Contiki is a travel agency offering trips around the world for young people. As part of their philosophy, they believe in living with #NoRegrets. To support their philosophy, they commissioned a survey of 5000 people aged 18-25 to find out about their travel habits and what they consider to be must-do holiday experiences. Of the people questioned, 56% of them said that their main motivation to travel was to learn about other cultures and this is certainly reflected in the diverse list of the travel experiences that young people covet most. Let’s take a look!
Swim in the Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Just an hour’s bus ride away from Reykjavik lies Iceland’s premier tourist attraction, the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. You have to pre-book as only a certain amount of people are allowed in the water at a time and it costs 40 Euros for a basic ticket. In the basic package, you will get access to the spa and a mud face mask. You can enjoy a drink in the swim up bar as you relax and let the water do its work on tired, sore muscles and dry, stressed-out skin. For ultimate relaxation, head to the waterfall or opt for an in-water massage.
Visit the Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt
The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest and largest pyramid in Egypt, and one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It’s around 45 minutes away from Cairo and is the focal point of many visitors trip’s to Egypt. The pyramid was built in 2540 B.C. and took approximately 20 years to build. A group of Arab soldiers created a forced entrance and this entrance is still used by visitors to this day.
Walk the Great Wall of China
Stretching over 5,500 miles from the East to the West of China, the Great Wall of China is still the country’s greatest symbol of strength. A lot of people visit the wall at the point of Beijing for accessibility, but actually, each section of the wall is different in terms of architectural influence. The wall gets over 70,000 visitors per day and there is a saying by a poet, Chairman Mao, “Until you reach the Great Wall, you’re no hero.”
Kick back on Byron Bay Beach, Australia
The beaches in Byron are amongst some of the best in Australia, so it isn’t surprising that this surfer’s paradise made the millennials wishlist. From the end of June to August, it’s peak season for whale-watching so head to the coast to spot them, amongst bottlenose dolphins. In September and October, the whales return to the area with their babies. The beaches are famous for being speckled white and they are accompanied by crystal clear turquoise seas.
Learn how to make pizza in Italy
Pizza is perhaps Italy’s most famous dish, so where better to learn how to make it than in Naples? Neapolitan pizza is the original Margherita after all, and it’s taken incredibly seriously here. The pizza must be baked in a wood-fired oven and there are restrictions in place for the size of the oven too. You’ll never see traditional Neapolitan pizza overloaded with fancy toppings, only tomatoes, oregano and cheese.
Take a road trip down Route 66, USA
Unfortunately, the majority of the original Route 66 has been closed down, but you can still drive down parts of it. That’s what the millennials want to do anyway, with the trip making number six on the list. The ‘classic’ trip is considered to be from Chicago to Los Angeles and takes around 14 days. Follow this map here to get your kicks on Route 66.
Enjoy a gondola ride in Venice, Italy
It’s another score for Italy on the list, with a romantic gondola ride the activity of choice. The average gondola ride lasts for around 40 minutes and you shouldn’t actually get one to get anywhere, just sit back and enjoy the novelty. Oh and also expect to pay around 80 Euros…yep, gondolas are no longer a mode of transportation, more an overpriced tourist trap, but still, you can’t really go to Venice without doing one, can you?
Kiss underneath the Eiffel Tower, Paris
More romance from the young people! The Eiffel Tower has long been the must-see spot in the city of love, but it was actually originally a temporary structure! Good job that the city decided to keep it, as it gets over seven million visitors a year. Just think of that before you go in for the kiss…how many people are watching?
Witness sea turtles laying eggs in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is widely known as the place where the trend for ecotourism began and this is reflected in the millennials list, sitting just inside the top 10. There are four species of sea turtles- green, leatherback, olive ridley and hawksbill. If you’re truly passionate about the sea turtles, you can go and volunteer with the local conservationists to help. As for seeing the eggs hatch, there is no perfect time to go, but some people do suggest going between August and November.
Enjoy a picnic in the scenic French countryside
The idyllic French countryside is a great place to visit with plenty of quiet villages and stunning landscapes. It’s the perfect place for a picnic as you can pick up the wine from local vineyards and the food from nearby farms. Vienne is a short train ride away from Lyon and comes highly recommended thanks to its Roman ruins, cafés, boutiques and craft shops, as well as being a quaint place to watch a French sunset.
