Road trip? Been there. Caribbean cruise? Done that. Simply jetting off for the weekend? Yawn. Ditch that everyday vacation and, instead, embark on a truly wild adventure. We’ve uncovered 10 kinds of wacky, totally unique ways to see the world, from horse caravans through Ireland to rocket-ship rides through space—perfect for giving your travel bug a bit of pick-me-up.
Perfect For: The traveler whose idea of minimalism is less modern art and more bunk-beds-and-cargo-holds.
Who Can Take You: Australia-based Freighter Expeditions or U.S-based Maris.
We were inspired by this hilarious New Yorker article by Patricia Marx, who embarked on a three-week-long freighter cruise as it “galumph[ed] across the sea” from the U.S. to Hamburg, Germany. If galumphing sounds right up your shipping lane, then take heed. Freighter cruises offer little in the way of luxury—most cargo ships were never intended to take on passengers—but they do offer the opportunity to see unique ports of call on unusually long journeys (some as many as 130 days at sea). Ships don’t often come equipped with Internet and may only have one satellite phone (meaning sushi buffets and lido decks are but distant dreams). However, you’ll have plenty of time for uninterrupted R&R while aboard a working cargo ship, and since the passenger lists average four to 12, seeing another soul is rare. Next
Perfect For: Equine enthusiasts who don’t mind when their ride needs to stop to graze in a field.
Who Can Take You: Clissmann Horse Caravans.
Driving on beautiful Emerald Isle roads not doing it for you? It’s not you; it’s your method of transportation. Ditch the car and hitch a horse instead. Learn how to harness, yoke, and drive a horse before setting off for the Irish countryside with Wicklow-based travel outfitter Clissmann. The four-berth carriages come complete with cooking and sleeping spaces, although travelers will have to use the toilet facilities at various pubs and inns along the way. By day, explore long, sandy beaches and peaceful countryside festooned with wildflowers and butter-yellow gorse. At night, roll out your sleeping bag and nap in the comfort of your covered carriage. The days are open-ended, so the itinerary is entirely up to you (and your horse, of course). Next
Perfect For: Anyone who thinks trains are too punctual and seats largely unnecessary.
Who Can Take You: Norries are unscheduled and unregulated by the Cambodian government, so the only way to take one is to show up with a few bucks and hop on.
This quasi-train, colloquially called a “norry,” is more or less a bamboo platform on two rusty axles, operated by a gasping secondhand engine (most often from a motorbike or discarded farm equipment). The norry, blissfully free of safety rails or seating, will hurtle you through the Cambodian countryside at a brisk 30-mph clip. While fewer norry routes are in operation since the national train system was restored in 2013, according to Slate, you can still hop on the rails between Battambang and a series of small countryside villages. Likely your companions will include a dog, some chickens, and commuting locals—truly an immersive cultural experience with a side of risk. Next
Vintage Airstream Trailer
Perfect For: Anyone with a vintage-y Pinterest board, an ironic monocle, or both.
Who Can Take You : Living Airstream and its collection of ‘60s models (as well as a few contemporary versions).
The sausage-shaped, silver-sided Airstream trailer is about as American as apple pie—but significantly more travel-friendly. Although they had their heyday in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Airstreams have seen an uptick in popularity thanks to vintage-crazy hipsters seeking to recapture old-timey American spirit. A few Airstream hotels have popped up around the country, but if you want to take yours on the road, Living Airstream and a few other outfitters can hitch you up. Vintage trailers start at $175 per day or $900 per week, making the sleek little vessels rather economical ways to see the states. The cozy, refurbished interiors offer sleeping space and mini kitchens, perfect for a national-park vacation (and a million Instagram photos Next
Perfect For : Budding nomads who don’t mind hours of biblical desert treks.
Outside of bustling Marrakech, Morocco’s countryside is wild and remote, its deserts, cliffs, and sugar-fine beaches perfect for adventurous vacationers. What better way to explore the romantic barrens and flats than by camel? A combination of trekking on foot and riding your camel through a landscape dotted with argon trees and grazing goats eventually leads you to seaside towns and the UNESCO World Heritage city of Essaouira. Astride or alongside your camel pal, you’ll pass through Berber villages and over desert dunes, walking for up to five hours per day. Hot afternoons are cooled by sea breezes and stops for swimming, while nights are spent camping beneath clear, starry skies. Next
Perfect For: Fans of really, really roughing it (and learning about a mostly undiscovered culture).
