50 Travel Experiences That Will Change Your Life

Traveling the world is an experience that can be stressful, exhilarating, terrifying, exciting, and more. In essence, travel can change your life by giving you an education unlike that you might receive in any classroom.

Just learning the history of cities that are centuries old, eating iconic foods, and exploring iconic natural landmarks can transform how you look at the world or even yourself. Push your own boundaries with various physical activities, culinary adventures, or cultural experiences, and you can return home a different person — perhaps even a better person. If you're looking for a trip you'll never forget, these 50 travel experiences can possible change your life.

Cruising down the Nile in Egypt

Take a river cruise down the famous Nile River so you can see the Nile Valley's gorgeous landscape as well as stunning ancient Egyptian ruins. You'll get a great view of icons such as the Pyramids of Giza or the Sphinx as you relax on a felucca, a traditional wooden sailboat.

Dancing tango in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is a wonderful destination for an affordable winter vacation, particularly since it's the warmer time of year in Argentina. It's also the best place to learn and enjoy the Argentine tango. Head to La Boca, a district famous for its artistic pedestrian street, to witness skilled dancers, or try Boedo, where you'll find plenty of tango houses for your own practice. Tango clubs abound in the city, and you can even take some classes to work on your steps.

Eating pizza in New York

There are all kinds of amazing pizzas throughout America, but the New York style of pizza is so iconic that you simply must grab a slice if you're ever in any of the five boroughs. A local hand-tossed pie is characterized by its crust — large and thick at the edges but thin enough beneath its toppings so that it can be folded in half as you eat on the go. A classic slice will be layered with light tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella.

Seeing the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City

A trip to Rome is already awe-inspiring by itself, but you should definitely try to visit Vatican City while you're there. Take a trip to the Vatican Museums, home to 54 galleries of some of the world's greatest Western artworks by legends such as Caravaggio, Raphael, and da Vinci. The most impressive of these, however, is located in the last gallery: the Sistine Chapel. Its iconic ceiling, as well as its altar, were painted in the 16th century by Michelangelo, and most guided tours will end in this chapel so that you can take the time to study its intricate and amazing details.

Riding an elephant in Chiang Mai

Riding an elephant in Thailand is a popular activity, but it should be noted that many tours and sanctuaries don't treat their elephants well. After making sure you find a responsible elephant tour company or sanctuary, however, the experience can be a rewarding one, especially if you're in Chiang Mai, one of the safest cities in the world. Not only will you be able to get up-close and personal with these touching and intelligent creatures, you'll also be able to marvel at the stunning scenery of the region as you trek Chiang Mai's forests and hills on the back of a pachyderm, perhaps even getting a chance to visit with some of the local hill tribes.

Watching the sunset in Santorini

Santorini is specifically famous for having one of the most stunning sunsets in the world. The iconic white and blue-domed buildings in the town of Oia are fantastically lit up every evening, providing for splendid photo opportunities.

Swimming in cenotes in Cancún and the Riviera Maya

The Cancún area, as well as the Riviera Maya, is home to some stunning cenotes, or natural freshwater wells. Take a dive and discover beautiful caves and caverns underneath the surface.

Going to Walt Disney World in Orlando

A lot goes into planning a successful trip to Walt Disney World, but if you put in the time and effort, it can be one of the most fun trips of your life. Reconnect with your childhood and your inner child by visiting the four main theme parks, as well as water parks, a boardwalk, and other Disney attractions.

Bungee jumping in New Zealand

New Zealand is an awesome destination for adrenaline junkies, and it's the perfect place to go bungee jumping. The extreme sport was popularized in New Zealand in the 1980s, and Queenstown in particular is an exhilarating spot where you can make the jump surrounded by the breathtaking landscape of the Southern Alps.

Exploring the Amazon in South America

The Amazon rainforest is filled with an impressive biodiversity just waiting to be discovered, and it's a wonderful destination for anyone with an appreciation for nature. Lying mostly within Brazil, parts of the rainforest also stretch into Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, and Venezuela.

Seeing the northern lights in the Arctic

The Arctic region, which consists of parts of Alaska, Greenland, Iceland, Scandinavia, and the Yukon, is home to the absolute best places in the world to view the northern lights. Also known as aurora borealis, this stunning natural phenomenon is worth braving the cold just to see amazing bright green, blue, purple, red, and pink lights color the sky.

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda

At Volcanoes National Park in northwestern Uganda, you can join a small group for a nature tour that will get you pretty close to some fascinating gorillas. With only approximately 700 mountain gorillas left in the world, there are only 10 groups of gorillas in this country that humans can visit. It's a great reminder of nature's wonder as well as our own humanity.

