Next year do something, a little bit different
The end of the year is the time when people look back and reflect on what they did (or didn’t) do. It’s also the time of year that people start making lists and start asking each other want they want to see under their respective holiday trees.
Yes, I love giving people gifts, mainly because I like to see the look on their faces when they open them, but looking into 2018 I want my life (and I want to inspire others) to focus more on experiences rather than material goods.
Now by no means have I been on a ton of unique adventures, in the past I have tended to travel to larger cities over remote locations, but my ‘resolution’ if you will is to shift my sense of travel more towards being sustainable and having epic adventures that go beyond a posh hotel in a posh city.
With a little help from some of my friends I give you an ultimate list of experiences to add to your bucket lists going into the new year. The world is a massive place so maybe, just maybe, we'll inspire you to see (and be a part of) a little bit more of it!
1) RIDE A CATAMARAN IN SANTORINI
Unleash your inner mermaid/merman
We’re not just talking about any old boat here. This is a catamaran - which due to its rectangular layout offers an abundant amount of both indoor and outdoor space for lounging. The best part? The netted front which is the perfect area for relaxing in the sun and enjoying the scenery.
Many waterside locations offer a variety of catamaran tours but my suggestion is to head over to the Aegean Sea and hop on the ‘Ammoudi Ocean Voyager' with Sunset Oia in Santorini, Greece. Not only are the Greeks some of the friendliest people around, riding around on a catamaran here ensures that your afternoon will be filled with delicious barbecue, unlimited drinks (including wine, beer and ouzo), swimming in a hot spring (yes those exist in the Aegean) and snorkeling!
It’s the perfect combination of being able to relax, enjoy the sea, eat an unreal Mediterranean meal and unleashing your inner mermaid/merman by swimming around in some of the clearest waters you will ever see while tropical fish swim below you.
2) HOT AIR BALLOON OVER A CITY
Give the gift of flight
Olivia here! Have that person on your list who loves adventuring? Why not help them knock off one more item from their sky high bucket list, without breaking the bank.
When most people think of Hot Air ballooning, they think of backdrops of Cappadocia, Turkey or Bagan, Myanmar, which can set you back €300. I’ve found a way to experience the thrills on a budget. You can feel like Santa and his reindeer flying above the beautiful red rooftops of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, where hot air ballooning only costs €90! Throw in a cheap RyanAir flight and you’ve got yourself the perfect weekend away - heck, why not buy yourself one too, you deserve it! Choose from a sunrise or sunset flight overtop one of the only European cities where you can fly above and watch as their face lights up as the sunrises overtop of the hills.
3) PARASAIL OVER THE SEA
Because Redbull does not give you wings
Take it from Laura of 'She Who Wanders,' New Zealand is home to some of the most stunning scenery and adventure sports. From Bungee jumping to Sky diving the urge to get high above the clouds & see what lies below fuels a lot of travelers. But what if throwing yourself from a platform or a plane isn't for you? Well never fear, that doesn't mean you'll miss out! Flying 1200 ft above the stunning Bay of Islands in Paihia is a wicked alternative. How do you do this? By parasailing of course! Single, Tandem or Triple, you choose and the experienced team at Flying Kiwi will lift you up over the sea. From near by Russell and the Hole in the Rock you’ll take in the unbelievable scenery that surrounds you. If you're really lucky you may even spot some orcas & dolphins!
4) SAFARI IN AFRICA
Obviously this is the real 'Hakuna Matata'
Going on a safari in Africa is an experience of a lifetime - it's a gift (literally and figuratively) that won't be forgotten and certainly isn't as boring as a pair of socks! There's so many countries and places offering the safari experience, it really depends on what you are looking for and the available time you have. Sure exploring through the Serengeti is ideal but you’ll need to visit multiple areas of the park, spend a minimum of a week there and may cry at the amount of $ that has just left your account. For an easier and (for some) more attainable experience we (aka 'The Kiwi Couple') recommend Chobe National Park in Botswana! Being able to see some of the world’s greatest animals in their natural habitat is magical – and if you're lucky you may even spot baby elephants! Another great thing about Chobe National Park is while you’re there you are also able to take a river cruise. If you’re going all the way to Africa you can’t miss out on the hippos, crocs and more too!
