If you’ve spent hours daydreaming out your office window, dreaming of endless open roads and ceaseless adventure, there’s a simple solution: Pack up and go. Few things are more humbling or magical than traveling—we mean that both metaphorically and physically—out of your comfort zone. So immediately adhere to step one: Begin filling your life with experiences that beggar belief. Steps two, three, and beyond will follow. To get started, here are 25 life-changing ideas. And for more subtle experiences, check out the 15 Under-the-Radar American Escapes.
Live In A Foreign Country
Traveling is all well and good, but sticking around in a foreign country for a while is even more adventurous and advantageous, as you master the trials and tribulations of everyday life. Everywhere you go, people will hear your funny accent and want to start a conversation with you. It’s a fast track to meeting people and feeling more interesting and exotic than you could’ve imagined if you never left these shores. If you need a place to start, learn why Vienna is the best place for Americans to live abroad.
See the Northern Lights
It’s way more far out than a laser show, even without the Pink Floyd soundtrack. The Aurora Borealis—which you may know as the Northern Lights—can be seen between 65 and 72 degrees latitude, meaning that, on a clear night, you can see the colorful curtains created by solar particles colliding with atmospheric gases in a number of countries: Scandinavia, Finland, Iceland, Scotland, Greenland, Russia, Canada, and Alaska (yes, technically not a country) among them. If you need another excuse to visit the northern lights, here are the 35 Best Reasons to Take a Vacation.
Drive On The Autobahn
The fastest you can legally drive on a U.S. highway is on a 41-mile stretch of toll road between San Antonio and Austin, Texas. There, you can open her up to 85 mph without worrying about getting pulled over. The thing is, there are plenty of cars in the U.S. capable of hitting almost twice that speed. Next time you’re in Germany, rent yourself a 2017 Audi R8—the fastest series production Audi of all time—and head to the autobahn, where ordinarily there are no speed limits, and take it to the max: A scorching 200.7mph. And you’re feeling the need to simply cruise, check out the 40 Roads Everyone Should Drive By Age 40.
Trek the Inca Trail
The Incan empire was the largest in pre-Columbian America. Networks of paths were a vital part of keeping the empire together and strong. The most famous Inca trail path is known simply as ‘The Inca Trail Trek’, the royal route to Machu Picchu. Traveling a little over the distance of a marathon over four days is made challenging by both steep inclines and high altitude. You’ll cross three high passes and encounter several ancient sites, ending at the famous Lost City of the Incas. And for more out-there escapades, book one of the Best Exotic Vacations in the World.
Go To A Nude Beach
It’s not exactly skydiving, but being naked in the warm sunshine can be almost as exhilarating and nowhere near as dangerous. Revel in the initial cognitive dissonance, then soak up the sun like you never have before. For a bit of clothing-optional solitude, book a trip to one of the 20 Best Nude Beaches on the Planet.
Experience Zero Gravity
Get on one of those flights or machines that simulates zero gravity. It’ll cost around five grand. Are there more practical ways to spend $5,000? Yes. Are there more fun ways? Sure. Are there more fun legal ways? Not really.
Catch 100 lbs of Pacific Salmon
One of British Columbia’s Haida Gwaii Islands, Langara Island is said to have some of the world’s best salmon fishing. After you arrive via helicopter at the opulent lodge, experienced guides will help you haul up giant fish. There’s so much salmon here that other salmon hunters like orcas, sea lions and salmon sharks won’t mind. Once you’ve reeled in your catch, it gets flash-frozen on site. A fringe benefit of this experience: Salmon is one of these 25 Foods That’ll Keep You Young Forever.
Sleep Under The Stars
The cheapest, most effective way to gain some perspective on your place in the universe is to get someplace dark on a clear summer night and look skyward. Breathe in the air and listen to a cacophony of hundreds of other lifeforms within a few steps of where you lay. Bring your one-and-only, too: This is one of the 40 Best Non-Cliché Date Ideas.
Hike the Appalachian Trail
The American colonies and the early U.S. were bordered by the Atlantic to the east and the Appalachian Mountains to the west. Back then, it hampered the young nation’s expansion; now the Appalachian Trail invites people to trek its 2,200-mile length. It’s an adventure that will take you between five and seven months to complete.
Party at North Korea’s Only Nightclub
Until a few years ago, the only music you’d hear at Pyongyang’s only nightclub was a CD of trance music from 1993 played on a continuous loop. Things have improved somewhat since then, but you can bet your bottom imperialist dollar that getting down with the Pyongyang party people are still going to be a pretty adventurous experience.
Experience The Hottest And Coldest Climates On Earth
The hottest: 134 degrees Fahrenheit in Iran’s Lut Desert. The coldest: -128 Fahrenheit at Vostok Station in Antarctica. That’s a huge amount of variation on a planet you could circumnavigate in just over two weeks of driving 70 miles per hour. Experiencing the extremes of our world is a great way to gain a perspective on this wondrous, varied blue marble in the limited time you’re walking around on its surface.
Have a Threesome
Whether you’re one-half of an existing couple—or a “unicorn,” meaning an unattached playmate—having a threesome can be a lot of fun in the moment and an experience you’ll remember for years to come. But it’s not just about the ol’ in-and-out—if you’re the instigator of a ménage-a-trois, it can be an opportunity to sharpen your ability to bring people together to do something a little out of the ordinary, to manage the thoughts, feelings, concerns, and expectations of other people—and to learn a lot about yourself in the process.
