, Turkey

travel bucket list ideas cappadocia turkey hot air baloons over fairy chimneys

Nearly everyone is familiar with the famous scene of balloons soaring through the air above fairy chimneys. Turkey’s Cappadocia really does feel like a fairytale. This had been our bucket list since seeing dozens of balloons in the air on Instagram nearly a decade ago. A morning hot air balloon ride fulfills the ultimate travel dream list.

  • Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon: How to Choose the Right Company
  • A Tour of a Cave Hotel on YouTube
  • The Incredible Landscape of Cappadocia on YouTube

11. Himalayas of Bhutan

bucket list ideas tiger's nest monastery bhutan

Bhutan is the happiest country in the world and you can’t help but fall in love with the people and landscape when you visit this bucket list destination. Trekking through the Himalayas is an incredible journey but hiking to Tiger’s Nest Monastery in the Paro Valley is what draws people to the country. This iconic scene doesn’t disappoint.

  • 18 Things to do in Bhutan – A Comprehensive Guide of What Not to Miss
  • Bhutan Trek to Laya – A Himalayan Adventure to the Remarkable and Remote
  • Watch our trek to Tiger’s Nest Monastery on YouTube
  • And see what happened when we met the King of Bhutan

12. Great Wall of China

bucket list ideas great wall of china

We have visited the Great Wall of China twice. And it lives up to everything we ever expected. Looking at this marvel of engineering truly did inspire wonder and awe. No wonder it is listed as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. We loved visiting both the Mutianyu and Badaling Great Wall, they were equally beautiful yet very different experiences.

  • The Great Wall of China – Mutianyu vs. Badaling

13. Machu Picchu

bucket list ideas llama at machu pichhu peru

Speaking of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu is another beautiful destination to add to your bucket lists. Hiking the Inca Trail is on many people’s adventure bucket list, but even seeing this extraordinary Inca City will take your breath away. Literally. Located in the Andes Mountains at 2,430 meters/7,972 feet in elevations, it is a wonder to see.

  • Machu Picchu Hike: All You Need To Know To Be Perfectly Prepared
  • How to Plan a Trip to Machu Picchu

14. Great Barrier Reef

bucket list ideas helmet dive great barrier reef

The UNESCO World Heritage Site off the coast of Australia is the largest coral reef in the world. It tops many a traveler’s bucket list. Even if scuba diving or snorkeling isn’t your thing, it is a must-visit. There are many ways to see the Great Barrier Reef. You can take a helicopter ride over the reef or even take a boat out to a platform in the middle of the sea to let you swim, snorkel, and sunbathe in the middle of this beautiful piece of ocean.

  • Diving the Great Barrier Reef – Australia’s Ultimate Adventure

15. Pyramids of Giza

bucket list ideas visit the pyramids of giza egypt

We had always wanted to see the Great Pyramids of Giza with our own eyes. We didn’t know what to expect, but when we first spotted them they seemed surreal. They cut through the haze of Cairo standing the desert looking like a mirage. We have had the privilege of visiting them twice and can say that for a fun way to explore them, hire a camel to take you through the pyramid complex to feel like a true Bedouin.

  • The Red Pyramid of Egypt – Experience it Inside and Out
  • 10 Amazing Temples of Egypt – That We’ve Seen

16. Gobi Desert of Mongolia

bucket list ideas ghers at sunset in mongolia gobi desert

We are always fascinated by deserts, but there was something truly unique and spectacular about Mongolia’s Gobi Desert. It is filled with life. From the herds of Bactrian camels (two-humped camels) to the nomadic people of Mongolia moving their Ghers from camp to camp that was always something to see. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

  • Read more at Mongolia Pictures from the Russian Border to the Gobi Desert

17. Galapagos Islands

bucket list ideas giant galapagos tortoise

The Galapagos Islands are a group of islands off the coast of Ecuador that have their very own ecosystem. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the most biodiverse of destinations on earth. AND 97% of the Galapagos is a national park. The top draw to the Galapagos is to see its endemic species that are unique to the islands. From the Galapagos giant tortoise, marine iguanas, and the Galapagos penguin, the wildlife experiences.

  • 27 photos that will transport you to the Galápagos Islands
  • Playing With Sea Lions on San Isabella in the Galapagos

18. Mount Kilimanjaro

bucket list ideas climb mount kilimanjaro summit sign dave and deb

If there is one mountain to climb in your lifetime it is Mount Kilimanjaro, The Roof of Africa. Kilimanjaro National park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site housing the highest point in Africa. The six to seven-day climb is part of the seven summits and is a spectacular bucket list vacation. So don’t wait to start planning your climb up the highest freestanding mountain on earth.

  • Read more: Complete Guide to Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

19. Bagan, Myanmar

bucket list ideas bagan myanmar

A visit to Myanmar is a trip we’ll never forget. Bagan was the highlight of our travels through the country. Taking an early morning ferry along the Irrawaddy River from Mandalay, we emerged at the most extraordinary complex of temples we had ever seen. Built in 1057 and covering 16 square miles Bagan houses 2200 pagodas. It looks like a massive forest of temples that you must see with your own eyes.

  • Read More – The Incredible Temples of Bagan, Myanmar

20. See the Northern Lights

bucket list ideas northern lights rocky mountains canada

Have you ever wanted to witness the dazzling display of the Aurora Borealis? Once you see the Northern Lights dancing in the night sky, it doesn’t seem real at first. Are your eyes playing tricks on you? Iceland is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights. We didn’t have good luck there but have witnessed them several times in Canada and in Greenland.

  • Incredible Greenland – The Final Frontier for Adventure Travel

21. Mexico Cenotes

rio secreto cenote mexico

For scuba divers’ the Cenotes of Mexico are a top bucket list diving adventure. But you can tour many cenotes without diving. The Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico has several adventures where you can rappel, snorkel, and paddle through Cenotes. But it was the Rio Secreto Cenote that was truly extraordinary.

  • Rio Secreto Cenote – Mexico’s Magical Underground Caves
  • Cenotes in Photos – Discover Mexico’s Extraordinary Underground Caves

22. Rome’s Colosseum

bucket list ideas roman colosseum daytime

The city of Rome is like no other. It is packed with ancient ruins and none as famous as the Colosseum. We had the good fortune of staying directly across the street from the Colosseum with a view of the amphitheater from our room. You think that you know everything about the Colosseum, but nothing can prepare you for seeing it for the first time.

  • 22 of the Best Things to do in Rome
  • 20 of the Best Free Things to do in Rome
  • 3 Days in Rome – The Ultimate Rome Itinerary

23. Christ the Redeemer – Brazil

bucket list ideas christ the redeemer overlooking rio de janiero

Rio de Janeiro is one of the most beautiful cities on earth and Christ the Redeemer stands proudly over the city keeping watch. Seeing “Christo Redentor” standing with arms outstretched at the top of Corcovado Mountain is on many bucket list travelers list. You can see it by hiking up the mountain, taking the train, or a scenic bus ride but nothing compares to flying around it by helicopter.

  • The Top 18 Most Excellent Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

24. Ha Long Bay – Vietnam

ha long bay with junk boat vietnam

Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that needs to be seen to truly be appreciated. 1600 towering limestone islands reach up from the emerald waters of Halong Bay. What makes the bay even more picturesque are the junk boats that take tourists to explore the many islands and caves.

  • Halong Bay or Bai Tu Long Bay – How to Choose Your Cruise?
  • The Very Best Things to do in Vietnam from North to South

25. Have Champagne at the Eiffel Tower – France

bucket list ideas eiffel tower and champs elysees lights at night

Paris is the city of love and we never tire of seeing the Eiffel Tower . Seeing the Eiffel Tower sparkle in the city of lights is such a romantic scene, but you must go up the Eiffel Tower. And did you know you can have a glass of champagne? Celebrate a milestone, get engaged or just enjoy a toast as you take in the Parisian skyline.

  • Where To Stay In Paris – The Best Neighborhoods in Paris
  • 3 Days in Paris: The Best Paris Itinerary for Your First Visit

26. Helicopter Tour of Victoria Falls – Zambia

overhead view of Victoria Falls

We happen to live one hour away from Niagara Falls in Canada and we do love that city and the iconic Canadian cascade. So when we had the chance to visit Victoria Falls in Zambia we were very excited. The Falls That Thunder is located in the center of Mosi Oa Tunya National Park and is the largest waterfall in the world. The setting is completely different than Niagara Falls as it is surrounded by jungle. At a Whopping 1.7 km wide (1 mile) it is massive, and the way to take in the scope of Victoria Falls is to get up in the air.

  • Incredible Things to Do in Victoria Falls, Zambia

27. Soak in the Blue Lagoon – Iceland

bucket lists dave at blue lagoon in iceland

Sure, the Blue Lagoon of Iceland is overcrowded these days, but no trip to “The Land of Fire and Ice” would be complete without stopping to soak in its healing waters. It tops many a traveler’s bucket list, especially after National Geographic named it one of the top 25 Natural Wonders of the World.

  • How to Visit The Blue Lagoon in Iceland
  • Best Places To Visit In Iceland

28. Explore the Canals of Venice – Italy

bucket lists venice gondolas

We truly fell in love with Venice. Staying in the city for four days allowed us to get off the beaten path to explore more of the quiet corners of the floating city. Not bucket-list travels would be complete without adding Venice to your list. While a gondola tops many bucket lists, it was the private taxi tour that we found to be far more romantic. Riding through the Grand Canal in style viewing scenery made us feel like movie stars.

  • 3 Days in Venice – The Complete Venice Itinerary
  • Where to Stay in Venice – The Best Neighborhoods and Hotels for Every Budget

29. Spy the Sun Stream at Antelope Canyon – USA

bucket list experience antelope canyon light shining through

It is one of the most recognizable caves in the world. But where is it? Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona is located in the United States. Once a day a gorgeous waterfall of light seeps through tiny openings lighting up the layers of sandstone in this famous slot canyon. Read: The 17 Best Hikes in Arizona

  • Antelope Canyon Photo Tours – How to Make the most of it

30. Hike Through Meteora – Greece

bucket list destination monasteries of meteora greece

Santorini may be the luxury escape of Greece, but the Monasteries of Meteora are the wonders of Greece. Sitting at the top of massive rock monoliths reaching up to 500 meters (1500 feet) from the valley floor, ancient monasteries dot the landscape. Dating back to the 9th century, the Meteora Monasteries can be visited today by hiking to the top, walking across bridges, or simply taking in the view from one of the many lookouts.

  • Meteora Monasteries of Greece – Magic Monoliths in Photos
  • The Best Places to Visit in Greece

31. Giant’s Causeway – Northern Ireland

bucket list destination giant's causeway at sunset in northern ireland

A visit to the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland will make you believe in giants. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is Northern Ireland’s most famous attraction and tops many a travel bucket list. To see the perfectly arranged basalt pillars leading out to sea makes you believe that a giant built a causeway to Scotland rather than a volcanic eruption some 60 million years ago.

  • The Legend of the Giant’s Causeway – Do You Believe?

32. Leaning Tower of Pisa – Italy

bucket list destination leaning tower of pisa

We didn’t know if we’d be in awe of the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa, but seeing it in person did indeed live up to the hype. Pisa alone is worth visiting. This picturesque city located on the Arno River is filled with history dating back to the 14th century.

  • The Leaning Tower of Pisa – Is It Worth The Visit?

33. Stand in the Center of Times Square – New York

bucket list destination new york city's times square

Standing in the center of Times Square in New York fills you with energy and excitement. New York is certainly one of the most exciting cities in the world, and while Times Square is filled with tourists, its with good reason. You feel as if you are in the center of the universe as massive LED screens surround the entire square.

  • Best Things to Do in New York City
  • Where to Stay in New York City – Top Places and Hotels For All Budgets
  • Fun Facts About New York

34. Go to the Top of the Burj Khalifa – Dubai

bucket list destination burj khalifa dubai

It’s the tallest building in the world sitting amongst several other massive skyscrapers. Dubai is out of this world. With each impressive structure built, there are four more in the works. Going to the top of the Burj Khalifa to see the most impressive skyline on earth is the definitive bucket list item.

  • 17 Fabulous and Fun Things to do in Dubai

35. Go Sandboarding in Huacachina – Peru

bucket list destination sandboarding in huacachina peru

I never expected sand dunes in Peru to be so massive. When we booked a bus ticket to Huacachina in Peru, we thought we’d be sitting in a tiny oasis, but instead, we were surrounded by the largest sand dunes we’ve ever seen. The way to explore them is to take a dune buggy tour or to hop on a sandboard and glide down them. You’ll be covered in sand, but what a hoot and it is something you must try at least once in your life.

  • 24 Best Things to do in Peru

36. Cross the Shibuya Scramble in Tokyo

bucket list destinations shibuya crossing tokyo japan

Until you’ve seen Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo with your own eyes, it’s difficult to comprehend the number of people that take this crossing every few minutes each day. A quarter-million people cross this intersection each day. The best way to see this bucket list item is to go to the top of Magnet’s Mag 7 from the glassed-in viewing area.

  • Awesome Things to do in Tokyo, Japan
  • Best Day Trips from Tokyo

37. Golden Temple – India

bucket list destinations golden temple amritsar

The Taj Mahal may top everyone’s bucket list, but we found the Golden Temple of Amritsar to be a more authentic experience. Don’t get me wrong, the Taj Mahal is a wonder to see, but the Golden Temple is a beautiful display that is still a working temple. Join one hundred thousand pilgrims each day as they pay their respects to Sikkhism’s most holy site.

