20 Epic Dream Trips to Start Planning for 2024
20 Epic Dream Trips to Start Planning for 2024 - Island Hopping in Greece
Greece’s gorgeous islands have captivated travelers for centuries. With over 6000 islands and islets scattered across azure seas, Greece is a sailor’s paradise. Island hopping is the ultimate way to experience the magic of Greece. You can soak up the sun on stunning beaches by day and feast on fresh seafood by night. From backpacker havens to luxury yacht charters, Greece has an island for every type of traveler.
The Cyclades offer some of Greece’s most iconic islands. Santorini’s whitewashed villages clinging to volcanic cliffs are postcard-perfect. Party ‘til dawn at Mykonos’ beach clubs or escape the crowds on laid-back Folegandros. Watch the sunset in Little Venice before digging into moussaka on a terrace in Naxos. Each island has its own personality so mix and match to create your ideal Greek getaway.
Crete is Greece’s largest island with Minoan ruins, labyrinthine Samaria Gorge and palm-lined beaches. Base yourself in charming Chania or artsy Rethymnon and take day trips to historical sites like Knossos. The pink-sand Elafonisi beach looks like it belongs in the Caribbean. For total seclusion, head to the smaller islets off Crete’s north coast like Spinalonga.
The Ionian Islands off Greece's west coast also enchant. Corfu Town feels like something from a fairy tale with its pastel buildings and winding streets. Paxos and Antipaxos are gorgeous green havens with some of Greece’s most exquisite coves. Lefkada boasts pine-backed beaches and laid-back tavernas selling just-caught seafood.
With Greece’s extensive ferry network, hopping between islands is a breeze. Taking the ferry lets you experience more of Greece’s natural beauty. You’ll cruise past tiny fishing villages, uninhabited islets, coves and caves only accessible by sea. Sitting on deck with views of the endless Aegean is an iconic Greek experience.
Most ferries have an open deck and interior cabins. Book in advance for the best prices. First class gets you more space and amenities whereas deck passage is more budget-friendly. Meals, drinks and sometimes live music are available on longer routes.
What else is in this post?
- 20 Epic Dream Trips to Start Planning for 2024 - Island Hopping in Greece
- 20 Epic Dream Trips to Start Planning for 2024 - Safari Adventure in Tanzania
- 20 Epic Dream Trips to Start Planning for 2024 - Road Tripping Down Under in Australia
- 20 Epic Dream Trips to Start Planning for 2024 - Hiking Peru's Inca Trail
- 20 Epic Dream Trips to Start Planning for 2024 - Northern Lights in Iceland
- 20 Epic Dream Trips to Start Planning for 2024 - Food Tour of Italy
- 20 Epic Dream Trips to Start Planning for 2024 - Beach Getaway in Bali
- 20 Epic Dream Trips to Start Planning for 2024 - Campervan Trip Through New Zealand
- 20 Epic Dream Trips to Start Planning for 2024 - Cultural Immersion in Japan
20 Epic Dream Trips to Start Planning for 2024 - Safari Adventure in Tanzania
Wide open savannas dotted with acacia trees. Towering Mount Kilimanjaro miraging above the plains. Herds of wildebeest stampeding across the Serengeti. A lone lioness on the hunt. Tanzania is the quintessential African safari destination.
Tanzania’s northern parks offer epic wildlife viewing in pristine ecosystems. The Serengeti National Park encompasses 5,700 square miles of grassland plains where over a million wildebeest migrate annually. From December to July, follow the thundering herds on a thrilling safari. Watching a river crossing where thousands of wildebeest plunge into crocodile-infested waters is a once-in-a-lifetime sight.
Adjacent to the Serengeti, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area harbors one of the world’s largest craters. Drive down 600m to the crater floor to spot the Big 5 - lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalo. The alkaline Lake Ndutu teems with flamingos while the surrounding acacia woodlands shelter cheetahs. Oldupai Gorge, where ancient hominid footprints were found, offers insight into human origins.
In Tarangire National Park, massive baobab trees dot dry riverbeds that quench thirsty elephants. Pythons drape from branches while giraffes nibble leaves. Tarangire’s the place to see lots of elephants due to its swamps and fruit trees. Birding is also superb with 550 feathered species from ostriches to bee-eaters.
The verdant slopes of the Ngorongoro Highlands cradle lush forests. Hike trails past waterfall-fed pools or search for the country’s last black rhinos. Spend a night atop the escarpment watching the sun dip behind the Rift Valley for a truly unforgettable safari finale.
