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10 Travel Experiences Worth Splurging On

Have you checked any of these items off of your travel bucket list? Read on for lots of travel inspiration. Here are 10 experiences that are worth the splurge.

Do you find yourself to be a bit thrifty in some aspects of travel? Do you usually stay in hostels, spend time searching for the cheapest flights, look for free things to do in a new city, but then leave room in your budget for an ultimate bucket-list experience? You’re not alone. Recent research by Skyscanner found that Canadian millennials are ‘splurgetting‘, which means skimping on traditional comforts throughout their trip just so they can afford to splurge on something special. Many travellers go the length of sleeping in an airport or a train station during a long layover in order to save their hard-earned dollars for unforgettable experiences.

If you’re going to sleep on airport floors and eat street food for most of your trip, the experience you choose ball out on has got to be pretty good, right? Here’s our list of 10 life-changing experiences that are worth splurging on.

1. Go Skydiving in New Zealand

skydivers over Queenstown, New Zealand
Skydiving near Queenstown, New Zealand

New Zealand’s magnificent, mountainous landscapes make it the perfect destination for an array of adventure travel. A popular option amongst thrill-seeking travellers is skydiving. Splurge on your skydiving adventure Queenstown or Wanaka to see emerald-coloured lakes surrounded by snow-capped mountains from 12,00 feet above. Or head to Lake Taupo, home of the biggest commercial drop zone, to see the blue lake, volcanoes and dense forests. For more information on skydiving companies, see here.

Costs: Skydiving packages in New Zealand range from $199 NZD – $549 NZD. The cost of living in New Zealand is more expensive than in Canada, and a standard meal will cost you upwards of $15 NZD (about $12 CAD) and the average cost of a guesthouse or hostel is around $50 NZD.

2. Book a Ryokan in Japan

hot water pool and wooden bowls at a ryokan in Japan
Ryokan spa in Japan

Many travellers come to Japan to experience the country’s unique culture, and ryokans offer an excellent chance to do so. What’s a ryokan, exactly? Ryokans are traditional Japanese inns, usually located in hot spring resorts. They provide visitors with the opportunity to experience Japanese hospitality. The atmosphere is classic: with everything from futon beds to tatami mats on the floor, local food, and Japanese-style baths. There is a wide range of ryokans in Japan at a variety of price points, so you can choose from something more relatively-priced to luxury. Travellers can find ryokans throughout the country – from the heart of Tokyo to smaller cities like the port city of Fukuoka, or on a private beach resort on the southern island of Okinawa. Some ryokans include onsens (hot springs) and spa services in stunning locations. Browse this site for ryokans in Japan!

Costs: Japan can be done on a budget, but it requires some planning and creativity. A meal at a sit-down restaurant can be upwards of 3000 yen (about 36 CAD) but there are plenty of well-stocked convenience stores and dollar stores, also known as 100-yen shops, throughout the country where you can get a simple meal for 500 yen. Double occupancy (some with breakfast and other meals included) in ryokans throughout Japan can range from $150 dollars to a few hundred (or more) per night.

3. Take a Northern Lights Tour in Iceland

view of the aurora borealis in Iceland
Northern Lights in Iceland

Because of Iceland’s proximity to the Arctic Circle, it’s known as one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights (where it’s possible from September to April). Seeing the sky light up at night might be on many travellers’ bucket lists, but the timing might be tricky. Organized tour companies can help time a sighting, with their insider knowledge of the best locations, weather conditions and optimal solar activity. Tours leave most days from the capital city of Reykjavik, and many tours include other activities such as visiting waterfalls or swimming in hot springs. And a bonus is that Iceland is one of the cheapest countries to fly into from Canada, so you can spend less on your flight and more on your Northern Lights experience. Check this site to explore options.

Costs: Accommodation in Iceland isn’t cheap: a simple double room per night can be upwards of $150, but seasonal deals are usually available for you to snag a last-minute deal on a hotel, so check prices frequently. Bus tours to see the Northern Lights can be booked for approximately $200. A standard meal in Iceland (various seafood or lamb dishes) will set you back about $20. There’s always the option to try the famous Iceland Hot Dog, which costs about $4/approximately 350 Icelandic Krona (ISK).

4. Go Diving in Malaysia

divers view of a group of barracudas swimming in Sipadan, Malaysia
The ‘Barracuba Tornado’ in Sipadan, Malaysian Borneo

Rated the #1 place to dive by SCUBA Travel divers in 2019, Sipadan island in Malaysia offers some of the world’s best diving. It’s the country’s only Oceanic island and acts as a shelter for many fish and sea animals. Sipadan Island also has one of the highest concentrations of sea turtles on the planet. However, you can’t stay on the island itself – but you can stay at either of the surrounding islands of Mabul or Kapalai. Only a handful of people can dive at this island every day, making the experience extremely precious. Be sure to get your Sipadan diving permit in advance!

Costs: PADI Open Water Course and Sipadan packages start at 3000 MYR (approximately $1000 CAD) for a 4-day/3-night stay in dormitory accommodation which includes: all fees, equipment, meals, three Malau and Kapalai dives and four Sipadan dives.

