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Need some inspiration for your travel bucket list? Look no further than these 22 ideas that are sure to get your passport burning a hole in your pocket. From animal encounters and cliff jumping to solo-tripping and surprise vacations, here’s what you should definitely see, do and experience in your lifetime.

RELATED: How many iconic American travel experiences have you had? (QUIZ)

1. Rack up those stamps

Scroll through Instagram and you’ll find countless wanderlusters attempting to visit a rounded-number of countries before their next decade. It’s a fun goal to make, but one where proximity is key. Consider starting your adventure in Europe—specifically Paris. Stay at Hotel Luxembourg Parc, a classic Louis XV-style hotel that’s a mere 10-minute walk to Luxembourg Palace and Gardens. From here, you can easily take inexpensive trains to Brussels (stay at Rocco Forte Hotel Amigo right next to the Grand Palace), Zurich (consider historic 5-star landmark The Dolder Grand), Frankfurt (stay at centrally located luxury property The Charles), Amsterdam (stay in one of a series of connected canal houses at The Pulitzer) and Milan (try the luxury ME Milan – II Duca, located right on the Piazza della Republica). You’ll build your country list (and your alcohol tolerance as you sip on local wines and beers!).

2. Take a solo trip

After a difficult breakup, a tough quarter at work or just when you need a little me time, a solo vacation is a traveling experience everyone should undertake at least once. If you want to go on an adventure but not travel too-too far, consider Veron BC, Canada. Just a few hours away via the friendly skies, this area lies in the heart of Lake Okanagan, where you can unwind, connect to nature and have some peace, quiet and zen vibes. Stay at the Sparkling Hill Wellness Resort and Spa, featuring KurSpa, a 40,000-square foot European-inspired spa, clinic and wellness center and the largest spa in the country. You’ll even get to experience underwater music, a Swarvoski crystal night ski and pick from more than 100 transformative spa treatments.

3. Take a spontaneous trip

If you’re a total type-A who plans every last leg of your vacation right down to dinner reservations and tours months before you take off, a spontaneous trip will put you out of your comfort zone—in a good way. For a place that will immerse you into unexpected culture, book a trip to Belgrade, Serbia. Still relatively undiscovered in the southeast of Europe, challenge your taste buds with traditional and modern culinary options, take day trips to nearby countries with day hikes, or just lay back and enjoy the at-ease culture. After all, you’re trying a different way of travel, remember? (Psst: For a classic experience, stay at Vrcar Hotel’s Metropol Palace.)

4. Learn a foreign language

It’s always a learning curve when you trek to a country whose language you don’t speak. While locals always appreciate attempts to say thanks, please and good day, truly studying a new language can change your entire travel experience. If you make it to Costa Rica, consider staying at Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort in Herradura. This destination located between an 1,100-acre rainforest and the Atlantic Ocean offers hour-long Spanish classes, from beginner to advanced, every day by the pool. Don’t forget to say gracias when your poolside drink arrives!

5. Take your parents on a trip you pay for

A parent’s wish for their child is always for them to experience more of the world and enjoy more success than they dreamed of. That’s why it’s a kind idea to pay it back to the folks who reminded you that if you believed you could, you can. Consider taking them to a family-owned hotel like Little River Inn in Mendocino County, CA. It’s been passed down through five generations and offers 66 rooms and cottages, so you can stay together or separate, depending on how loud pops snores. While you can explore nearby sites like Glass Beach and Russian Gulch State Park, you can also enjoy on property experiences like their award-winning gourmet restaurant and their Audubon-certified golf course.

6. Let your kids pick the destination

Already made the trip to Disney? If your gaggle is up for something new, tell the kids to pick-their-own mountain adventure and maybe they’ll want to head to Cle Elum, Washington, on the sunny side of the Cascade mountains outside of Seattle. Sweeten the deal by reminding them Suncadia Resort is basically a giant playground, offering everything from guided hikes, snowmobile tours, ice skating, moped rides, river floats and more. (And hey, there’s even a winery on the resort for ma and pa!)