  • Golden Temple of Amritsar – India’s Shining Star

38. Road trip to the Grand Canyon

bucket list destinations grand canyon

I must admit I wasn’t expecting much from the Grand Canyon, but during our road trip through California and Arizona we popped into the Grand Canyon and I was taken aback by its beauty and sheer size. The Grand Canyon is on everyone’s American travel bucket list and it is spectacular. The Colorado River cuts through the 466 km long (277 mile) Colorado Plateau canyon of the Colorado Plateau and let me tell you, a pop in won’t do it justice. you must get out and explore the beauty of America’s natural wonder.

  • 15 Fun Facts That You Need to Know About the Grand Canyon
  • The Absolute Best Things to do in The Grand Canyon
  • United States National Parks in Photos

39. Amazon River – Peru

bucket list destinations amazon river cruise peru

The mighty Amazon River is the largest river by water volume in the world and it is the land of legends. It still feels as if much of the Amazon River Basin has yet to be explored. When you set out on a river cruise through the Amazon, you can almost feel what it was like to be an early exploring cutting their way through the largest jungle on earth.

  • What to Expect on an Amazon River Cruise – Life on the River

40. Marvel at the Glaciers of Greenland

bucket list destinations iceberg at sunset greenland

Glaciers are melting fast on this planet and nowhere on earth is it more prevalent than in Greenland. Visit the world’s most active calving glacier in Ilulissat and sail through a sea of floating skyscrapers of ice. Icebergs dwarfed our ship as we explored the west coast of Greenland on this truly magnificent bucket list adventure.

  • Kayaking in Greenland – The Greatest Arctic Adventure in Photos

41.Swim with Whale Sharks

bucket list destinations swim with whale sharks mexico

There is something truly magical about swimming with whale sharks. While it might be a frenzy of tourists beaming with excitement below is calm and quiet. To see these gentle giants glide effortlessly through the sea is the ultimate bucket list travel experience. There are many places to swim with whale sharks around the world, most notably off the coast of Cancun Mexico, and in the Philippines.

  • Swimming with Whale Sharks Cancun – A Massive Adventure

42. Hornblower at Niagara Falls

bucket list destinations maid of the mist niagara falls canada

Okay, we cannot forget to include going into the center of Horseshoe Falls in Niagara, Ontario. We have always taken this bucket list adventure for granted because we live so close to Niagara Falls, but when you go on the Hornblower, it truly is a spectacular scene. Feel the power of one of the world’s largest waterfalls as you sit at the bottom of the plunging waters. It is so powerful that everyone gets a rain poncho to wear on the boat. If you make your way to Canada, don’t miss seeing Niagara Falls.

There are so many things to do in Niagara Falls, the Hornblower is just the tip of the iceberg. Check out our full round-up of Our Favourite Things to do in Niagara Falls – Plus Where to Eat & Where to Stay

ultimate bucket list travel guide

And these are our most amazing bucket list travels on earth. We’ve been lucky to be able to see and do all of these bucket list adventures in our lifetime. As I went through this list, I cannot believe that we have experienced each and every one of these. It all started by creating a dream list a decade ago, and now we have achieved travels beyond our wildest imagination. We can’t wait to add more when we can travel again.

  • 50 Most Beautiful Places in the World to Visit – That We’ve Been
  • Beautiful Isolated Places on Earth – In Photos
  • 31 Most Beautiful Cities in Europe
  • 16 of the Best Cities in Spain – Beautiful Places to Visit Right Now
  • How to Travel Around the World – The Ultimate Travel Resource

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO . 

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • Allianz - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine , the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

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5 thoughts on “Bucket List Travels – 52 Places to Visit in Your Lifetime”

wow such a wonderful list for everyone. I am from India and I was surprised when I saw the golden temple on your list because everyone includes the Taj mahal in their top list when anyone visits India. waiting for your next blog. ok, take care of each other Dave and Deb.

Chopta Chandrashila Deoria Tal Trek is a prestigious package for visitors to Chopta, which has mesmerizing panoramic Views of beautiful Himalayan peaks.It’s 5km and takes about 3 hours. We can organize a trip for you to this amazing destination. The hike up to Deoria Tal, amidst dense forests and filled with Rhododendrons (in summer) is part of the Chopta-Chandrashila trek. There is a famous Hindu story about it. When the 5 Pandavas were on their way to heaven, they stopped at the place and tasted the water.

I love these bucket list places to travel to!! Some of my favorites from the list were going to see the Churchill polar bears, kayaking in Antarctica, the Great Wall of China, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Northern Lights. This blog post reminds me of all the beautiful places I have yet to see and cannot wait to go to!

What an amazing compilation of great places. Cant wait to travel after this pandemic.

The Harmiandir Sahib (Golden Temple) of Amritsar has a unique distinction of offering free food at Langar Seva — The world’s largest community kitchen. People visiting the Golden temple must not miss the Langar food.

Thanks for curating a great list.

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Plan Your Trip

Plan your rtw trip.

Finding the right round the world trip planner can be difficult. This is first and foremost because many such tools on the internet are only for planning (and, in some cases, booking) RTW flights. The truly difficult part of planning a trip around the world is deciding where to go, how long to stay and how to arrange your trip, so the content deficit (let alone how rare it is to find a quality world trip planner) is frustrating for many travelers.

The good news? Whether you want to travel all around the world, or simply want to visit multiple continents during a single trip, this guide covers all the bases you’ll need to hit as you plan your trip.

Of course, I’ll also touch on the particulars of buying a RTW ticket, including a somewhat contentious recommendation on my part. I’m about to share a great deal of information with you, but I promise: Planning a RTW trip is much, much easier than it looks.

Booking Round the World Flights

Many a round the world trip planner (which to say, any airline alliance website create for the purpose of selling flights) will tell you that booking a single RTW ticket is essential for a round the world trip. However, I don’t agree with this. In addition to the fact that having a single travel the world for a year itinerary (even a flexible one) can lock you in on a trip that will be anything but predictable, it’s often more cost effective to book individual segments, particularly if you have some miles or points to play with.

travel ideas world

Let’s say, for example, that you live in the United States and want to fly around the world westward. After taking advantage of a rock-bottom one-way flight from the US to Japan or China , you can take advantage of low-cost flights as you explore Southeast Asia and Australia , then gradually make your way to Europe (and from there, Africa ), flying to South America before returning home, often for only a few hundred dollars per segment. A round-the-world ticket, on the other hand, which often only includes long-distance flights, can easily cost between $2,000-3,000. And that’s without the fees you’ll certainly have to pay to change it as your plans evolve.

How Long Does a Round the World Trip Take?

Whether or not you work with an around the world trip planner, you should keep in mind that as you plan a round the world trip, the issue of timing can be surprisingly far in the back of your mind, particularly if you’ll be traveling to regions of the world you’ve never visited. While two weeks traveling through Japan or Western Europe can allow you to cover a lot of ground, it’s woefully insufficient in places like India , Africa or even much of South America. In general, it’s safe to assume you’re probably underestimating how long you’ll need to devote to your trip.

travel ideas world

Broadly speaking, I’d say the best round the world holidays last a minimum of six months, though I have personally taken epic trips in a shorter amount of time than that. On the other hand, I’d caution against traveling for longer than a year at a time, as being away from your “real life” for such a period can have other impacts on your well-being, ones you might not be able to anticipate right now.

How Much Does a Round the World Trip Cost?

Another deficiency of many a round the world trip planner (which is once again to say a flight booking tool) is that it provides only a piece of the cost puzzle—your round the world trip isn’t only going to cost a few thousand dollars. Generally speaking, the average cost of traveling anywhere in the world is between 50-150 USD per person, per day, which means that a conservative estimate for the cost of the ultimate around the world itinerary for a six-month trip (without your “big” flights) is between $9,000-27,000. Not cheap!

travel ideas world

Of course, there are ways to decrease the cost of a travel around the world itinerary, whether you manage to find the cheapest round the world ticket, take advantage of opportunities for free or discounted stays (whether you couch surf or do some sort of volunteer program) or simply keep your dining out and shopping to a minimum. In general, however, I’d recommend over-estimating your budget than under-estimating it, if only so you don’t end up as a “begpacker.”

When to Take a Round the World Trip

When you travel around the world will depend upon where you want to go. While most of the sample round the world routes I’ll recommend in the next section are fairly evergreen, some destinations are better during certain months than others, and planning according to this can influence the rest of your travel trajectory.

travel ideas world

For example, let’s assume you want to see the cherry blossoms in Japan , probably the world’s most famous seasonal spectacle. Whether you choose from my round the world trip ideas below or commission a custom 6 month travel itinerary, you’ll want to arrange the rest of your RTW trip to optimize the weather in all your destinations. You might head to Nepal after Japan, for instance, to trek when the country’s famous rhododendrons are blooming, or visit Australia and New Zealand before Japan to catch the tail end of warm weather Down Under.

Round the World Trip Ideas

The best of six continents.

Most round the world trip planners will want to see the “whole world” on their trips—all six inhabited continents, and potentially even Antarctica. Regardless of where your RTW travel originates, the general path you will follow is North America-Asia (Australia/New Zealand)-(Middle East/India) Europe (Africa)-South America-North America, or maybe in reverse depending upon where you start and what time of year you’re traveling.

travel ideas world

In terms of a general flight path, this might look something like the following: Los Angeles-Vancouver- Tokyo – Bangkok – Sydney – Dubai – Paris -Cairo-Cape Town-London-Buenos Aires- Bogota -Houston. Needless to say there are countless variations, from a 6 month round the world trip to ones much longer!

Wonders of the World

Rather than taking a comprehensive approach (which can lead to a year or even longer on the road—again, not an option for the majority of travelers), you can start your world travel planner based on a finite list of world wonders, be it classic ones you find on an Asia trip planner like the Great Wall or ones you designate yourself, such as Barcelona ‘s Sagrada Familia church or Ethiopia’s “Door to Hell.”

travel ideas world

Assuming you take a more classic route for your around the world itinerary, you might go about planning a round the world trip between wonders as follows. From Chicago to Beijing (for the Great Wall), then to Delhi (for the Taj Mahal), to Cairo (for the Pyramids ), to Athens (for the Acropolis), to London (for Stonehenge), to Rio de Janeiro (for Christ the Redeemer) to New York (for the Statue of Liberty). Again, this is highly customizable!

The Backpacker’s Trail

I’ve taken great pains within this round the world trip planner to be honest and sober about the cost of traveling around the world, but this is still a sort of trip that people on the backpacking spectrum can take. Specifically if you decide to string together affordable destinations like Southeast Asia, India, Eastern Europe, Andean South America and Central America.

travel ideas world

For instance, if you’re seeking a cheap around the world itinerary, you might fly from Denver to Kuala Lumpur (via China, as Chinese airlines are the cheapest), then fly to Mumbai or Delhi for a month or two there. From there, head to Ukraine or Poland to begin a month or so backpacking Eastern Europe (I particularly like the Balkans ), before taking a flight (probably a multi-leg one) to Lima (where Peru and Bolivia await) or Cancun, from which can you head south to affordable Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

Five-Star Frolic

On the other end up to the spectrum for a world trip itinerary, travelers without a set budget can enjoy a round the world business class (or even first class) romp that pulls out all the stops. Rather than focusing on a set range of destinations, you can plan your trip based on luxurious hotels and experiences, be it a Tanzania safari from the opulent Four Seasons Serengeti , sampling award-winning in-flight products and services from airlines like Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines or dining in foodie capitals like Tokyo and Paris.

travel ideas world

If you’re planning a luxury round the world trip, it makes sense to enlist the help of a professional (me or someone else), since the price of such assistance (usually between $100-200 per week of travel) is minimal compared to the overall cost of such a RTW trip.

Other FAQ About RTW Travel

How many stops do you get on a round the world ticket.

Whether you’re planning a 6 month round the world trip or plan to stay on the road for years, I am a proponent of piecemeal booking of air travel, rather than committing yourself to a RTW ticket. Therefore, I consider the number of “stops” permitted on such a ticket to be superfluous.

How do I plan a trip around the world?

Unless you are a very experienced global traveler, I recommend against trying to plan a trip on your trip. Rather, work with a professional (such as Yours Truly) to arrange a travel the world for a year itinerary. Or for longer than a year, or shorter—you get the idea.

Are round the world tickets worth it?

No! As I’ve expressed many times during this round the world itinerary, I am not a fan of RTW plane tickets. They rarely cost less; booking and changing them requires a pedantic phone call—or rather phone calls, since you’ll have to call in every time you want to make a modification.

Round the World Trip Planning

The best round the world trips are the ones where you get out on the road and go where the wind takes you, but that’s not realistic for most people. Whether because of finite funds or a “real life” you need to get back to, round the world trips require more planning than you’d probably like, even if you’re generally an adventurous and spontaneous traveler.

“So,” you might be asking, “can you plan my round the world trip for me?” The answer is yes, though there are a couple caveats. Because of the length and breadth of most RTW trips, many travelers want a more skeletal version of my typical “Travel Coaching” itinerary, which is typical extremely detailed and includes day-by-day recommendations. As a result, my pricing for planning RTW itineraries differs from what I’ve published on my Travel Coaching page , so I’d advise emailing me directly with any inquiries.