A Tanzanian safari connects you with nature in its rawest form. Watching wildlife roam freely in their natural habitat is a humbling experience that recalibrates what’s important. Escaping man-made noise pollution to wake at dawn to the wild chorus of birdsong is magical beyond words. Being on safari fosters appreciation for the wonders of the natural world. It inspires you to conserve fragile ecosystems so future generations can experience nature’s grandeur.
A Tanzanian safari also provides income to preserve wilderness areas where wildlife thrives. By visiting responsibly, you directly support vital conservation work. Local guides offer insights into fascinating cultures that have coexisted alongside wildlife for centuries. Their ancestral bush knowledge deepens your safari experience.
20 Epic Dream Trips to Start Planning for 2024 - Road Tripping Down Under in Australia
With swaths of open road winding alongside sun-soaked coasts, the boundless Outback, and wildlife at every turn, road tripping through Australia promises exhilarating adventure. Meander along the Great Ocean Road oohing and ahhing at the Twelve Apostles or take the ultimate Aussie roadie from Adelaide to Darwin. Discover why a campervan or car rental is the best way to experience the real Australia.
As the planet’s largest island and sixth-largest country, Australia serves up expansive horizons. While cities like Sydney and Melbourne certainly dazzle, Australia’s countryside is the star attraction. Road tripping allows you to steer your own course at your own pace. Choose your own playlist, pull over spontaneously for Instagrammable wildlife sightings, or linger lazily where the freedom of the open road leads you.
The Great Ocean Road is one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives. Built in 1932 by World War I veterans, the 151-mile route hugs sheer cliffs and pristine beaches. Get your camera ready for iconic rock formations like the Twelve Apostles limestone stacks and lofty Loch Ard Gorge. Watch whales frolic offshore, kayak with seals and soak up uninterrupted Pacific panoramas.
If you have a few weeks, tackle the big one: the Stuart Highway from Adelaide to Darwin. Covering 1,700 miles through the Red Centre, this epic road trip takes you through the heart of the Outback. Watch the sun set over Uluru, explore crater-filled countryside in the MacDonnell Ranges and meet the quirky characters of Alice Springs and Coober Pedy. Cross crocodile-inhabited rivers before finishing with tropical Northern Territory.
With a campervan or motorhome rental, you’ve got your own self-contained home on wheels. No need to book accommodation in advance - just pull up wherever you please once you’re ready to rest. Wake up to bird songs in secluded national parks and cook up a storm with produce from roadside farm stands. Fall asleep under the Milky Way with a campfire flickering in the background.
20 Epic Dream Trips to Start Planning for 2024 - Hiking Peru's Inca Trail
With its jaw-dropping mountain scenery and fascinating ancient ruins, trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is a once-in-a-lifetime bucket list adventure. Snaking for 26 miles through the Andes, the historic stone path offers an immersive experience into Inca culture past and present. Conquering the challenging yet achievable four-day hike rewards you with scintillating views and a profound sense of accomplishment upon arriving at the mystical Machu Picchu citadel.
The Inca Trail gives you a deep appreciation for the ingenuity of the Incas who constructed this engineering marvel without modern tools or equipment. Climbing the steep stone staircases carved into the mountainside brings their sophistication and mastery into focus. The altitudinal changes allow you to experience multiple Peruvian ecosystems from cloud forest to alpine tundra. Towering snow-capped peaks of the Urubamba mountain range surround you on all sides along with abundant exotic flora and fauna.
The camaraderie of tackling the trek as a group creates fast friendships. Sharing laughs, motivation and magic moments bonding over spectacular Andean vistas forges memories that last long after leaving Peru. Reaching the Sun Gate on the last morning, exhausted but thrilled, and getting your first glimpse of the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu emerging mysteriously through wisps of cloud is a truly magical moment. The sense of accomplishment upon completing such an iconic trek stays with you for life.
While there are easier ways to reach Machu Picchu, like train or bus, nothing compares to arriving on foot. The extra effort makes finally standing amongst the awe-inspiring ruins all the more special and meaningful. Earning those iconic photos overlooking Machu Picchu amphitheater provides a lifetime of bragging rights!
The Inca Trail provides not just stunning scenery and brag-worthy photos but also a deeper insight into ancient Peruvian culture. Along the route, you’ll discover other fascinating ruins like Winay Wayna and Inti Punku. Learning about the theories behind their intriguing design and construction from experienced guides enriches the journey. It heightens your sense of awe upon finally laying eyes on the magnificent lost city of Machu Picchu on day four.
