Are you tired of boring business trips or traveling close to home due to certain limitations?
If you’ve already “been there and done that” in your travels, try doing things a little differently the next time you’re away from home.
Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or new to the scene and looking for something fun, we’ve got some great ideas that will take your next travel experience up a notch.
Some of these are simple and inexpensive. Others may require a substantial travel budget, or patience knowing it may take years – even a lifetime – to complete your challenge.
Whatever your personality, there’s a travel challenge for you.
For the die-hards
If you’ve got the time, energy, and money, you can think up just about anything for a personal travel challenge.
For example, Graham Hughes from England started a challenge for himself in 2009. He decided to visit every country in the world without flying. It took him four years to do it, but he covered 201 countries without stepping foot on a single airplane.
Or there’s Matt Green from Virginia who first walked across the entire U.S. – yes, walked – and then decided he would walk down every single street in New York City. All five boroughs, every single block and dark alley, every square inch – and he did. (We sense Matt enjoys walking and has a lot of time on his hands.)
Some travelers who have developed crazy challenges for themselves stick with a certain geographical landscape, for example, climbing every mountain or seeing every waterfall in their state.
Others choose a particular theme, like going cross-country using only backroads, only traveling to locations that start with a certain letter (more on that later), or sailing every accessible waterway in the world.
Some are silly, like eating at every single location of a favorite restaurant in America.
Some are serious, like walking or biking all over the world to raise money for charity.
And some are extreme, like bungee-jumping off every bridge in the U.S. or skydiving in all 50 states.
Whatever your style, travel challenges are very personal, and there are countless options—limited only by your personality and imagination. (Ok, and your budget. That’s kind of important.)
Search and Rescue
A fun challenge for any couple, whether it’s your first date or your 50th anniversary, is to “search” for each other when you’re out and about. (No cheating with the cell phone!)
Pick a starting point, a meeting place and time, then go your separate ways.
For new couples, you’ll mostly rely on good luck since you probably don’t know much about each other yet – but it’s a fun way to learn! And if you decide you’re just not that into them, well you can use this challenge as an escape route. (We won’t tell.)
For long-time couples, use what you know about your significant other to find them in the shortest time possible.
Of course, we know how this turns out. Marge will be in Pottery Barn and Harold at the bar, but they can both say how they spiced up their marriage with this couple’s challenge.
It’s a fun way to explore a new little town and you’ll really appreciate all the sights and sounds since you’re paying very close attention looking for someone.
It’s a family tradition.
If your kids are bored when going to the museums or historical sites, challenge them to look for certain items along the way.
Who can find the first statue? Or the oldest relic in the museum? Give them a list and a time limit just like any good scavenger hunt, and Mom and Dad will be able to enjoy the day.
If you’re on a road trip, let them rack up points for finding the most barns, murals, or even that old standby—a license plate from every state.
It will keep them busy…and you sane.
Next time won’t you sing with me?
There are plenty of easy challenges you can make up using letters in the alphabet.
If you are a frequent traveler, you can run through the entire alphabet – a day at a time or a trip at a time.
For example, only eat at places that begin with the letter ‘A’ on the first day of your trip, B the next day, and so on. When the trip is over, remember what letter you left off on and start with the next one until you run through the entire alphabet.
The challenge with this is it may be quite difficult to find a restaurant that’s convenient to your location, serves food you actually feel like eating, and isn’t way out of your price range.
Add a little extra challenge by not going anywhere — including shops or tourist attractions — that doesn’t start with the letter of the day. (Unless you have a meeting in a place that starts with a different letter. We don’t want you to get fired.)
You can also do this with a travel companion using the first initial of your name one day and theirs the next.
Or pick a word and plan which restaurants and attractions to visit that start with each letter in that word.
The kids will love this since it’s sort of like a scavenger hunt. They can take turns picking the word of the day, then find places to go that start with each letter, like in the word D-O-G.
Just don’t let them choose “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” We wouldn’t wish that on any parent, so set a limit on how long the word can be.
And good luck with the letter ‘X’ – that will be a fun one. It will take creativity and compromise, but you’ll definitely remember that adventure.
For the free spirits…
If you really have a sense of adventure and like to try new things, these challenges are for you.
Most of the time, travel requires planning. Picking dates, purchasing tickets, booking hotels, blah, blah, boring adult stuff.
How about doing something spontaneous? (Disclaimer: Do not attempt these if you have OCD or are a control freak. You won’t have fun—you’ll have a panic attack.)
If you have a free day or two, throw a few things in a bag and take off to parts unknown.
Drive to the airport and buy a ticket for the first flight you see with an available seat. Or go to the train station and jump on the next arrival. (Just make sure you buy a round-trip ticket. You don’t want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere with no way home.)
Spend the weekend wherever you end up, whether it’s a big city or small, sleepy town. There’s something to be said about doing the unexpected and not always having to follow a plan. It might make you feel like a kid again to explore new sights and sounds and meet new people.
Who knows? You might just find your new favorite place, meet a new best friend, or start a romance.
Let go and get going!
If that’s too much for you…
If you kind of, sort of want to be spontaneous, but not spontaneous enough to conquer the “free spirit challenge,” you can still have fun without feeling like you’re jumping off the deep end.
Grab a friend or a date and jump on your local public transportation – the subway, bus, or streetcar system will do.
Pick a starting point and then get off at different stops all day long. Give yourself a time limit to see and do all that you can where you get off, or limit your time to until the next bus or subway is scheduled.
This may mean you have only minutes to see a particular section of the city, so get creative and have fun!
Another idea is to simply jump in the car and take off. You can decide where you end up by giving yourself an exact time or mileage limit for how far you want to drive – or give your GPS a certain address off the top of your head.
This may have you driving around neighborhoods or parts of your town you’ve never seen before, making it perfect for a sunny Sunday afternoon or when the kids are bored with all the usual stuff.
All of these challenges (or ones you create for yourself) are a great opportunity to think outside the box when visiting a new place.
Come up with a new challenge every time you travel, take fun photos and document your adventures.
Hunt in little shops for the same cheesy souvenir, or try your favorite food in every city or town you visit and see where it takes you.
Whether you come up with a massive challenge that takes a lifetime, or something as simple as tracking down the best ice cream cone in every city, this is your journey.
Besides, who really wants to go on their next business trip and spend another boring night watching bad television and eating expensive room service (or worse, racking up charges from the mini-bar)?
So make your next trip, no matter where it is, memorable by challenging yourself in unique ways.
Have you ever created a travel challenge for yourself or your family? Leave us with your ideas!