Travel is the best education but also the best way to make memories for a lifetime. Exploring the world will make you a better and happier person. Experiences that are way out of your comfort zone will make you feel alive. This is a list of the 30 most amazing things I only experienced because I traveled around the world. Go out live your dreams, don't dream your life or at least start realising that everyone can travel and gather experiences, it is the simple question of how much you are willing to sacrifice to realise your dreams.
1. Hot air balloon ride
Dreaming of a hot air balloon ride I always pictured myself in either Kenia watching wildlife or one of the many balloon that go up every morning in Cappadocia, Turkey. The last one I already ticked off my bucketlist. I still say that I was really unlucky with the weather as it was grey af and the pictures didn’t come out like I always saw on Instagram, but yeah I did it and it was an incredible ride.
2. Learning languages
Depending on the country you are from you probably speak more than one language, but for most people from English speaking countries this is not standard. In Holland I have been taught three foreign languages at school for 6 years: English, German and French. Yes I speak four languages nowadays plus my dialect, but no French. A language can only be learned by doing and while abroad I took Spanish classes in Guatemala and Colombia. A great investment in myself and the only way to get in touch with locals in Latin America. There is no way I will ever learn Vietnamese but I so would have loved to talk to these sweet little kids.
3. Volcano boarding
Climbing a volcano is already a pretty cool experience, but sitting on a boarding sliding down is even a bigger adrenaline rush. In Guatemala and Costa Rica I climbed an active volcano but in Nicaragua I actually brought up a piece of wood to sit on. Dressed up in an orange suit sitting on a board I was pushed down the super steep volcano slope. A Frenchman once broke to world speed record on a bike here but ended up in the hospital for a couple weeks. I only had some scratches on my elbow and ankle. It was a wicked experience.
4. Ride a motorbike
I never really drove a motorbike back in Holland. I never had one and there was no need to as of course we do everything by bike in Holland! J Renting motorbikes is something completely normal especially in South East Asia. Officially I think you need a license, but no one ever asks for one. It is the ultimate way to travel is very convenient and gives you an incredible feeling of being free. But be careful with renting a motorbike, there are many scams. Another pitfall is that it is prone to accidents. Read here some tips about renting a scooter in Bali.
A very popular thing to do in Australia is to join a surf camp and so did I. It was an amazing week, but I did not really learn to surf. I would love to be a surf dude, but the only thing I was good in was to look cool on the beach with my huge surfboard in my hand. It takes an awful lot of time to learn how to surf, but it’s a fun way to get there. Being an avid snowboarder I rather ride on snow than on waves. I tried to enhance my surf skills in Peru, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Brazil but I am still a rookie. I am better in a kayak!
I lived 10minutes from the biggest indoor ski track in Europe, but that does not count. I only really learned how to snowboard during my numerous trips to the Alps with my friends and family. Chasing down a mountain in the cold fresh air feeling the adrenaline rush while still enjoying the incredible views is magical. Click here to read about my 3 months snowboarding trip in Austria?
7. See big Buddha’s
We have all seen some Buddha’s but somehow I feel that in Asia they make it a sport having the biggest Buddha. There is always a biggest one in ever category: sitting, laying, gold, silver, stone, white, but by far the biggest one I have ever seen and probably on earth is the one in Leshuan, China. Oh and I actually attended a lecture of the Dalai Lama in his Residence in McLeod-Gansj.
8. Scuba diving
My first steps in breathing underwater I took in Aruba. I don’t really remember my exact first dive to be honest, but I knew straight away I found a new passion. Diving in the Caribbean was fantastic and I was fortunate to keep practicing this hobby everywhere around the world. Diving in the Blue Hole in Belize was probably the most memorable dive, although not being able to breath due to a malfunction on 30m deep in the Philippines will stay with me as well. ;) A couple years ago I decided that it was time to ‘go pro’ and I started my PADI divemaster training in Koh Tao, Thailand. Furthermore I have been diving in countries like: Australia, Bermuda, Bonaire, Colombia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Panama. Diving in Thailand? Read which island is best for diving in my ultimate guide for island hopping Thailand.
If you would have asked me years ago to go on a hiking trip I would have laughed and say: ‘nah too boring’. My travels made me appreciate it. Hiking is about exploring and therefore something I associate with my travels. Everywhere I go I like to explore and go to see places off the beaten path. Yes I am happy at the beach, but the mountains make me smile! Ask me about one of my best travel experiences and I would probably come up with my 15-day hiking trip in the Annapurna region in Nepal.
10. Rice picking
Although I grew up in the countryside I have never done any farm work or whatsoever, but travelling in Asia and eating rice mostly every day you once have to help the locals to see how hard work it is. I have been visiting amazing rice terraces in China, Philippines, and Indonesia. But it was in Sapa, Vietnam where while staying at a homestay in the middle of the rice fields I was taught how to harvest rice.
