For many of us, getting out into the world is a priority despite lingering inflation and a simmering pandemic. And perhaps because of that, Tripadvisor data shows that travelers want to take their trips to the next level, packing in as many activities as possible to make up for lost time.
To inspire you, here’s a list of the top 25 Bucket List Experiences around the world, part of a recent Travelers’ Choice Things to Do announcement: a new category full of memory-making experiences.
According to travelers who left their authentic feedback over the past 12 months (from May 1, 2021 to April 30, 2022), these are the absolute must-do activities that they’re recommending for 2022.
The following topped travelers’ lists this year. Plus a few of my own takes.
Top 10 Bucket List Experiences in the World
Premium Red Dunes, Camel Safari & BBQ at Al Khayma Camp – Dubai, UAE. Enjoy the red dunes of Dubai’s Lahbab desert and a full range of desert activities. Start with a 4WD dune bash, sandboarding, and ATV ride. Then, visit the Bedouin-inspired Al Khayma camp for a camel ride, falcon interaction, and cultural activities before a starlit barbecue-buffet dinner and live show.
I still remember the variety of experiences in one night, from dune-bashing to henna tattoos; from desert sunset to feasting under a starry sky.
Classic Inca Trail Trek 4D/3N to Machu Picchu – Cusco, Peru
Travel along the famous Inca Trail, considered one of the best hikes in the world. This 4-day excursion from Cusco along the pilgrimage trail is a mix of cultural, historical, and natural sights that offers an overview of the ancient Incas. Pass through villages and archaeological sites until you reach the sacred mountain of Machu Picchu, where you enjoy a guided tour.
I recommend off-season, and getting up early, staying later to avoid crowds at the site.
Hot Air Balloons Ride – Luxor, Egypt
Soar above Luxor’s West Bank for an aerial perspective of the archaic sights at sunrise. Vast temples and soaring obelisks and statues are illuminated by the sun sitting low in the sky. Plus, your expert guide provides the context.
Didn’t go on a balloon ride, but this is one of the most awesome sites in the world.
Cappadocia Balloon Ride and Champagne Breakfast – Goreme, Turkey
Rising from the plains of Anatolia, Cappadocia is an ancient, fairytale landscape famous for its honeycombed underground cities and towering, chimney-shaped rocks. Get a bird’s-eye view of the unforgettable scenery from the region’s best vantage point: hot-air balloon. Add in a breakfast buffet.
Another stunning hot-air ballooning experience is over the hundreds of temples in Bagan, Myanmar at sunrise. I hope that country can solve its problems and open fully to tourism again.
Get behind the wheel of your own UTV on this heart-pumping off-road adventure to explore Aruba’s rugged, desert terrain.
I don’t jump of cliffs, but riding in an off-road vehicle is really fun. Aruba’s desert meets turquoise Caribbean setting is stunning.
Ziplining Forest Adventure – The Original Canopy Tour – Rotorua, New Zealand
Rotorua’s lush native forest has stood for centuries. This 3-hour adventure mixes fun, education, and conservation. You’ll soar across ziplines and cross swing bridges for a new perspective on New Zealand’s native forests.
New Zealand is gorgeous! And I think walking on swing bridges, especially rope ones, and especially in the wind, can be more scary than ziplining.
Arenales Caves and River Adventure in Puerto Rico – San Juan, Puerto Rico
Spend an adventurous day hiking through rivers, visiting an underground cave, and swimming. Plus, finish off your adventure with a hike to a hidden spring.
Cenotes in Mexico are as close as I’ve been to swimming in a cave. Would love to do more!
Skydive Tandem – São Paulo, Brazil
You’ll be in safe hands when jumping from a height of 12,000 feet. Take off for a scenic flight over the city of Boituva, feel the thrill in a freefall of up to 50 seconds, reaching speeds of over 124 miles, then admire the views as you parachute down.
Never done it. Never will. But those who do it swear by it.
Northern Lights Adventure with Greenlander – Tromso, Norway
Embark on an adventurous Northern Lights chase in northern Norway on a Land Rover Defender. With a professional photographer as a guide and in a small group, you’ll capture the best possible photos of the Aurora Borealis. Travelers frequently call this tour “absolutely amazing” and a “magical night.”
Do you know the area most likely to have the most reliable, most purple and green sky curtains? It’s Fairbanks Alaska. You’re pretty much guaranteed spectacular viewing there.
Swim with the Manatees Includes In-Water Guide/Photographer – Crystal River, Florida, US
Hop aboard a US Coast Guard certified vessel where you’ll join your Master Captain to embark on your journey into the Kings Bay refuge waters. You’re personal expert in-water guide who will also serve as your professional photographer to capture your manatee swim memories.
Did this years ago, in Crystal River. A manatee mom swam by me with her calf and I felt her rough skin. These are gentle, endangered animals and they need our support.
Tripadvisor top 25 Bucket List Experiences in the world for 2022 also includes iconic adventures like a classic Serengeti Safari, Angkor Wat Sunrise Tour, and a scenic flight over the Great Barrier Reef. Check out all the winners here.
(For more adventures and destination info, check out episode 35 on Dubai; episode 28 on New Zealand; and episode 9 on Norway on my award-winning travel podcast, Places I Remember with Lea Lane. Heard on Apple, Spotify and wherever you listen — or on my website. )