Families, Couples, or Singles: These Are the Most Life-Changing Trips You Can Take
Some travel for business, others for pleasure. Most people travel to experience a new culture, take a much-needed vacation, and be able to return home claiming, “That was the trip of a lifetime.”
Families, couples, and solo travelers alike have called these destinations some of the most “life-changing trips” they’ve ever taken. We highlight the best excursions you can take whether you’re bringing the kids, looking for a romantic getaway, or experiencing a new city solo.
For the family: If it’s good enough for the Obamas, it’s good enough for you and yours. Whitewater raft down the Ayung River or take a day-long excursion to tour the Karangasem and Besakih temples.
For the couple: Bali has romantic excursions for every type of traveling couple. Bali is known for its nightclub scene for the partiers, white and black-sand beaches for the loungers, and plenty of hiking opportunities for the adventurers.
For yourself: Find yourself and discover local art, history, and spirituality all in one place. Learn to cook traditional dishes and make your own jewelry from Bali locals, people watch from the Australian-influenced cafes or embark on a yoga retreat.
The Rocky Mountains
For the family: Take the California Zephyr right through the heart of the Colorado Rockies. Include stops in Glenwood Springs and Fraser or Winter Park.
For the couple: You don’t need clear waters and warm sand to make a romantic vacation. Visit the Canadian Rockies with a Rocky Mountaineer train and enjoy gourmet food on the train as well as romantic views of the glaciers and limestone mountains.
For yourself: Cliff dive in Paradise Cove on the outskirts of the Colorado Springs, hike the Devil’s Backbone or visit the majestic Seven Falls in Pike’s Peak. Experience the beauty of the Rockies along with the peace of a solo adventure.
Next: History, haunts, and a great pint come together in this country.
For the family: Edinburgh is the perfect vacation for the Harry Potter lover in your life. Visit The Elephant House cafe where J.K. Rowling first wrote about The Boy Who Lived. Follow it with a spooky graveyard tour and spot the tombstones where she allegedly got some of the key characters’ names like “Albus Dumbledore” and “Minerva McGonagall.”
For the couple: There are a number of romantic hotels you can book for an Edinburgh getaway. Stay in a suite at the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh with full access to a Guerlain spa or stay at the “gothic revival love nest” Witchery by the Castle.
For yourself: Buy an Edinburgh pass to gain access to 35 of the city’s top attractions and experience the history of Scotland’s capital. Walk the Royal Mile which spans from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Park. Once you reach Holyrood Park, challenge yourself to climb Arthur’s Seat, the highest point above Edinburgh.
For the family: Immerse yourself in the Dead Sea, visit the Wailing Wall, and climb Masada. It has become somewhat of a tradition to climb Masada at sunrise, where you’ll get the perfect view of the Moab mountains and the Dead Sea.
For the couple: The couple’s trip to Israel is all about the beaches. Visit Gordon Beach in Tel Aviv to swim in infinity pools, dine in extravagant restaurants, and go dancing. Herzliya Beach is one of Tel Aviv’s quietest and most secluded but offers an incredible sunset view.
For yourself: Use Couchsurfing.org or the Israel home-stay website to arrange a home-stay or home meal with Israeli locals. You’ll gain an insider’s view of the best things to see and do in Israel while meeting people.
Baja California Sur, Mexico
For the family: For the family: Scuba dive in Cabo San Lucas, whale watch from the sea, or take a buggy through the desert. There are plenty of safe, family-oriented tours you can take to make the most out of your trip at all ages.
For the couple: Travel and Leisure voted Playa Las Viudas, also known as Twin Dolphin Beach, the perfect spot for a romantic picnic or wading in tidal pools. Reside at Casa Natalia, a “contemporary enclave” in San Jose. It features a palm tree-shaded courtyard, waterfalls, and terraces to look over the land.
For yourself: Take daylong surfing lessons with BajaWild, or parasail off El Medano beach. Rent a Jeep for the day the East Cape. Visit Marina Boulevard after dark for the nightlife experience of a lifetime.
For the family: Opt for the independent land tour. Use a local travel agent to customize your tour and maximize fun for the whole family. Fly into Anchorage, rent a car or RV, and drive the Seward Highway. Explore the small town of Girdwood with its incredible local shops and restaurants or drive down to Homer to tour the Kenai Fjords on a day cruise.
For the couple: Go on a breathtaking flight tour over Denali National Park, explore the small town of Talkeetna, and be sure to grab their famous spinach bread.
For yourself: Cross an item off your bucket list and make the trip to Fairbanks, Alaska to see the Northern Lights. The best time to venture there is between mid-September and April, and the peak view is in March. The farther north you travel, the more likely you are to see a spectacular view of the lights.
For the family: Since there are few taxis in Santorini, renting a car to trek your family around is your best bet. Oia, the most famous village in Santorini, is known for its gorgeous sunsets, winding streets, and cafes and restaurants. It has a small playground for young children and plenty of storefronts and markets for older kids.
For the couple: Santorini’s romance sells itself, especially at night. The sun goes down, the water shimmers, and the city lights up. Rent a Vespa and explore the island’s many vineyards like Santo Wines, Argiros Estate, Roussos Winery and Boutari Winery.
For yourself: Submerge yourself in Santorini with a scuba diving or snorkeling expedition. Visit the Museum of Prehistoric Thira to see the Akrotiri excavations or visit Santorini’s wine museum if drinking solo is more your speed.
