Sure, you could hop on a commercial airline or rent a car to get to your next destination, but where’s the fun in that? If novels like Around the World in 80 Days and movies like It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World are any indication, we’re culturally obsessed with unusual and exciting ways to travel.
These days, daring people are taking adventure tourism to a whole new level with fun and creative methods of getting from place to place. Some of these require athleticism, some require a willingness to take in the local culture, and some require pushing aside any fears of heights or open water. Here are just a few things you can try if you’re game and looking for new ways to tour stunning locations.
Globe-cycling: If you’re physically fit and comfortable on a bicycle, you may be interested in trying an international cycling tour. Tours from organizations like Tour d’Afrique are available on every continent except Antarctica (though I’m sure they’re working on that!), and you can choose a trip based on length and level of difficulty as well as location. Consider joining a group to bike the length of the Indian subcontinent, or take in the Andes as you ride down the coast of South America.
Dog ledding: Traveling to a cold weather locale? Instead of letting the snow and ice hinder you, why not use it to your advantage? Although these days it may not be the standard mode of transportation for the locals, many northern destinations like Alaska and Canada give tourists the opportunities to ride on the back of a dogsled. One Norwegian hotel even offers “dog taxi” service from the airport to their front door.
Kayaking: Vacation spots that are near the ocean like Hawaii, the San Juan Islands, and the Caribbean are ideal places to rent a kayak and explore the ocean. You can also kayak on inland waterways and even around Italy’s famed sinking city, Venice. Other cool places to kayak include Alaska’s Fox Island—where it’s not unusual to see whales, sea lions, otters, and purpoises—and Croatia’s Dalmatian coast, where you can paddle from island to island in the Mediterranean. A word to the wise: if you plan to do extensive sightseeing by kayak, start building up your upper body strength now.
Flight—on a biplane: A lot of people can say they’ve been on a plane before, but not everyone can say they’ve flown on a biplane. Or, you know, piloted one while performing aerial stunts. In New Zealand, U-Fly Extreme will let you pilot an open-air aerobatic biplane yourself—with an expert flight instructor talking you through it, of course. It may not be for everyone, but it certainly sounds like a one-of-a-kind experience.
Travel from pub to pub: If you’re more into taking in the local nightlife than visiting traditional sightseeing spots, you’ll be happy to know that Thirsty Swagman offers you the chance to see the world through its best drinking holes. This year, their bar crawl tours include a trip to Rio de Janeiro in time for Carnival and an expedition through northern Europe’s favorite pubs, starting in Iceland and ending in Germany.
WWOOFer from farm to farm: World Wide Opportunities for Organic Farmers is the perfect way for anyone who is horticulturally-inclined and on a budget to see different parts of the world. The program sets up volunteers who want to work on an organic farm with a host family that needs their help. In exchange for about 4-6 hours of honest labor, host families provide room and board for the night. If you want to learn more about how food is grown and see different rural areas around the world, it’s definitely worth checking out.