15 Life-Changing Trips
From volunteering in South America to getting inside Southeast Asian
culture, 15 transformative vacations to take now.
What’s your New
Year’s resolution? Volunteering? Immersing yourself in another culture? Or simply getting
Whatever your focus, a vacation can be the perfect time to fulfill your promises to
yourself. You won’t be alone: authentic experiences are becoming increasingly important to many
travelers. Whether it’s helping others, understanding local cultures, or exploring the natural
splendor of a rich ecosystem, your next journey could be the life-changing experience you’ve
been looking for. To help, we reached out to our network of trusted tour operators to create custom
itineraries that promise to transform.
You’ll find one of these opportunities in the
favelas of Rio de Janeiro, home to 20 percent of the
city’s population-more than 1 million people. Voluntourism operator Hands Up Holidays offers travelers hands-on experiences
in these overcrowded areas, teaching English or art or painting murals to brighten the
neighborhood. But it’s not all work; the company balances the experience by offering walking
and hiking expeditions along with accommodations in a boutique hotel.
Of course, life-changing
experiences come in many forms-and getting inside a culture is one of them. We also tapped the pros
at Asia Transpacific Journeys for a custom Travel
+ Leisure itinerary, and they came back with a tour to Vietnam that guarantees a heavy dose of cultural
interaction. On this journey, you’ll explore lesser-known hill-tribe villages and markets of
the northern highlands, and you’ll meet with locals—including relatives of the former royal
family. You’ll also attend cooking classes with local chefs and attend dinners in private
For some, the dream includes getting in touch with nature. Fortunately, the adventure-travel
pros at Austin-Lehman created a trip just for us.
You’ll go with them on a six-day trip to Glacier National
Park, a one-million-acre expanse that runs along Canada’s border. Not only will you spend
your days hiking through the park—where there’s a good chance of spotting bighorn sheep, black
bears, and moose—you’ll also have an opportunity to see the glaciers before they disappear.
(Experts give them another 20 or so years.)
Continue on for 15 very different trips, all full of
transformational opportunities. Don’t wait for 2011; make 2010 the year that travel changes