Zoltan Serfozo/Alamy

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Forget the
Ferrari: travel can transform your life. Here are 10 trips to make it happen.

Jane Goldstein,
a Boston corporate attorney, was turning 40 when she
decided she needed to scale Kilimanjaro. Climbing for eight days with a cast of
characters that included a recent widower, her best friend, and four Texans,
Goldstein grew fond of the Kilimanjaro-trekker’s mantra of pole-pole,
Swahili for “slowly.” It was, she says, “a wonderful pace of life.” Closing in
on the summit, she realized the purpose of her trip: it made her feel like she
could do anything.

Goldstein’s
tale is hardly unusual—midlife restlessness is so common it seems like a
cliché. But psychologists say it’s real: a period of discontent that can
produce feelings of boredom, doubt, anger, and unease. Traveling has always
been a remedy, but more people are forgoing cars and tattoos these days in
favor of real-world exploration, according to Portland, ME–based travel agent
Pam Hurley. “With travel,” she says, “you forget about the money and remember
what you get mentally, physically, or spiritually.”

Of course,
treating a crisis of this magnitude requires more than a weekend at the beach.
So midlifers seek out trips with at least one special quality, like adventure,
danger, learning, physicality, or goodwill. Add a “now-or-never” layer to the
trip and you could well be on the path to healing.

One
time-sensitive option: the Tibetan plateau, which environmentalists say is
rapidly diminishing due to global warming. It’s also where Tibetan culture is
at its best preserved, making for a fulfilling photography workshop. Plateau
Photo Tours runs a two-week expedition that combines access to little-seen
areas of nomadic Tibet with a crash course in picture-taking. World-renowned
photojournalists provide hands-on instruction in a small-group setting, and the
company also dabbles in philanthropy, hiring locals and donating partial
proceeds to development programs.

But when it
comes to a midlife crisis, not even the sky has to be the limit. Richard
Branson’s Virgin Galactic can jettison you right into outer space, with a
three-day trip that begins at space camp and ends in free-floating about the
cabin. Aircrafts depart from a traditional runway, launch into orbit from
60,000 feet, and glide back home. More than just a chance to live out those
adolescent Mark Hamill fantasies, viewing Earth from the void is the ultimate
perspective-altering destination. It also makes for pretty killer cocktail-party
chatter—at least for those who can afford the $200,000 price tag.

Whatever you
decide, though, a successful trip boils down to challenging yourself with
something new. “The best sort of midlife travel takes you to an unfamiliar
place,” says Atlanta travel agent Betty Jo Currie. “To
be something, do something, so profoundly different—there’s a freedom that
comes with that.”

Best Midlife-Crisis Trips

Forget the
Ferrari: travel can transform your life. Here are 10 trips to make it happen.

Jane Goldstein,
a Boston corporate attorney, was turning 40 when she
decided she needed to scale Kilimanjaro. Climbing for eight days with a cast of
characters that included a recent widower, her best friend, and four Texans,
Goldstein grew fond of the Kilimanjaro-trekker’s mantra of pole-pole,
Swahili for “slowly.” It was, she says, “a wonderful pace of life.” Closing in
on the summit, she realized the purpose of her trip: it made her feel like she
could do anything.

Goldstein’s
tale is hardly unusual—midlife restlessness is so common it seems like a
cliché. But psychologists say it’s real: a period of discontent that can
produce feelings of boredom, doubt, anger, and unease. Traveling has always
been a remedy, but more people are forgoing cars and tattoos these days in
favor of real-world exploration, according to Portland, ME–based travel agent
Pam Hurley. “With travel,” she says, “you forget about the money and remember
what you get mentally, physically, or spiritually.”

Of course,
treating a crisis of this magnitude requires more than a weekend at the beach.
So midlifers seek out trips with at least one special quality, like adventure,
danger, learning, physicality, or goodwill. Add a “now-or-never” layer to the
trip and you could well be on the path to healing.

One
time-sensitive option: the Tibetan plateau, which environmentalists say is
rapidly diminishing due to global warming. It’s also where Tibetan culture is
at its best preserved, making for a fulfilling photography workshop. Plateau
Photo Tours runs a two-week expedition that combines access to little-seen
areas of nomadic Tibet with a crash course in picture-taking. World-renowned
photojournalists provide hands-on instruction in a small-group setting, and the
company also dabbles in philanthropy, hiring locals and donating partial
proceeds to development programs.

But when it
comes to a midlife crisis, not even the sky has to be the limit. Richard
Branson’s Virgin Galactic can jettison you right into outer space, with a
three-day trip that begins at space camp and ends in free-floating about the
cabin. Aircrafts depart from a traditional runway, launch into orbit from
60,000 feet, and glide back home. More than just a chance to live out those
adolescent Mark Hamill fantasies, viewing Earth from the void is the ultimate
perspective-altering destination. It also makes for pretty killer cocktail-party
chatter—at least for those who can afford the $200,000 price tag.

Whatever you
decide, though, a successful trip boils down to challenging yourself with
something new. “The best sort of midlife travel takes you to an unfamiliar
place,” says Atlanta travel agent Betty Jo Currie. “To
be something, do something, so profoundly different—there’s a freedom that
comes with that.”

Zoltan Serfozo/Alamy

Best Midlife-Crisis Trips

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