11. Stay at world’s most luxurious hotels
Obviously there is a direct link between travelling and hotel stays. Because I travelled a lot, my blog and my social media became a success, which made me stay in extraordinary places around the world. Read more about this in ‘Life Of A Travel Blogger’ or check out some of the hotels & resorts I stayed in.
12. Appreciate drinking red wine
Drinking alcohol is not really an experience, though drinking and learning to appreciate red wine still is for a lot of youngsters. When we are young we think drinking red wine is for old people, right? During my travels in wine countries like Chile, Argentina, Italy and New Zealand I did a lot of wine tasting and really started to like drinking a glass of red wine. The same thing counts for champagne.
13. Take animal selfies
It is no wonder that most of my animal selfies are taken in India. There was a day in Pushkar that I counted and saw over 30 different animal species in one day and did not go to the zoo. I have to admit it was including spiders and birds. ;)
14. Hanging out of riding trains
In 2008 I tried to ride on top of a train in Cambodia as it at that time was still possible, but somehow at the last moment the train got cancelled and we had to come down from the roof. For the ultimate train ride experience nowadays you have to go to Sri Lanka and take a local train. There is often no other option than hanging out of the door and trust me you will totally love it. Only recently I lost my phone out of riding train in Sri Lanka; miraculously after 6 hours I got it back. So be careful taking your shots! :)
15. Driving on the left side of the road
The first time I got in touch with this phenomenon was in New Zealand. Although I grew up only 3 hours from London by train, I made it to New Zealand first. I rented a campervan and the real adventure started: roundabouts, switching gears with your left hand, using your phone with your left hand and turning on the windshield wiper when you want to use your indicators. Don’t worry about it, mostly everyone survives and so did I. Just in New Zealand and Australia I already drove more than 7.000km on the wrong side of the road.
16. Taking flower baths
This one sounds pretty weird, but nowadays I go to the Spa generally speaking twice a week. Mostly Spa facilities are included in my hotel stays and as they all do there utmost best to pamper me I sometimes end up in a flower bath! LOL. Click here to see more about my stay in luxury resorts in Bali.
17. Visiting a mosque
If I wouldn’t have been abroad I would most probably never have visited a mosque. I think most us have never visited one in our own country. Somehow when we are on the road we are more open to different cultures and more interested in their believes and values. With visiting a mosque I don’t mean taking a picture at the Taj Mahal, but entering the very conservative Fatima Masumeh Shrine in Qom, Iran. Seeing Muslims pray at this strict religious complex was an experience for lifetime! All my adventures in Iran can be found here!
18. Summit a mountain
Definitely this is one of the coolest and memorable things I have ever done in my life. It is also the toughest and most mind-fucking thing I ever did. The altitude messed up my brain and most of all gave me a hard time breathing. But I was super determined to reach the summit and so did I. Together with one of my best mates I summited Huayna Potosi (6.088m/20.000ft) in Bolivia.
19. Ice climbing
Something I really enjoyed doing was the training for the actual expedition to summit the mountain in Bolivia. The day before we went ice climbing, so literally walking up to an ice wall armed with an axe and crampons.
20. Meeting people from every country in the world
For me still one of the best things about travelling around the world is meeting people. Sitting behind your desk there is a chance you might meet someone during your lunch break. While travelling you constantly meet people. Waiting for busses, ordering your food in a local restaurant, at the beach, at tourist spots or on airports. It is more likely to connect with another traveller in a local neighbourhood somewhere in a foreign country then back home, where we are all the same. Interested where in the world I have been? See which country I have been most to? Read my blog: My Most Visited Countries.
21. See world wonders
Everyone has heard of the 7 Wonders of the World but did you know that in fact there are 8 Wonders on that list? The Pyramids of Giza have some kind of wildcard. I have been to a World Wonder 8 times, but that includes 2 times to the Taj Mahal, 2 times to Macchu Pichu and 2 times to the Christ Redeemer. Furthermore I have been to Chitzen Itza in Mexico and the Chinese Wall. Left for me on the list are Petra, the Pyramids of Giza and the Colosseum.
22. Learn how to cook
Yeah I am not a great chef and will probably never be. I just don’t have the patience and I know about 100 more amazing things to do. Though I did my best in several cooking classes in Asia, I learned how to make dumplings in China, tried to make Vietnamese spring rolls and of course participated in a cooking class in Thailand. I am better in taking pictures with food in it. After some amazing breakfast shots? Hop on to my blog: '12 Reasons To Visit Bali'!