20 Epic Dream Trips to Start Planning for 2024 - Northern Lights in Iceland
Of all the natural wonders in Iceland, none captures the imagination quite like the spellbinding Northern Lights. This astronomical phenomenon sees the night sky blaze with ethereal streaks of green, purple, pink and blue light that appear to dance across the heavens. Witnessing this cosmic display first-hand is an experience that will stay seared in your memory forever. That’s why viewing the Aurora Borealis should top every traveler’s Iceland bucket list.
An Icelandic winter transforms the island into a frozen fairy tale perfect for viewing the Northern Lights. Long nights mean more opportunity to experience the Aurora’s captivating celestial performance. Their appearance depends on solar flares so having patience and flexibility is key. While glimpses are possible from September through March, peak Aurora visibility runs from late November to mid-January.
Venturing away from light pollution into Iceland’s darkness adds to the magic. The Snaefellsnes Peninsula’s rugged volcanic terrain makes an ideal backdrop. Watching the lights shimmer above crashing Atlantic waves and black sand beaches feels surreal. On clear nights, you can see the Aurora swirling above Glacier Lagoon’s icy blocks. Activity and solar winds determine colors and movement so each show is unique.
While nature choreographs the Northern Lights’ dance, experienced guides optimize sightings. Local experts skillfully track Solar flare forecasts and lead nightly expeditions suited to conditions. Comfy 4x4 minibuses with panoramic windows keep you warm while chasing openings in cloud cover. Knowledgeable guides offer photography tips and fascinating Aurora science to enrich the experience.
20 Epic Dream Trips to Start Planning for 2024 - Food Tour of Italy
From indulgent pasta to delectable gelato, Italy offers some of the most mouthwatering cuisine on the planet. A food tour is the ultimate way to tantalize your taste buds with the country’s incredible regional specialties and culinary traditions. Meandering through small towns and major cities stopping to graze on gourmet goodies gives you a delicious overview of Italian food culture. With so many tantalizing temptations, a guided tour optimizes indulging without exploding your waistline!
In Rome, a street food crawl through the historical center offers edible glimpses into the city’s rich culinary heritage. Graze your way through the Jewish Ghetto on traditional fried artichokes and carciofi alla giudia. Comparative tastings of silky gelato in funky flavors like rose or mascarpone exemplify Italy’s artisanal frozen treats. Of course, for the quintessential Roman experience, stop by a lively trattoria to twirl your fork through melt-in-your mouth cacio e pepe.
Up north in Bologna, join a local guide to uncover the secrets behind the city’s legendary cuisine. Learn why Bologna earns its nickname “la grassa” (the fat one) during visits to cheese and cured meat shops. After getting your pasta education, put your new skills to work making tortellini by hand. Nothing beats homemade stuffed pastas!
In Sicily, street food reigns supreme so walk off the calories between tasty bites. Soak up the island’s Arabic influences with chickpea pani ca meusa or sesame seed-coated panelle fritters. Chase briny sea urchins or sweet and sour octopus with almond-spiked granita. Cap it all off with Italy’s best, Bronte-grown pistachio gelato.
When your stomach needs a break from the heavy hitters, Puglia keeps things light with fresh seafood and produce. Go on a bike tour through ancient olive groves and family-run pasticceria. Savor just-plucked oysters on Gallipoli’s pier before grabbing atable at a seafood trattoria to sample the crudo. Vegetable-centric dishes using farm-fresh eggplants, peppers and greens temper the indulgence.
20 Epic Dream Trips to Start Planning for 2024 - Beach Getaway in Bali
With emerald rice fields, jungle-shrouded temples, and legendary surf, this Indonesian island paradise has captivated travelers for decades. But it’s Bali’s spectacular beaches that make it an essential stop for a tropical getaway. Whether you’re looking for seclusion, water sports or roaring beach clubs, you’ll find your perfect patch of sand.
On the south coast, Pandawa Beach impresses with dramatic limestone cliffs and serene vibes. Its sheltered bay cradles calm blue waters ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Local warungs dish up grilled fresh fish for beachside lunches on the sand. Come sunset, grab a beanbag and Bintang beer to watch the sky ignite in fiery colors.
Further west, Balangan Beach attracts surfers with its powerful breaks and photogenic swathe of golden sand. Its lively cafes and coconut groves channel 70s Bali bliss vibes. Or escape the crowds entirely at Selong Blanak, a secluded cove where the loudest sound is the whisper of the waves.