The Bottom Line

No matter how extensive a round the world trip planner you’ve been seeking, I’m confident that mine has met your needs. For most travelers, it’s simply a matter of learning your RTW flight booking options, assessing the cost of your RTW trip and deciding upon destinations and routing. However, others might want to hire a world trip planner (or a least a skeleton of it, which puts in place a broad trajectory) on their behalf.

travel ideas world

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28 Adventures to Travel For, From Glacier Chasing in Greenland to Sand Surfing in the Sahara

By Caitlin Morton

Adventure travel Cappadocia

As much as we love lounging on a faraway beach or revisiting our favorite city for the tenth time, sometimes our passports need some adventure travel—we’re talking about those once-in-a-lifetime trips that push us way outside our comfort zones. Adventure travel is a great way to see more of the world, while also testing your physical limits, and coming home with a lifetime's worth of stories to tell at parties.

Below, we’ve rounded up some of the most incredible outdoor adventures for intrepid travelers, ranging from climbing Machu Picchu to skydiving in Dubai . Even if you don’t consider yourself a daredevil, you’ll still find activities that feel exciting (hello, camping under the northern lights) without too much physical—or emotional—exertion required. So fasten your seatbelts, grab your best pair of hiking boots , and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime.

All listings featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. If you book something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

This gallery has been updated with new information since its original publish date.

Iguazu Falls Iguazu National Park

Boat under the Iguazú Falls

South America’s Iguazú Falls, located on the border of Brazil and Argentina, make all other waterfalls look like mere trickles in comparison. The system of more than 200 cascades (reaching heights of around 270 feet) can be viewed from surrounding walkways and catwalks, but we’re fans of the more adventurous vantage-point—hopping on an Iguazú Jungle inflatable raft and sailing directly under the exhilarating, high-pressure falls.

Machu Picchu

Climb to Machu Picchu

No adventurer’s must-visit list is complete without Machu Picchu , the famous Incan citadel located in the Andes. While the site can be accessed via train and bus, more active travelers can take the five-day trek along the entire 26-mile-long Inca Trail. Or, thanks to local tour operator Sam Travel Peru , you can get dropped at kilometer marker 104 and do the whole experience in 24 hours .


Sand surf in the Sahara

The dunes of the Sahara are colossal, untouched, and tailor-made for extreme sports. The desert’s rows of barchans (meaning “crescent-shaped dunes” in Turkic) have ideal shapes for sand surfing (descending the slopes on a surfboard) and sandboarding (descending the slopes on a snowboard)—and those views don’t hurt, either. Stay at Erg Chigaga Luxury Camp in Morocco, which offers sandboarding in addition to other desert activities like camel rides and quad biking.

Landscape of Rocky Mountains

Heli-hike in British Columbia

With CMH Heli + Skiing , you can helicopter to the steepest and deepest powder in Canada for backcountry skiing. However, come summer , the company’s guides take guests on multi-day hiking trips to terrain otherwise inaccessible, along ridgelines, through alpine meadows, and to stunning viewpoints. While these high-altitude adventures are not for the faint at heart, the accommodations are quite comfortable, with log-hewn lodges complete with full-service restaurants, spa treatments, and a rooftop hot tub to relax in before another day on the trail.

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Hot air balloon over Cappadocia

A hot air balloon ride over central Turkey’s Cappadocia region provides 360-degree views of the famous limestone spires and “fairy chimneys”—something you can't get at the ground level. We recommend booking with Kapadokya Balloons , the first company that introduced hot air balloon tourism in Cappadocia. Services include transfers to and from your hotel, snacks, full insurance, and a champagne party after the flight.


Hunt for glaciers in Greenland

Greenland is relatively expensive and tricky to get to, but well worth the effort—especially since it’s one of the most untouched landscapes on the planet. Exhibit A: the hundreds-year-old icebergs and glaciers floating off the mainland, which you can get up close and personal with during a cruise excursion. ( Hurtigruten and Cruise Norway offer these sailings.)

Okavango Delta Botswana

Hop across Botswana on a mobile safari

While most safari camps stay in one place like a traditional hotel, the private canvas safaris by  Barclay Stenner Safaris are totally mobile, meaning you can pick up and move locations based on weather conditions and wildlife movements. The outfitter’s Botswana itinerary moves across the country to fauna-rich areas like the Okavango Delta and Makgadikgadi Salt Pans—get ready to follow groups of lions, hippos, elephants, and more.


Paraglide over Turkey’s Blue Lagoon

Oludeniz has one of the most beautiful beaches in Turkey, with pebble shores and a “blue lagoon” of aquamarine hues. The beach also happens to be one of the world's best places to paraglide, thanks to stable weather and gorgeous panoramic views. The launch site for most companies is from Babadağ mountain, with jumping-off points reaching 6,000 feet above sea level.

Great Barrier Reef

Explore the Great Barrier Reef

Divers and snorkelers everywhere need to experience the Great Barrier Reef at least once in their lifetime. Not only does the site have more than 400 different types of coral and 1,500 species of fish, but the natural wonder has been rapidly eroding due to coral bleaching and global warming . That means it’s more urgent than ever to see this sight in all its glory—and to understand what we are losing.

Mexico cenote

Swim through Mexico’s cenotes

Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula features a wealth of unique natural beauty, particularly when it comes to its cavernous cenotes. Floating in one of these natural sinkholes is an incredible experience, as is diving through the underground cave systems . When in Tulum , visit Dos Ojos (“Two Eyes”) to view one of the planet’s most beautiful underwater sites or Gran Cenote for rock formations that resemble Gothic architecture.

Dubai skydiving

Free-fall over Dubai at 120 miles per hour

Dubai is one of the most over-the-top cities in the world, so are you really surprised that skydiving is one of its most popular activities?  Skydive Dubai is a company located near Jumeirah Beach, offering tandem skydiving for beginners and solo jumps for licensed divers. If you thought Dubai’s skyline was impressive already, just wait until you see it while falling from 13,000 feet in the air.

Yosemite Half Dome

Scale Half Dome at Yosemite National Park

The Half Dome trail through Yosemite may be one of the most intense hikes you’ll ever take, stretching for 16 miles and ascending more than 5,500 feet. The final 400 feet are the trickiest—hikers must climb up the steep slope with two steel cables as their only support—but the breathtaking views from the top make the effort (and terror) worth it. Afterwards, stay at The Ahwahnee, one of the most beautiful national park hotels in the country.

Great white shark cage diving

Swim with great white sharks in South Africa

The fishing town of Gansbaai is often considered to be the birthplace of great white shark cage diving, an activity that would make most adrenaline junkies drool. Cage diving is totally safe (despite what some low-budget shark movies might lead you to believe), but we dare you to keep your heart rate in check as you come face-to-face with an apex predator.  Marine Dynamics is one of the most popular cage diving operators in town, with a marine biologist and videographer joining every tour.

New Zealand practically invented adventure sports when the Kawarau Bridge Bungy opened in 1988. Here you join around...

Bungee jump in New Zealand

New Zealand practically invented adventure sports when the Kawarau Bridge Bungy opened in 1988. Here you join around 38,000 annual visitors to take the 140-foot jump from the South Island's historic, steel-framed Kawarau Bridge—an activity in which the views are almost as thrilling as the fall itself.

Mt Fuji

Climb Mount Fuji

Solitary Mount Fuji is probably Japan’s most iconic natural wonder , rising 12,388 feet above villages and reflecting on lakes’ surfaces. You can get views of the landmark from many places, like Lake Kawaguchi in Fujikawaguchiko and even the Park Hyatt Tokyo , but it’s the views from the mountain that will give you the most bragging rights. Visit from early July to mid-September to take advantage of the official climbing season, when the designated trails and paved roads are free of snow.

Volcano Boarding Cerro Negro

Go volcano boarding on Cerro Negro in Nicaragua

If you’re looking for action sports and adventure, we recommend booking a flight to Nicaragua right now. There you can kayak, surf, zipline through the jungle, and even sled down the side of an active volcano. Intrepid travelers love to climb up the 2,388-foot Cerro Negro and then “volcano board” back down (an activity where you sit or stand on a piece of plywood and slide your way down the slopes). You'll want to go with a guided group tour with this one. Bigfoot Hostels is one of many operators for excursions—for $25, you get transportation to the volcano, boards, safety equipment, snacks, and your speed clocked by a radar gun.

Trollstigen Norwau

Take a white-knuckle drive in Norway

Who says your adrenaline can’t pump from the comfort of your car? Trollstigen is one of the world’s most popular (and  terrifying ) highways, known for its steep gradient and hairpin turns. The one-lane road passes such impressive wonders as the 1,050-foot Stigfossen waterfall, but be sure to pull over before you gawk and snap photos. There are several viewing platforms along the road that will let you take in the sites without risking a crash.


Dive Belize’s Great Blue Hole

Known for its circular shape and strikingly deep blue color , the Great Blue Hole is a 1,000-foot-wide sinkhole in the middle of Belize’s Lighthouse Reef. While an aerial shot is enough to convince anyone of its beauty, scuba divers are the ones who get to experience the wonders that lie beneath: massive, 40-foot limestone stalactites and stalagmites that formed during the last glacial period.

The Azores Portugal

Go canyoning in the Azores

Portugal’s Azores Islands are equal parts adventurous and beautiful, inviting travelers to get up close and personal with nature while hiking, biking, and swimming. If you want to really push the envelope, try canyoning—an activity that has you rappel down a waterfall while navigating slippery rocks and fast-flowing water. Azores Getaways offers a comprehensive and easy-to-book experience. Training, equipment, on-site instructors, and snacks are all included in the excursion, which will no doubt become one of the most memorable of your life.

Patagonia kayaking

Kayak through Torres del Paine National Park

Chile’s Patagonia region is one of the most beautiful spots on the planet, and there are plenty of ways to explore the area. But while most people experience the sights while hiking, you can get a slightly different view from the water via a kayaking trip.  Kayak en Patagonia offers several tour options ranging in duration and difficulty levels, but all let you paddle past towering mountains, rugged glaciers, and other incredible vistas.

Northern Lights

Sleep under the northern lights

Ah, the elusive northern lights . So many factors are at play when it comes to seeing the technicolor phenomenon—location, time of year, weather conditions—but it’s hard to lose with an excursion to Finnish Lapland. The Arctic area is one of the planet’s best for aurora viewing, especially if you get to sleep in an igloo hotel at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort or mobile Aurora Bubble Sled . Up your viewing chances by planning a trip between December and March.


Go heli-skiing in Alaska

If you’re a seasoned traveler who’s conquered every black diamond slope in North America, there’s still one snowy adventure left to vanquish: heli-skiing. There’s nothing quite like hopping in a helicopter and being dropped onto untouched snow at the top of a mountain—especially in a setting as formidable as Alaska’s Chugach Mountains. The experienced guides at  Valdez Heli Ski Guides (VHSG) will help make this dream a reality, taking you to some of the best runs of your life and then letting you unwind (hot tub and massages included) at the cozy  Tsaina Lodge .

This image may contain Water Outdoors Nature Diving Sports Diver Sport Aqua Scuba and Scuba Diving

Snorkel between continents in Iceland

Iceland is one of the best countries in the world for adventure travel , with opportunities for everything from glacier hiking to snorkeling and diving. For the latter, head straight to Thingvellir National Park along the country’s Golden Circle route , where two tectonic plates slowly pull apart at the rate of about two centimeters (0.8 inches) per year. The phenomenon results in the Silfra fissure, a stunning rift valley where travelers can snorkel or dive in impossibly clear (and cold) waters. Tour company DIVE.IS offers tours for divers and every level of snorkeler—including those with no prior experience—and will snap an underwater photo of you touching two continents at the same time.

Some remote destinations are best seen from the deck of a boat and that includes the upper Amazon River. Aqua...

Float along the Amazon

Some remote destinations are best seen from the deck of a boat, and that includes the upper Amazon River. Aqua Expeditions ’ luxury cruises through the Peruvian stretch of the river tour the area’s wildlife and culture at a delightful, leisurely pace. You'll even have chef-prepared gourmet meals and five-star suites with floor-to-ceiling windows. Looking for something a little less luxe? Amazon Adventures offers kayaking trips along some Amazon tributaries, where you can fish for piranhas and camp out in the rainforest.

The Pipeline Oahu

Surf ‘The Pipeline’ in Oahu

Oahu’s Banzai Pipeline (commonly referred to as The Pipeline) is easily one of the most sought-after surfing spots in the world. Located off the coast of the island’s north shore in Ehukai Beach Park, the surf reef break averages waves measuring nine feet high. This activity is definitely not for beginners, but even non-surfers will get a thrill out of watching the many surf competitions that take place at The Pipeline—all from the safety of a sunny beach.

Great Bear Rainforest Canada

Spot elusive wildlife in the Great Bear Rainforest

Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest is the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world—and one of the most magical, with elusive species like sea wolves and Kermode bears roaming its 21 million acres. Outer Shores Expeditions will take you on a nine-day excursion aboard a schooner, departing from British Columbia’s First Nations community of Bella Bella and stopping for sea kayaking along the way.

