Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips. This article was last updated October 2020.
One of the best parts of traveling is the thrills you experience along the way. We’ve partnered with adventure travel expert Jeremy Scott Foster from TravelFreak, as he talks about some of the most exhilarating travel bucket list items you can one day try around the world.
What’s your favorite souvenir to take back home from a vacation? A few tacky magnets or maybe some cheap shot glasses?
How about bringing back memories from an unbelievably insane experience? Thankfully the world is full of hair-raising, spine-chilling, blood-tingling adventures that are just waiting to be ticked off of your travel bucket list.
That sounds way more exciting than a trinket you’ll immediately shove into your desk drawer.
Travel practically goes hand in hand with crazy experiences, and you don’t have to search far to find thrilling adventures. But just in case you need some inspiration, here are some of the wildest travel bucket list ideas.
1. Hot air balloon over Cappadocia, Turkey
While it’s possible to hot air balloon almost anywhere in the world, soaring high above the fairy chimneys in Cappadocia is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The rocky peaks and steep valleys look as if you’re floating over the moon.
Want to know what makes this adventure even more spectacular?
You’ll be flying with upwards of a hundred other balloons, making the view even more stunning than you could ever imagine.
2. Hike China’s most dangerous mountain
Blurring the line between thrilling and dangerous, trekking Mt. Huashan is less like a hike and more like knee-shaking shuffle over thin, wooden planks. With only a steel cable chaining you to safety, you’ll have to rely on your balancing skills to make it to the end.
If being suspended on the side of a 2,000-foot cliff doesn’t scare you, then grab your chain and swing out on one foot for an unforgettable thrill.
3. Walk on the wings of an airplane in Essex, U.K.
Would you call me crazy if I said you could ride on an airplane 1,000 feet in the air while being strapped to the outside?
Wing walking is an adrenaline-fueled ride atop a 1940s biplane that twists, turns, and dips while flying a heart-racing 130mph. If you’re not afraid of flying, then check wing walking off your travel bucket list.
4. Bungee jump (naked!) in Queenstown, New Zealand
Free falling with one of the world’s largest bungee jumps might be hair-raising enough for some, but why not take it to the next level? Leave your underwear and pants on the side and jump the Nevis Bungy completely naked!
Your 8-second fall will feel like an eternity as you plunge 440-feet through the Nevis River Valley with nothing but your sneakers on.
5. Hike the Matanuska Glacier in Alaska
Trekking through the icy pools and deep crevices of the Matanuska Glacier is more than your average weekend hike. The 27-mile long trail winds you through 10,000-year-old dramatic glacier cliffs and glowing ice falls.
Although the setting may seem peaceful and serene, glacier hiking should always be done with an experienced tour guide. You don’t want to encounter a sudden steep cliff or fall through a thin sheet of ice!
6. Skydive over Mount Everest in Nepal
Don’t just hike the world’s highest mountain — fly over it! Skydiving over the Himalayan Mountains with Mt. Everest as your backdrop should be ranked high on your list of travel bucket items.
With adrenaline pumping through your veins and the crisp mountain breeze flowing through your hair, the 23,000-foot plunge over Mt. Everest is an adventure you will never forget.
7. Run the Marathon des Sables in Morocco
Even the most dedicated of athletics will break a sweat if you mention the Marathon des Sables. Considered the toughest race in the world, this ultramarathon will test your limits physically and emotionally.
Not only are you faced with running 156 miles over six days, but you’ll also need to run it through the Sahara Desert where the average temperature hovers around 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
8. Board Down the Cerro Negro Volcano in Nicaragua
With over a dozen active volcanos, it’s easy to see how Nicaragua earned the title, “The Land of Lakes and Volcanos.” While many tourists come to hike the molten Cerro Negro volcano, the best (and most thrilling) way to experience the mountain is by sliding down its slopes at 65mph!
After strapping on your sandboard, you’ll whizz down almost 2,500 feet through sand and ash while lava radiates the surface below you. Although you have a handbrake, the ever-present reminder that Cerro Negro could erupt at any time should propel you to go as fast as possible.
9. Race rickshaws through India
The quarter-yearly Rickshaw Race takes eager adventure seekers from one side of India to the other on nothing more than a broken down, three-wheeled rickshaw.
You must start and end your journey according to the rules, but the route along the way is entirely up to you. From exploring the lush Central Highlands or zipping through rural villages, the Rickshaw Race is the perfect way to explore a country while crossing off a few items from your travel bucket list.
10. Cave dive in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula
If you’re looking to take your scuba diving to the next level, then think about plunging into the depths of Mexico’s cenote caves. The Yucatán Peninsula is home to the longest cave system in the world, with over 30,000 individual sunken cenotes to swim through.
Exploring the dark, dim underwater caves is not for the inexperienced or claustrophobic, but it’s a unique opportunity to discover the ocean from a perspective that few have ever seen.
11. Ice Karting in Levi, Finland
We’ve all heard throughout our lives that driving on ice is dangerous and should always be avoided, but ice karting flips that whole thought upside down. In Finland, you have the chance to race 13 horse-power go-karts as you speed and slide around corners of the icy, outdoor track.
Although it’s often compared to indoor go-kart racing, ice karting is in an entirely different league. Slippery sheets of ice may not be the easiest terrain to drive on, but it sure is an exciting idea to add to your bucket list.
12. Jump off Berlin’s highest building
Although the panoramic views from Berlin’s Park Inn Hotel are stunning, you won’t have time to admire them as you fall 400 feet towards the city street below you. Unlike bungee jumping, base flying decelerates your fall right before you hit the ground, so you don’t spring back up.
Base flying is even more spectacular at night, with the twinkling skyline and Berlin tower illuminating the sky.
Bucket lists exist for a reason. They remind us to step outside our comfort zones and tackle life head-on. The world is full of adventures, so don’t be afraid to do something completely and utterly unforgettable.
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