When you head out on a long-term trip, every single person you meet will ask you what your favorite experience has been. We have been asked this question hundreds if not thousands of times, and for several months it was very hard to answer as we have had just too many great experiences to pick the very best.
As a way to share our favorite experiences and give you inspirations for activities to do on your own long-term trip, we decided to put together a ranked list of our Top 100 experiences, destinations, restaurants, and moments from around the world.
When reading, keep in mind that we haven’t been everywhere. This list represents our favorite experiences as of now, from all of the destinations we’ve been to (500+ cities in 67 countries), and will be updated as we travel more and find great experiences that make the Top 100.
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#30 – Spas
While you may not be seeing us dropping $100 for a back massage at a fancy spa in the United States, you will see us flocking to unique spa offerings all over the world whenever we can find them. From getting covered in mud at the Dead Sea, having traditional cupping done in China, being given a steam room massage at a hamam in Turkey, an onsen experience/a> bathing with Japense men, to the less anxiety-inducing Thai back massage or thermal baths found the world over, we’ll try it all and highly recommend you do, too!
#29 – Lavender Blooms in Avignon
The odds of us ending up in Avignon, France, during the bloom of lavender flowers were quite low as it is hard to predict each year. Historically lavender will bloom sometime within a 2-month period from mid-June to mid-August over the span of just a few weeks. We didn’t know if we would get a chance to experience the fragrant, purple blooms until just a few days prior to our visit. As we arrived a few days before peak season and the colors were changing dramatically, on our day trip our guide told us our view was significantly better than the view just 24 hours earlier. This moment of serendipity is one of our most memorable experiences from the entire trip.
#28 – Budapest Gypsy Orchestra in Plovdiv’s Roman Amphitheater
By the time we had arrived in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, we had already deviated significantly from our plan. Rather than arriving on overnight bus from Istanbul, we were supposed to be flying to Cairo to meet a friend. Well, the civil unrest ruined that one for us and we altered our plans to have our friend visit us in Turkey’s most popular city as well as the nearby country of Bulgaria. After just a few minutes of walking around Plovdiv, we started seeing dozens of signs for what we thought was an orchestra concert in the Roman amphitheater in the city. Using our limited knowledge of Cyrillic, we realized the concert was happening during our stay. Being music fans, we immediately booked tickets but weren’t quite sure what to expect. As it turns out, the group performing was the famous Budapest Gypsy Orchestra, an internationally recognized orchestra that plays Eastern European pieces completely from memory. With the ancient amphitheater filling with beautiful music, could you ask for anything more?
#27 – Visiting Vineyards
We’ve briefly mentioned Angie’s birthday experience (#76) in Mendoza as a top experience, but we’d be doing the wine community a disservice if we didn’t point out all of the other times we went out to drink the world’s best wine in our travels. From the dedicated outings in Mendoza, Bordeaux wine country, and Tuscany, to the copious glasses and bottles consumed in South Africa, Spain, and Germany, we used a significant portion of our travels to find just what kind of wine we like the most. The current winner? Argentinian Malbec, of course!
#26 – Wahiba Sands of Oman
We almost didn’t make it to the Wahiba Sands when we visited Oman. We had arranged a pick-up off the highway to transfer to a desert camp and were delayed several hours due to our bus breaking down several miles up the road (word to the wise: rent a car in Oman). Luckily our host waited for us and we made it into the desert for our overnight camping experience and sunset dune bashing. Much like other deserts that we’ve visited, the Wahiba Sands are desolate but utterly stunning. There are just a few camp grounds, roaming nomadic groups, and a whole lot of sand. The highlight of the trip was most certainly the dune bashing, as our driver really got into it compared to other dune bashing experiences we’ve had. From going up and down incredibly steep dunes at break-neck speeds, to stopping at the best lookouts, you could clearly tell our driver loved his life- and we were loving ours.
