8 Bucket List Adventures


At the end of your life, what will you remember most? That trip you took or that {insert expensive material item} you just had to buy. Invest in life experiences, not things.

From Alaska to Africa, if you love to travel, challenge yourself and try new things – then keep reading!

Here are my bucket list adventure recommendations and ‘how-to’ planning tips. I’ve done all of them and loved each and every experience. I hope you will too!

8 Bucket List Adventures

1. Costa Rica: A 154 Miles Cross Country Adventure – Hike, Bike & Raft

Get away from high-end resorts (…and really, aren’t they are all the same) and truly see, feel and experience Costa Rica on this fun, 12-day eco-adventure. Traverse Costa Rica, from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts, 248 kilometers (154 miles), all by hiking, mountain biking, rafting, and kayaking.

You’ll see and stay in mountain villages, sugar plantations, forests, jungles, riverside villages and small beach towns. From quaint bungalows to rainforest tent camps, this is a rewarding adventure.

Read about my experience, ‘Traversing Costa Rica‘ in the article I wrote for National Geographic Adventure.


Go with Coast-to-Coast Adventures ($2,375). They handle all the logistics, guides, provide the bikes, rafts, kayaks and incredible food. All you have to do is show up, in shape, motivated and ready to go!

2. New Zealand: An Active South Island Adventure

There are many things to see and experience in New Zealand.  If you only have two weeks, go to the South Island!

Tramp the Southern Alps, in Mt. Cook National Park, along Franz Josef Glacier, climb to the summit of Avalanche Peak, backpack a couple of NZ’s famous hut-to-hut Great Walks (example: Milford Track and Kepler Track), kayak Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park and stroll along the beaches of the Tasman Sea.

Drink wonderful New Zealand wine, dine on lamb, venison pies and green mussels.


Plan the trip yourself, rent a campervan and reach out to EasyHike to help set up your Great Walk experiences. This is the most economic option and how we did it. You can read about our epic New Zealand adventure here.

Not into logistics, take a small group tour with Active Adventures. They offer 8-15 day New Zealand adventures with prices ranging from $4,000-$6,200.

3. Europe: Backpack the Tour du Mont Blanc – 105 Miles & 3 Countries

The Tour du Mont Blanc is a beautiful and challenging 170km (105 miles) trek around Mt. Blanc, 4,807 m (15,771 ft.), the tallest mountain in Western Europe. It takes the backpacker through three countries – Italy, Switzerland and France, up and down 11 passes and 19,000 meters (62,000 ft.) – the equivalent elevation gains and losses of climbing Mt. Everest. The traditional starting point is at Les Houches in Chamonix Valley, France. Most backpackers go anti-clockwise and take 11 days to complete it.


Depending on budget and resources, you can camp, stay in refuges/rifugios, bed & breakfasts, local hotels, sometimes called gites and dortoir.

Click on link to read my TMB trip report: Tour du Mont Blanc – 9 Days, 105 Miles & 3 Countries

Not into planning and logistics, go with a small group tour. Prices range from over $5,300 (REI Adventures, Boundless Journeys) to $1,700 (Gadventures).

Tip: Read the book, “Tour of Mont Blanc – Complete Two Way Trekking Guide,” by Kev Renolds. It will be your bible.  Along with maps and elevation charts, it breaks down the TMB in eleven stages, detailing the terrain, distance, estimated hiking time, route alternatives, sleep and food options.

4. Iceland: Hike, SCUBA, Horseback & the Blue Lagoon

Iceland is an arctic adventure for those who like to hike, dive, dip and ride.  Give yourself at least 10 days to truly see this country. If you go between September and April, you just might see the Northern Lights. This arctic country is sculpted by volcanoes, glaciers, geysers, mountains, lakes, thermal hot springs, black sand beaches and pastures. Some say, “If you can’t go to the moon, just go to Iceland.”

Hiking – To get a taste of the country, take 3-4 day and backpack the 48-mile, Laugavegurinn/ Fimmvörðuháls trek.  Hike over mountains, lava fields and waterfalls.  If the trail isn’t enough, climb one of Iceland’s many volcanoes, like the Hekla and Laki.

SCUBA – Experience the Silfra Fissure, the only place in the world, you can dive directly into the crack between two continental plates. Throw on a dry suit, BCD, tank and jump into Iceland’s Thingvellir Lake to reach out and touch both the North American and Eurasian continents.  If you get thirsty, just drink from the lake. Filtered through porous underground lava, the ice, blue waters are clean and taste great!

