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.
#50 – The Holy Ganges
This river is a pilgrimage site for many Hindus due to the spiritual benefits of bathing in its waters; all those who die in Varanasi also receive salvation.
Massive cremation sites are present along the river banks and those who travel to Varanasi to pass away are cremated in public, their ashes put in the river to provide spiritual salvation.
You can imagine that this was an eye-opening and powerful experience for us. There was always a plethora of religious activity going on at all edges of the river bank, and it was beautiful.
#49 – Adopting a Dog
We always said that we were going to adopt a dog as soon as we got home from our 15-month trip, but we never considered bringing one home with us. That is until we met “Carla” at our Airbnb stay in Valladolid, Mexico, about two weeks before we were set to go home.
She was a street rescue found by the APACCC Valladolid organization and was being fostered with our host. Carla adopted us immediately and we knew we had our dog.
We then spent the next two weeks working out the logistics of bringing a dog into the USA, finding a carrier for the plane (harder than it sounds in Mexico), and scheduling her to be brought to the airport the morning we left.
Surprisingly, there were no hitches and we made it back without hassle.
But there was one problem. “Carla” is no name for a Mexican rescue dog. So we renamed her Tamale. Viva Mexico!
#48 – The Bay of Kotor, Montenegro
Montenegro Travel needs to work on their PR campaigns, because we were completely taken by surprise with how gorgeous the Bay of Kotor is.
This natural formation, once considered to be Europe's southern most fjord (it is actually a ria), is like something you'd expect to find in Norway, not Eastern Europe.
The long and winding channels with tall mountains and steep cliffs produces a natural setting that is simply awe inspiring.
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As an added perk, Kotor is home to the ruins of a fortress that is perched high on the cliffs and offers a stellar view of the town and scenery.
We have the Bay of Kotor high on our “Must Return To” list because it is also one of the lesser visited cruise ports in Europe. There is something about being high up on a large cruise ship slowly making its way through the fjords that just sounds magical.
#47 – Om Beach
Om Beach may be overloaded with new age hipsters and the hippies from the '60s that seemingly never left, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable (on the contrary, it adds to the effect).
We spent New Years Eve on Gokarna, one of the many beautiful India beaches, to see what the fuss was about and were not disappointed.
Shaped like the iconic Om symbol, this beach has more natural character than most of the beaches we visited in Goa with cheaper prices as well.
The New Years celebrations were quite an incredible time with many tourists and locals setting off fireworks on the beach throughout the night.
#46 – Deadvlei, Namibia
The clay pan known as the Deadvlei in Namibia formed an estimated 900 years ago when a river ran through the region, allowing trees to grow.
As the massive sand dunes began making their way through Namibia, the river was cut off and the trees died out. Due to the intense heat and lack of moisture resulting from this desert shift, the trees could not decompose and simply endure the harsh environment.
The Deadvlei takes our #46 spot as it is one of the few natural wonders on our list that photos simply do not give justice.
#45 – Dulce de Leche
When it comes to sweets, nothing tops dulce de leche. This treat can be found in everything from the local alfajores to ice cream. The latter was one of our favorite treats containing dulce de leche, and most shops would have anywhere from three to a dozen different flavors containing this beloved ingredient.
While we didn't try them all, our favorite ended up being dulce de leche bonbon / double dulce de leche: dulce de leche ice cream full of monstrously large gobs of pure dulce de leche.
Our favorite shop that served this devilish concoction was Heladeria Mamusia in San Martin de Lose Andes as they simply do not skimp on the raw dulce! Mmm.
#44 – The Atacama Desert
The Atacama desert is one of the most unusual natural wonders in South America. It is the driest non-polar desert in the world and offers a plethora of activities that completely blind-sided us when we arrived.
From star gazing in some of the clearest skies in the world to venturing out into the desert to see unusual formations and the famous geysers, you could easily spend a week in the gateway city, San Pedro de Atacama, and only just scratch the surface.
#43 – Perito Moreno Glacier
We loved the Perito Moreno Glacier in El Calafate, Argentina, so much that we have to give it its own feature in our Top 100 countdown past the already featured Patagonia (the region of South America where this glacier can be found).
We've seen quite a few glaciers in our travels, and this one is the most impressive by far.
What makes this glacier unique is the expansive set of walking trails that the park has installed which allows guests to view the natural wonder at various angles, heights, and distances throughout a visit.
It took us most of the entire day to traverse the walkways, and during our visit we saw several large chunks of ice come crashing into the water as well as a huge column of ice gracefully slide into the abyss (a true rarity).
#42 – Hiking Isla Del Sol
The Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca appears in our Top 100 list a few times, and it is truly one of our favorite destinations in all of South America.
The inhabited island off the shores of Copacabana, Isla del Sol, is often marketed as a day hike destination; however, we had an incredible time spending two nights here and highly recommend it for those who are in the area with a favorable weather forecast.
The reason for our recommendation is simply this: those who hike on a day trip have to rush through a 4-hour hike from the northern port to the southern to ensure they catch the last boat back to Copacabana.
Judging from the altitude-weary travelers we saw straggling behind, we have to guess that many do not make the boat. Instead, it is better to prepare for at least one night on the island (ideally two) as the extra time allows you to take the hike at your leisure, but also lets you hike the entire loop trail to see more of the gorgeous scenery that most visitors miss.
Just prepared for a 7+ hours of walking at altitude when you do head out!
#41 – Dune 45
Sitting on top of a sand dune is certainly one of the most unique places we've ever watched the sunrise, and the trip up Dune 45 in Namibia is one we will never forget.
This sand dune is one of the most accessible in Namibia as it is located right next to a main road, and the climb up takes about 45 minutes to an hour depending on your fitness level.
As we learned during our hike, on the return trip back down you have to be extremely careful where you step, as the sun-filled side warms up to nearly unbearable temperatures almost immediately while the shadowed side stays nice and cool.
Be sure to take water with you and do not attempt to climb this one after sunrise as the sand and air become too hot for physical exertion of this level. But if you do it before sunrise, well, a wonderful time will be waiting for you!
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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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