For the family: Excluding the flight, Thailand is one of the cheapest places you can travel. You can find high-end hotels for the whole family for low prices. World Family Travel assured readers that there is Western food available in Thailand so your pickier kids can eat happily while you eat the best Thai food of your life.
For the couple: Shop Bangkok’s Siam Square, relax on the beach, or visit the temples and churches of Chiang Rai. Enjoy the city’s plentiful nightlife or spend a bit more for a night in a luxury villa.
For yourself: Bangkok is home to some of the best street food in the world if you’re grabbing food on the run. However, Thailand is extremely affordable, so you won’t have trouble finding good spots to get a table for one. Spend the day at an elephant camp or book a diving trip to meet other solo travelers.
For the family: Go the all-inclusive route on any of Hawaii’s four major islands or create your own itinerary. Travel and Leisure recommend the Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club on Waikiki beach in Honolulu for families. Walk around Waikiki’s beach, visit the shops, and visit Diamond Head and Pearl Harbor, two iconic and educational sites.
For the couple: Whether you’re on your honeymoon, looking to take a romantic getaway, or just looking to explore together, Hawaii is the destination for you. Stay at one of these top-rated Hawaiin resorts for couples or live like a local and signup for hula lessons.
For yourself: The possibility for adventure in Hawaii is endless. Learn to surf, visit volcanoes, and trek through rainforests in Maui. Sail the Nu Pali coast of Kauai or kayak down the Wailua River.
For the family: Horseback-ride in Gatlinburg, see Dollywood, or take the kids to Nashville for fun for the whole family. Most museums offer discounted family rates and there’s no shortage of southern comfort food to keep the kids happy.
For the couple: Music-lovers, this is the U.S. vacation of a lifetime. Stay in Nashville to explore “Music City” and supplement it with creative and fun dates. Eat your way through Germantown, take a BYOB painting or cooking class, or see a show at Ryman Auditorium, named one of the top performance venues in the country.
For yourself: Explore the works of Picasso, O’Keefe, and Renoir at Fisk University’s Carl Van Vechten Gallery. Walk among the tourists through the Musicians Hall of Fame or take the path-less-traveled and visit the lesser-known Gallery of Iconic Guitars at Belmont University.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
For the family: Visit Tasmania and search for Tasmanian devils and wallabies, visit one of the most famous white-sanded beaches, and snorkel the Great Barrier Reef.
For the couple: Fly over Heart Reef, a composition of coral that naturally formed into the shape of a heart, in a helicopter. For a heart-racing couple outing, swim with manta rays at Lady Elliot Island.
For yourself: If you’re willing to spend the money, there are plenty of life-changing excursions you can take. Buy the all-inclusive Great Barrier Reef package to snorkel, dive, tour the reef in a semi-submersible, and visit the underwater observatory.
Turks and Caicos
For the family: Visit Provo, home to the world’s only commercial conch farm, Caicos Conch Farm. Take the kids on a 30-minute tour featuring “stunt conchs” Jerry and Sally who leave their shells on demand. Visit the Cheshire Hall Plantation to learn the island’s history. Of course, there’s always the beach.
For the couple: Book a room at an all-inclusive resort, swim in the ocean with horses during a Provo Ponies tour, and try the traditional Caribbean food at upscale restaurants like Coco Bistro and Seven.
For yourself: Visit a shipwreck or wakeboard at Long Bay Beach or book a tour to explore some of the other islands. Save by booking at La Vista Azul, a condo on the hillside that overlooks Turtle Cove Marina. It features rooftop pools for your to meet other solo travelers and tan.
For the family: If this mom’s personal account of the heartwarming lessons she and her family learned on a trip to Spain doesn’t sell you, we’ll let Barcelona do the talking. Take the kids to watch a Barca football game and visit La Boquería market on Las Ramblas to find food for everyone.
For the couple: Visit Port Olimpic and soak in the sun, walk along the beach, and visit the local shops and restaurants that line the coast.
For yourself: The possibilities are endless: walk Las Ramblas, visit Park Guell, take a double-decker bus tour. Eat paella after paella dish. Stay with a host family to experience living Barcelona like the locals do.
The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
For the family: Bring the biology lovers in your life to follow in Darwin’s footsteps on a “beach vacation” like no other. You’ll watch unique species in their natural habitat, explore hidden coves, and gain a new perspective in a place where humans aren’t the center of attention. Book a hotel for a home base and take day-trips by boat to explore the island.
For the couple: Take a 4 or 8-day cruise to the islands based on what you want to see. The southern islands focus on human history and wildlife diversity, while the western islands are known for wildlife like Galapagos penguins and the most active volcanoes.
For yourself: Snorkel with sea lions or take a 10-day cruise to visit beautiful beaches, hike dormant volcanoes, and discover other marine wildlife.
For the family: Take your Harry Potter fanatics to King’s Cross Station for a picture at platform “9 3/4”, have a family high tea, and watch the West End’s best shows for the season.
For the couple: If you’re both new to the city, you can build a trip around site-seeing with someone you love: Look over London on the London Eye, stroll through London’s secret gardens, and spend the night exploring the best underground bars the city has to offer.
For yourself: There are so many solo excursions you can take in London, you’d need months to see it all. It’d probably take months to list them all. Book your spot with a supper club so you can experience fine London dining with other solo travelers, join a graffiti walking tour to see the works of Banksy, or cycle through Hyde Park.
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