5. Go on Safari in Botswana

Herd of giraffes in Botswana at sunset
Giraffes in Botswana at sunset

The Okavango Delta in Botswana is a uniquely amazing African safari destination thanks to the unrivalled variety of wildlife there. Experience the serenity of the unspoiled Delta oasis with incredible views of natural beauty. See the migration of animals by their thousands: a recent account of the Okavango records “122 species of mammals, 71 species of fish, 444 species of fish, 64 species of reptiles and 1300 species of flowering plants,” according to Botswana tourism.

Costs: Week-long safaris in the Okavango Delta range from $3000-6000 per person. Most include airport pickup/drop-off from the nearby Maun Airport.

6. Sleep in a Tree House in Laos

Realize your craziest childhood treehouse dream in Laos! Located in Nam Kan National Park in the north of Laos, these treehouses are the highest in the world and are sure to make for a life-changing experience. Start your day in the treetops with the Gibbon Experience: a tourism-based conservation project in a dense Laotian forest and home to a remarkable population of gibbons. The closest major city is Luang Prabang, so you can fly into there or nearby Chiang Rai in Thailand and take a bus to northern Laos to experience the gibbons. Laos is a safe and easy country to travel to, and this beautiful landlocked country in Southeast Asia is not to be missed!

Costs: The Classic Gibbon Experience 3-day/2-night tour in Laos begins at 275 British pounds ($480 CAD) per person. All meals are included in the package. Check their website well ahead of time (at least a few months) to reserve your spot in a treehouse!

7. Wine Touring in the Okanagan Valley, Canada

glass of red wine in the okanagan valley wine county in British Columbia
Wine in the Okanagan Valley, BC: Photo by Kym Ellis on Unsplash

Wine not check out an attraction in Canada’s own backyard? There are many amazing travel opportunities right here at home. The entire Okanagan Valley in beautiful British Columbia is an incredible destination for wine tourism, especially in the spring, summer and fall seasons. The Okanagan Wine Festival happens four times a year: it includes more than 150 events: tours, seminars and food/wine pairing events. With lots of world-class wine right in our own backyard, why not hop on a cheap flight and head to the West Coast for a beautiful adventure?

Costs: Tickets to events at the Okanagan Wine Festival start at $59. There are a few hotels near the wineries where you can get a deal for less than $100 a night. You can also splurge on a stay at a beautiful lodge for a few hundred dollars a night.

8. Eat at a Michelin Star Restaurant in New York, USA

window view of momofuku restaurant in new york city at night
Momofuku’s in New York City: Photo by Simon Hua on Unsplash

Sometimes the best way to treat yourself is with a decadent meal you wouldn’t have every day! New York City is one of the best cities in the world for food, thanks to the huge variety of cuisine there. After a day of shopping, splurging on an extravagant meal in the Big Apple is bound to be an unforgettable experience, especially if you’re a foodie. See NYC’s Michelin Star guide to find your next bucket list restaurant. They have restaurants all over Manhattan as well as the neighbouring boroughs. Take your pick from the best Cambodian, Korean, Scandavianian, or Italian eats and beyond.

Costs: Restaurants on the Michelin list range from $25 per person to over $100. You can find many decent options on this list in the lower range all across the city. See our guide on free things to do in New York City to make the most of your trip to New York.

9. Go Ice Trekking in Argentina

group of trekkers in the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina
Group ice trekking in Perito Moreno, Argentina

Perito Moreno Glacier, part of the Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina is often a top bucket-list item on the Patagonia itinerary if you find yourself in South America. Located in the south of the Andes mountain range, the glacier is enormous at 250 square kilometres. And, a rarity today: the glacier is advancing, rather than shrinking. Trek along the crunchy abyss as you overlook the sheer scale of the glacier surrounded by pools of turquoise water. There are treks available for a variety of budgets and endurance levels. Check out Walk Patagonia!

Costs: Tours of the Perito Moreno Glacier start at $220 (this doesn’t include the national park entrance fee of $600 Argentinian pesos/$20 CAD). It includes an 8-hour trek and pickup/drop-off from your accommodation in nearby El Calafate. You can find guesthouses in El Calafate for around $20 a night.

10. Drive a Classic Car in Havana, Cuba

green classic American car parked on the streets of Havana, Cuba

Havana is antique car heaven, and luckily, they’re for rent! Spend an afternoon hitting hotspots around Cuba’s capital city with the top down in a bright-coloured convertible that’s over half a century old. Take a drive down Havana’s Malecon for some picturesque views of Cuban architecture on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other. Since the car rental companies are government controlled, prices should sit around $40 USD an hour and regulations don’t vary all that much. Continue your Cuban adventure by exploring the country’s many UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Costs: A lot of travellers stay in a casa particulares during their trip, which is a homestay with a private room and bathroom. Double rooms can be booked for about $30-40 CAD a night, and breakfast is usually an extra $5 CUC (6.5 CAD)

Are you inspired yet?! 😍 Book your next flight with Skyscanner! ⬇️