BY MARY GOFEN
Imagine exploring a remote kingdom, exploring vast forests and green alpine meadows, trekking snowy peaks for a view atop the “Roof of the World,” and immersing yourself in the ancient mystical culture of Buddhism—all in one trip.
Or maybe the Himalayas and Bhutan aren’t your cup of tea. Perhaps your thirst for adventure is quenched by something slightly less exotic, say, a relaxing visit to the Amalfi Coast with afternoon strolls and sunset boat rides?
According to Chicago-based travel advisor Caroline Chandra, affiliate of Paul Klein Travel, the best advice for travel planning is to make it personal. Plans should reflect your preferences, personality, and style.
Here are five adventure vacations Caroline put together as examples of how you can personalize your travel, from the arctic circle to tropical beaches, sled dog rides to luxury dining:
The Himalayan High Life
Bhutan is an isolated Himalayan kingdom modernizing slowly and taking extra care to preserve its culture and environment. This makes it a rare, authentic travel destination and a fascinating place to visit. As it grows its tourism industry, Bhutan is focusing on high-end, sustainable travel with lovely places to stay. Amankora comprises five small lodges with an array of high-altitude experiences, from mountain treks to holistic healing.
“Once you arrive in Bhutan, it is surreal,” says Caroline. “Everyone in Bhutan has a smile on their face. They are the happiest people on earth. And although they might seem poor, they feel they have a lot, and you appreciate that right away when you go there.”
The Drama and Beauty of the Amalfi Coast
Although the Amalfi Coast is one of Italy’s top spots for hiking, Caroline says its beauty can be enjoyed at any pace and in any style, be it strolling cobblestone paths and terraced gardens high above the water, lounging in beach chairs along coastlines dotted with umbrellas, or boating along the magical Costiera Amalfitano, a World Heritage site. In addition to its sheer beauty, the region is known for its superb restaurants and hotels, making it a favorite among the Italian elite.
The Ultimate Arctic Adventure
If you are looking for an appealing destination for thrill-seeking young adults and teenagers, Caroline suggests an arctic getaway to Northern Scandinavia. Sitting at the top of the world, Lapland is an untouched archipelago waiting to be explored.
The region is home to frozen lakes and forests, majestic reindeer herds, the awe-inspiring Aurora Borealis, and adrenaline-pumping outdoor activities, including ice fishing for King crab. With the help of a local guide, travelers can saw a hole in the ice, set traditional crab traps, and pull a King crab right out of the ocean. Tamer adventures for the young (and young at heart) include a magical visit to Santa Claus Village.
A Culinary Experience in Hong Kong
If you prefer an adventure of the culinary kind, let your taste buds determine the itinerary on a food and wine-focused journey. Caroline suggests Hong Kong, where you can stay in a waterfront location in Kowloon, overlooking the Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island. Here you can choose your own epicurean experience. Options include a Create-Your-Own Bento Box Lunch at NOBU, and dinner at the two-Michelin-star Yan Toh Heen Cantonese restaurant with a tea pairing by renowned Tea Sommelier Kelvin Ng.
Body Holiday in the Caribbean
For some travelers, adventure means settling into a resort with attention to mind and body wellness, where you can do as much or as little as you want. Caroline has noticed that as more and more travelers focus on health rejuvenation, resort properties are picking up on the trend.
The Body Holiday hotel on the island of St. Lucia offers dozens of fitness and wellness classes daily, as well as nearly every manner of sport on land and sea. Whether you want to experiment with a new activity, perfect your game, push your limits, or align your chakras, a rejuvenating vacation resort would be a great choice.
No matter your tastes, with some careful research and planning on your own—or with the help of a travel advisor such as Caroline Chandra—you can experience your own life-transforming adventure.