Caribbean cruise? Been there. Road trip? Done that. Simply jetting off for the weekend? Yawn. Ditch that everyday vacation and, instead, embark on a truly unique adventure. There are so many different types of travel that you can, and should try at least once. We’ve uncovered 7 totally wacky, totally uncommon ways to see the world, from horse caravans through Ireland to rocket-ship rides through space—perfect for giving your travel bug a bit of a pick-me-up.
The Freighter Cruise
While the deluxe amenities on cruise ships vary, from ice rinks to ziplines to planetariums, some things remain unchanged: Less-than-great buffets, deck chair wars, shuffleboard, and those pesky spring breakers. Which is why, instead of going the more traditional route, you, the intrepid anti-tourist, should book yourself on the voyage less traveled – on a freighter cruise.
Yes, savvy travelers can ride along on cargo ships — no stowing away necessary, and there are actually a great deal of benefits. Fewer people are on board these cruises. On average, they take between one and twelve passengers, as more than twelve would require an on-board doctor! Plus, these ships often port in the less-touristy spots, not just overrun hotspots.
These are much cheaper than your average cruise, too. They cost around $100 per person per day, including meals, but that depends on the ship. Some could cost as little as $65 per day. You’ll have your own cabin and bathroom, which are generally on par with those found on standard cruise ships.
These trips can vary from two weeks to a full-fledged world tour lasting around three months, and can literally take you almost anywhere in the world with a coast. However, you can also book one-way sailings or individual legs of a total itinerary.
Though freighter cruises offer little in the way of luxury (most cargo ships were never intended to take passengers), they do offer the opportunity to see unique ports of call on usually long journeys. This voyage really is more about the journey and not the destination.
US’ers should check out Maris Freighter Cruises for more info.
Is road tripping through the beautiful Emerald Isle just not doing it for you? It’s not you; it’s your method of transportation! Ditch the car and hitch a horse instead. Several companies, like Clissman Horse Caravans, offer the chance to explore Ireland in true gypsy fashion. You’ll learn how to harness, yoke, and drive a horse before setting off for the Irish countryside.
The four-berth covered carriages come complete with cooking and sleeping spaces, perfect for enjoying a delicious home cooked meal with fresh Irish ingredients right in the middle of its beautiful pastoral setting. During the daytime, you will explore long, sandy beaches and peaceful countrysides filled with wildflowers and butter-yellow gorse flowers. Your days are open-ended, so your itinerary is completely up to you and your horse— whether it be fishing, cycling, riding, or hiking. The idea is to travel a total of about 3-5 hours a day, leaving time for sightseeing and hanging out in the local pubs in the evenings.
At night, the caravan must be parked off the road, so you will most likely park in the spaces that various local farmhouses, pubs, guesthouses and hotels make available. These spots will provide the bathroom facilities you’ll be looking for (finally, a hot shower!) as well as fresh produce, packed lunches and hot showers. They can also give you the inside scoop as to where the best music and entertainment is in the city that you are in. At the end of your nights, you’ll roll out your sleeping bag and nap in the comfort of your covered carriage. The idea is to travel a total of about 2-5 hours a day, leaving time for sightseeing and hanging out in the local pub in the evenings.
Norry through Cambodia
If you’ve ever dreamed of riding your own personal mini-train through a foreign country, you might just want to head to the Cambodian city of Battambang. Many of Cambodia’s railroad tracks, crafted during the French Colonial era, were left in disarray after the nightmarish rule of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970’s. Few passenger trains make appearances on these tracks, so for the most part, the raise are free of larger locomotives, leaving plenty of room for the unique vehicle known as the norry.
This quasi-train is more or less a bamboo platform that has been placed on two old axles, operated by a gasping secondhand engine (most often from a motorbike or discarded farm equipment). The norry, blissfully free of safety rails or seating, will take you through the Cambodian countryside at a brisk 30-mph clip. Norries are unscheduled and unregulated by the Cambodian government, so the only way to take one is to shop up with a few bucks (usually no more than $5 or $6 for a two-way trip) and hop on.