Eating sushi in Tokyo

One of the most fun and action-packed cities in the world, Tokyo is a top bucket list destination and a great place to discover all kinds of interesting and unique foods and snacks. Sometimes traditional cuisine is the best way to go, however, and you really can't leave Tokyo without trying the sushi. For budget-friendly sushi, try some kaitensushi (conveyor belt sushi) or buy it at Tsukiji Fish Market. Tokyo is also home to some super-fancy sushi restaurants serving up some of the best in the world, if you have a bigger budget.

Following the Jordan Trail in Jordan

One of the most underrated tourist spots in the world, Jordan is home to sights such as the ancient city of Petra, the desert of Wadi Rum, the Dead Sea, the Red Sea, and many Bedouin camps where one can experience native Jordanian cuisine and culture at its finest. Opened in 2017, the Jordan Trail runs 400 miles from north to south, taking travelers through most of these sites. Those interested in religious history will find it fascinating too, as Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed are all said to have walked this trail as well.

Visiting the Louvre in Paris

Art can give you quite a bit of perspective on history and humanity, and at the world's largest art museum, you'll have access to some of the greatest art in the world. The Louvre Museum is home to many iconic works such as Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa," and Delacroix's "Liberty Leading the People," as well as pieces by legends such as Michelangelo, Caravaggio, van Dyck, Vermeer, Velázquez, and Raphael.

Getting close to nature in Ecuador

Located right on the equator, Ecuador has a fascinating location and a diverse landscape. Visit Quito, where you can stand on Mitad del Mundo — a monument where a yellow line is painted on the ground to designate the equator — and watch your shadow disappear for three minutes if you're there on the fall or spring equinox. The famous Galapagos Islands are part of Ecuador and home to an impressive number of plant and animal species you won't find anywhere else in the world. Ecuador is home to many other impressive natural wonders as well, such as the Bellavista Cloud Forest and the snow-capped Cayambe volcano.

Participating in Burning Man in Nevada

The famous annual festival of Burning Man is held every year in northwestern Nevada, where Black Rock City is temporarily constructed for the festivities; the Burning Man organization refers to the ephemeral municipality as an "experiment in temporary community dedicated to radical self-expression and radical-self reliance". As a result, the fesitval is full of amazing visual and performance art, as well as spiritual and holistic workshops. Held in late summer, the event is so-named on account of the large wooden effigy, known as "The Man" which is burned on the Saturday before Labor Day.

Exploring Angkor Wat in Cambodia

Originally built as a Hindu temple in the first half of the 12th century, Angkor Wat was soon converted for Buddhist use and has since then remained one of the largest religious monuments in the world. Withstanding the test of time, its extremely complex architecture is a marvel that continues to impress travelers from around the world.

Appreciating the Alhambra in Grenada

The stunning Alhambra palace and fortress complex was built in the mid-13th century and remains a testament to the cultural and architectural legacy left by the Arab Muslim rulers of Spain. Every day, approximately 6,000 visitors come to this southern Spanish city to appreciate the best of arabesque and Islamic art and architecture, which means tickets sell out fast.

Taking a natural spa bath in Pamukkale

Located in southwestern Turkey, the breathtakingly beautiful thermal waters of Pamukkale seem like something out of this world. The gorgeous cliffs have calcium-filled hot water flowing over them and then cooling down into the travertines that form the pools. This natural spa has been in use since the Romans built the ancient city of Hierapolis around it.

Flying over volcanoes in Hawaii

You'll find plenty of stunning natural scenery throughout Hawaii, but you can get an especially impressive view with a Hawaii volcano tour that will take you via helicopter to see the state's three active volcanoes: Lo'ihi, Mauna Loa, and Kilauea, the most active volcano in the entire world.

Staying at a riad in Marrakech

Learn hospitality at a whole new level while staying at a riad, a traditional Moroccan home characterized by a central garden or courtyard, that's been converted into a hotel. Providing a stay that's both culturally authentic and luxurious, you'll find the best riads in Marrakech, where there's impressive architecture and beautiful views for alfresco dining or just relaxing in the Moroccan sun.

Watching a Broadway show in Manhattan

Broadway has been the world's leading theater district for nearly a century now, making it a definite New York bucket list attraction. With hit shows like "The Lion King," "Hamilton," "Wicked," and "Chicago," you won't find better actors, singers, dancers, and overall productions anywhere else in the world.

