Adventure travel: noun. A vacation or trip to a natural environment or remote location with the specific purpose of active physical participation and exploration of a new experience.
This definition is just the tip of the iceberg, though. Everyone sees adventure travel differently, so it’s hard to come up with the ultimate definition, let alone the ultimate travel bucket list. Whether your family makes an annual trip to the Sahara to ride camels or you’re wondering if you’ve ever even participated in adventure travel, know this: adventure travel is a unique way to see the world.
Adventure travel destinations are popping up all over the world and catering to a wider range of travelers. You don’t have to be an adrenaline junky to experience adventure travel. For some, just having a new experience in a new place counts, because all that matters is finding travel programs with a purpose. Even though adventure travel looks different for everyone, start planning your next trip abroad by checking out this adventure traveler’s bucket list:
1. A great jumping off point - The Nevis Bungy - New Zealand
It’s the highest bungy jump in New Zealand, towering 439 feet over the Nevis River in Queenstown. In order to get here, you need to take a 35-minute long adrenaline-pumping journey in a four-wheel drive, crossing a high country sheep station before gearing up at the bungy site. Strap on your harness, then jump into a cable car that takes you to the jump pod. Before you know it, you’ll be falling at speeds of nearly 80 miles an hour. Dare ya not to scream!
2. Picture perfect photography adventure - Anywhere!
Not as much of an adrenaline addict? Try this low-risk (well, that’s up to you) activity. Sign up for a creative photography travel program, which will combine thrilling international experiences with adventure photography workshops, tours, and trips. This is one of the best eco-adventure travel bucket list ideas because you can experience nature and capture it just as you found it.
Since photography is such a time sensitive activity, look up whether your trip to Indonesia isn’t during monsoon season or if your camera can withstand the temperatures of Iceland. Your National Geographic-worthy photos of will be worth it! Adventure travel programs for students don’t get much better than this.
3. “Look out below!” - Paraquedismo (Skydiving) - Brazil
This one isn’t for the faint of heart, but how often do you get to skydive over Rio de Janeiro? Rio is the most popular destination for Portuguese language learning, but few take the leap and skydive there. How often do you get to take a study break from learning Portuguese to fall 13,120 feet in 40 seconds to a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean, Cristo Rey, and the Copacabana boardwalk? After having reached the 125 mile an hour mark, learning Portuguese will seem like a piece of bolo (cake).
**Budget Tip: A cheaper option is to skydive over Resende, a city two hours away from Rio. What you’ll lack in views of the city, you’ll make up for in a **brazilliant** panorama of the countryside.
4. Hi-YA! - Have a kick-a$$ Martial Arts adventure - The World Over!
If jumping from high elevations makes your skin crawl, then practice your flying back kick through martial arts programs in countries like Argentina, Uganda, and Australia. Martial arts will teach you that patience and self-discipline help you not only in class, but in life, too. Uncover your potential while learning self-defense moves abroad!
Whether you're a “young grasshopper” or rolling your black belt into that carry-on, taking a martial arts class abroad will give you insight into a new culture. There are so many more styles of martial arts than karate out there, and each country’s culture puts a unique spin on the sport.
5. #YOYO - You Only Yoga Once - Anywhere, Darling
Breaking out the warrior pose is a healthy, introspective way to relax from the adrenaline rushes. Contrary to what the go-getter narrative of the travel industry tells you, it’s okay to take a step back and practice self-care. Whether you take yoga classes in Cape Verde or you’re wanting to decompress after doing disaster relief work in Nepal, yoga is a great way to relax while traveling abroad. You don’t need to be super fit or flexible to enjoy yoga, either (hello, corpse pose). This relaxing activity is meant for those who are willing to practice it, and it’s a great way to bond with friends as you unwind from your adventurous travels.
6. You better Belize it! - Caving/Spelunking - Belize
Why not strap on that facemask and jump right in? The beauty of teaching English in Belize is that you’ll have enough free time to try out spelunking in the Great Blue Hole on your day off. This un-belize-ably giant, submarine sinkhole lies near the center of Lighthouse Reef, a small atoll that’s 43 miles from the mainland. Stalactites formed inside while T-Rex roamed the Earth. Then as the ocean levels rose, the cave was flooded. The hole is over 412 feet deep, so you’ll REALLY put your limits to the test as you descend further and further into its dark depths. How’s that for travel bucket list ideas?!
7. Fourth World Studies
If your mind is craving adventure, explore this extension of the Three-World Model, used mainly to refer to people who live outside of capitalist society, like hunter-gatherer, nomadic, pastoral, and some subsistence farming peoples. Plenty of adventure travel destinations fit the Fourth-World-bill!
Fourth world studies also refer to sub-populations or minority groups existing in a first world country, but with the living standards of those of a “developing” country (by Western economic standards). Go where few students have gone before and polish off that research paper in Antarctica or warm up to this field of study near the sand dunes of Morocco.
8. It’s all downhill (skiing) from here - Switzerland
If snow pants and a fleece are your ideal ensemble, then skiing in Switzerland is for you. Even in the summer, the Swiss Alps’ white peaks call skiers from all over the world. Whether you’re taking your first adventure travel course or your skills put James Bond to shame, few activities are as rewarding as hitting the slopes. You could even get paid for it, too; check out a ski instructor internships and you could end up getting paid to ski (kind of). Making moves to get into the snow-sports industry is sweeter than foot-deep fresh powder on a sunny day.
9. Kayak it up - Thailand
If your idea of eco-adventure travel heaven involves getting away from the crowds, try kayaking in Thailand. Yes, Thailand has great beach parties, but there’s so much natural splendor to enjoy and so many eco-friendly activities to try out. Just wait and see how many manta rays you can spot from your kayak during your island-hopping expedition. If you have the energy, go rock climbing on the cliffs of Railay Beach, or you could always just lay back and float on the emerald waters. Regardless of your travel style, Thailand tops nearly every world travel bucket list.
10. Conquer Mount Kilimanjaro - Tanzania
This one’s the ultimate endurance test. Mount Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania, is Africa’s highest mountain. This hike is for advanced travelers who have experience coping with grueling hikes and altitude sickness (it's only 19,341 ft. high, after all). So, why climb it? Because it’s a paradoxical natural wonder. Where else can you climb a snow-covered mountain on the equator? Hiking in Tanzania will challenge you in new ways, but you’ll appreciate the stunning views of the Savannah from the dense forest.
Now, are you getting excited crossing off everything in this article of travel bucket list ideas? Or, are you feeling intimidated? Don’t sweat it.
You don’t have to join adventure travel programs abroad alone; in fact, doing a group program will help you share your experience with other people, giving you a sense of community during your travels. With that sense of community comes confidence in being able to do the scariest tasks, like skydiving or asking a stranger in a new language if you can take their photo (because the lighting in that Peruvian mercado is just insanely good!).
Eco-adventure travel is a great way to expand your comfort zone while doing less harm to the environment than, say, partying at the beach. After you’ve been hiking for three days longer than you’ve ever hiked before, you’ll realize what a strong person you are. Before booking a program in any adventure travel destination, do your research into the company, country, and culture, and really think how the experience will help you grow (afterall you are trying to travel with a purpose right?!).
The world is a huge place, so get out there and start checking off items on your ultimate travel bucket list!