Travel is good for us. Leaving familiar surroundings pushes us out of our comfort zone, introduces us to new cultures and experiences, and allows us to view the world–and our own life–with a different perspective. Basically, any time you get a chance to travel, take it. As you check things off your travel bucket list, take a gander at this list of seven kinds of trips every woman should take in her lifetime. And tell us: how many have you done so far? Which journey are you most excited for?
1. The solo journey. Traveling alone can be a life-altering experience. As women, we spend so much of our daily lives accommodating and prioritizing other people that it’s easy to lose touch with our own wants and needs. Taking a trip alone forces us to put ourselves first, which is challenging, invigorating, and incredibly freeing (it can also be a little scary, but hey, most worthwhile things are). Your solo trip might be sparked by a bad breakup, general feelings of restlessness, a recent reading of Eat, Pray, Love, or the simple fact that you’ve always wanted to visit Bolivia and none of your friends can afford it right now. Go it alone–you’ll be glad you did.
2. The romantic getaway. Whether you and your lover prefer to hole up in a luxury hotel with gourmet room service or hike through the mountains of Patagonia, traveling with your partner is always an exhilarating, intimate, and educational experience. Not only will you make great memories together, you’ll learn a ton about each other, and (if all goes well) return home closer than ever. Be sure to discuss your travel preferences beforehand to avoid any unnecessary bickering.
3. The spontaneous adventure. At the risk of sounding like a fortune cookie, there will be times in your life when you will have the chance to take an unexpected journey. Maybe your friend rented a car and invites you on a weekend road trip. Maybe you get an email from a travel site about a $99 flight sale when you happen to have some vacation days saved up. Maybe your brother is like, “Want to go to a Rolling Stones show in Las Vegas?” Whatever the circumstances of the spontaneous adventure, just say “yes” at least once, OK?
4. The BFF bonding experience. It doesn’t get much better than exploring the world with your best friend. Especially (at least in my opinion) when wine and fabulous dresses are involved. Not sure where to go? Check out our list of dream girlfriend getaways.
5. The extended stay. Any and all travel is great, but setting down your suitcase in a new place for two weeks or longer is a really special experience. Use a service like Airbnb to book a stay in a home or apartment, and commit to living like a local in Tokyo, Sydney, Berlin, wherever! I understand that this is a little tricky to pull off with a busy schedule, tight budget, and all the demands of work and family, but trust me, it can be done. Whether you do it when you’re 19 or 75 doesn’t matter, just make sure you do it.
6. The “I’ve always wanted to learn how to ______” trip. We all have goals on our bucket lists that require a pilgrimage somewhere, and there are few things more exhilarating than mastering a new skill in a new place. What’s something you’ve always wanted to do? Where’s the best place to learn how to do it? Amelia went to Costa Rica to learn to surf. I hopped on a plane to Chicago for a week-long improv class at The Second City (and I sucked at it, and it was awesome). You could join a French immersion class in Normandy, scuba dive in Florida, or learn to cook in Tuscany. One thing I know for sure? When you take a flying leap out of your comfort zone to learn something new, you’ll also learn a lot about yourself.
7. The trip you never thought you’d take. We all have this trip somewhere in the back of our mind–it’s the travel goal we want so bad but don’t think is possible. Maybe you’ve written it off because of the scope (“I could never take a year off to take a trip around the world!”), or the cost (“London is so expensive!”), or the challenge (“I could never be fit enough to climb Machu Picchu!”). Or maybe your reasons are more personal–you’re afraid of flying, or you don’t think you deserve it.
Let me tell you something: no matter how big or crazy your travel dream, if you want it bad enough, you can make it happen. Will you need to scrimp and save and sacrifice? Of course. Will it require a ton of planning? Definitely. But when you’re finally there–looking up at the Eiffel Tower’s twinkling lights or snorkeling with sea turtles in Hawaii–there will be this moment where you think, “Oh my God, I actually did it.”
And that moment right there, that’s what life’s about.
Email the author of this post at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @winona_rose.