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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#60 – Having Parents Visit
When we told friends and extended family that we were going to travel for a year and a half, a lot of people asked if we were going to get homesick. We didn’t have a good answer for that because we knew that our parents were going visit us sometime during our trip. What we didn’t expect was that both sets of parents ended up visiting us at the same exact time! So we had Angie’s parents with us in Budapest, my parents in Munich, and everyone together in Vienna and Salzburg. Having a family outing on the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, seeing the many things to do in Vienna, and buying Jeremy’s dad a beer at Oktoberfest are just a few experiences we cherish from their visit.
#59 – The World’s Best Gelato
Our explorations of Italy were extremely gelato centric. Angie made a list of the best Italian ice cream in all of the cities we visited and we systematically tried all of them in order to find the best. One shop in particular on this quest, Gelateria di Piazza, required a trip to San Gimignano in Tuscany just to get to. Why this one specific gelato shop? The master gelato maker has won several international championships and his store is consistently rated best in the world- and it didn’t disappoint. The creamy texture and unique flavors like blackberry lavender and grapefruit with sparkling wine made this one a standout that is worth going on a quest to reach.
#58 – Nature in Patagonia
Outdoor lovers, Patagonia is for you. Often marketed as a trekkers paradise thanks to many popular trails like the W Circuit in Puerto Natales, Chile, and the Fitz Roy Trail in El Chalten, Argentina, there is also plenty to see and do for those (like us) who only want to do day hikes or explore via guided tours. What were some of our favorite spots? Well, Bariloche, Argentina, is home to numerous mountaintop viewpoints and trails around the pristine lakes. Punta Arenas, Chile, offers a day trip to Magdalena Island to see its famous penguin colony. In fact, there are so many activities to do in this part of the world that we would be writing about them for months to cover them all. The only downside? Everything in Patagonia, from lodging to food to transportation, is about 50% more expensive than northern Chile and Argentina. But it is so worth it.
#57 – Drinking Rum in Mauritius
What do you get when you take the island of Mauritius and cover it with sugar cane fields? Well, other than the ability to make about 16 different kind of sugars, you also can make copious amounts of rum! We loved the things to do in Mauritius for several reasons, most stemming from the island’s natural beauty, but ending the day with a glass of rum and watching a mind blowing sunset is without compare. By the end of our stay we truly understood what Mark Twain meant when he said: “Mauritius was made first, and then heaven, and that heaven was copied after Mauritius.” He clearly had the rum. Hopefully heaven took note of that one, too.
#56 – Cooking Classes
International cooking classes combine three of our favorite things: traveling, cooking, and eating! From learning how to debone and filet a whole fish in Avignon, France, to learning how to cook traditional Southern Indian food in a local’s home, to cooking Pad Thai on a gorgeous beach in Thailand, to indulging in a few too many pisco sours in Valparaiso, we have experienced a wide array of informative and fun cooking classes. Best of all, we have returned home with dozens of recipes for making delicious and authentic international dishes that we can’t wait to get cracking on!
#55 – Splurging on Nice Rooms
Many travelers who head off on long-term trips opt to go the thrifty route in order to travel as long as possible. Having traveled quite a bit before our fifteen-month trip, we knew that we couldn’t sacrifice our comfort for going longer unless it was a huge cost savings. This meant few dorms (39 nights out of 465) and staying in boutique hotels that averaged around $30-$40/night for two in most destinations. We also racked up significant Hilton credit card points in order to stay in incredibly nice hotels in premium destinations like the Hilton Dubrovnik, Hilton Dubai, Hilton Mauritius, and Hilton Cartagena— absolutely free. We will be the first to tell you that there is nothing better than a nice bed after roughing it for days or weeks, and our random hotel splurges resulted in some of our favorite nights of the entire trip.
The cava bar El Xampanyet in Barcelona, Spains, holds the spot as our favorite bar in all of our travels. It is a simple bar that is always packed with locals and tourists alike. With cava flowing and delicious tapas beautifully laid out across the bar, it has a fun atmosphere that just screams out Spain to us. But we also love this bar for another reason: it is becoming a family tradition to go there, have a few rounds, and get a photo taken. We started the tradition on our honeymoon, Jeremy’s brother and sister-in-law continued it a week later while on their European cruise, and Jeremy’s parents also got a photo a few years later while on their own European cruise. Next step? Group photo!
#53 – The Alpaca Hot Tub Photo Bomb
One of our many hotel splurges resulted in us staying at Hotel La Cupula in Copacabana, Bolivia. We chose this hotel for its amazing restaurant, views of Lake Titicaca from many of the rooms, and ability to reserve the private hot tub at their sister-hotel just next door. Halfway through our sunset hot tub booking, we heard an unusual noise and thought it was just a guest walking buy us. A few seconds later we were surprised that it was an alpaca coming to join us! I can safely say this was the most unusual photo bomb from all of our travels (and the best jacuzzi experience, too).
I often describe Yangshuo, China, as what Halong Bay, Vietnam, would be if you drained out all the water. In this tiny village outside of Guilin, one of the most popular options for viewing the famous karst peaks is to rent a bike for the day. While the nature was indeed the highlight, the mishaps from my nine-hour bike ride often take center stage when I talk about the experience. First off, Chinese maps are not to scale. Once you get out of the city center the distances are relative and a centimeter can mean 100 feet or 5 miles. After criss-crossing our way around, we finally made it on a path we thought would get us back to the city. That is, until a friend of ours got a flat tire in the middle of nowhere. After taking turns riding the busted bike on our way back to civilization, we luckily found a corner handyman that actually had a new tire and fixed it right up. With only a few minutes left before the bikes were due, we hauled it back to the city with just moments to spare. It was a great day.
#51 – Unusual Hotels
Did you know that many of the hotels in Cappadocia are caves carved right into the rocks? Or that in Japan you can stay in a traditional ryokan? Or that there are dedicated camping grounds in the middle of the desert (Oman‘s Wahiba Sands) with permanent tents and great amenities? What about sleeping on a felucca anchored on the shore of the Nile with nothing but the stars over your head? These are just some of the unusual hotel types that we stayed in while traveling the world, and we’re barely scratching the surface when it comes to crazy, fun places to stay.
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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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