Go On An African Safari
Sure, you’ll see elephants, lions, leopards, buffalo, giraffes, hyenas, gazelles, etc. But even if you’re from Dubuque, Poughkeepsie or Paducah, you’ll feel an eerie sense of homecoming on the savanna. Sub-Saharan Africa is where modern humans got our start, and to experience the landscape, flora and fauna that would be recognizable to our ancient forebears will instill a sense of awe and wonder in you. Try one of these Best Safari and Luxury Desert Experiences.
Have Sex Al Fresco
Is it illegal? Well, if someone sees you, and depending on the place, you could certainly get into some hot water. So pick a secluded spot when you’re traipsing through the woods. Swim out to a depth of four feet in a lake or a cove. Give yourself the experience of doing a very natural thing in a very natural setting.
Ride A Horse
For thousands of years, riding on horseback was about as fast as any human being could travel, save for falling off a cliff. Saddle up, take a ride and experience what until 200 years ago was the last word in rapid transit. Ready for a stable relationship? Check out our guide on How to Buy Horses.
Walk The Great Wall Of China
We hear about it daily, but the idea of building a giant wall to keep people out of a country is nothing new. The Chinese did it more than 2,700 years ago as a means of blocking nomadic tribes from the Eurasian steppes. Most of the Wall was constructed during the Ming Dynasty, which, you may recall, came into being after the most notorious steppe-dwelling interlopers–the Mongols–had seen their power dissipate. So regarding effectiveness, the Ming–era wall construction was a bit like closing the gate after the horse had bolted, but it symbolized a barrier between Chinese civilization and the and the rest of the world. Think about that as you spend a day (or more) walking a section of it.
Seventy percent of the planet we live on is covered by water, and you’re living in the 0.01% of human history in which you can harness the technology that enables air-breathers to go and check out the deep first hand. Don’t miss your chance. It’s literally a whole other world. Take the plunge while you’re on one of these 9 of the World’s Greatest Beach Vacations.
Pilot A Plane
It’s relatively cheap to take flying lessons. What could be more fun than being in the cockpit, pulling back and getting up, up and away? If that’s not your speed, rent a private jet. Here’s your handy guide on How to Uber a Private Plane.
Train For And Run A Marathon
This long-distance event was born more than 2,500 years ago when a Greek runner was dispatched to Athens from the battlefield at Marathon to announce that the Greeks had won an improbable battle. When he got to Athens, he promptly keeled over and died. Don’t do that. But do run a marathon. Fewer accomplishments feel as good. Set the goal six months to a year before the event—that’ll give you plenty of time and reason to institute a better diet, regular exercise, and improved time management. (For a top-secret edge, learn How Playing With Marbles Can Make You Run Faster.)
Take an Antarctic Cruise
Chances are that you and people in your friend circle have visited five of the six continents. But probably not Antarctica. It’s farthest away from any other continent, it’s cold as all get out, and a few humans are the only land mammals inhabiting the place. Fewer than 40,000 people visit Antarctica annually. Be one of them.
Enter the Mongol Rally
You remember the movie Cannonball Run, right? Well every year, a wacky race that’s three times longer starts in London and ends in the steppes of Central Asia. It’s called the Mongol Rally, though in recent years the race has merely gone through Mongolia and actually ended in Ulan-Ude Russia. It’s described as the “greatest adventure in the world”. There are three fundamental Rules of the Rally: “1. The car must be small and rubbish; 2. Teams are totally unsupported; 3. Teams need to raise at least £1000 for charity.”
Research Your Family Tree
Rogues, adventurers, lovers, scoundrels — give your family tree a good shake, and all kinds of fascinating characters are bound to drop out. We live at a time in which resources for finding out we came from abound, such as ancestry.com and 23andme. Having a sense of who those people were may give you a new perspective on who you are, the choices you make and, crucially, where you might be heading. In fact, learning your genetic history is one of these 100 Ways to Live to 100!
Learn A Second Language
The English-speaking people have been great at spreading their armies, commercial interests and hodgepodge language around the globe, and they have been for centuries. One unfortunate byproduct of that: Most native English speakers are only fully conversant in their mother tongue. Language informs how we think, and learning another language gives us a richer way to experience the external and internal world. So, hit the books and use this Secret Trick For Learning a New Language Quickly.
Go on a Scotch Tour
At home, drinking scotch all day long for four days straight means you’ve got a problem. Drinking scotch all day long for four days straight in the Scottish Highlands means that you’re on a distillery tour. Scotch is the drink of the contemplative man who enjoys the finer things, so head to the Highlands and get to grips with this most masculine cache of knowledge. (While you’re still at home, bone up on these 10 Creative Whiskey Cocktails That’ll Impress.)
Sleep in an igloo
Drive six hours north of New York City, and you’ll hit the Canadian province of Quebec. Continue driving north, and you’ll find yourself on the tundra and needing a place to bed down. Where better than a series of igloos carved by Inuit elders? Adventurers will be offered caribou stew and frozen Arctic char. When you’ve had your fill, fall asleep to the gentle flicker of a seal-blubber-fueled lamp.
Want to live a life of adventure without the hefty price tag? Then one of these 10 Stunning American Resorts Under $150-a-Night may be calling your name.
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