Going on a safari in Botswana

Botswana is a top destination this year, especially for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. Check out wonderful creatures such as antelopes, elephants, leopards, lions, zebras, and over 450 kinds of birds while on a bushwalk, game drive, or horseback safari.

Indulging in chocolate in Switzerland

Switzerland is a chocolate lover's dream, with the country being home to many international, world-renowned chocolate brands. The nation's reputation for producing high-quality milk chocolate makes it a definite must-try for anyone with a sweet tooth.

Walking the Great Wall in China

A destination just begging to be on your Instagram feed, the iconic Great Wall of China was built over 2,300 years ago and is made up of several massive walls, giving you plenty of space to talk on this ancient structure depending on how intense of a hike you can take. From whichever vantage point you're at, however, you'll be able to take in quite a bit of just how vast China's land and history are, as well as gain an appreciation for mankind's abilities before modern technology.

Celebrating Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

While Carnival is celebrated throughout the world, the most famous iteration is in Rio de Janeiro. Dating back to 1723, the festival is famous for its elaborate parade floats and colorful costumes, with approximately 2 million people attending each day of the celebration to sing, dance, and drink.

Wading into a sea of stars in the Maldives

If you're ever in the Maldives, a visit to Vaadhoo Island's beach will have you bear witness to a stunning, albeit strange natural phenomenon. The water here glows with specks of blue as a result of bioluminescence, a chemical reaction caused by marine microbes known as phytoplankton, producing what is known as the "sea of stars."

Strolling through a futuristic nature park in Singapore

Like something straight out of a sci-fi movie, Singapore's Gardens by the Bay is a nature park made of 250 acres of reclaimed land as part of a green initiative by its government. Characterized by its iconic and awe-inspiring Supertrees — which are actually vertical gardens — and biodomes consisting of gardens with more than 800 species of plants, it's a great example of how to appreciate and protect nature within an urban environment.

Taking a countryside train ride in Scotland

Scotland's countryside is absolutely beautiful, particularly in the Highlands, and possibly the best way to enjoy it is through a train ride. You can spend anywhere from two nights to an entire week journeying through quaint Scottish towns on trains such as the 90-minute West Highland Line, known for taking passengers over the Glenfinnan Viaduct of Harry Potter fame, or the Royal Scotsman, known for being one of the best European train rides.

Hiking to Machu Picchu in Peru

Machu Picchu is such a popular destination that UNESCO and the Peruvian government have had to set a 2,500-visitors-per-day limit in order to preserve this gorgeous site. You'll be amazed at the ingenuity of the Inca civilization, and the countryside in Peru is quite stunning, which makes the trek here totally worth it.

Tasting wine in Napa Valley

The premier winemaking region of the United States, the Napa Valley region of California has over the past few decades risen to become a serious competitor to European wines, particularly those of Italy. Any wine-loving traveler will revel in the wine tours here, which make for a wonderful, relaxing getaway full of wine amidst a gorgeous countryside.

Seeing the ‘big 5’ in South Africa

South Africa's Kruger National Park covers more than 7,500 square miles of land, making it one of the largest game reserves in the world. You'll find more species of large mammals here than in any other African game reserve, and Kruger is especially notable for being the one place you can get a glimpse of the "big five" game animals: Cape buffalos, elephants, leopards, lions, and rhinoceroses.

Riding a hot air balloon in Cappadocia

The Cappadocia region of central Turkey is a destination that seems like something out of a storybook, and the experience is even more breathtaking when taken in from a hot air balloon. Soar over this moon-like landscape with its fascinating rock formations and architecture such as cave churches and houses carved into rock. You'll also likely catch a glimpse of some beautiful orchards and vineyards.

Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef

Located off the coast of Queensland, Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is made up of over 2,900 reefs and 900 islands — making it the largest coral reef system in the world. Go scuba diving or snorkeling here so you can swim among all kinds of fishes, turtles, dolphins, and more. The experience will remind you of the wonders and mysteries that lie beneath the ocean as well as how fragile they are; due to global warming and carbon pollution, the Great Barrier Reef is at risk of disappearing far too soon.

Viewing cherry blossoms in Japan

You'll find stunning cherry blossoms throughout the world, but the ones that bloom throughout Japan from late March through early May are particularly famous. The most acclaimed cherry blossom festivals are held in Hirosaki, Osaka, Tokyo, and Yokohama.

Dining out in Lyon

Many consider Lyon to be the gastronomic capital of the world. Indeed, Lyonnaise cuisine — developed in the early 20th century by renowned French chefs Eugénie Brazier and Marie Bourgeois — has greatly influenced French cuisine as well as fine dining as a whole. Eat at the top restaurants here, and you'll have a fine dining experience like no other.

