The bucket list. How many things do we actually tick off? We either make one too adventurous that leads to an inevitable anti-climax when five years later you didn’t quite manage to climb Mount Everest by yourself, or we are too realistic and the things on the list weren’t that hard to achieve in the first place (you did actually manage to find your way to Buckingham Palace after all).
Sure, a lot of us would love to say we’ve walked the Great Wall of China or gone ice skating at the Rockefeller Centre in New York at Christmas, but the cliché is too easy.
What about drinking tea with a Chinese local in Beijing? Or releasing a candle at the Yi Peng festival in Thailand? Ever been brave enough to quit your job and go on a world cruise?
We’ve got the seventeen travel experiences you just have to do before you die, so break the mould and get crossing them off your list!
1 – Stargaze In The Californian Desert
Not all amazing sights happen in broad daylight! Visit Death Valley National Park in California and as the sun sets in the desert, the expanse of the Milky Way is revealed to you in the sky: follow a solar eclipse, track a meteor shower or just gaze up at thousands of stars twinkling above you.
Death Valley is known as ‘a land of extremes’ and its name mightn’t be too positive but it’s one of the hottest, driest, lowest and darkest National Park’s so it’s definitely one to cross off your list whilst giving your eyes a treat.
2 – Ordering Coffee In French In A Real French Cafe
Okay, sometimes being a typical tourist really does make the entire trip so get your pocket-sized translation books out and prepare to make the slowest and poorly pronounced coffee order there’s ever been.
The chances are the waiters will speak English too but practice makes perfect right? Dine al fresco with your coffee and croissant in Paris, Marseille, Cannes or another city of your choice. Bon voyage!
3 – Ride The Glacier Express In Switzerland
Add the train to fall in love with onto your list for the slowest yet most scenic train route in the world. The best way to spend seven and a half hours of your time (yes that’s right, seven and half hours).
But in exchange you’ll tour 291 bridges, 91 tunnels and travel across the Oberal Pass on the highest point at 2.033 metres!
This is the most exclusive way to get the best snaps of the breathtaking alpine landscapes at $146.23 per ticket- you decide if this is worth a tick off your list!
4 – Swim In The Blue Lagoon In Iceland
Here’s where you’ll find the purest and bluest water in the world with the lagoon and its self-cleansing water that renews itself every 40 hours.
This geothermal pool in Grendavik not only gives you marvellous landscapes to admire as you soak but the geothermal water originates 200 metres below the surface where fresh water and seawater combine at extreme temperatures.
Ever fancied an in-water massage? Or a silica mud mask? (Silica is the ingredient in the geothermal water that makes it look blue- it’s actually white!)
This natural wonder is another one for your list and check out the Silica Hotel too- this one has its own private bathing lagoon!
5 – Whale Watch In The Gulf Of St Lawrence, Canada
The salty waters of St Lawrence is officially the best place to get as close to 13 different species of whales including the blue, fin, humpback, killer and minke.
Either from a sightseeing boat or on an excursion in a sea kayak (and at some points you may even be able to spot them from the shore), you’re sure to have a memorable moment snapping a rare photo of the species. Just be sure to practice your photography skills and prepare for the unpredictable!
Top tip: do this between May and October as this is the season you’re most likely to see any of the 13 species of cetaceans in.
6 – Visit A Tea Ceremony In Japan
Be a part of a tradition that goes as far back as 1000 years. The Way Of Tea is a Japanese cultural activity involving the ceremonial preparation of Matcha, powdered green tea.
The aim is to totally focus on the senses in a sort of meditation without the distraction of everyday thoughts!
You can find tea ceremonies to attend to in many hotels in Japan, especially Tokyo, and all guests are expected to take part in a sequence of special rituals before entering the tea house.
By following a special code of conduct during the four hour ceremony you will focus on the aesthetics and the preparation of a bowl of tea from one’s heart, and not so much on drinking it (although that’s the end result too, of course!)
7 – Rooftop Yoga In the Big City
The best type of open air classes you can find out there. You’ve seen it on the films and you can definitely live it yourself if you visit New York and choose to find your inner zen.
You and a group can embrace the downward dog following an instructor without losing out on any precious time in the fresh air and beautiful weather of NYC.
The ambiance is even more relaxed with décor touches like potted plants and string lights. Go on, live in the movies!
8 – Bathe Elephants At A Rescue In Thailand
Head to Northern Thailand if you’re over for a visit and an hour from Chiang Mai’s city centre is the Elephant Nature Park where you can volunteer to spend some time with elephants: some old, young, blind, injured, abused or rescued from the circus.
It is voted the top outdoor activity to do in Chiang Mai out of 149 and is a unique project with the aim of giving a home to distressed and rescued elephants.
So give something back and maybe do the cutest thing you’ve ever done!
9 – Swim In The Jellyfish Lake In Palau
If you knew they couldn’t sting you, would you jump into a lake full of jellyfish?
This aquatic habitat is considered one of the seven underwater wonders of the world with around 5 million jellyfish and you can swim in it! You’ll need to disregard personal space to get ready for this utterly surreal experience where the orange blobs of all different sizes float around you in the fluorescent water.
