As tourists flock to the world’s most unlikely destinations in increasing numbers, inventive tour operators are coming up with a range of unusual ways to travel. So if you think you’ve done it all, think again.
These personalised trips are about collecting experiences rather than things, and encourage travellers to truly appreciate the locations they visit. Imagination is the biggest factor, but price is a big one, too, so we’ve suggested some more affordable options as well.
#1 Immerse Yourself
Billed as a “narrative weekend adventure for two”, The Headlands Gamble is for those who believe it’s about the journey, not the destination.
Yes, it’s a weekend trip through the quaint towns of sleepy Marin County, just north of San Francisco, but it’s also a two-day immersive theatre performance. Professional actors and behind-the-scenes producers create a mystery narrative around a missing racehorse and, as the story unfolds, it becomes an excuse to explore the countryside and discover small bars and restaurants on the way.
Budget Alternative: Next time you’re in New York, book tickets to Sleep No More, an immersive theatre performance of Shakespeare’s Macbeth that takes place over six stories in a fictional hotel in Chelsea.
#2 Naming Rights
Many of the world’s most famous mountains were successfully summited eons ago. But in isolated parts of the Himalayas and Greenland, there are literally hundreds of peaks that have never been climbed. That’s because even making it to base camp requires serious travel over rugged terrain.
Convention holds that the first team to “claim” an unnamed mountain can submit a request to name it, and if you dream of going where nobody has gone before, there are a few intrepid groups seeking out these first ascents. Adventure travel specialists Secret Compass led an expedition that subsequently named a Mongolian mountain in 2016.
Budget Alternative: Many of Lord Howe Island’s reefs are still unnamed, and the local Pinetrees Hotel offers the chance to explore them with a scuba diving package.
#3 Destination Unknown
Need a holiday but don’t have the time or energy to plan it? Or are you craving an escape that’ll take you somewhere entirely unexpected? Surprise Trips covers both options: you choose how much or how little input you have into the destination and, after discussing preferences like climate, language and price point, staff will book the trip for you.
When you arrive, you can forget the guidebooks and smartphone and immerse yourself in your holiday destination. And, if you need a little inspiration, a sealed enveloped with recommendations for places to eat and explore will be waiting for you when you arrive.
Budget Alternative: Take turns planning surprise weekends away with your friends. Planning for a group doesn’t take much more effort than planning for one, and when it’s their turn, you can sit back and enjoy the ride.
#4 Home Is Wherever You Want It To Be
A high-end concierge service with a difference, Blink offers accommodation with a catch: there’s no hotel. Instead, they’ll set up luxury pop-up accommodation like eco-bubbles or yurts anywhere in the world.
If you can afford the asking price, you can get five-star service in the deserts of Oman, on the banks of the Mekong, or atop an Icelandic glacier. And once you’re gone, they’ll pack it down immediately, leaving no trace that you were ever there.
Budget Alternative: Throw a pack on your back and hit the trail with the original pop-up accommodation: a tent.
#5 Race To The Bottom
More people have flown in space than have seen the Titanic since it sank in 1912. Part of the reason that club is so exclusive is that getting to the bottom of the sea is both challenging and expensive.
When the Titanic set sail on it’s one and only voyage, a ticket cost USD$4350. Adjusted for inflation, that comes about to about USD$100,000, which is what it will cost you to get down there these days.
For a fat wad of cash, passengers can be part of an eight-day expedition and have chance to travel almost 4km beneath the ocean’s surface in a steel and carbon-fibre submersible to see the world’s most-famous shipwreck and the debris that surrounds it.
(Lead image: Nathan Shipps)
After spending years as a music journalist and beer-taster, Alexis Buxton-Collins now travels the world searching for new adventures to write about, from navigating the Alps with Austria's last nomadic shepherd to hiking through the Central American rainforest in search of ancient Mayan pyramids.