5) SOAR OVER CANADA IN A SEAPLANE
Rooftops were so 2017
One of Kelsey's (of 'Kelsey Social') favorite experiences this year was a seaplane tour over Vancouver, British Columbia. Even though it wasn't her first time in a seaplane, it was still a memorable experience. The thrill of taking off and landing on the water will excite even the seasoned traveler. And because the smaller planes fly at a lower elevation, you’re able to clearly see the city, mountains, or coastline beneath you. No seaplanes in your area? Try a scenic helicopter tour instead!
For my seaplane tour over Vancouver, I chose to fly with SeaAir Seaplanes in order to ride in a smaller Cessna propeller plane. A 30-minute scenic flight over Vancouver cost $179 per person or $129/person for a group of 3+. The more the merrier!
6) WINE TASTE IN SONOMA
Your inner oenophile is getting thirsty
Wine tasting is the perfect way to spend a sunny day – or really any day. This past summer, I (Amanda, one half of the 'Two Blue Passports' duo) had the opportunity to go wine tasting in Northern California and had the most incredible experience!
There is really nothing better than sipping on wine in a vineyard with friends while learning about all of the varietals and how to pair them perfectly with food. Wine and cheese much?
There are wineries all over the world producing great products - I highly suggest you dip your toes into one and discover the vastly enthralling world of wine. If you prefer to make a trip of it to visit the renowned Sonoma wine region in California. You'll fall in love with Scribe Winery’s 19th century estate. From there you can venture out further to Napa, the Pacific Northwest, and then head across the pond to France, Portugal, etc.! I had always enjoyed wine, but my Scribe Winery experience took my appreciation of the art and science to another level. Making the perfect wine isn’t as simple as pulling a grape from a vine and stomping on it. Wine tasting is one of those experiences you can do over and over again, and I can't wait to go back next year!
7) COOK (& EAT) LOCAL
Anthony Bourdain would be impressed (maybe)
Are you constantly scorching your toast or avoiding having friends over for dinner? Whether you have a kitchen phobia or just need more confidence en la cocina, a cooking class is for you. I (SDW's high school amigo) took a class at The Kitchen at Middleground Farms called “Entertaining with Ease: Appetizers and Small Plates”. Located just outside of Portland, Oregon, Middleground Farms is a working farm that offers a variety of cooking classes and workshops. Once there, I was greeted with a glass of wine and a fantasy kitchen that would make Martha Stewart jealous. The fantastic team of instructors (all kick-ass women BTW) started us out with knife skill basics and let us loose from there. They showed me that once you’ve been walked through the process of something being made, it’s not as difficult as you think. We finished the class by chowing down on everything we had created…my favorite was the BLT gougeres because we made the pastry dough from scratch! A cooking class is the perfect thing to do with your friends, mom, or honey, so find one near you and sign up.
8) ZIPLINE THROUGH JUNGLE
Your Tarzan (or Jane) is waiting...
Do you seek adventure? Do you want to fly over gorgeous scenery with the wind whipping in your hair? Do you want to have the chance to take the ultimate selfie? Well look no further than ziplining. This is an activity you can do in so many places but doing it in the beautiful Garden Isle of Hawaii (Kauai) will take your breath away. Covered in tropical rainforest, dramatic cliffs and the Grand Canyon of the Pacific this is a bucket list location that should go on your list anyway! Pick and choose from 8 different lines which will send you soaring over different valleys of untouched landscapes from mountains, to ocean to jungles. When you are zipping past you get an aerial view of scenes where ‘Jurassic Park’, and ‘Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark’ were both shot you can’t help but get a jolt of excitement. Take it from Stacy (of 'Away With Stacy'), If you want a full day of adventure (and who wouldn’t?) why not pair zip lining up with another activity like kayaking down the Hule’ia River or hiking through the jungle?!