Zip lining in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a beautiful destination with an incredible amount of biodiversity. The most fun way to enjoy the island's gorgeous parks and forests is by ziplining through them for an experience that's both exhilarating and breathtaking.

Strolling through the villages in Cinque Terre

Situated on the Italian Riviera, Cinque Terre (literally "five lands") is a breathtaking area that consists of five villages: Corniglia, Manarola, Monterosso al Mare, Riomaggiore, and Vernazza. You won't be able to drive between them, however, so you'll have to make the trip by boat, train, or foot to go through all five. Take in their gorgeous and colorful architecture as well as some great local cuisine — Cinque Terre is known for its olive oil, lemons, pesto, and seafood, especially their calamari and anchovies.

Exploring the pyramids in Egypt

You'll find more than 100 pyramids in Egypt, many of which are open to tourists so that you can see exactly what these architectural marvels look like from the inside. They're also quite stunning from the outside, which makes for a great photo up.

Partying in Ibiza

Ibiza is a popular party spot, and for good reason. You'll find some fantastic nightlife and the world's best electronic music on this Spanish island, and many famous DJs have been known to play weekly here, many using it as a venue to try out new music.

Hiking the Grand Canyon in Arizona

The United States is full of great natural beauty, much of which is preserved through its national parks. The most famous of these parks is the Grand Canyon National Park in northwestern Arizona, where you can see this witness this famous natural landmark up close. Hiking down the canyon, you'll come across all sorts of beautiful scenery, impressive rock formations, and fascinating critters.

Visiting the DMZ in Korea

Commonly referred to as the DMZ, the Korean Demilitarized Zone is a buffer zone that runs across the Korean peninsula, serving as a buffer zone between North and South Korea. When visiting South Korea, one can go on a tour to the zone — the USO DMZ Tour, in particular, will even take you into the famous "Blue Room," where you can be in both countries at once.

Floating in the Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is actually a lake that borders Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west. It gets its name from its high salt content, which results in uninhabitable conditions for fish but also makes the water quite dense and therefore easy to float and relax in.

Walking through ancient ruins in Pompeii

In A.D. 79, the Roman city of Pompeii was buried under 13 to 20 feet of ash by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, and its ruins lay forgotten until they were discovered in the 18th century. Today, tourists can visit the site of this ancient city, located not far from Naples, and see the remains of homes, temples, roads, and even a brothel, as well as plaster casts made of victims frozen at the moment they were overtaken by ash. 

Sleeping under the stars in Namibia

As it's one of the least densely populated countries in the world, Namibia's skies are stunningly clear. Because of this, the NamibRand Nature Reserve is one of the few gold-certified Dark Sky Reserves, which means stargazing here is absolutely breathtaking.

Eating street tacos in Mexico

Nearly everyone loves tacos, and there's no taco like the ones you can get off the street in Mexico. Like much street food around the world, these tacos are not only wonderfully cheap and fresh but also extremely delicious.

Trekking Mount Everest in Nepal

The tallest and one of the most incredible mountains in the world, Mount Everest is an extreme challenge that very few can conquer, which perhaps makes it all the more rewarding. Fees for foreigners have increased by at least $1,000, while Nepalese tourism officials have banned novice climbers, and there has also been talk of further restrictions such as setting minimum and maximum age limits.

Relaxing at a wellness resort

Throughout the world, you'll find amazing resorts focused on the rejuvenation of mind, body, and spirit through luxurious spa treatments. Often based on ancient principles and using natural ingredients in their products, wellness resorts often utilize treatments geared towards specific issues and will augment their spa packages with foods, supplements, and exercises meant to reinvigorate and reconnect you with your body. The best wellness resorts are often surrounded by breathtaking scenery, so you can relax to the sound of the ocean, within a serene rainforest, or in one of many gorgeous mountain retreats.


For a fulfilling travel experience that gets you in touch with both the land and locals, consider volunteering for the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, also known as WWOOF, which gives you the opportunity to work on a farm in exchange for food and accommodation. WWOOFers sign up for the national organization in the country they wish to visit and pay an annual membership fee of around $30 per country, of which there are 99. Not only will you learn what goes into sustaining the destinations you visit as a tourist and take in a different, more local perspective, but you'll also be experiencing one of the 101 things every American should do abroad before they die.

More From The Active Times:

How to Afford Your Dream Vacation 

The World's Most Spectacular Hotels

The Safest Tourist Spots in the World

Airport Security Secrets You Need to Know 

43 Summer Adventures You Should Start Planning Now