Horseback Riding – When you arrive in Reykjavik, connect with Islenski Henstruinn and ride an Icelandic horse. Traced back to the Vikings, these horses are smaller, more like the size of a pony and are known for their unique ‘tolt’ gait.

Blue Lagoon – The most famous geothermal hot spring is the Blue Lagoon, located in the Grindavik Lava Field on the Reykjanes Peninsula. The 37–39 °C (98–102 °F) waters are rich in skin healing minerals, including silica and sulphur.  You can drop in for the day or stay at the adjacent hotel and pamper yourself with one of their many spa treatments.


Fly into Reykjavik and rent a car. Hotels can help coordinate day adventures. Companies like Extreme Iceland are also great! Not into logistics? G Adventure’s has an active 8-day trekking adventure starting at $2,899.

5. Greece: Sail the Aegean Sea

“Happy is the man, who, before dying, has the good fortune to sail the Aegean Sea.” ~ Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek

Go to Athens, see the Parthenon and then head out on a true sea adventure. Skip the boring cruise and sail the Aegean Sea on a 60ft. Cutter sailboat or catamaran.

There are many beautiful islands including the famous Santorini and Mykonos. Explore some of the remote islands as well and immerse yourself in their archeological wonders and tiny villages. Go hiking, swimming, cliff diving and kayaking. Sleep each night in your own cabin or on deck, under the stars. Enjoy incredible music, learn about Greek culture, history and how to sail on an intimate sea adventure.


If you want a fun, flotilla sailing adventure, go with Poseidon Charters. They offer 7-14 day itineraries, starting at $2,000 and this includes onboard breakfast and lunch. Want to charter your own sailboat or catamaran? A Greek Seas package starts at $3,600 a week for two guests and $5,500 for six.

6. Southeast Asia: Cycle Indochina – Thailand, Cambodia & Vietnam

Stretch your legs and minds as you cycle across 3 countries with profound histories and cultures. From Bangkok, Thailand, through Cambodia, visiting one of the 7 Wonders of the World, Angkor Wat, into the Mekong Delta and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).

Ancient temples, rice paddies, riverside villages and cities. If daring, try some local delicacies including barbecued tarantula and rat. Seriously, grilled rat does taste like chicken!

If you love history, trying new things and want to feel a sense of accomplishment by cycling across 3 countries, take this trip!


Go with a reputable small, group adventure tour. They take care of all the logistics, bikes and provide fun, local knowledgeable guides. Exodus Travel offers a 14-day trip for $2,365. Intrepid Travel offers a 13-day trip for $2,494.

7. Alaska: Dogsledding, Hot Springs & the Northern Lights

Iditarod & Northern Lights

Take this 10-day action packed tour to experience Alaska in winter. Start in Anchorage and attend the mushers banquet and start of the famous 1,049-mile Iditarod Sled Dog Race. Afterwards, off to Talkeetna, the famous backpacker’s hub before Denali. Learn how to dog sled at former Yukon Quest champ and Iditarod musher, Vern Halter’s Dream a Dream Premier Iditarod Kennel and go snowmobiling in Trapper Creek. Journey to Fairbanks to attend the world ice-sculpting contest and then up to Chena to take a dip in the famous Chena Hot Springs, tour the ice hotel and see the Aurora Borealis /Northern Lights.


Go with Planet Earth Adventures LLC.  Owner and guide, Albert Marquez is the best! The Iditarod package starts at $3,995.

8. Tanzania: Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro & Safari

Push your physical limits and climb the highest mountain in Africa, 19,340 ft. Mt. Kilimanjaro. It is one of the world’s coveted 7-Summits and the ‘easiest’ to scale if you are in shape and have the determination.

Afterwards, enjoy a safari in the Serengeti and get close and personal with the Big Five (Elephants, Lions, Rhinoceros, Leopard and Cape Buffalo).

Tip: When traveling to another country, it is always helpful to know the basics of the local language. In Tanzania, it is Swahili.

Watch the Lion King movie before you go! You’ll be surprised at how much Swahili, is infused into the movie.  For example: the main character, ‘Simba’, literally means ‘lion,’ and his buddy, ‘Rafiki’, actually means ‘friend’.


The average success rate of summiting is Mt. Kilimanjaro is 68%. Your odds increase if you choose the right tour operator and route.

RMI Expeditions offers a 15 day climb and safari package for $6,800. Alpine Ascents offers a similar combo trip with a couple different route options and a climb only package.

If you just want to climb, have a few more route options and save a little money, Intrepid Travel offers 5-7 day packages for around $3,000.

Life is short. Don’t wait!