Worlds highest and longest glass Bridge as of 2016 in Zhangjiajie, Chunan, China

7. Do something that scares you

One of the most life-changing parts about traveling is how it forces you to look at life from a new perspective. And while you might not typically choose to walk on the wild side, if you’re going to go on an adventure, why not push the envelop and overcome a fear (or two)? At Tensing Pen Resort in Negril, Jamaica, you can jump from an 18-foot-high bridge that links both sides of the resort property. Or for a super-brave thrill, head to the nearby desk that’s 21 feet high. And for the scariest of all, have a shot of liquid courage at Rick’s Cafe before watching professional divers make the 60 to 85 foot jump.

8. Take a safari

As one of the ultimate travel experiences that’s on nearly every nomad’s bucket list, seeing exotic animals in their natural habitat is so breathtaking that a photo won’t do it justice. For a South African experience, stay at the Gondwana Game Reserve. Just a four-hour drive from Cape Town along the Garden Route, this 26,000-acre reserve is set among indigenous Fynbos vegetation with views of the Langeberg Mountains. Every morning and evening, enjoy the included safaris where you’ll definitely feel like you’re one with nature.

9. Climb an epic mountain

You don’t need to set out on months-long hike to get the amazing sense of accomplishment that comes with trekking a mountain. All around the globe there are plenty of ways to get to the top of gorgeous peaks. For a few ways to get started, consider Monte Verita (or, “Mountain of Truth”) in Ascona, Switzerland. Here, you can climb and experience the alternative lifestyle of an artists’ colony from many decades ago. After you’ve explored, get some rest at the nearby Hotel Eden Roc. If you find yourself in the Caribbean, consider climbing Mount Liamuiga, a 3,792-foot volcano that’s the highest point of the whole island.

10. Go on a sailboat cruise

Considering more than 71% of the Earth’s surface is water, a sailboat cruise is one of those travel goals you might want to check off more than once. While you’re in Spain, stay at Hotel Arts Barcelona, a modern, 5-star hotel on Barceloneta Beach, right near the Olympic Port. Here, they’ll help you arrange a trip to see city views, all while dining on lunch from Arts Catering, which includes fresh lobster, strawberry gazpacho and an avocado salad. If stateside, book the The Moorings Village in Islamorada, Florida, which offers plenty of privacy with green gardens, hammocks and more. The hotel offers a private sunset boat ride with champagne.

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12. Fly First Class

Depending on your budget, flying First Class on an airplane might not be an option (unless you use some massive points, eh?). But what you could probably afford is a private helicopter ride from Nice, France to Monaco. As one of those destinations you never imagined you’d actually visit, a few nights’ is worth the price. Stay at the Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo, where you can imagine you’re meeting Princess Grace of Monaco for a wine date. And for a splurge that still doesn’t match the price of a First Class seat, visit the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix racetrack, where you can get behind the wheel of an F1 race car and drive to meet your friend Bond. James Bond.

13. Take the long way

Of all the lands you have to drive, California’s Pacific Coast Highway might be the most iconic. Not only will you see the beauty of the Pacific along California’s most famous route, but its laid-back vibe encourages you to make frequent stops along the way. Start in San Francisco and make your way south, where you can finish off the multi-day journey at Montage Laguna Beach in Orange County and head straight to the Mosaic Pool to relax after all that driving.

14.  Fly in a hot air balloon

For a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience, stay at Angama Mara in Kenya, an all-inclusive resort built on the site where many Out of Africa scenes were filmed. It’s located on the edge of the most desired areas of the continent, the Oloololo Escarpment. Here, you’ll feel like you’re floating above the bush, with giraffes, lions and other animals within sight. Best of all, unlimited safaris are included. Just don’t forget to hold your breath, since you can also take a daily sunrise hot air balloon over the landscape, helping you conquer a fear, see a safari and reach new heights, all at once!

15. Learn to surf

Ready to hang 10? Many destinations near and far offer the opportunity to catch a wave. If you’re touring Southeast Asia, stop by Phuket, Thailand where Akyra Beach Club hosts a local surfing contest each month. Here, you can test your skills and learn new tricks while a local DJ plays. After the hard work, sip on local beers and cocktails and watch the sunset with a beach BBQ buffet. In California, stay at the Laguna Beach House where you can learn to surf with local surfboard shaper, Donald Brink. He’ll answer questions and give you the motivation you need to float through the ocean.

