Today marks one full month of staying in Richmond without going anywhere. No weekend camping trips, no weddings to attend, no business trips, and no getaways. I honestly can’t remember the last time this happened. (I can hear it now – woe is me!).
Believe it or not, I’m tremendously happy about this. I even have two more weeks to go until I leave town again…unless, of course, something great pops up last-minute.
While I’m awaiting my next adventures — and I know they will be great — I’m still smiling from the ones I already took. I enjoy my trips, even after they’re over. Every single place I’ve visited has created great memories, but maybe some of my favorite experiences will help inspire your next adventure.
My Top 11 Cool Travel Experiences
Swimming With Wild Dolphins (Kona, Hawaii)
Snorkeling is only fun if there’s something to see. I get bored with coral and want to see fish: the more exotic, the better. Seeing dolphins underwater topped that by far. Even though the day we went out, the weather was terrible and I felt even worse, it was still one of the coolest travel experiences I’ve ever had, even beating out swimming with manatees.
Peering Into an Active Volcano (Leon, Nicaragua)
I’ve seen a lot of volcanoes and they never get old. Telica has been my absolute favorite because it’s fiery in the way you expect and you get about as close as possible. One false move and you’d literally be engulfed by lava, which is a mind-boggling sense. I’d definitely do it again — especially now that I know lightning storms are common there (another fascination of mine).
Related Post: Fiery Telica Volcano
Ordering “The Regular” at a British Pub (London, England)
Surviving Oktoberfest may have been one of my most iconic travel experiences, but drinking gin and tonics in London was better. Why? Well, my husband and I returned to the same pub every day during our trip and the bartender knew my order. That’s something that doesn’t even happen at home, so it seemed even more special across the pond.
Slathering Myself With Hot Mud (St. Lucia)
It is counterintuitive to dip your painful, sunburnt body into a pool of hot mud but that’s exactly what I did. Skip expensive spa treatments and do it yourself… Not only is it fun to be covered in mud, but you can take great pleasure in getting your travel companions dirty. The icing on the cake was that the mud healed my sunburns far better than aloe ever has.
Read More: Paradise Found in St. Lucia
Climbing a Saharan Sand Dune (Erg Chebbi, Morocco)
I assumed my greatest Moroccan experience would be riding a camel through the Merzouga desert. In reality, the camel part got old really quickly. With a completely bruised bum, we made it to our camp in the late afternoon and climbed a sand dune by foot in time for sunset. Even though I was panting at the top, it was worth it.
Plan Your Trip: A Two-Week Itinerary for Morocco
Almost Crashing on My Honeymoon (Playa del Carmen, Mexico)
The bad news is that my husband almost killed me on my honeymoon. The good news is it was an accident. On our final day in Mexico, we spent the day adventuring at Xplor park, which includes driving an amphibious vehicle. When my husband couldn’t find the brake after a sharp turn, we almost collided into the wall of a tunnel. Missing it by only a hair, the only thing I could say was, “S***, Mike!”.
Sleeping in an Ice Hotel (Quebec, Canada)
I don’t think I can even explain how obsessed I was with the ice hotel when I was in college. It was literally a dream come true when I finally spent the night at Hotel de Glace last winter. It was everything I imagined: beautifully designed, a fun ice bar, and lots of snow activities. And no, it wasn’t particularly cold to sleep there. I’ve been MUCH colder on some camping trips.
Read More: What is it Like to Sleep at an Ice Hotel?
Slipping Down Natural Waterslides (Pokhara, Nepal)
I spent an entire month in Asia and my one day of canyoning was what I looked forward to most. I thought that might set it up as impossible to live up to expectations, but it was even better than I imagined. Abseiling down a 26-meter waterfall is a lot of fun and easier than you’d expect. The best part was one rock slide after another — I think we had about six in total (skip to 1:20 in the video to check it out!).
Making Ravioli at an Italian Villa (Sorrento, Italy)
Imagine looking out over the Amalfi coast while sipping champagne on a beautiful day. Inbetween glasses, you head inside to do one of the things you like most: take a cooking class. Only…you don’t have a recipe and the teacher isn’t allowed to help you. The Competitours twist to my Italian experience meant we made homemade ravioli – dough and filling – from scratch before judging other teams on their version. Fun, silly, and delicious.
Hiking Suicide Trail (Bellavista, Ecuador)
In the cloud forests of Ecuador, it’s always wet and muddy. That turns every hike into a challenge, especially when you’re wearing galoshes two sizes too big without any traction. Our group broke into two sections and of course I chose the more difficult trail. By the end of it, I had tripped over a dozen tree roots, fallen down a hundred times, and scaled one waterfall. I was exhausted but in love with the country.
Swimming in a Glowing Ocean (Railay Beach, Thailand)
In 2012, I kayaked through a phosphorescent bay and it was cool but not life-changing. Swimming with bioluminescent plankton, though, is a whole different story. After a mediocre snorkeling tour that ended with a laughably bad fire show, I had given up on the day, but then we had the chance to jump off the boat into dark waters. Instantly, the ocean started to glow and I was surrounded by phosphoric plankton. I’d fly back to Thailand just to do that again.
Overall, I’ve been blessed with the travel experiences I’ve had throughout my life and I never downplay how lucky I’ve been.