Victoria Falls

Soak in the planet’s most extreme infinity pool

Located on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, Victoria Falls attracts thousands of tourists each year. One of the biggest draws here is the Devil’s Pool , a naturally formed eddy sitting at the very edge of the falls, where daring swimmers can splash around between August and January (depending on water levels, that is). Given that a slippery rock barrier is the only thing separating you from going over the edge, this site is easily the planet’s most extreme infinity pool .

Antarctica is truly the final frontier when it comes to adventure travel providing untouched landscapes unique wildlife...

Camp in Antarctica

Antarctica is truly the final frontier when it comes to adventure travel, providing untouched landscapes, unique wildlife, and more activities than you’ll know what to do with (like cruising, caving, and thermal spring soaking , to name a few). If you can get yourself to Punta Arenas, Chile, Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions will fly you to Antarctica for three days of skiing and hiking before setting you up for a South Pole sleepover.

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Don't start planning your round-the-world trip without reading this guide © Getty Images

In 1924, a team of aviators from the USA successfully completed the first-ever circumnavigation of the globe by airplane, a feat that took 175 days, 76 stops, a cache of 15 Liberty engines, 14 spare pontoons, four aircraft and two sets of new wings. This achievement ushered in an era of international air travel, and nearly a century later, travelers are still creating their own round-the-world itineraries. 

You might not have the same worries as those early aviators, but planning a round-the-world trip has never been a more complex process. As COVID-19 continues to alter world travel , heading out on a multi-country trip might be more complicated than it has been in decades. While it might not be the right time to hit the road, luckily it's never too early to start figuring out the logistics of a trip around the globe. After all, who doesn't have a lot of pent-up wanderlust at the moment? 

When it comes to booking your trip, there are several options for booking your airfare, as well as flexibility on timing, destinations and budget. But don't let that overwhelm you – start here with our handy guide on how to plan that round-the-world trip you’ve always dreamed of.

Where and how to get a round-the-world plane ticket

The most economical way to circumnavigate the globe is to buy a round-the-world (RTW) plane ticket through a single airline alliance. These are confederations of several different airlines that make it simple to maximize the number of places you can travel and pay for it all in one place or with points. There are three primary airline alliances to choose from: Star Alliance, OneWorld and Skyteam.  Star Alliance is a coalition of 26 airlines that fly to 1300 airports in 98% of the world’s countries.  OneWorld includes 14 airlines traveling to 1100 destinations in 180 territories.  Skyteam is made up of 19 airlines that serve 1000 destinations in 170 countries.  

Read more:   How to save money when you're traveling

Once you pick an airline alliance, whether because of a loyalty program you’re already a member of or because you like its terms, conditions and destination list, you can purchase a single RTW airline ticket made up of several legs fulfilled by that alliance’s partners. The RTW ticket rules vary between each of the airline alliances, with particulars like Star Alliance’s rule that a RTW ticket can include two to 15 stops. But there are some general principles that apply to most RTW tickets, no matter which airline group you go with. 

You typically must follow one global direction (east or west – no backtracking); you must start and finish in the same country; and you must book all your flights before departure, though you can change them later (though this could incur extra charges). Typically you have one year to get from your starting point to the finish line.

How long do I need for a round-the-world trip?

You could whip around the world in a weekend if you flew non-stop, especially with the advent of new ultra-long-haul flights that can clock in at 20 hours of flight time. However, the minimum duration of most RTW tickets is 10 days – still a breathless romp. To get the most out of your round-the-world ticket, consider stock-piling vacation days, tagging on public holidays or even arranging a sabbatical from work to take off at least two months (but ideally six months to one year). Because most airline alliances give you up to a year to use your ticket, you can maximize your purchase if you plan well.

A hiker approaching an archway on a mountainous trail in Nepal

When should I travel on a round-the-world trip?

The weather will never be ideal in all your stops, so focus on what you want to do most and research the conditions there. In general, city sightseeing can be done year-round (escape extreme heat, cold or rain in museums and cafes), but outdoor adventures are more reliant on – and enjoyable in – the right weather.

Research ahead of time if any must-see destinations or must-do activities will mean facing crowds. For example, if you’re hoping to be in Austria for the famous Salzburg Festival, you’ll want to plan ahead and book your tickets months in advance. If you’re hoping to fit a shorter thru-hike into your round-the-world trip, you’ll want to make sure you’re going in the correct season and starting in the right spot. You won’t get far or have as enjoyable an experience if you’re, say, attempting the Tour du Mont Blanc during the dates of the annual winter marathon or headed northbound on the Pacific Crest Trail in July, missing most of the warmer months. 

Accept youʼll be in some regions at the "wrong" time – though this might offer unexpected benefits. For example, Victoria Falls has a dry season each year , which means a slightly less thunderous cascade, but it does open up rafting opportunities and a chance to swim right up to the lip of the falls in The Devil’s Pool. Going to Venice in the winter might mean grayer skies but fewer crowds. Heading to Kenya and Tanzania in April is likely to mean fewer humans, but not fewer chances to spot wildlife, all while saving money on safari.  Also keep in mind that mom-and-pop locations have their downtime and holiday seasons as well; don't be too surprised if your local bakery in Paris is closed for a holiday week or two in August.

Where should I go on my round-the-world trip?

The classic (and cheapest) RTW tickets flit between a few big cities, for example, London – Bangkok – Singapore – Sydney – LA . If you want to link more offbeat hubs ( Baku – Kinshasa – Paramaribo , anyone?), prices will climb considerably. The cost of the ticket is also based on the total distance covered or the number of countries visited.

A train crossing a bridge curves through lush green hillsides in India

Remember, you donʼt have to fly between each point: in Australia you could land in Perth , travel overland and fly out of Cairns . Or fly into Moscow , board the Trans-Siberian railway  and fly onwards from Beijing.  Pick some personal highlights and string the rest of your itinerary around those. For instance, if youʼre a keen hiker, flesh out a Peru ( Inca Trail ) – New Zealand ( Milford Track ) – Nepal ( Everest Base Camp ) itinerary with stops in Yosemite , Menz-Gauassa and the Okavango Delta .

If budgetʼs an issue, spend more time in less expensive countries and plan budget city breaks along the way. You’ll spend more in metros like Paris, Dubai and San Francisco than in Nusa Tenggara , Budapest  and Buffalo . 

Tips, tricks and pitfalls of round-the-world tickets

Talk to an expert before you book a round-the-world ticket: you may have an itinerary in mind, but an experienced RTW flight booker will know which routes work best and cost least. A few tweaks could mean big savings in time and money. Hash out a budget well ahead of time, not only for your RTW ticket, but also for the whole trip. Reach out to friends or travel bloggers who have done a round-the-world trip or are full-time travelers because they can offer tips on how to budget for a trip around the world .

Be flexible: moving your departure date by a few days can save money. Mid-week flights are generally cheaper, as are flights on major holidays such as Christmas Day. Avoid days and times popular with business travelers to escape higher prices and more crowded cabins.

Think about internal travel: it can be cheaper to book internal flights at the same time as booking your RTW ticket, but with the global increase of low-cost airlines, you may find it better (and more flexible) to buy them separately as you go.

Be warned: if you donʼt board one of your booked flights (say, on a whim, you decide to travel overland from Bangkok to Singapore rather than fly it) your airline is likely to cancel all subsequent flights.

You might also like: 10 destinations perfect for solo travel Can visiting lesser-known places offer a better travel experience? 6 things I learned from flying 6 days in a row

This article was first published Mar 20, 2012 and updated Dec 29, 2021.

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Nomadic Matt's Travel Site

Travel Better, Cheaper, Longer

My Best 61 Travel Tips to Make You the World’s Savviest Traveler

61 Travel Tips to Make You the World's Savviest Traveler

Most people aren’t born savvy travelers. It’s something that only comes with on-the-road experience. Travel savviness is a process born of missed buses, foolish behavior, cultural unawareness, and countless tiny errors. Then, one day, you begin to seamlessly move through airports and integrate yourself into new cultures like a fish to water.

In the beginning, you just make a lot of travel mistakes.

But I want to help speed up the process and help you avoid my mistakes ( and I often make a lot of them ), so I put together this giant list of my best travel tips that cover everything under the sun to help you reach your full travel ninja potential.

I’ve learned these tips over the last sixteen years being a nomad.

These tips for traveling will have you saving money, sleeping better, getting off the beaten path more, meeting locals, and just being a better traveler.

So, without further ado, here are the best 61 travel tips in the world:

1. Always pack a towel. It’s the key to successful galactic hitchhiking – and plain common sense. You never know when you will need it, whether it’s at the beach, on a picnic, or just to dry off after a shower. While many hostels offer towels, you never know if they will or not, and carrying a small towel won’t add that much weight to your bag.

Make sure it’s a lightweight, quick-drying towel since regular towels are too bulky and heavy (and they take a long time to dry). Dry Fox travel towels are my favorite (use the code “nomadicmatt” for 15% off your purchase)!

Nomadic Matt posing for a photo in Hawaii while traveling

My favorite bag is the Flash Pack from REI . Other companies offering high-quality bags are Osprey, Nomatic, and MEC (for Canadians).

This article has more tips on finding the best travel backpack for your needs.

The same rule applies to suitcases. Don’t take a huge suitcase because they are a pain in the butt to lug around, especially if you’re traveling long term (short term, not so much). I like Level 8 suitcases. They are durable, quite spacious, nicely designed, and well-priced (luggage can be pretty damn expensive). Plus, they have a TSA lock built into the zipper. You can click here to learn more and buy one .

I also recommend packing cubes , which are essential if you’re going to be living out of a backpack for a few weeks (or months), or you just want to keep your suitcase better organized. They come in a variety of sizes, allowing you to store items big and small. They’re great for making it easy to find everything in your backpack or suitcase.

3. Pack light. Write down a list of essentials, cut it in half, and then only pack that! Plus, since you bought a small backpack like I said above, you won’t have much room for extra stuff anyways! Take half the clothes you think you will need…you won’t need as much as you think. It’s OK to wear the same t-shirt a few days in a row.

I love Unbound Merino , as their travel clothing can be worn daily for weeks without getting smelly. They are super light and they look sylish too. I really love the material, they’re comfortable, they hardly ever need a wash, and they last forever!

Click here for more packing tips .

4. But take extra socks. You’ll lose a bunch to laundry gremlins, wear and tear, and hiking so packing extra will come in handy. Take a few more than you need. Trust me on this. Nothing beats a fresh pair of socks!

A room of empty bunk beds in a hostel in Spain

Here’s a list of all my best hostels around the world . If you’re planning on backpacking Europe , it’s worth getting HostelPass , a card that gives you up to 20% off hostels throughout Europe. It’s a great way to save money, and they’re constantly adding new hostels too. I’ve always wanted something like this and so I’m glad it finally exists. Use code NOMADICMATT for 25% off.

6. Take an extra bank card and credit card with you Disasters happen and things get stolen or compromised. I once had a card duplicated and a freeze put on it. I couldn’t use it for the rest of my trip. I was very happy I had a backup. You don’t want to be stuck somewhere new without access to your funds. This happened to a friend once and they had to borrow money for me for weeks while they waited for their new card to arrive.

Here are some helpful articles on banking:

  • How to Avoid Banking Fees While Traveling
  • 22 Ways to Cut Your Expenses and Have Money for Travel
  • How to Pick the Best Travel Credit Card

7. Make sure to use no-fee bank cards. Don’t give banks your hard-earned money. Keep that for yourself and spend it on your travels. Get a credit card and debit card that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee or an ATM fee. Over the course of a long trip, the few dollars they take every time will really add up!

Here’s an article that will tell you how to do that.

8. Don’t fly direct. When booking flights, sometimes it is cheaper to fly in to airports close to your final destination, and then take a train, bus, or budget airline to where you need to go.

To use this method, find out how much it is to go directly to your destination. Then, look at prices to nearby airports. If the difference is more than $150 USD, I look to see how much it is to get from the second airport to my primary destination.

My favorite flight search engine is Skyscanner . This is my go-to website for finding cheap flights. It searches a lot of different airlines, including many of the budget carriers that larger sites miss.

Here are some more tips on finding cheap flights!

Nomadic Matt posing at the Villandry chateau in France during the summer

Here are some helpful articles on solo travel:

  • Why I Travel Alone
  • The Joy of Solo Travel
  • Travel: The Ultimate Personal Development Tool
  • How to Overcome Being Alone
  • Reading People: One Skill Travel Has Taught Me

10. Always visit the local tourism information center. This is probably one of the most underused travel tips in the world. Tourism information centers know about everything going on in town. They can point you to free activities, special events happening during your stay, and everything in between. They even offer discounts on attractions and transportation. It is their job to help you experience the destination better. It’s amazing how many travelers skip this when they are visiting somewhere but, as a savvy traveler, you know to use this resource!

11. Take free walking tours. Besides being free, these tours will give you a good orientation and background of the city you are visiting. I love, love, love taking walking tours when I travel. You pass the time, you get to pepper the guide with questions, and you get to learn so much about where you are. Here are some of my favorite walking tour companies around the world:

  • The Best Walking Tours in New York City
  • The Best Walking Tours in London
  • The Best Walking Tours in Paris
  • The Best Walking Tours in Berlin
  • The Best Walking Tours in Amsterdam

And while free walking tours are great, sometimes it’s worth it to take a paid walking tour if you’d like to dig deeper into a particular aspect of the destination. Walks is one of my favorite paid walking tour companies, offering in-depth history and cultural tours in cities around the world (especially Europe). Its small-group tours also tend to offer exclusive behind-the-scenes access you can’t get elsewhere.