Who Can Take You: Torngat Mountains Base Camp and Research Station.
You’ve likely never experienced the Great White North this way before. Catch a chartered flight from Happy Valley-Goose Bay in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador to Base Camp, populated by international researchers and Inuit guides from Nunatsiavut and Nunavik. At camp, nestled within the untouched, iceberg-choked expanses of Torngat Mountains National Park, you’ll check in to your insulated Design Shelter (if you’re going luxury) or your nylon-sided tent (if you’re going wild). Then hike the fjords, spot harp seals and minke whales, fly in a helicopter over remote spreads of tundra, or take an Inuit-guided long-liner boat to the remnants of ancient food caches and caribou-hunting blinds. Communal meals and bonfires hosted by your guides cap off long, exhausting days on the majestic, stormy land. Next
Desert Island Drop-Off
Perfect For: Anyone who thought Lost looked like a bucket of fun.
Who Can Take You: Docastaway, the first travel company to specialize in desert-island travel.
Experience all the joys of a shipwreck without the terror of, well, wrecking a ship. Docastaway will set you up in true secluded style on an isolated island in the Philippines or Indonesia, from just €64 (about $88) per day. The outfitter offers two main types of travel: “Adventure Mode,” for true survivalists ready to take on the wildest, remotest islands, and “Comfort Mode,” for those seeking roofs, bathrooms, and perhaps a smidge of luxury on their getaways. (Explorers can take survival classes before being deposited on their desert isle via helicopter.) Differing “isolation levels” means you can be completely, totally alone on your exclusive island, surrounded by jungles, beaches, and lush coral reefs, free to explore some of the world’s last lost paradises at your leisure. Next
Perfect For : Type B travelers. Very type B travelers.
Who Can Take You: The Oprah-OK’d Magical Mystery Tours.
Do you love travel but loathe planning? Do you think surprise parties are fun, not freaky? Travel-by-surprise may be just the ticket—although you won’t know what your ticket is for. Magical Mystery Tours offers a kind of one-stop vacation shop for those who don’t mind being in the dark about their getaways. First, fill out a comprehensive questionnaire about your budget, preferences, and past travel experiences. In return for the $300 research fee and the cost of transportation and lodging (plus tax), you’ll receive a sealed folder with all your trip details. Once you arrive at your travel hub (most likely a train station, an airport, or a bus terminal, depending on your budget and timeframe), you’ll be free to open your folder and find out where you’re off to, whether it’s Hong Kong, Honolulu, or the Hamptons. Next
Perfect For: Dog lovers who don’t mind being left out in the cold.
Who Can Take You: EarthSong Lodge in Alaska, Mammoth Dog Teams in California, or Nature’s Kennel in Michigan.
Dogsledding has been a travel method for more than a millennium, and mushing along the vast and icy landscapes of the northern U.S. is a uniquely wild experience. A number of outfitters can set you up on multiday trips, complete with cute canines, all the necessary equipment, and lessons in driving your own dogsled. This method of travel is largely limited to cold, snowy areas, so budding mushers will need to be hearty fans of bitter weather (or The North Face coats). But travel-by-dog doesn’t mean roughing it. During a trek through Denali National Park with EarthSong Lodge, you can choose from a combination of cabins or heated tents for nighttime lodging; on an upgraded trip with Nature’s Kennel, you can sample local beer and sizzling bratwursts after a long day on the ice. Next
Perfect For: Budding astronauts; chronic one-uppers.
Who Can Take You : Who else but Richard Branson, via his Virgin Galactic venture?
What was once but a starry gleam in Richard Branson’s eye now seems to be within the realm of possibility, with Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo having made its third supersonic test flight earlier this year. Now that rocket-based travel has inched that much closer to reality, booking your suborbital spacefare means joining one of the world’s most exclusive clubs (the short list of celebs who have signed up reportedly includes Ashton Kutcher, Stephen Hawking, and Justin Bieber). All seats aboard the spacecraft are $250,000 and include three days of preflight prep. Once inside the rocket ship, budding astronauts will take off at 2,500 miles per hour, breaking through the edges of the atmosphere before floating, gravity-free, in space. The entire voyage will be just two and a half hours, but we’re sure the bragging will last for a lifetime. Back to the beginning
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