Kuta retains a party atmosphere with its thumping beach clubs and bars. But venture north of the mayhem to find hip Canggu with its eclectic shops, globally-inspired eats and rice paddy views. Berawa’s laidback surf scene offers gnarly waves without the crowds.
Over on the gently curving Bukit Peninsula, white-sand Dreamland Beach is aptly named. This former haven for Uluwatu’s surfing pioneers retains beautifully wild rainforest and smaller surf crowds. Nearby Bingin Beach drops down 100-foot cliffs straight onto the sand. Grab a beanbag at a clifftop bar here to watch expert surfers tackling the renowned left-hander waves.
North of the Bukit, Blue Point Beach at Padang Bai charms with its chilled-out hippie vibe. Further east, Amed and Tulamben offer exotic black sand beaches with world-class diving and snorkeling. Spotting rainbow-hued fish and coral reefs against volcanic slopes is next-level.
20 Epic Dream Trips to Start Planning for 2024 - Campervan Trip Through New Zealand
With its mix of spectacular natural scenery, from snow-capped peaks to turquoise lakes, combined with vibrant cities, a campervan road trip is the quintessential way to experience the diversity of New Zealand. Cruising alongside deep fjords, rolling vineyards, and surf-battered beaches epitomizes the country’s “will-move-you” beauty as the locals say. Here are some first-hand experiences that capture the magic ofdiscovering Aotearoa by campervan or motorhome.
Sue from Denver did a south to north campervan trip and highly recommends spending time driving along the South Island: “The staggering beauty literally took my breath away around every turn - I had to keep pulling over! Driving alongside the turquoise bays near Abel Tasman National Park and getting lost down backroads in the Marlborough wine region were my favorite parts. The freedom of having your own transport and not needing to book accommodation was fantastic.”
James from London recalls the North Island surprising him: “I expected it to be not as scenic after the majestic South Island but boy was I wrong! The Tongariro Alpine Crossing with views of Mt Doom was out of this world. I loved flying around the winding coastal roads up north with the windows down and music blaring. The Bay of Islands was also stunning for beaches and island hopping.”
Amy from Christchurch advises: “Definitely spend a good amount of time on the South Island but don’t miss out on the North’s highlights like the glowworm caves in Waitomo. Having the campervan gave us so much freedom to wake up in a new stunning place every morning from beaches to vineyards to mountain passes.”
Michigan native Katy says: “Driving through Fiordland National Park was mind-blowing; we had to pinch ourselves that places like Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound even exist! Waking up to the sunrise illuminating the mountains at Aoraki/Mt Cook was such an experience. But my favorite was driving alongside Lake Pukaki and its incredible turquoise waters.”
20 Epic Dream Trips to Start Planning for 2024 - Cultural Immersion in Japan
From meditating with monks to learning ancient arts from masters, Japan offers countless ways to immerse yourself in its captivating culture. Discovering the country’s customs, cuisine and crafts through hands-on experiences provides insights into Japan’s complex, artistic soul. It allows you to peel back the surface and truly understand what makes this island nation tick.
Meditating at a Zen Buddhist temple transports you into another realm of consciousness. Participate in zazen meditation sessions to clear your mind and simply “be” in the present moment. Attend spiritual discussions with the monks to learn about their minimalist, nature-centered philosophies. Spending a few days at a temple listening to the tranquil repetition of the shakuhachi flute and practicing mindful calligraphy with ink and brush leads to deeper self-discovery.
Mastering the traditional tea ceremony allows a glimpse into the sophistication of Japanese aesthetics. Each graceful movement from preparing the matcha to serving guests stems from centuries of artistic refinement. As you learn the choreography of this beautiful ritual under the guidance of a sensei in a tranquil teahouse, you’ll appreciate how the smallest details contribute to a transcendent experience.
The intricate art of ikebana flower arranging balances shape, line and color to reflect the changing seasons. Work alongside an ikebana artist to craft minimalist floral sculptures using branches, leaves and blooms. This discipline reveals the Japanese reverence for simplicity and appreciation for ephemeral beauty.
Hands-on cooking classes unlock the secrets behind Japan’s impeccable cuisine. Learn how to slice sashimi like a pro and craft miso soup from scratch. Mastering rolling maki rolls and frying crunchy tempura are fun ways to deepen your experience with Japanese flavors.