Though fewer norry routes are in operation since the national train system was restored in 2013, you can still hop on the rails between Battambang and a series of small countryside villages. The norry can hold up to 5 or 6 passengers, though your companions will most likely include a dog, some chickens, and commuting locals.
The norry is a must for a truly immersive cultural experience with just a side of risk.
By Complete Surprise (!!!)
Note: This method is for the Type B traveler…and we’re talking very type B.
Do you love to travel but absolutely loathe the planning portion of it all? Do you think surprises are more exciting and less freaky? Travel-by-surprise may be just the ticket—although you won’t know what your ticket is for.
The Oprah OK’ed Magical Mystery Tours offers a one-stop vacation shop for those who don’t mind being in the dark about their adventures. First, you fill out a comprehensive questionnaire about your budget, preferences (for example, you hate camping or places with sand), and past travel experiences. Then, Magical Mystery Tours gets to work — they handle the research, the planning, the reservations, and even throw in some extra surprises.
One week prior to departure (after all the required fees have been paid), travelers will receive a weather report for their destination. Several days later, they will receive a sealed folder with all the trip details. Try as best you can to resist the temptation to open the envelope until you’ve arrived at your travel hub (most likely a train station, an airport, or a bus terminal, depending on your budget and timeframe), where you’ll be free to open your folder and find out where you’re off to, whether it’s Honolulu, Hong Kong, or the Hamptons.
If you’re a fan of the remote (and maybe even the TV show Lost), then the option of getting dropped off on a deserted island might be the unique vacation you’ve been looking for.
Docastaway is a travel company that specializes in taking its customers to the most remote corners of the world, where you’ll literally be dropped off in a helicopter and left to get lost in your own tropical paradise.
The outfitter offers two main packages: Adventure Mode, for true survivalists ready to take on the wild, and Comfort mode, for those seeking roofs, bathrooms, and perhaps a smidge of luxury. If you choose Adventure Mode, Docastaway offers survival classes before being dropped off on your isle of isolation. The differing “isolation levels” mean that you can choose to be completely and totally alone on an exclusive island, surrounded by jungles, beaches, and lush coral reefs.
Experience this unique adventure totally unknown until now: the chance to feel like a castaway. This really is the epitome of disconnecting from the stressors of the outside world, free to explore some of the world’s last lost paradises at your leisure.
Take A Dogsled
Yes, you read that right!
Why not give the great Alaskan outdoors a go transported by your very own powerful pack of huskies. Dogsledding has been a method of transportation for more than a millennium, and mushing along the vast and icy landscapes of the northern United States is a uniquely wild experience. There are a number of outfitters that can set you up on one-day or multi-day trips, all complete with super cute canines, all the necessary equipment, and driving lessons.
This method of getting around is largely limited to the colder, snowier areas, so aspiring mushers MUST be able to hang in the bitter weather (or, at least have plenty of warm North Face attire) unless you can afford to splurge during the surge pricing of the summer months. Though cold, traveling by way of sled dog doesn’t have to mean roughing it. During a journey through Denali National Park, you can choose from an array of cabins or heated tents for nighttime accommodations. If you feel like upgrading your trip for dash of extra indulgence, opt to dine on local beer and sizzling bratwursts after a long day on the ice.
Tails and trails: It really is the quintessential Alaska adventure, one that often fuels the daydreams of travelers. So what are you waiting for?
Take A Trip With Your Parents As An Adult
This one might seem a bit odd (especially in comparison to the rest of the list), but we’re betting you haven’t considered this as a way to travel the globe. Most of us probably immediately think of a spouse or friend as the ideal travel companion. But how many of you have considered your parents? Although this might not sound like your most appealing option, there are great benefits that go much deeper than your regular pal’s trip.
Our daily lives get busier as we get older, and vacations give us uninterrupted time to come together, catch up, and focus on each other. No longer kicking each other’s seats and stealing fruit snacks, these family vacations as adults allow siblings, parents, and children a unique chance to bond that wouldn’t have been possible as kids.
Life is short, and these special experiences may not be available to you in a few years’ time as your family grows and evolves. Take advantage of them. Give your parents a call today and get going.