If you are looking to do something extraordinary and want to get away from the world then I recommend you to try a sailing trip. I sailed from Colombia to Panama and learned some very basic sailing skills, most of the time we were just chilling on the deck with a beer staring at the endless horizon. For 3 days there was no land in sight, but all I remember is the fantastic feeling being out on the ocean, no clue what is going on in the world. No phone reception, just you, the boat and the ocean: the ultimate feeling of a stress-free life! Lately I made the trip of a lifetime: sailing in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. One of the most amazing trips I have ever taken! Read about it in 'My Trip To Raja Ampat'.
24. Dancing salsa in Latin America
Dancing skills are not a Northern hemisphere specialty and neither am I gifted with fantastic moves. Though travelling in Latin America you kind of have to learn how to dance a little. Believe me I tried to take some Salsa classes in the Salsa Mecca Cali, Colombia but I am better when it comes to EDM or Techno! LOL This picture is from the famous Uyuni Salt Flats tours in Bolivia.
25. Learn how to take photos
Looking back at the pictures I took years ago when I started travelling I cant believe that some of my pictures are shared by Lonelyplanet, BBC and Travel Channel. Everything related to photography for me is learned by doing! My photography skills made me grow my Instagram over 100K. Read more about it in: 'How to get Popular On Instagram'.
26. Doing laundry
Yes I never really did my own laundry before I started travelling I admit, so the first couple times it was like trail and error. There is nothing easier than washing machines with coins. You just throw in your clothes than your coins and that is it. Don’t mix up bleach with detergent! Yes it happened to me in Argentina! This picture is from the bohemian neighbourhood Fener Balat, an off the beaten path destination in Istanbul.
27. Attending a FIFA World Cup
One of the biggest events in the world is the FIFA World Cup football tournament. It was my 3th time visiting Brazil but during the World Cup 2014 this country stole my heart. If there is one country were people know how to make the most out of a day then it is Brazil. I learned that enjoying the moment is one of the most precious things and what’s tomorrow that is non of your concern now. Happiness is key! Of course it was also the Dutch team that made this event one to remember as we reached until the semi finals.
28. Jumping off things
Another popular thing to do while travelling is to jump off things. Whether it is from a building, boat, bridge, cliff or a plane it is all about the adrenaline rush. I tried bungee jumping a couple times, did the canyon swing in New Zealand and jumped from the Auckland tower, but I have also been in Macao twice where the highest bungee jump in the world is located, but both times I had not the guts to sign up. It is not cheap either! If someone sponsors me I will do it! ;) Although bungee jumping is great, the ultimate kick is to skydive. So far that was still the most amazing adrenaline rush ever!
29. Volunteer work
I would have never been in touch with volunteering if I wouldn’t have made my way to Central America. First I helped teaching English a couple times in a primary school in Nicaragua. Later I signed up to volunteer for almost a month at a conservation project with sea turtles. Yes I am still super excited when I think back about my time there. I was able to see thousands of tiny little babies hatch and of course I saw the big creatures laying their eggs in the middle of the night.
30. Chasing waterfalls
Waterfalls make people genuinely happy! There is even a scientific reason for as by dropping water from a higher distance into water negative ions are release and they tend to have a positive influence on people! It definitely makes me smile! I have visited numerous waterfalls around the world but have never been to Niagara Falls and Victoria Falls so they are high on my list. But so far there is nothing that can beat Iguazu Falls on the Argentinian/Brazilian border. I have entered Iguazu National Park 5 times but I would go a sixth time tomorrow! This one in Lombok, Indonesia was not that bad either! More about chasing waterfalls in Bali? Go to 14 Places To See In Ubud.
30.5 Trying drugs
No this one not! If you want to try drugs I would advice you to come to Holland. Get your drugs legally tested before you take it. I have never (hardly ever ;)) tried drugs abroad. Mostly it is strictly illegal and punishment can be severe or expensive. South East Asia and South America are popular places for travellers to try drugs simply because its cheap, but there are many scams around too. Always think twice when you are taking drugs in a foreign country! It is not for nothing that people say: 'safe travels'!
Your best experiences because you traveled
In total I have now been travelling for more than 5 years around the world and more than 4 consecutive years now as I left Holland in December 2012. Read 'How I Afford To Travel' to inspire you to stay on the road longer. I wrote a couple blogs to inspire you to travel the world
There are probably a ton of experiences I did not list here, but would have been worth it mentioning, but tell me which one were your favorite experiences while traveling? I am curious and I might have to add some to my bucketlist!
For more inspiring pictures check out m social media channels! On Instagram: @traveltomtom and @tomtomtravel, Twitter: @traveltomtom, my Facebook Page for Live videos: Traveltomtom or follow my daily travellife on Snapchat: traveltomtom.
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A couple more photos to fuel your wanderlust!