When I asked my friends to share their fave, life-changing adventures for under $70 with me on Facebook, I couldn’t shut them up! Seriously, the lists went on and on… so much so this post could have never ended.
So I decided to curate the best of the best of #travelgoals for 2017 that you (and I…) absolutely need to start ticking off. They’re poetic, varied, exhilarating, audacious, and will create memories you’ll treasure forever! Welcome to our crowd-sourced 10 Life-changing Global Adventures For Under $75!
1. Day excursion to Ausengate Rainbow Mountain Cusco, Peru – $35
Even I had to check that the images of the Ausengate Rainbow Mountain Cusco in Peru on Google and Pinterest were real. I felt like I was stepping into a hoax. But no, they’re as real as you and I, and you can visit them to admire their natural beauty with your own eyes, and no doubt kill it with you Snap-Insta-Facebook stories and what not. This review posted a few days ago on Trip Advisor by Perth gal Cinnaberry nails it and gives you all the #travelhacks you need, plus an overview of what to expect on the “long” day. She shares how you can grab the cheapest trip ever – hers being just NZD $35. Bargain! And she also gives great advice on how you need to be prepared and take warm, cold and wet weather gear, sunscreen, BYO snacks, and to acclimatise to the high altitude (around 6,384 metres) by staying in Cusco for a few days before you attempt this “tough” trek. Sounds like the intrepid traveller’s dream!
2. Snorkelling in the Bahamas – free
According to my most well-travelled friend, “The Bahamas and snorkelling are two things that must happen”. And this site gives you all the dets to get you inspired enough to book that amazing getaway. She says that if you’re cost saving (leaving more money for cocktails…), then you’re best to spend your money on a decent quality snorkelling kit that you can carry around and use it on multiple islands just exploring right off the shore, than on expensive guided tours. As well as being more hygienic, you can be more confident in knowing your own gear. The best thing about snorkelling is that it’s easy. Yes, you can catch a boat out to a reef, but pretty much, you’re in control.
As for what’s so special about snorkelling in the many stunning islands of the Bahamas, as well as being easy, the water is warm and clear and not affected by rolling tides and currents. And once you’ve done your dash for the day, you’re in the Bahamas watching the sun go town. Paradise!
3. Walking the Pompeii Ruins – $21.60
This is one of my personal life highlights, visiting the ruins of Pompeii. Living in our volcanic country, Aotearoa, I’m guessing you’re as well-read about Pompeii as anywhere, and if not, the Wiki site here is worth a read. In a nutshell, in 79 AD, Pompeii’s neighbouring Mount Vesuvius erupted destroying everything in its wake in a matter of hours. This animation is as mind-blowing as it is voyeuristically horrific:
A simple summer’s day ended in tragedy when at 1pm Mt Vesuvius started volcanic activity spitting out ash and rocks across Pompeii. By 3pm, disaster was imminent. And by 5pm Pompeii was engulfed in flames and toxic smoke.
Roll onto today, and much of Pompeii still stands, apart from the roofs. you can walk along ancient cobbled streets, step into former bars, admire the frescos in private atriums of the wealthy, and even walk through what would have been people’s bedrooms. It’s creepy, alluring and fascinating. It’s very much a real experience imagining what it would have been like all those years ago. My hot tip is get the audio tour, make a day of it and absorb this dramatic piece of history. Tickets here start at just NZD $21.60.
4. Day-tripping at US National Parks Zion National Park and Joshua Tree National Park – from USD $10
– Zion National Park –
Again, according to my very well-travelled friend, Zion National Park in Utah is a must! It’s a nature reserve spanning 593.3 km² which is slightly bigger than half the size of all of Auckland. Its history alone will blow your mind, with humans inhabiting the canyon more than 12,000 years ago where they chased giant mammoths, sloths and camels, long since hunted to extinction in the area. At Zion Canyon you can trek on the many trails, climbing, camping and sightseeing, plus it offers a free shuttle service. It’s cheap as chips too, with private vehicle access tickets costing just NZD $42.61 for 7 days, or just NZD $21.30 per person per day for a very action-packed day!
