What better excuse to treat yourself and jet off on a once-in-a-lifetime trip than your birthday? From epic treks to life-changing cultural experiences, blow out the candles and get to packing. Whether you’re commemorating a milestone or simply celebrating another year of life, let us help you decide with these 10 trips to take for your birthday.
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
The Galapagos are an unparalleled journey into one of Mother Nature’s secret hideaways. Located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, this wonderland of biodiversity has been inspiring nature lovers since Charles Darwin first set foot here in 1835. For a truly spectacular experience, book a luxury cruise that takes you on a deep dive (literally) into the Galapagos’ unique ecosystems. Each island in the archipelago offers diverse wildlife experiences like coming face to face with Galapagos tortoises, the oldest of whom is over 100 years old.
Lantern Festival, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Held every November during the full moon, the Yi Peng Lantern Festival is a mesmerizing way to celebrate your special day. Gaze into the dark evening sky as the lanterns slowly float away, signifying the end of another year of life. Yi Peng typically coincides with the magical Thai holiday Loy Krathong, when locals gather along the banks of the Ping River to celebrate the goddess of water and ask forgiveness for any harm they’ve done to the water itself. The contrast between the glowing offerings floating down the river and the lanterns slowly ascending into the dark sky is otherworldly.
EBC Trek, Nepal
Seeing Mt. Everest is something that crowns many a traveler's bucket list, and while you may not be up for a trek to base camp, you should consider slowly trekking your way through quiet Nepali villages. Replete with hair-raising swinging bridges, yaks, and mountain bakeries, the EBC trek isn’t for the faint of heart but does offer exceptional bragging rights should you make it to see Sagarmatha (the Nepali name for Everest) herself. A birthday is the perfect excuse to take on this feat of human power.
Iceland’s Ring Road
If you'd prefer to stay off your feet, kick off another year of life by taking one of the world’s most epic road trips. From black sand beaches to tiny, windswept villages, a road trip around Iceland’s ring road promises epic memories to last a lifetime. Circling the entirety of Iceland in 820 miles, driving the Ring Road is a true snapshot of the country. Stop along the way to witness gargantuan waterfalls, sweeping vistas, and soak away in the iconic public swimming pools, heated geothermally. Whatever you find along the road, this journey is sure to bring you magic.
Sahara Desert, Merzouga, Morocco
The largest sand desert in the world, the Sahara, stretches coast to coast over 10 countries in Northern Africa. One of the most popular places to witness these fiery dunes is Merzouga, a day's drive outside of the tantalizing historical city of Marrakech. Celebrate with the iconic Moroccan mint tea at a luxury camp, sleeping under the blanket of a million stars.
Cherry Blossom Festival, Japan
If you happen to have a spring birthday, make a sake toast underneath thousands of cherry blossoms. The Japanese word, hanami, refers to cherry blossom viewing. To experience the perfect hanami, make a break for Japan in late March to early April at peak bloom. Locals often pack picnics for the sakura viewing parties. Truly unforgettable views include a boat ride in the shadow of the Himeji castle and attending one of the nighttime viewing parties such as Hirosaki Park in Aomori.
Camino de Santiago
A coming-of-age journey for the books, the Camino de Santiago will change you, at least according to the thousands of pilgrims that walk this ancient route every year. Unlike the daunting EBC Trek, the barrier to entry for the Camino de Santiago is more reasonable. Particular highlights are drinking wine from your pilgrim's shell at the wine fountain in Logrono, camaraderie among fellow walkers, and arriving at “the end of the world” in Finisterre, should you choose to push on past the terminus in Santiago de Compostela.
Kruger National Park, South Africa
High on the bucket list of many adventurers is an African safari and there may be no better choice than Kruger National Park in South Africa. Located south of the country’s capital, Johannesburg, the national park encompasses a massive expanse of land. Kruger is well known for big cats and you’re almost guaranteed to see elusive leopards and the almighty African lion. Luxury resorts abound here so if you’re looking to go the extra mile for your special day you’ll be spoiled for choice.
Maharajas Express, India
Perhaps the most luxurious train experience in the world, what better way to see the colorful chaos of India than from a locomotive? As a country known for its sometimes harrowing train journeys, the Maharajas Express is anything but. Snaking its way back and forth from Delhi to Mumbai, the Maharajas itinerary includes the pink city of Jaipur and the exquisite Taj Mahal. Aside from getting a taste of India itself, the train offers unprecedented luxury including private butlers, three course meals, and exclusive experiences.
Greenland is a stunning opportunity to witness the ephemeral beauty of the arctic. Sail past colorful settlements as narwhals, the unicorns of the sea, glide right outside your window. Greenland is the largest island in the world and home to the aurora borealis, fjords to rival that of Norway, and a menagerie of wildlife. Greenlandic customs and traditions are alive and well throughout the country. You can learn about them at the National Museum of Greenland in the capital, Nuuk. Greenland’s mysterious disposition and status as the “new kid on the block” makes it the perfect way to commemorate another year exploring the world.