For fellow foodies, Devour Food Tours has all kinds of amazing food tours around Europe.

12. Don’t be afraid to use a map. Looking like a tourist isn’t as bad as getting really lost and ending up in the wrong neighborhood. Don’t be afraid to use a map or ask for directions and look like a tourist. After all, you are one!

13. But don’t be afraid to get purposefully lost. Wandering aimlessly through a new city is a good way to get to know it, get off the beaten path, and away from the tourists. You might be surprised by the hidden gems you find. I like to wander around and try to find my way without using Google Maps. Travel is the art of discovery and you never know what cool little spot you’ll come across.

14. Ask hostel staff for information — even when you aren’t staying there. Hostel staff deal with budget travelers all day, every day. They know exactly where to go for cheap meals and attractions. They also tend to be locals so they know the city very well. Ask them for all sorts of information. Even if you aren’t staying in one, just pop in and ask for help. They’ll usually give it.

15. Sign up for flight deals. When it comes to travel, your flight(s) will likely be your biggest expense. Save money by signing up for flight deal websites. You’ll get epic flight deals straight to your inbox, saving you time and money. Also be sure to sign up for airline newsletters, since that is where they will announce their sales first. The best websites for finding travel deals are:

  • Going (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights) – The BEST for upcoming US flight deals.
  • The Flight Deal – Great for global flight deals.
  • Holiday Pirates – The best for European flight deals.
  • Secret Flying – A great site for flight deals from around the world.

16. Don’t buy a money belt — they’re stupid. Thieves know they exist and being seen with one basically shouts, “Look at me, I’m a tourist with money! Rip me off!” The more you can blend in and act like a local, the easier it will be to get deals and avoid touts. If you’re worried about pickpockets, keep a better eye on your stuff!

17. When you go out, take only what you need. Limit the amount of cash and bank cards you carry with you when you go out, so if something does happen, you can easily recover. Never take more than one credit card or ATM card with you. My rule for cash is to limit what I carry to $50 USD.

18. Always carry a lock. Carry a small combination lock with you when you travel. They come in handy, especially when you stay in dorms. Most hostels use lockers, so budget travelers need to provide their own travel lock to keep stuff secured. While you can usually rent or buy them at hostels, it’s much cheaper just to buy one before you go. (Just don’t use one with keys because if you lose the keys, you’re screwed!)

19. Make extra copies of your passport and important documents. Don’t forget to e-mail a copy to yourself too. You never know when you might need to have some sort of documentation with you and might not want to carry your original. Additionally, if your passport gets stolen having a copy will come in handy for your police report.

20. Learn basic phrases in the native language of your destination. The locals will appreciate it and it will make your interactions easier. You don’t need to master the language but learning a few things like “Hello,” “Goodbye,” “Thank you!”, “Where’s the bathroom?” will go a long way to endearing yourself with the locals. They’ll like that you tried.

Here are some tips on how to learn a language .

Nomadic Matt reading a travel book at a desk

Here are some posts that highlight my favorite reads:

  • 13 Travel Books That Will Give You Serious Wanderlust
  • The Best Travel Books
  • 12 Books to Take You Around the World

22. Don’t be ashamed to walk into a Starbucks or McDonald’s. Sometimes familiarity is comforting and both places have free wifi and public restrooms you can use. (Just don’t eat the food at McDonald’s! That shit is gross and unhealthy for you! You can get it back home!). Libraries and most modern coffee shops also have free Wi-Fi too.

23. Always get behind business travelers when in security lines. They move fast since they are usually in a rush and travel light. They know the drill. Line up behind them as much as possible. You’ll speed through the line!

24. Never get behind families in airport security. They take forever. It’s not their fault. They just have a lot of stuff because of the kids. Try to avoid getting in lines with lots of kids. It’s going to take a while.

25. When you check in to the hotel, don’t be afraid to ask for an upgrade. They have a lot of flexibility when it comes to assigning upgrades at check-in. It never hurts to ask. Often times they can accommodate you if the hotel isn’t full. Just be super nice!

Note: If you stay in hotels frequently (or want to), it might be worth it to get a hotel credit card . You can earn points on your everyday spending at home and convert those points into free stays. The best cards come with status, making upgrades more likely too!

26. Write down your experiences. Even in this hyper-technological age, I think everyone needs to write more during their travels so they have something to look back on. I never leave home without a journal. Not only do I use them for work (I’m constantly taking notes and writing down ideas) but I also use them to keep track of my travels.

Simple travel journals work great for journaling during your trip as well as for writing down logistical information like directions, contact information, and language tips.

If you want a travel journal that isn’t just blank pages but rather has space for itinerary planning, places to jot notes in the local language, inspirational quotes, and more, grab our new travel journal. It was designed specifically with travelers in mind, so you can take notes as well as write down stories and reflections during your travels.

27. Lunchtime is the best time to visit historical sites. Be a contrarian. You’ll have fewer crowds getting in your way as big tour buses, groups, and most travelers head to lunch. It’s always best to visit an attraction super early, late, or when people eat. You’ll have even the most popular places to yourself!

28. Never eat in a touristy area or near a tourist attraction. As a general rule, I walk five blocks in either direction before I find a place to eat. The closer you are to tourist attractions the more you are going to pay and the worse the food (and service). Use websites like Yelp , Google Maps , or Open Rice to find some delicious and popular restaurants around you.

Additionally, never eat anywhere the menu is in like 6 languages! That means the restaurant is just for tourists!

29. Locals don’t eat out every night and neither should you. Go grocery shopping. You can learn a lot about locals’ diets by seeing the type of food they buy. Plus, it will save you a lot of money. You won’t regret it. Cook your food, save money, and surprise yourself!

30. Eat at expensive restaurants during lunch. Most expensive restaurants offer lunch specials featuring the same food they would serve for dinner but for a fraction of the cost! That’s the best time to eat out when you travel.

I share more tips on how to eat cheaply around the world here.

31. Pack a headlamp. This is a handy tool for both backpackers and anyone looking to do any hiking or camping. If you’re going to be staying in a hostel, having a headlamp is helpful when you need to check in or out but don’t want to disturb your fellow travelers by turning on the lights. They’re also helpful in emergencies.

32. Carry a basic first-aid kit. Accidents happen, so be prepared. I always take band-aids, antibacterial cream, and ointments for minor cuts and scrapes. You never know when you’re going to need it and you can’t always get it when you travel.

You can either assemble a first aid kit yourself ( here are some tips for doing so ), or purchase a pre-made kit online .

33. Don’t believe the cheap flight myths. Don’t drive yourself too crazy trying to get the absolute cheapest fare. There are a lot of myths online about how to find cheap flights, but there is no magic bullet or one secret ninja trick. It’s not cheaper to book on a particular day of the week, or if you search in an incognito window.

Spending five hours to try to save $10 will cause you a lot of stress. Once you find a flight deal that you’re happy with, book right away, as airfares change by the minute. Remember, you usually have a 24-hour window to cancel in case you need to.

Here are some article on how to save money on flights:

  • 5 Steps to Booking a Cheap Flight Online
  • How to Always Find a Cheap Flight
  • Where I Find the Best Travel Deals

34. Use Meetup, the sharing economy, and hospitality websites to meet locals. These websites will help you get an insider’s perspective on your destination by connecting you with locals in the places you visit. The sharing economy has changed the way people travel allowing you to meet locals, get off the tourist travel, and save mega money! It’s a triple win – and I use these resources all the time when I travel.

Here’s an article on how to use the sharing economy (and what websites to use) when you travel.

35. Be open to strangers. Not everyone bites. Say hi to people on the road. Turn strangers into friends. Remember they are just like you! They want to live a happy, full life and have hopes and dreams too! You never know. You just might make some lifelong friends.

36. But keep your guard up. Some people do bite, so keep a healthy level of suspicion. You don’t want to fall for any travel scams or get yourself into uncomfortable situations. Be open but cautious. Here is a list of travel scams to avoid.

A delicious, fresh Greek meal while looking out over the ocean in the Greek Islands

  • My Favorite Restaurants in Europe
  • The Best Places to Eat in NYC
  • How to Eat Cheap Around the World
  • 30+ Places to Eat in Tokyo
  • How to Eat Around the World on a Vegan Diet

38. Avoid taxis. They are always a budget buster. Never, ever take a taxi unless you absolutely have too!

39. Take a reusable water bottle through airport security and fill it up at your gate. Single-use plastics are common in a lot of countries around the world. They’re also polluting our oceans and destroying the environment. Drink from the tap when you can — you’ll save money and help the environment. If you’re going somewhere where you can’t drink the water, be sure to get a water bottle with a filter. I love Lifestraw .

40. Get city attraction cards. If you are going to visit a lot of museums and other attractions in a short period of time, a city pass is going to save you money on admission (plus most provide free public transportation too!).

41. Take pictures of your luggage and clothes. If your bag gets lost, this will help identify it more easily and speed up the process of having your travel insurance reimburse you.

42. Carry emergency cash. Because emergencies happen, like that time in Romania when I couldn’t find an ATM and needed money for the bus to the hostel. I usually try to keep around $200 USD in emergency cash in case something happens!

43. Get good shoes. You walk a lot when you travel. Don’t beat up your feet. Love them as much as they love you, and they’ll take you to amazing places.

My favorite shoes for traveling are Suavs shoes , which are versatile and durable. They’re comfortable and great for exploring a new city all day, but also look nice enough that you can dress them up if you want to at night.

44. Get vaccinated. Because falling prey to an illness in a foreign country is not fun — and many countries require you to get vaccinated in order to visit them. So regardless of your opinion on the subject, you just might have to.

Here is an article on how to stay healthy on the road.

45. Learn to haggle. Haggling is a fun, playful way of not getting charged the foreigner price. It’s the art of negotiating and one that will help you throughout all of life, not just at the market.

A TSA Pre-Check sign at a US airport

Here are some articles to help you get started with using points and miles:

  • Points and Miles 101: A Beginner’s Guide
  • How I Earn 1 Million Frequent Flier Miles Every Year
  • The Best Travel Credit Cards
  • The Ultimate Guide to Picking the Best Travel Credit Card

47. Take a jacket. Nights get chilly.

48. Eat street food! If you skip the street food, you miss out on culture . Don’t be scared. If you’re nervous, look for places where kids are eating. If it’s safe for them, it’s safe for you.

49. Get travel insurance. Travel insurance is the most important thing to get that you never want to use. If something goes wrong, you don’t want to be out thousands of dollars in bills. Travel insurance will be there if you get robbed, flights get canceled, you get sick or injured, or have to be sent home. It’s comprehensive and, for just a few dollars a day, one of the best investments you can get for a trip.

You may think you’re superman/woman but so did my friend who broke her arm, didn’t have insurance, and had to pay thousands out of pocket. Insurance was there when I had to replace my camera and when I popped an eardrum scuba diving! Get it! Here are some tips on how to find the best travel insurance.

My favorite companies are:

  • SafetyWing – A budget-friendly choice for travelers who need basic coverage. They are affordable, have great customer service, and make it easy to make a claim. If you’re on a tight budget, go with SafetyWing!
  • Insure My Trip – The best insurance for those over 70 years old.
  • Medjet – This is a membership program that provides emergency evacuation coverage should you get into a dire situation while traveling and be hospitalized. Medjet is meant to supplement your regular travel insurance.

50. Be patient. Things will work out in the end. No need to rush. You’ll get to where you are going in due time. Travel is about the journey, not the destination.

51. Be respectful. Locals are willing to help you out, but there’s probably a language barrier, so keep your cool when something doesn’t go your way. If you don’t, you’ll end up just looking like an asshole tourist.

52. Don’t over plan your trip. Let your days unfold naturally. Schedule two or three things and let the day fill in the rest on its own. It’s less stressful, and letting the day just take you is one of the best ways to travel. Here’s my advice on how not to over plan your travels!

53. Relax. See Be patient .

54. Be frugal — but not cheap. Don’t be pennywise but pound-foolish. Look for deals and don’t waste money, but don’t miss out on great experiences or walk 10 miles to save a couple of dollars. Time is money. Spend them both wisely.

55. Take earplugs. Anyone who has ever stayed in a hostel knows that earplugs are a necessity. Snorers are everywhere and you need your sleep.

But even if you’re not going to be in a hostel, they’re still helpful for sleeping well if your accommodation is located on a busy street, or for sleeping in buses, overnight trains, and other types of transportation. A good night’s sleep is priceless — be prepared!

These earplugs are reusable and work much better than the cheap foam ones, blocking out any distracting noises.

56. Always carry a power bank. Batteries die. Your good mood shouldn’t.

We all travel with numerous electronic devices like phones and tablets, but it can be hard to keep them all charged. An external battery solves that problem.

57. Remember that you’re not alone even if you’re traveling solo. Traveling alone never means you’re really alone. Wherever you go, there is a network of travelers who will be your friends, give you advice or tips, and help you out. They will guide you, point you in the right direction, and be your mentors. You aren’t out there on your own. You’ll make lots of friends and tons of memories.