10 – Spend The Night In An Ice Hotel
Pick from Norway, Sweden or Finland for the chilliest accommodation you’ve ever booked in to. This is a hotel where everything is entirely made from ice: from the bed to the bar to the bedroom.
A surreal experience you have to have at least once where the temperature varies from -5 to -8 degrees Celsius and creates an atmosphere so calm and silent, you’ll never have known peace like it.
The owners still know you’re bound to miss the warmth so you’ll check in to the hotel in a warm reception and sauna’s and hot showers are waiting for when you want to feel less like an eskimo (don’t forget your thermal clothes to match the thermal sleeping bag you’ll be given!)
11 – Skydive Somewhere Extraordinary
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most famous places to skydive with amazing views of Australia, but you’ll be surprised at how many other perfect views there are for skydiving (and they’re a lot smaller than you think) so do a little research for somewhere unexpected.
Cornwall is the best view for skydiving in the UK and the only place that has the beach as the drop zone! You’ll be 10,000 feet above the views of the Cornish coast line and will fall 120mph past the cliffs of Perranporth. And it’s all only a train ride away.
Ever thought about skydiving past Everest and not climbing it? With the famous mountain as your backdrop you can free fall to a camp that sits 15,000 feet above sea level. Or how about popping over to Italy?
See the sights of Venice from way higher than the average tourist and freefall through the sky at 4500 metres in the air at 200km/h! Don’t forget to have yourself videoed and photographed as a memory (not that you’ll forget this experience!)
12 – Discover The Hidden Underwater Wonder Of India
An abandoned palace in the middle of a lake sounds like something out of a movie but it lies in Jaipur, India!
The Jal Mahal that translates as ‘Water Palace’ sits in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake and is five stories high but only one story sits above the water! The rest hide underneath and visitors can get as close to it as they can on a boat but not actually explore the palace itself!
You can admire the marble carvings that denote the royalty and the twenty pillars are the cenotaph of the royal family of Raja Jai Singh.
The lake used to be a bird watcher’s paradise because it was home to more than 150 species of birds including the large flamingo, redshank, grey wagtail and the kestrel.
13 – Be A Real Part Of Mardi Gras
Don’t just be a spectator, involve yourself in a new culture and old traditions!
This festival, otherwise known as ‘Fat Tuesday’, is marked by an array of colours, feathers, costumes, beads, floats, food and festivites.
Embrace the celebrations by wearing the masks that were traditionally worn to escape from class constraints and social demands, and take part in bead throwing and coconut painting, too.
It might be the most colourful thing you ever take part in!
14 – Learn How To Make Pizza In Naples
Why not head straight to the origin of your favourite food and do it right! Learn how to make Neapolitan pizza on the city promenade taking away some expert advice and tips.
Head to a class and you’ll start with the best espresso coffee you ever tasted before finding a local market to choose the freshest ingredients to make your pizza with.
One of the world’s best pizza chefs will give you the best secrets to take away with you, exclusively from Naples, and that way you’ll always have a way to beat your holiday blues when you’re back home missing Italy.
15 – Stay In A Jungle Lodge In The Amazon
First of all, if you’re as uneducated on the Amazon as we were, you should know that this rainforest stretches through nine different countries including Brazil, Columbia and Peru! You can actually stay in a lodge at one of these destinations too, such as Sani Lodge in Ecuador.
Here you’ll find ten lakeside, thatch-roofed cabanas in a wildlife-rich corridor of rainforest between the Cuyabeno Reserve and the Yasuni National Park and you’ll see some of the regions 1500 species of tropical birds and 1000 species of butterflies too!
Or choose Iwokrama, Guyana, and see conservation and development which manages 3,700 square kilometres of the Iwokrama Forest in central Guyana.
The field station has 5 cabins but you can also stay in basic satellite camps throughout the forest.
16 – Have A Buddhist Blessing
There’s nothing like feeling you’re blessed with love and luck before a big event or just through every day that you want to go smoothly. Well, why not make it official? Travel to a monastery and take part in a Buddhist blessing where the monks will practice prayer whilst you sit cross legged and bare foot in front of them.
You’ll be scatter with flower petals and feel blessed for the rest of your journey! Take a look below at the places this can happen and what you can get up to before and after…
17 – Go On A World Cruise
Ever wanted to see the world all in one go but not been the backpacking type? A world cruise is your answer. Quit your job, retire or merely take time off to stop off at more destinations than you’ve ever been to.
You won’t have to cook, clean, change your sheets or even cure your own boredom: a cruise gives you all of this included in your travel price.
From Barbados to Los Angeles, from Sydney to Singapore, from Abu Dhabi to Lisbon, you can experience every culture, every cuisine and every type of traveller in one round trip! Call the ship your new home and the passengers your new neighbours.
This is one everyone should tick off the bucket list. You can also look at some of our world cruises here…
Those were the 17 experiences we just know you need to do before you die! What are your thoughts? Which ones have you added to your bucket list? Have you done any of them already? Have you already perfected your French accent or mastered the art of yoga in New York? Let us know in the comments!