16. Plan a volunteer vacation

For a new twist on a volunteer vacation that supports local communities, Soneva, a luxury brand, challenges guests to Stay for Good to support preserving the environment and strengthening the economy in The Maldives and Thailand. Here, you can work alongside horticulturalists, tropical ecologists, biologists, mycologist and community managers. Expect everything from snorkeling with marine biologists; assisting in coral rehabilitation and turtle identification; cleaning up beaches, mangroves or reefs; maintaining vegetable gardens and more. In exchange, you’ll be given five additional nights in the Maldives or three nights in Thailand.

17. Learn to cook a cuisine in a different country

If you consider yourself a foodie, one of the best parts of travel is feasting on various cuisines. But even better than eating is taking those skills back home. Regardless if your travels take you to Europe, the Caribbean or Asia, there’s a class for every palette. Stay at Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica in Salinas Bay, where you’ll learn how to make a traditional and popular dish called gallo pinto. In Italy, stay at the Renaissance Tuscany II Cioccio Resort & Spa, overlooking the Serchio Valley. Here you can work alongside one of the resort’s chefs to prepare a meal, starting with shopping at a local market all the way to sitting down to enjoy it—buon appetito! In Thailand, stay at Aleenta Phuket Resort & Spa, where you can add on an authentic Thai Cooking Class, complete with a trip to the market. Then, you’ll make green chicken curry, Thai fish cake and stir-fried beef curry.

18. Take an overnight train journey

While overnight train journeys were the way to travel for years, they’re still a romantic way to experience the sights, without ever stepping foot on the ground. Book a trek up North, aboard Via Rail Canada on The Skeena, where you’ll see views of Jasper National Park, the Canadian Rockies and stops along some of Northern British Columbia’s small communities. Book a stay at The Fairmont in Vancouver and spend a few days exploring the city there before your departure.

19. Have an animal encounter

Connect with animals small and large while traveling when you make an effort to meet them face-to-face. At Hotel Terra Jackson Hole in Wyoming, naturalist Kurt Johnson leads safaris. With the Dawn & Dusk Wildlife tour, you’ll observe bears, elk, mule deer, fox, wolves, antelope and more, or for a full-day exploration, book the Best of Yellowstone safari, where you will love a sleigh ride through a National Elk Refuge. For elephant lovers, book a stay at Akyra Manor Hotel in Chiang Mai, Thailand where staffers can help you plan a visit to the world’s first Elephant Hospital. Here, you’ll get to meet Mosha, an elephant who stepped on a landmine and became the first to receive a prosthetic leg. You’ll also meet more of Mosha’s friends, and enjoy a Northern Thai lunch by the river.

20. Scuba dive

Make sure to get certified before you board the plane (or at least do the online portion!), and then head to South Turks and Caicos, where you can swim among the third largest coral reef in the world. You’ll see pink flamingos, migrating humpback whales, stingrays, dolphins and much more. At Sailrock Resort, add on the scuba excursion package to let them do the planning for you.

21. Take a spiritual getaway

Instead of heading to Bali or India for a spiritual awakening, make your way to South America. At Casa Palopo on the shore of Lake Atitlan, this private home turned luxury hotel offers yoga lessons, wellness hikes up to the San Pedro volcano and blessings from a Mayan Shaman to free your energy from negativity. They will also arrange boat tours to nearby indigenous villages, giving you a chance to connect to roots.

22. Take an unplugged getaway

Has your iPhone taken over your life? At Sanderling Resort in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, you can opt to check your electronic devices at guest services, forcing you to focus on truly enjoying your vacation. The hotel also offers all kinds of activities that will make you forget that your phone ever existed: Think two-hour art classes, treatments at the spa, kayak tours, paddleboard lessons or morning yoga on the beach.

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Tagged: Feature, Top 10 Lists

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Lindsay Tigar

Lindsay Tigar

Lindsay is a lifestyle and travel writer, and content strategist. She is a passport stamp collector with an affinity for great wine, coffee and conversation. You can find a full collection of her work at
Lindsay Tigar


Freelance Travel and Lifestyle Journalist for @travelleisure, @voguemagazine, @usatoday, @bravotv @brides, @weddingwire and many more.
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