If you’re not sure about traveling on your own for the first time, you can always join a group tour, such as those we offer at The Nomadic Network . I’ve designed all the itineraries myself to ensure they cover the highlights, get you off the tourist trail, and connect you with friends and locals.

Christmas dinner in Ko Lipe with new friends

59. Pre-book your tickets to attractions, activities, and excursions online. If you’re planning to do any activities or excursions on your trip, book them online. Companies usually offer a discounted price when compared to buying in person. Not only that but you’ll be able to pay with a credit card, giving you some extra protection as well as more travel points!

Many major attractions also allow you to reserve your spot and skip the line. Always look online to see if this is an option. This will you to avoid wasting time in multi-hour lines and go right in. I’ve seen people wait hours for the Paris Catacombs, Louvre, London Churchill War Rooms, churches, temples, historic fortresses, and more. Pre-book the day before, skip the line, get to see more during your day!

Get Your Guide is my favorite place to book activities in advance. It’s a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions, with tons of options in cities all around the world, including skip-the-line attraction tickets, cooking classes, walking tours, and more!

60. Avoid TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor is fine when you need opening hours or an address, but when it comes to reviews I ignore it completely. People always leave a negative review when something bad happens but rarely leave a positive review when something good happens so the reviews tend to be skewed.

On top of that, it’s very easy to create fake reviews and make a place seem better than it is. Many hotels and restaurants hire firms to artificially inflate their reviews on the platform. Additionally, TripAdvisor has been known to take down reviews that are overly negative as well as reviews on sexual assault. Use TripAdvisor with caution. Or better yet, don’t use it at all.

61. Finally, wear sunscreen. For as the Baz Luhrmann song “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” goes:

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists Whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable Than my own meandering experience.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner . It’s my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation You can book your hostel with Hostelworld . If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

  • SafetyWing (best for everyone)
  • Insure My Trip (for those 70 and over)
  • Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)

Want to Travel for Free? Travel credit cards allow you to earn points that can be redeemed for free flights and accommodation — all without any extra spending. Check out my guide to picking the right card and my current favorites to get started and see the latest best deals.

Need Help Finding Activities for Your Trip? Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace where you can find cool walking tours, fun excursions, skip-the-line tickets, private guides, and more.

Ready to Book Your Trip? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.

Got a comment on this article? Join the conversation on Facebook , Instagram , or Twitter and share your thoughts!

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I recommend only products and companies I use and the income goes to keeping the site community supported and ad free.

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The world’s coolest hotels want to tell you a story

The latest design-driven hotels aim to immerse guests in a story or social movement, or transport them to another time

travel ideas world

A new niche of high-end hotels makes a big promise.

Unlike your run-of-the-mill boutique hotel, these properties aren’t only about cool decor and on-site bars and restaurants. Through grander concepts and designs, they claim to immerse guests in a story or social movement, or even transport them to another time period.

Dream of joining Gertrude Stein’s salons in early 20th-century Paris? That’s the vibe on offer at the flamboyant Le Grand Mazarin in the city’s Marais neighborhood. Wish you could live inside the campy aesthetic of cult-film writer/director John Waters? Check into Baltimore’s Hotel Ulysses , one of a growing number of eccentric concepts from hospitality group Ash . Want your travel choices to align with your concern about climate change? The upcoming Six Senses Svart in Norway promises “ an immersive and purpose-driven journey ” in a spaceshiplike building designed to generate more energy than it uses .

These examples couldn’t be more different from one another, and that’s the point. But there is one thread that tends to connect them: the creators of such concepts frequently describe them as weaving a “story” or “narrative.” So, we’ll call them narrative hotels. They are built to stand out in an era in which corporate chains masquerade as boutiques and design trends are dictated by social media algorithms. A few fast-growing hospitality groups have even made the narrative concept key to their plans for global expansion. But that’s where the plot gets complicated.

The evolution from boutique to narrative

Creating a sense of place — often through living-room-like lobbies and art-filled guest quarters — was the calling card of the boutique hotels that emerged in the early ’90s , with hoteliers such as Bill Kimpton leading the way. Throughout the decade, fashionable travelers began seeking upstart brands such as the W, launched in New York in 1998, and Ace Hotel, which opened in Seattle in 1999.

But by the 2010s, everything started to feel boutiquey. Marriott International, the biggest hotel company in the world, acquired the W brand in 2016 . Similarly, IHG Hotels & Resorts acquired Kimpton in 2018 . Elsewhere, boutique tropes have trickled down to more budget-friendly chains such as the quirky Moxy Hotels, which Marriott teamed up with IKEA to launch in 2013, and CitizenM , whose Instagrammable lobbies overflow with plastic plants .

Whether the industry calls them “boutique” or “lifestyle ,” those terms tend to lose their meaning when they’re mass-produced, said Amber Asher, CEO of the Standard Hotels . “Now, a lot of the bigger chains and bigger companies are looking to do what lifestyle’s always done.”

One reason so many hotels tend to look the same, said Kyle Chayka, author of “ Filterworld: How Algorithms Flattened Culture ,” is that much of the industry is chasing the same design trends set by powerful social media algorithms. “You’ve had a lot of homogenization, particularly in hotels and rental properties, over the late 2010s,” he said. Which means standing out demands a bolder strategy: “Since people are recognizing this homogenization, in order to be compelling, you have to go in the opposite direction.”

And few things are as compelling as a well-told story. Hoteliers seeking to differentiate themselves nowadays are lining up to work with design firms that recognize this.

“We start every project with a narrative,” celebrated hospitality designer Robin Standefer said via email. Her firm, Roman and Williams , which she founded with Stephen Alesch in 2002, is behind such pioneering properties as the Standard Highline and the Ace Brooklyn. Travelers “want to be characters in their own movie,” she explained, and with every project, her team is tasked with “creating the stage.”

You’ll encounter undeniable cinematic pomp at one of the newest properties designed by Roman and Williams: Estelle Manor , a hotel and members club set on 60 manicured acres in Oxfordshire, England, that may give guests the sense they have stepped into the opulent sets of the movie “Saltburn” (sans murder).

“Our focus on experience and narrative is driven by an ethos, rather than a style,” Standefer said of creating these fantasies. “In each place, it’s the idea of collapsing past and present by taking a dreamy narrative from history and making it a reality.”

The challenge of too many stories

Stories based on a building’s past are among the most common narratives that hotels spin. The luxuriously redesigned Hotel Chelsea , for example, fully embraces its pedigree as the former home of rock-and-roll legends. There are also narratives inspired by cultural figures and movements, like at Maison Proust in Paris, a hotel dedicated to its namesake literary giant. And then there are the mission-driven stories. Cases in point: D.C.’s “first activist hotel,” the Eaton, which features a “Radical Library” in its lobby and has hosted protest song performances in its rooftop bar . And the city’s feminist-inflected Hotel Zena, where you will encounter a huge portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg made of tampons.

But the most popular narratives are probably the ones pegged to location. These properties deploy design choices, event programs and culinary offerings intended to make them feel like an authentic part of the local experience. This has been the angle for many openings from Ennismore , the hospitality group behind the Hoxton and 25hours, chains that position themselves as hangouts for cool locals in the city’s coolest neighborhoods.

“Having a concept or narrative running through the design and the guest journey of an individual hotel is critical to ensuring it stands out,” Sharan Pasricha, Ennismore’s founder and co-CEO, said via email. He pointed to 25hours Hotel One Central in Dubai, the brand’s first property outside Europe, as a particularly telling example. “The history of the region is reflected throughout the hotel’s interiors, with each floor’s design charting different moments in time until you reach the top floor, which has a futuristic aesthetic.”

Ennismore — which completed a joint venture with Accor Group in 2021 — is on a rapid growth trajectory, with a dozen hotels and resorts slated to open by the end of the year. Making each property feel like a true destination for locals (not just out-of-towners) is central to the business model, Pasricha said. “Our restaurants and bars generate around 50 percent of our revenue, most of which comes from people who aren’t staying with us,” he said.

But how do you keep those narratives compelling through chapters of expansion? “It’s the fun of what we do,” said Asher, who aims to grow the Standard from its current eight locations to as many as 20. For each opening, she said her team immerses itself in the destination from the outset, forging local partnerships and getting to know community members — asking what they would want out of the property. Still, she conceded, nailing the local vibe “is also the most challenging part of the business.”

And therein lies the tension: Authentic storytelling is tough to replicate on a global scale. “You can’t be both local and everywhere,” Chayka said. “At a certain point, that paradox becomes impossible to resolve — and your aesthetic or brand becomes cringy.”

The risk that a narrative won’t land

The line between narrative and gimmick can also be perilously thin.

Hotel Zena, the “feminist” lodging in D.C., was met with some skepticism after its 2020 opening, amid news that a “hotel dedicated to female empowerment” had hired a man to be its executive chef . (In a written response to questions from The Washington Post, the hotel’s general manager, Sherry Abedi, did not address the chef issue but emphasized Zena’s ongoing partnerships with female- and minority-owned businesses and influencers; artwork celebrating gender equality and civil rights; and “comfortable spaces that highlight our hope for change and inclusivity.”)

Amid its expansion to 40-plus member clubs and hotels in recent years, Soho House has faced criticism that its establishments simply don’t feel special anymore. The recently opened member club Soho House Portland, located in a gentrifying neighborhood of Portland, Ore., has raised eyebrows for claiming to support local artists, when it occupies a building that used to provide affordable studio space. (The artists who worked there were displaced when the property was sold in 2016; it sold again to developers, who leased it in 2019 to Soho House.)

When Soho House Portland debuted in March, it talked up its local connections , emphasizing that the art on the walls came from Oregon artists and that its restaurant is helmed by a local chef working with Pacific Northwest suppliers. But Portlanders aren’t all convinced. Celeste Noche , founder of Portland in Color , a nonprofit that supports BIPOC creatives, describes Soho House as “vibewashing.”

“In trying to say they’re not like the businesses that came before them, it’s like they’re trying to correct the wrong things — correcting the look versus the impact of what it means to be in those communities,” she said. “It feels like a disservice,” Noche added, that most artists whose work is displayed there weren’t directly paid . Rather, they were offered memberships and credits, as Soho House acquires the vast majority of its art through bartering.

Soho House’s chief art director, Kate Bryan, who manages the company’s sprawling art collection , said the intent is not to avoid paying for the art but instead to build a relationship with artists that “goes beyond financial value.” She said, “It operates outside this very kind of rampant commercial art world,” emphasizing that credits and memberships have dollar value, too. “It’s not Monopoly money,” she added. But coming from a publicly traded $1 billion brand, the approach has received a mixed reception in the Portland art scene .

Speaking generally, Roman and Williams’s Standefer cautioned that many narrative hotel concepts will invariably fall flat because developing them is a complicated process, and not everyone wants to invest in it. “There’s no formula to history and authenticity, and visitors are discerning enough that they can see through shortcuts,” she said.

But on the whole, Standefer hopes the rise in narrative hospitality will make travel more interesting: “Hopefully it will lead to more original ideas, to more intellectual heft and consideration in design, as well as more engagement with local traditions and … regional craftspeople.”

When they do land, narrative hospitality concepts approach the immersive realms of stage design, helping you suspend disbelief. In other words, you’ll know it’s working when you get lost in the story.

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TSA is prepared for busiest summer travel season ever

WASHINGTON — The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is prepared for the highest passenger volumes the agency has seen at airport security checkpoints nationwide during this summer’s travel season, which begins Memorial Day weekend and runs through Labor Day. TSA forecasts Friday, May 24, to be the busiest travel day of the long Memorial Day weekend, anticipating nearly three million passengers. From May 23 to May 29, the agency expects to screen more than 18 million passengers and crew, representing a checkpoint volume increase of approximately 6.4% compared to the same period in 2023.

“In close coordination with airport, airline and travel partners, we are more than ready to handle this summer’s increased travel volumes,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “We are also continuing to deploy state-of-the-art checkpoint technology that increases security effectiveness, efficiency and enhances the passenger experience and our retention and recruitment numbers are the highest they’ve ever been.”

TSA is continuing to modernize airport security checkpoints across the country with a focus on enhanced detection methods to best secure the aviation system. This summer, airline passengers can expect to encounter some of those latest checkpoint technologies and recommends several important travel tips. These include:

Tip 1: Be aware of new checkpoint technology and follow TSA guidance. TSA is using the second generation of Credential Authentication Technology (CAT-2), which features the same capabilities as the CAT, confirming the authenticity of a passenger’s identification credentials with their acceptable photo identification credential along with their flight details and pre-screening status, but with an added camera feature. The passenger may voluntarily agree to have a real-time photo taken of them to verify their identity using their TSA-acceptable identification credential. The facial recognition technology TSA utilizes helps ensure the person standing at the checkpoint is the same person pictured on their ID. Keep your boarding pass tucked away. Photos are not stored or saved after a positive ID match has been made, except in a limited testing environment for evaluation of the effectiveness of the technology. Passengers who do not want their photo taken may ask the Transportation Security Officer (TSO) for a manual ID check without penalty and losing their place in line. For more information on how TSA is using facial recognition technology, see TSA’s Privacy Impact Assessments , Fact Sheet and biometrics technology webpage s.

