There’s a big reward waiting when you decide to slow down—you can finally go on those trips you’ve always dreamed of, without having to worry about a too-small allotment of vacation days. Whether you want to explore never-inhabited corners of the world or visit the cradle of civilization, if you have the time, we’ve got some ideas. These are the trips we editors fantasize about at our desks, and the ones you should take today.
See the world’s southernmost continent
During the fleeting austral summer, the 108-passenger icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov cruises the eastern coastline of Antarctica on a 37-day voyage of discovery that takes in the region’s natural wonders, including the creatures that call this icy corner of the world home. Departing from the Falkland Islands, the snug vessel drops anchor at spots first visited by legendarily intrepid explorers like Ernest Shackleton—the glaciers of the South Orkney Islands, the emperor penguin rookery of Kloa Point, and the awe-inspiring Amery Ice Shelf. As the ship navigates through pack ice in the Weddell Sea, you’ll sight blue whales from the bridge and see leopard seals lounging on floes, illumined by perpetual daylight. Take a Zodiac launch to an international research station, or, weather permitting, soar above frozen wonders in the ship’s helicopter. After dinner (appropriately hearty), listen to polar experts lecture on the singular wildlife, geology, and botany of the world’s coolest continent. Geographic Expeditions, 800/777-8183; www.geoex.com; departs Dec. 1, 2007; trips from $38,400.*
Take a luxury train trip to view the country’s highlights
The new 21-carriage Viceroy of India is an air-conditioned train with spacious sleeping quarters, two dining cars, a lounge, and even spa facilities—an eminently comfortable way to visit India’s greatest cultural centers. Starting in Mumbai, it takes you across the subcontinent, with stops in cities like Jaipur, Varanasi, and Delhi, where you’ll explore ancient temples and grand palaces. Expect a sunset visit to the Taj Mahal, a boat trip on the sacred Ganges, and a ride aboard a "toy train" to the classic hill station of Darjeeling, where orderly tea plantations are overlooked by snowy Himalayan peaks. Cox & Kings, 800/999-1758; www.coxandkingsusa.com; April and September departures, from $9,995 for a 15-day itinerary.
Sail to deserted islands in style
Explore the thousands of islands that make up this Indian Ocean nation on a 65-foot private motorized yacht designed to resemble a dhoni, a traditional sailing vessel. The mahogany boats are fully air-conditioned and have king-size beds, Frette sheets, and Bose entertainment centers. Members of the crew, which includes a butler, greet you at the Male airport before your leisurely voyage to an exclusive island resort in the Ari Atoll. There, you can board a dhoni daily and sail to white-sand islands to snorkel and picnic, learn how to navigate by compass, drop a line over the side for tasty snapper and grouper, wave at pods of dolphins as they play in the boat’s wake, or just nap in the sun on the foredeck. Dhoni Mighili, 011-960/664-4222; www.dhonimighili.com; from $900 per night.