10 Exciting Vacations to Expand Your Horizons This Year

10 Exciting Vacations to Expand Your Horizons this Year

If you're like us, you're probably already dreaming of your next vacation. But have you considered something completely different? Like entirely out of your comfort zone? We're not talking about your run-of-the-mill skydiving/hot air balloon trips. We're talking adrenaline-rushing, heart-pumping adventures for once in a lifetime memories. So if you're getting ready to make the jump to try something new, SmartTravelers shared some ideas for making 2016 your most thrilling year yet.


Top 10 Exciting Vacations to Expand Your Horizons this Year

1. Tornado / Storm Chasing
You too can become a storm chaser, just like you see on TV. During the months of April, May and June, Tornado Alley lights up with some of the most exciting storms... if you like that sort of thing. With all of the coverage on TV the past years, several storm-chasing companies have sprouted up in the area that runs from northern Texas to central South Dakota. Many of these companies use the tours to fund their continued research of tornadoes. Most of the tours include your transportation, hotels and some meals, along with experienced chasers that know how to predict where the storms will erupt and get you close enough for photos, but not too close. Here are a few links to the more popular tours. Storm Chasing Adventure Tours, Storm Chaser, Extreme Chase Tours, and StormTours. These tours fill quickly so plan ahead and be safe.

2. Roller Coaster Tours
Are you a roller coaster fanatic? Well, there are now tours available where you travel with other coaster fans and ride some of the most thrilling coasters in the country. I never realized there were so many folks that loved, and I mean LOVE, the thrill of a roller coaster. They make me a bit sick, myself, but others spend there lives finding the next biggest, tallest and fastest coaster. Here are a few links to tours. Thrill Coaster Tours and Theme Park & Roller Coaster Tours. Here is a link to an independent review of the Top 10 Roller Coasters in America.

3. African Safari
If you love animals, then you must do an African Safari before you die. This is one of the most exciting adventures my family has ever done. You spend hours traveling around in the bush with an experienced safari guide, seeking animals in their natural environment. Most safari game reserves advertise based on viewing the "Big 5 Game". The Big 5 are Lion, Elephant, Buffalo, Leopard and Black Rhinoceros. They were called Big 5 by hunters, as they considered them the five most difficult to hunt. The most popular and well-known game reserves are in Kenya and Tanzania, but there are reserves all over most of southern Africa. My family chose a game reserve in South Africa, Shamwari Game Reserve, as they were one of the only "malaria free" reserves. Most other reserves require guests to take malaria tablets before coming. Here is a link to African Safari Adventures , a guide for find a safari.

4. Polar Bear Adventure
Looking for a very unique adventure, why not try a polar bear adventure. During October and November, Frontiers North Adventures runs a Tundra Buggy Adventure in Canada. The adventure provides some exclusive access to the polar bears at Cape Churchill, inside Wapusk National Park. This company was covered by NBC during the Canadian Winter Olympics. Frontiers North Adventures also offers several other unique thrill adventures in the arctic.

5. Fighter Jet Tours
If you have the need for speed, then you need to take a fighter jet tour. Incredible Adventures Starfighter has a tour that actually allows you to fly in a Lockheed F-104 Starfighter. Prices are bit expensive, but this is truly a unique opportunity to fly suborbital training flights from NASA's Kennedy Space Center. They also run a cheaper L-39 jet fighter tour that gives you the same thrill as Top Gun. Click here for Incredible Adventures Top Gun.

6. Zero Gravity
Are you fascinated with space flight and have always wanted to experience weightlessness? Well, you don't have to be an astronaut anymore. Zero G operates what they call "the weightless experience." They have specially modified Boeing 727's that perform parabolic arcs that create a weightless environment. They provide all of your training, flight suit, photos, video and 12 to 15 parabolas giving you an adventure of a lifetime. They run out of Las Vegas, Cape Canaveral, Titusville and on occasion, from Seattle, Los Angeles, New York and Washington DC.

7. Warrior / SWAT Training
Have you always wanted to know what it feels like to be on a SWAT team or part of a special ops team? You can now train with experienced Special Operations personnel and try your hand at Counter Terrorism or SWAT operations. Tri-core International LLC runs several scenarios that puts you in situations like bank robberies, school shootings and counter terrorism. These are open to the public and involve two days of training/scenarios.

8. Great White Shark Adventures
"We're going to need a bigger boat...". Remember that from the movie Jaws? Sharks are one of most feared predators on the planet, with the White Shark being the most feared. Cape Town, South Africa is one of the best places in the world to experience White Sharks. There are a couple of tour companies that offer up-close viewing, and even diving, with the sharks. Click here for Shark Cage Diving.net and also White Shark Ecoventures.

9. North and South Pole Adventures
If you like cold weather and the thrill of a polar adventure, then Icetrek Expeditions has a tour for you. They specialize in Arctic and Antarctica tours offering both short experiences and longer expeditions. If you are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, then you should consider taking an adventure to one of the poles.

10. White Water Rafting
If you are looking for an exciting family trip, then you should look into White Water Rafting. Guides take you down some of the most scenic rivers where you can experience rapids that are graded from 1 to 6. Basically, Grade 1 requires basic skills with short rough areas and Grade 6 are considered the most dangerous and you may find yourself lucky to survive. Rafting America has pulled together 21 companies offering beginner to expert level rafting trips. Many of the trips are multi day and offer a wonderful family bonding experience.

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