Wake up with a hangover in Las Vegas, USA
Viva Las Vegas as Elvis once said, and it appears that phrase is still relevant today as Vegas makes number 12 on the list of must-do travel experiences. You don’t have to be a high-roller to visit, just pull up a chair at the slot machines, let the drinks flow and see what happens! If gambling isn’t your thing, there’s plenty of other things to do- see a show, zipline down Fremont Street or visit one of Vegas’ many museums.
Hike the Yosemite National Park, USA
Tucked away in the Sierra Nevada mountains is the Yosemite National Park. The area was first protected by the National Park Service in 1864 and is over 1,000 square miles of valleys, meadows, wilderness and waterfalls. You can spend the night camping there under the stars or just go for a day trip hiking. You might see a bear, but you might not as bears naturally avoid people. If you do see a bear, try to scare it away from the area by making noise but don’t surround it.
See the sun rise over Uluru, Australia
Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is believed to have first begun forming around 550 million years ago. The rock is one of the most iconic symbols on Australia’s landscape and is a must-visit for sunrise or sunset when the sky displays an array of magnificent colours. There are several ways to see it, from the sky in a helicopter, or from the desert on the back of a motorbike. The national park surrounding Uluru is home to many wonderful species of wildlife, so you never know who you’ll bump into.
Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, Australia
With the clue in the ‘great’ and ‘reef’ part of the name, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the world. It’s also the largest living thing on Earth and one of the top things to see/do in Australia. It’s the home of much colourful fish as well as dolphins, sharks and turtles. The reef stretches over 2300 kilometres and you can snorkel it by booking a guided tour. A popular area to travel to the Great Reef from is Cairns, itself a great area for tourists.
See the Mona Lisa smile in Paris, France
Ah, the elusive Mona Lisa. Just what is she smiling about? There are plenty of theories around but it seems millennials would like to decide for themselves, with seeing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris making the list of top 20 travel experiences. Just don’t expect to get up close and personal, as the Louvre is the most visited museum in the world- it’s expected that by 2025 the museum will get 12 million visitors a year. Currently, the record is 9.3 million visitors back in 2013.
Eat gelato in Rome, Italy
Rome. The Colosseum. The Vatican. The Trevi Fountain. There are plenty of reasons to visit this beautiful, cultural city and not least because it is the capital of Italy. However, it seems that young people think that one of the main reasons to visit is to eat gelato, a type of ice cream. Now, there are plenty of options, but why not try Il Gelato di San Crispino, as featured in the book Eat, Pray, Love? Look for shops which use the term ‘gelaterie artigianali’ as this is a certification that their gelato has been made with the very best fresh ingredients and no artificial preserves have been used.
Fly over the Grand Canyon, the USA in a helicopter
Home to millions of years of geological history, this magnificent sight can easily be combined with a trip to Vegas with many tour companies offering a helicopter trip departing from the city. They’re not cheap, but what better way to see the vast, sprawling nature of the canyon than from above? If you can drive yourself to the Canyon, you can expect to pay around $250 for a short descent into it, but if you go from Vegas expect to pay anywhere between $300-700 depending on the length and level of luxury of the trip.
Cuddle with a koala in Queensland, Australia
In Brisbane, Queensland is the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary where you can hold a koala bear, feed a kangaroo and visit plenty of other Australian wildlife. Holding a koala bear is probably the perfect ‘gap year’ picture which is most likely why such an experience made the list. Anyway, if you’re going to do it, there’s no better place than the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary which is the oldest and largest koala sanctuary in the world.
Zip line through the rainforest in Costa Rica
Not only a destination for ecotourism, Costa Rica is a popular place for adventure too. This is echoed in the millennials’ list, with zip lining through the rainforest just making it into the top 20 at number 19. What better way to feel at one with nature than to soar straight through it? A lot of tour companies offer a zip lining activity and you can expect to pay around $50 for a basic package, as US Dollars are widely accepted in the country.
Ride a bike through the canal-side streets of Amsterdam
We’re not too sure why this has made the list, given that to ride a bike in Amsterdam you pretty much have to be a professional. Seriously, forget the Tour de France, the locals will take you out if you are even remotely hesitant in the cycle lane. Regardless, Amsterdam is a wonderful place to visit, with plenty of culture, museums and nightlife. Don’t miss a trip to the notorious Red Light District, or a trip in a canal boat.