Several airports have installed Computed Tomography (CT) units. These units significantly improve scanning and threat detection capabilities for carry-on bags. CT units give TSOs the ability to review a 3D image of passengers’ bags and reduce the need to physically search the contents of the bag. Passengers screened in security lanes with CT units do not need to remove their 3-1-1 liquids or laptops, but they must place every carry-on item, including bags, into a bin for screening. Passengers are also reminded to bring at maximum one carry-on bag and one personal item through security screening.

To date, TSA has deployed 2,050 CAT units to 223 airports. Among those, 238 CAT units represent the second generation (CAT-2) technology and are located in 84 airports nationwide. Additionally, TSA has deployed more than 820 CT units to more than 240 airports nationwide.

Screening protocols may vary from airport to airport depending on available technology and the current threat environment, so it is important for passengers to follow the TSO’s directions.

Tip 2: Do you carry a firearm? Prepare, pack and declare. Firearms are prohibited at security checkpoints, in the secure area of an airport and in the passenger cabin of an aircraft, even if a passenger has a concealed carry permit or is in a constitutional carry jurisdiction. Passengers may travel with a firearm , but it must be secured in the passenger’s checked baggage; packed unloaded; locked in a hard-sided case; and declared to the airline when checking in at the airline ticket counter.

TSA does not confiscate or seize firearms. If a passenger brings a firearm to the security checkpoint on their person or in their carry-on luggage, the TSO will contact local law enforcement to safely unload and take possession of the firearm. Law enforcement may also arrest or cite the passenger, depending on local law. TSA may impose a civil penalty up to almost $15,000, and for the first offense, passengers who bring a firearm to a security checkpoint will lose TSA PreCheck ® eligibility for five years. Second violations will result in permanent disqualification from the program and additional civil penalties.

Tip 3: Pack an empty bag, know before you go, and remember the 3-1-1 rule. When airline passengers begin packing for travel with an empty bag, they are less likely to be stopped at the security checkpoint for having prohibited items. Prior to packing that empty bag, check TSA’s “What Can I Bring?” tool to know what is prohibited. If you’re heading to the beach, you may wonder how to pack your sunscreen. Any liquids, sunscreen containers and alcohol over 3.4 ounces must be packed in a checked bag. Liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes are allowed in carry-on bags as long as each item is 3.4 ounces or less and placed in one quart-sized bag. Each passenger is limited to one quart-size bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes.

Tip 4: Make sure you have a REAL ID or another acceptable ID. Adult passengers 18 years and older must show valid ID credentials at the airport checkpoint in order to travel. Beginning May 7, 2025, if you plan to use your state-issued ID or driver’s license to fly within the U.S., make sure you have a REAL ID or another acceptable form of ID. If you are not sure if you have a REAL ID, check with your state department of motor vehicles. For questions on acceptable IDs, go to TSA.gov.

Tip 5: TSA PreCheck ® members: Make sure your Known Traveler Number (KTN) is in your reservation. With nearly 20 million TSA PreCheck members, it is essential that airline reservations have the passenger’s correct KTN, full name and date of birth so they can truly “Travel with Ease.” Those who fly with multiple airlines should ensure their KTN is updated in each of their airline profiles every time they travel. TSA PreCheck passengers are low-risk travelers who do not need to remove shoes, belts, 3-1-1 liquids, food, laptops and light jackets at the TSA checkpoint. TSA’s wait time standards for TSA PreCheck lanes are under 10 minutes and under 30 minutes for standard lanes. 

If you are not yet enrolled in TSA PreCheck and appreciate faster passenger checkpoint screening, we encourage you to enroll with one of TSA’s enrollment providers starting at $77.95 for a five-year membership. Most new enrollees receive their KTN within three to five days. Members may renew membership online up to six months prior to expiration for another five-year term starting at $68.95. Visit TSA PreCheck at www.tsa.gov/precheck for more information about enrolling or renewing in TSA PreCheck and to find enrollment locations and pricing information for all TSA PreCheck enrollment providers.

Tip 6: Give yourself plenty of time. Summer travel will be busy, so plan ahead! Give yourself plenty of time to park or return a rental car, take a shuttle to the airport if needed, check in with your airline and drop your bags and prepare for the security checkpoint. Save time by removing items from pockets and placing them in your carry-on bag, instead of putting items directly into bins at the conveyor belt.

Tip 7: Respect TSA and other frontline airport and airline employees. Violence and unruly behavior in the transportation system are not acceptable and result in significant delays at traveler checkpoints. TSOs, along with all frontline airport and airline employees and local law enforcement, are working together to ensure safe and secure travel. Assaulting a TSA employee is a federal offense and will result in penalties and/or arrest.

Tip 8: Contact TSA with questions, compliments, complaints or assistance. Contact TSA by sending a text directly to 275-872 (“AskTSA”) on any mobile device or over social media by sending a message to @AskTSA on X or Facebook Messenger. An automated virtual assistant is available 24/7 to answer commonly asked questions, and AskTSA staff are available 365 days a year from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET for more complicated questions. Travelers may also reach the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673. An automated service is available 24/7. Passengers who need additional assistance through security screening may request a TSA Passenger Support Specialist (PSS). A PSS is a TSO who has received specialized training, including how to effectively assist and communicate with individuals with disabilities, medical conditions or those who need additional screening assistance. Individuals should request passenger assistance at least 72 hours in advance by contacting our TSA Cares passenger support line at (855) 787-2227. Live assistance for both the TCC and TSA Cares is available weekdays, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET, or weekends and holidays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.

TSA encourages all passengers to remain vigilant. If You See Something. Say Something ® . Those traveling abroad for the summer should check the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Know Before You Go page to learn about required documentation. For those traveling with children this summer, TSA offers kid-friendly videos for children packing for their upcoming trip.

For additional information about changes to air travel please see the Department of Transportation’s recent announcement .

Why parents take young kids to Disney World, even if they won’t remember it

travel ideas world

Nadia Ramos’ toddler had no idea Walt Disney World existed, but she got excited every time she saw the Disney+ logo or Disney castle on screen before a movie.

“We kept thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, what if we actually took her to go see the actual castle and took her to Disney?’” recalled the 28-year-old from Texas. ”At first, we thought it was kind of a crazy idea because we didn't know what to expect. But we figured, why not? I mean, she's just going to be little one time. We might as well take her and make a trip out of it.”

Disney World is free to visit for children under the age of 3, making the already popular destination especially appealing to young families.

“Families looking to create a boundless collection of memories with their little ones can experience it all at Walt Disney World Resort – everything from legendary entertainment and world-class service to hidden gems around every corner that make acting like a kid just as special as being a kid,” the Florida resort shared in a statement with USA TODAY. 

Is it worth it ? 

Making memories

“It's definitely worth it,” said Nykeisha Stainback of North Carolina, whose three kids range from ages 2 to 8.

She first took her eldest and middle children to Disney World when they were each 2 ½ years old and her youngest at 8 weeks.

“When (people) say they won't remember, it doesn't matter. I will remember it,” said the 28-year-old mom. “It's something that will always be a core memory for yourself as an adult, to be able to bring that magic to your kids’ eyes.”

Stainback recalled her youngest swooning over Disney princesses and not wanting to let go of Anna when he was 1.

“For the moment they believe that Tinkerbell is real, for the moment that they believe Princess Tiana, she's real, just soak in it, adore it,” she said. “Soak in that moment when they are little because that magic isn't going to be there forever.”

Ashley Douglas of Georgia started taking her kids to Disney World when they were each 5 months old. They’re now 5 and 7 years old and visit annually.

“As soon as they could walk, we have videos of both just running to Mickey and just being so excited and hugging him,” said Douglas, 33. “They've always loved the parades and the characters and just seeing things and not necessarily even riding things.”

Ramos’ 18-month-old took it all in.

“She loved all the rides that we got on. She didn’t get scared for one bit.” Ramos said. And she loved the fireworks. “That was her first time seeing fireworks, and she just kept looking at everything, and then she’d turned back, making sure we were watching, and she’d just go back and turn back to the fireworks, and she’d start clapping.”

Is Disney character dining worth it? What families should know before booking

Making the most of it

That doesn’t mean everything will be breezy. Even though the parks offer numerous resources for parents and guardians of young children, like baby care centers and rider switch services at attractions, there will inevitably be hiccups with young kids.

On one trip, Stainback’s daughter caught a stomach bug and kept getting sick as they headed home to North Carolina.

“Never go to Disney by yourself with a toddler and a baby,” Stainback said with a laugh. “I gotta be honest. I was crying at the end of that trip.”

Ramos, from Texas, recalled her daughter not wanting to be in line for Dumbo the Flying Elephant. Ride queues can be tough on little ones who don’t know why they’re in a line or what’s coming up ahead. 

“‘It’s going to be worth it, I promise,’ we kept telling her,” Ramos said, noting that once they got on the ride, her daughter had a great time. 

The toddler also got a little fussy in the summer heat, but Ramos said portable fans helped a lot. They also took midday breaks back at their hotel, where her daughter napped in the air conditioning and got freshened up for a second round in the parks.

“We tried to make the best of it during her tantrums and during any bad moment,” Ramos said.

Douglas, from Georgia, said her family never goes back to the hotel for breaks, only because they probably wouldn’t return to the parks. Instead, her kids rest in a stroller.

“That's just a place for them if you're walking around and they want to take a little nap or they just want to sit down because it's so much walking, even for us as adults,” she said. “Stroller 100%.”

Splurge or save? Moms share how they do both at Disney World

Going with the flow

Douglas lets her kids take the lead on their Disney trips.

“If they want to wait in a long line for something, then we'll wait, and if they don't feel like it, then we won’t,” she said. “Then, at the end of the day, we didn't miss out on anything. We just got to do exactly what they wanted to do.”

They do schedule a few things, but they’ve never purchased Genie+ . Instead, Douglas checks attraction wait times and show times on Disney World’s free My Disney Experience app.

Other guests prefer to plan everything out, booking dining reservations as soon as they open 60 days out and making checklists of everything they’d like to see, eat and do. 

“If planning makes you feel better and that's something that you need, then obviously do that, but I would just be realistic and know that this is a lot for them, it’s a lot for you, being around crowds and all these new things,” Douglas said.

“You're not going to get everything done,” Stainback affirmed. “It is OK. Definitely just go with the flow. You’ll stress yourself out more trying to make it magical.” 

Ramos’ plans fell apart at times, but she said that’s to be expected with kids so young. 

“I mean, it was hard at some points, but just those good moments were just so good that it made the entire trip worth it,” she said.

Visiting Disney World with toddlers, babies

Several resources are available across Disney World for guests with young children:

◾ Each theme park has a baby care center with private nursing rooms and changing stations. Essentials like diapers and formula are available for purchase.

◾ Rider switch is available at select attractions so parents and guardians can take turns staying with kids who may not meet the height requirement or want to ride the ride, while the rest of the party enjoys it.

◾ Children under the age of 3 can eat for free at buffet and family-style venues. 

◾ Mobile ordering is available at many quick-service dining locations, so parents and guardians don’t have to wait in long lines with little ones.

◾ Outside food and nonalcoholic drinks are allowed in the park.

◾ Laundry service is available across Disney World resort hotels if guests want to pack less or wash anything.

◾ Cribs and pack-n-plays are complimentary at all Disney World resort hotels.

◾ Strollers are available to rent at all four theme parks and Disney Springs.

◾ Splash pads and other outdoor play areas are available across the parks and resort hotels.

Eve Chen is a travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Atlanta. You can reach her at [email protected] .

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Hikers gather on top of Volcán de Fuego to watch an eruption as the sun sets.

How to get front-row seats to an active volcano in Guatemala

This challenging hike offers a rare opportunity to witness one of the world’s most active geologic wonders.

Frequent and dramatic eruptions make Guatemala’s 12,346-foot-tall Volcán de Fuego one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Adventurers seeking an up-close encounter with this pyroclastic marvel head to the summit of neighboring Acatenango Volcano—at 13,045 feet, the third highest in Guatemala—which provides an unparalleled vantage point. The strenuous hike goes from lush coffee plantations at the mountain’s base to the cloud forests on the mountainside, up to the otherworldly terrain near the peak. Here’s what to know about this awe-inspiring trek.

Hikers on Acatenango while Volcán de Fuego erupts in the background

Acclimatize in Antigua

Before embarking on the journey to witness Fuego’s eruptions, acclimatize to the altitude in Antigua Guatemala . Just over an hour west from the country’s capital and sitting in the shadow of volcanoes Agua, Acatenango, and Fuego, the charming colonial town of Antigua has cobblestone streets, vibrant markets, and picturesque plazas.

Hiker Charlie Ballinger reads in his tent with a view of an eruption of Volcán de Fuego as seen from inside camp on Acatenango.

While exploring this UNESCO World Heritage site, visitors can find local flavors at Café Condesa ; experience traditional barbecue and live music at Restaurante Las Antorchas ; and absorb the tranquility of the baroque La Merced Church, built in 1767. Accommodations range from the convenient Posada del Angel to the luxurious Casa Santo Domingo, located in a former late-17th-century convent.

Choose a one- or two-day hike

Hikes usually start at the village of La Soledad, where the path to Acatenango begins. From here, climbers can expect a challenging but rewarding ascent, passing through different ecosystems, from farmlands to coniferous forests. The hike to the top can take from 5 to 6 hours, depending on pace and weather conditions. There’s an option to go on horseback for the initial segment of the journey, as the final stretch to the top must be done by foot.