#25 – Angkor Wat, Cambodia
The grounds of Angkor Wat make it the most expansive of all of the temples featured on this list. They are so large, in fact, that if you want to see them all you’ll need a minimum of three days- and that is only to spend a brief time at each site. The reason Angkor Wat ranks highly on our list is because this massive temple truly lives up to the hype. The main temples that you see photos of time and time again are even more beautiful in person, and you can be guaranteed that no matter how many stories you’ve read about this particular site, you’ll still find sections of the grounds that you’ve never heard of or seen before.
#24 – Yoga Retreat at Blue Osa
Prior to our fifteen-month trip, we never would have guessed that a yoga retreat would break our Top 25. Yoga simply was not on our radar. Thankfully that all changed when Blue Osa invited us to attend their press week in 2014 where we jumped into learning yoga in one of the most beautiful settings in the world – the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica. With the crashing ocean waves in the distance and scarlet macaws flying overhead, we got the full benefit of the yoga experience (as much as beginners can get in their first week, that is). We give this experience such a high spot not only for catching us off guard and surprising us with something we now love, but also because the people at Blue Osa were some of the most hospitable people we’ve ever met. (Photo Credit – The Legendary Adventures of Anna).
#23 – Cage Diving with Great Whites
Does swimming with great white sharks live up to the hype? We can safely say that yes, it does. Getting up-close-and-personal with these giant beasts of the sea is an experience on many travelers’ bucket lists, and just outside of Cape Town, South Africa, is the perfect place to try this activity. We would even rate this experience higher if it wasn’t for the fact that we went out in January, summer in the southern hemisphere. The drawback of coming during this time of the year is that the visibility is not as good due to warmer water temperatures, so the viewing of the great whites was actually better from above on the boat rather than in the cage. But we have our suspicions that when we return to South Africa in their winter to try this activity again, it may break into our top ten.
#22 – Victoria Falls on Valentines Day
Growing up in the Midwest, we often heard that Niagara Falls had the nickname of the “Honeymoon Capital.” We naturally wrote it off as bogus because anyone who has been to Niagara Falls will tell you that the overrun kitschiness of the destination these days has killed all the romance. But as it turns out, the joke was on us because the month-long safari we booked in Africa ended at Victoria Falls on Valentine’s Day, one of the most celebrated days for romance of the year. Did all that rushing water do anything for us romantically? Okay, fine, it didn’t, but it still was a pretty incredible place to be all the same.
#21 – Rio Secreto in the Yucatan
Before visiting the Yucatan, we set the bar pretty low. Apart from the ruins, we thought the region surrounding Cancun was going to be full of all-inclusives and drunk partiers. Luckily we are happy to report that the region is overflowing with things to do that are suitable for travelers of all ages and all interests. Our favorite attraction was Rio Secreto, an underground river and cave system that has formed over millions of years but was only recently discovered. This experience makes our Top 100 list because it is a far cry from the other “man-made” experiences in Cancun- it’s just your small group and guide alone in one of the most beautiful cave systems on the planet. Just be sure to take the wet route for the full experience! (Photo Credit: Rio Secreto)
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How We Came Up With This List
- Angie and I each put together Top 100 lists based on our favorite experiences both together and separately.
- We then compared our two lists and averaged out items that appeared on both lists.
- Example: An experience ranking #12 on Jeremy’s and #20 on Angie’s list was re-ranked at #16
- Roughly 50 items appeared on both lists.
- We then critiqued experiences which only appeared on one list.
- For experiences that we both had, the one who did not list it originally assigned their own rank and we averaged them out like above.
- For experiences that only one of us had from traveling solo, we accepted the listing as ranked and promised to take the other one day.
- Roughly 20 of Angie’s items and 30 of Jeremy’s unique items made the final cut.
- We then came up with a final Top 100 list based on these adjustments and then tweaked placements together as needed to fix any unusual averaging errors.
- Destinations visited by staff members were not considered.
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