9) BARBECUE FLOATING UNDER A SUNSET
Because mingling on a boat is less awkward than staring at someone across a table
A dinner cruise can be a fun way to discover a new city, or in the case of Alix, explore your hometown. My husband and I were gifted a dinner cruise on Okanagan Lake, British Columbia this past summer. Sailing past the city and watching the sunset while sipping on drinks and munching on a BBQ dinner was a perfect way to spend the evening and experience our home city in a new way. It was an experience we enjoyed so much we ended up also giving dinner cruise tickets to my sister and her husband. Their cruise timed perfectly for when they were on their honeymoon in Portland, and featured a live band and fantastic evening views of the city lights from the Willamette River – a memorable night out while on holiday! A dinner cruise is a gift that will definitely float your boat!
10) PITCH A TENT (WHEREVER YOU FEEL LIKE IT)
Does sleeping in an RV even count as camping?
If you're looking to share an adventure in 2018, what could be more authentic than a good old fashioned camping trip? There are many great places to camp in the United States but Southeast Alaska is definitely one of the best (just remember bring your gear and prepare for the elements!). Alaska's Inside Passage is a network of islands and waterways, meaning that you can't get to its towns by road. Instead, hop on the ferry for a scenic ride through the panhandle's picturesque little towns from Ketchikan all the way up to Skagway. All along the Inside Passage are front and backcountry camping options (even in Juneau) for even the budget traveler.
Bring your binoculars or a camera with a great zoom because I can almost guarantee you will see countless eagles, brown and black bear, Orca whales, and maybe even a moose if you're lucky! Alaska boasts some of the most stunning scenery in the world it as you pass by huge snowcapped mountains, glaciers, and towering forests. It is the Last Frontier after all, it's going be impossible to forget, and you may just catch me (Luke) there!
11) RIDE CAMELS THROUGH THE SAHARA
(more often than not, are hotter than hot, in a lot of good ways)
If you're like me (Lindsey here) and watched Aladdin, your curiosity about camels probably started pretty young. And onto Diana...
I've always dreamed of riding camels through the desert, and not just any desert, the Sahara. So when I finally had the chance to travel to Morocco earlier this year, I knew I had to (and you must as well), take a detour from the city and head out into the desert.
The Sahara will be like nothing you have ever seen, let alone any other desert you may have seen. The golden sand dunes seemingly go on for miles and almost sparkle in the sun! Talk about a break from your modern life. Out here you can just "be" and take in the surroundings without worrying about a ding from your cellphone - trust me nothing is that important.
This trip to the Sahara also happened to be my first time riding a camel - and while it was a little more difficult than riding a horse, these goofy, smiley animals make the challenge that much more worth it. The best way to visit the Sahara and have your own epic camel riding experience would be to book a 3-day, 2-night tour leaving from Marrakech, and one of the best providers of these trips is Marrakech Desert Trips.
12) THE GREAT BARRIER REEF - JUST GO
And touch the butt...I dare you
And take it from this Aussie, Dana knows what she's talking about.
The Great Barrier Reef has rightfully found its spot on almost every bucket list of every person I have ever met. It is after all a dying reef, and we really don't know how much longer it's going to be around. You would be crazy not to want to be apart of the largest living thing on earth which can actually be seen from space! Not to mention the opportunity to escape reality as you explore the most lively and vibrant underwater world. From dugongs, string rays, sharks and even turtles to seeing that there really are plenty of fish in the sea, the Great Barrier Reef can really change your life if you give it the chance.
If this list isn’t satisfying enough (come on people!), or you have amazingly been able to do most of these things (now I'm really jealous), here’s a few more ideas to add to the list!
(preferably in a treehouse)
BONDING WITH ELEPHANTS
(in a sanctuary)
TREKKING A FAMOUS ROUTE
(i.e. Machu Piccu Inca Trail, the Annapurna Circuit, the Haute Route from France to Switzerland, The Snowman Trek along the Tibet-Bhutan border, etc.)
WATCHING THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
(from an igloo)
RIDING THE TRANS-SIBERIAN RAILROAD
(from Russia to China or vice versa)
CRUISING TO THE END OF THE WORLD
(and I'm obviously talking about Antarctica)
Now don't forget to pin this! Before you know it, it will be July and you will have forgotten to book even one of these. ;)
Content Creator, Traveler, Foodie, Amateur Photographer (and surprise!) Graphic Designer living in New York City. This website started in 2016 as a space to share my passion to live life to the fullest, make adventures a priority, eat all of the good food, drink all of the wine, and curate the beautiful photos that come along with it.