Zilia Landes hikes towards Volcán de Fuego from camp.

At Acatenango’s crater, amid the clouds and above the canopy, the explosive power of Fuego is on full display. Many adventurers opt for a two-day expedition to be able to overnight at the summit, experiencing the spectacular sights and sounds of glowing lava and pyroclastic material set against the starlit night skies.

Be prepared for a dramatic range in temperatures due to the high elevation, with daytime temperatures over 68°F and below freezing at night. Whereas the two-day hike allows for a paced journey, the Acatenango day trip packs the ascent and descent into a single, more strenuous day. Offered by Casa Santo Domingo and outfitters like Antigua Tours and OX Expeditions , this trip starts early at 5 a.m. to ensure hikers return by dusk, usually taking between 10 to 12 hours, including a shuttle to and from Antigua.

(What you’ll discover on a journey through Guatemala’s Western Highlands.)

What to know

Trekking to Acatenango is not for the faint-hearted. This adventure requires physical fitness, preparation, and a spirit of adventure. Pack warm clothing, sturdy hiking boots, water, and snacks. The dry season, from November to April, typically offers clearer views of the volcano.

A plume of smoke ascends from a large eruption of Volcán de Fuego

For safety, it is important to stay informed about the volcano’s activity through official sources, hiring a local guide for the trek, and following the guide’s instructions. Outfitters like OX Expeditions lead overnight hikes that include a bilingual guide, meals, tents, and shuttle to and from Antigua.

Trekkers are encouraged to leave-no-trace and preserve the beauty of this natural wonder.

Sunrise over Volcán de Agua as seen from Acatenango.

For Hungry Minds

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US airlines are suing the Biden administration over a new rule to make certain fees easier to spot

FILE - Passengers arrive at Terminal C at Orlando International Airport, Monday, March 18, 2024, in Orlando, Fla. U.S. airlines are trying to kill a new rule requiring them to disclose fees more quickly when consumers shop for flights. The airlines filed a lawsuit in federal appeals court against the Transportation Department, which issued the rule last month. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File)

FILE - Passengers arrive at Terminal C at Orlando International Airport, Monday, March 18, 2024, in Orlando, Fla. U.S. airlines are trying to kill a new rule requiring them to disclose fees more quickly when consumers shop for flights. The airlines filed a lawsuit in federal appeals court against the Transportation Department, which issued the rule last month. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. airlines are suing to block the Biden administration from requiring greater transparency over fees that the carriers charge their passengers, saying that a new rule would confuse consumers by giving them too much information during the ticket-buying process.

The U.S. Transportation Department said Monday it will vigorously defend the rule against what it called “hidden junk fees.”

American, Delta, United and three other carriers, along with their industry trade group, sued the Transportation Department in a federal appeals court on Friday, asking the court to overturn the rule.

The trade group, Airlines for America, said the Transportation Department is going beyond its authority by attempting “to regulate private business operations in a thriving marketplace.” The airlines said the administration hasn’t shown that consumers can’t get information about fees already.

“Airlines go to great lengths to make their customers knowledgeable about these fees,” Airlines for America said Monday. “The ancillary fee rule by the Department of Transportation will greatly confuse consumers who will be inundated with information that will only serve to complicate the buying process.”

FILE 0 A Frontier Airlines jetliner arrives at Denver International Airport, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024, in Denver. Frontier Airlines, which has struggled more than other U.S. carriers to recover from the pandemic, says it is eliminating change fees on some tickets and creating four fare classes to boost its appeal to more travelers. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

The Transportation Department announced the new rule on April 24. It would require airlines and travel agents to disclose upfront any charges for baggage and canceling or changing a reservation. Airlines must show the fees on the first website page where they quote a price for a flight.

The agency estimated that the rule will save consumers more than $500 million a year.

“We will vigorously defend our rule protecting people from hidden junk fees and ensuring travelers can see the full price of a flight before they purchase a ticket. Many air travelers will be disappointed to learn that the airline lobby is suing to stop these common-sense protections,” the department said Monday.

Among the nation’s six biggest airlines, only Southwest did not join the legal challenge, which was filed in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Southwest said the rule will have little to no effect on it because the Dallas-based carrier lets passengers check two bags for free and has never charged extra fees for changing or canceling reservations.

“Overall, we support every airline’s right to price its products but believe fees should be clearly and consistently disclosed, so consumers can make informed purchasing decisions,” Southwest said.

travel ideas world

I've stayed in Airbnbs around the world by myself. My top tip for solo travelers is to book for 2 people — even if it costs more.

  • I'm a frequent solo traveler who prefers to stay in Airbnbs over hotels. 
  • When I book an Airbnb for a solo trip, I say it's for two people, so hosts don't know I'm alone. 
  • Sometimes booking for two costs extra, but I'm willing to pay it because it makes me feel safer. 

Insider Today

Cozy cabins , unique tiny homes , luxury apartments — I've booked them all through Airbnb. 

As a travel reporter, I've stayed in accommodations around the world, from the US and Canada to Western Europe. I prefer staying in Airbnbs over hotels because they often bring me more unique experiences, such as sleeping in a treehouse in Canada and a livable barrel in Switzerland.

Usually, I travel solo . I've taken overnight trains in the US and Europe, spent seven nights on one of the world's largest cruise ships sailing the Caribbean Sea, and traveled by rail to Niagara Falls, Montréal, and Quebec City . On these trips, I explored new cities and unique accommodations — all by myself.

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Now that I'm a seasoned solo traveler , I have a lot of practices in place to ensure I feel as safe as possible when I'm traveling alone — especially in other countries.

When it comes to staying in Airbnbs solo, my best tip is to book accommodation for two people

When I make the reservation, I simply change the number of guests from one to two. Then, In my message to the host, I always say that I may have a friend joining me for my trip.

This way, my host doesn't think I'm traveling all by myself. Creating the illusion that I have someone else with me makes me feel more comfortable falling asleep at night in a stranger's place.

Booking for two sometimes comes with an additional fee, depending on the Airbnb.

For example, when I traveled to Rome and booked two nights in a livable art sculpture Airbnb , the price was $102 a night for one person and $145 a night for two people. In this case, my partner did end up joining me for the stay. But even if he hadn't, I would have been fine paying the additional fee to feel more secure about staying there alone. 

Solo travel can be daunting, especially when you're booking accommodation with an individual rather than directly through a company like you would at a hotel.

But after all my unique Airbnb experiences, I think it's worth booking them even when I'm alone. And booking for two makes me feel a little safer.  

Axel Springer, Insider Inc.'s parent company, is an investor in Airbnb.

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A woman wearing a wet suit stands with water in the background.

Why Did the Hotel Chain Hire a Marine Biologist?

Megan Morikawa of the Iberostar Group is applying science — and scale — to eliminate food waste, save coral and collaborate across the travel industry to cut carbon.

Megan Morikawa went from getting her Ph.D. at Stanford to working for the Spanish hotel group as director of sustainability. Credit... Iberostar

Supported by

Elisabeth Goodridge

By Elisabeth Goodridge

  • May 15, 2024

Carbon neutrality, zero waste and serving seafood solely from responsible suppliers: Many boutique eco-tourism destinations — particularly those catering to small numbers of luxury travelers — can reach or come close to sustainability goals such as these, but what about a decades-old resort company operating 97 properties across 14 countries?

As the global director of sustainability at Iberostar Group , Megan Morikawa is striving to prove that large travel operators can be better stewards of the planet. The Stanford-educated marine biologist is applying science to achieve these goals and more, such as helping the privately held hospitality company build coral research labs and use A.I.-powered trash cans to reduce kitchen waste.

In a nearly two-hour video conversation, Dr. Morikawa talked about her career pivot from academia to hospitality, the importance of collaboration across the travel industry and her new role for the Travel Foundation , a nonprofit providing destinations with sustainable-tourism research, strategy and training.

This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

What led you to research coral reef die-offs for your doctorate?

Basically, the theme of my technical background is how we can use the technology of genetics and genomics to better conserve species on the planet.

My Ph.D. adviser, Stephen Palumbi, was focused on genetics, genomics and coral reefs. His whole proposition was: Could we find the world’s toughest corals, learn what makes them tough and use that to help predict winners and losers of climate change, so that managers could better understand how to restore reefs?

How did you end up in travel?

It was at the end of my Ph.D. when at Stanford I met Gloria Fluxá Thienemann, Iberostar’s vice chairman and chief sustainability officer. My adviser and I were scratching our heads asking, “What does a Spanish hotel owner have in terms of interest in our research?”

Our initial conversation showed that she was genuinely interested in the science. Gloria’s passion for the science of the oceans has facilitated so much of what we now do.

I moved from academia to Iberostar because really passionate people want to use the private sector to scale solutions for critical ecosystems, like coral reefs.

Iberostar now has three coral labs and seven underwater nurseries in three countries. How did that start?

The first year that I joined, we constructed our first coral lab at a property in the Dominican Republic. It would have taken us four or five years if we were doing this from an academic standpoint.

The coral lab is three things in one. It’s an outreach center, where guests and others can pop in and stumble upon seeing — for many of them — coral for the first time. But it’s also a genetic bank: Corals in the Caribbean are experiencing a lot of challenges, like widespread disease and bleaching events. Having a genetic bank is an important asset saving for genetic diversity. Our third objective is to recreate coral bleaching: The lab has a sophisticated system that recreates heating waves with small tanks so that we can stress individual corals, and predict winners and losers, just like I did for my Ph.D.

Iberostar has taken hotels off fossil fuels, partnered to create a waste-management system in Brazil and more. How is it making these changes?

The question is always around how you scale sustainability. Scaling is an interesting combination of being able to speak in a high-level strategy voice about say, business objectives, and then being able to translate that down to the actual actions that a hotel director needs to take.

Because it’s not just our executive leadership. From our operations to our procurement team to our head of human resources, we all recognize the risk climate change poses to our business. So the passion and enthusiasm to do something about it is there and was not what needed to be sparked.

Tell me about these trash cans.

We do a lot of work on our food waste — we serve around 45 million meals a year.

With our partnership with Winnow , an A.I. waste management company, we have placed devices in our kitchens that have an A.I.-assisted camera and scale that allows for chefs to spend the first month or so training the model on what the camera is seeing. Through time, the system automatically registers what is being wasted.

With that data, we can get feedback on those economic losses as well as carbon footprint losses. And finally, what is it that we are throwing away? And how can that help us to inform how we produce food the next day?

What are the top challenges to Iberostar’s sustainability goals?

Travel is made up of a bunch of different businesses in different sectors. And how that all joins together can be really difficult to understand — particularly in the role we all play in protecting natural resources. Because we are a beachfront resort company, when we see erosion and other impacts on those areas, it’s really clear and evident. But one of our excursion providers might not be thinking about it as much in their day-to-day.

As a scientist, I recognize that a lot of discovery of how to do things that have never been done before requires quick absorption of new materials and being able to speak multiple languages. And by that, I don’t mean linguistic languages; I mean speaking from a research standpoint to a government standpoint to a business standpoint. A lot of the barrier to collaboration was not being able to communicate effectively with each other.

Are any of these changes something a guest would see?

We somewhat boldly said we are demonstrating that a luxury hospitality experience does not require single-use plastics. What I like to say is that when you see a room that is free of single-use plastics, it’s kind of hard to unsee it. A lot of times it can be thought of — initially — as needing to remove items. But I think our operations team thought critically about ways to elegantly offer an experience that was a better product. So that’s probably the most tangible way that we can see that.

What is the purpose of the Travel Foundation?

The Travel Foundation is a U.K.-based NGO, providing research, strategy and support in their aim for tourism to provide the greatest benefits for every destination around the world, so local communities and environments can thrive. The role I’ve taken is chair of the board of trustees.

A recent research piece they published was looking at how to model pathways to reach net zero emissions, looking at aviation, transport and hotels. The Travel Foundation also supports destinations in producing management plans. For Lake Tahoe, in California, they’ve been doing great work to help the area think through its new boom in tourism and how residents can have a voice.

When it comes to changing human impact on the environment, what are steps that travelers could take?

One of the best things that tourists can do is to inject mindfulness into their decisions. I know it sounds really silly, but the more meaning that we draw from the choices that we make in our consumption, the more likely we’re able to maximize the value that comes from it and make them memorable experiences.

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram and sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to get expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places to Go in 2024 .

Elisabeth is the deputy editor for the Travel Desk at The New York Times. More about Elisabeth Goodridge

Open Up Your World

Considering a trip, or just some armchair traveling here are some ideas..

52 Places:  Why do we travel? For food, culture, adventure, natural beauty? Our 2024 list has all those elements, and more .

Mumbai:  Spend 36 hours in this fast-changing Indian city  by exploring ancient caves, catching a concert in a former textile mill and feasting on mangoes.

Kyoto:  The Japanese city’s dry gardens offer spots for quiet contemplation  in an increasingly overtouristed destination.

Iceland:  The country markets itself as a destination to see the northern lights. But they can be elusive, as one writer recently found .

Texas:  Canoeing the Rio Grande near Big Bend National Park can be magical. But as the river dries, it’s getting harder to find where a boat will actually float .



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