A highlight, my friend told me, is the infamous Angels Landing Trail which she assured me “is life changing”. It’s one of the most famous and thrilling hikes of the entire US national park offerings – and yes, some people have died due to falls from Angels Landing in the 100 years since the park was established… so it’s a thrill-seeker ride with its “dizzying drop-offs on both sides”, with my gal adding: “I thought I was going to die as I held a chain and climbed around”. Yikes. But as well as that adrenalin rush, you’ll get views that you could never have ever in your lifetime imagined. Joe Braun’s guide and images for Zion National Park is the ultimate guide. Read it here.
– Joshua Tree National Park –
If you’re after something more moderate but equally as “Wow!” and fascinating, my pick in the US is the Joshua Tree National Park desert. It took my breath away at every turn with its ancient rock formations and the infamous Joshua trees dotted everywhere. It’s a desert park in which two vastly different eco systems meet, the Mojave and the Colorado, adding diversity to the flora, fauna and landscape. Joshua Tree National Park had me utterly speechless (not my modus operandi!) with my group of friends all naturally separating to experience our moments there. Its spiritual essence is everywhere, and it’s simply magical. Not surprising with its ancient history reaching back an estimated 5,000 years and beyond, inhabited by humans and animals alike.
And this park is huge at 3,196 km², three times the size of Auckland. If you’re game enough to hire camping gear (or an RV) you can camp overnight at Black Rock at one of the 99 available camp sites, from June until September, for just NZD $28.41 per night, and are advised to book 6 months in advance. Summer temperatures range from 38°C during the day cooling to a balmy 24°C at night. So an RV with air con might just be your best friend!
5. Water Taxi Down the Danube from Budapest to Szentendre – $34.80
The new-ish DunaTaxis operating in Budapest’s Danube River look about as fun as they are affordable. For a mere $34.80 you can join 11 others in this 12-seater, enclosed, high speed taxi that takes you along the stunning and historically significant Danube River at speeds of up to 70 km/ph, from the majestic city of Budapest to the picturesque town of Szentendre.
Round-trip tickets cost NZD $34.80, while one-way tickets cost $24.86, plus you can hire bikes and take them on board for a gorgeous cycle around Szentendre and soak in the history.
Other must-do highlights include…
6. Alcatraz Night Tour, San Francisco
For NZD $70 it’s worth the extra $10 to do the Alcatraz tour in the dark for the spookiness factor. Grab tickets here.
7. Zip lining at Grouse Mountain, Vancouver – 3-line tour $74
For just NZD $74 you can get an epic adrenalin rush high above the treetops of Grouse Mountain in Canada. Get the details here.
8. Drift Ice Walking in northern Hokkaido in dry suits – around $65 for a few hours
This looks so crazy cool, and takes you to the amazing winter festivals in Hokkaido, Japan. Discover tour options here.
9. Walking up the Eiffel Tower in Paris – $26.23
As well as being fun for fitness, and a lifetime must-do, climbing the Eiffel Tower is just a good idea when in Paris. Plus, you get to build up an appetite for all that divine Parisian cuisine. View visiting rates here.
10. Hiking to see the sunrise or sunset at Mount Sinai (without a guide) – cost varies
After a scan of the blogs about this majestic mountain, it seems that sunrise at Mount Sinai is the better option over the sunset because it’s a lot more crowded in the evening, but both are exquisite and life-changing experiences. Plus, getting there for sunrise stops walking in the heat of the day. Prices vary for this 2.5 – 5 hour, 2,285m “strenuous” trek, so do your research and pick the budget for you. Read here for more info.
Why I am hyped up on #travelgoals
At the end of last year I was invited to try the new Flight Centre MasterCard, which I happily did because it got me excited about my 2017 travel possibilities. The gist of this MasterCard, which makes it different from the rest, is that it is wholly focussed on you achieving your #travelgoals. So, for every dollar spent you earn Flight Centre Rewards, which are redeemable on services offered by Flight Centre, with 1 reward point earned for every $100 spent. This can then be used on flights, accommodation, tours, car hires and more when used in store.
So when you want to grab that last minute getaway, and know you have the income to support it, it’s all now possible.