What It Actually Costs to Take Those Once-in-a-lifetime Trips

TripAdvisor trips of a lifetime
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Everyone who loves to travel has their own list of can’t-miss, once-in-a-lifetime trips. Whether they’re bucket-list worthy destinations like the whitewashed homes of Santorini over the turquoise Aegean or do-before-you-die expeditions like summiting Mount Everest, they are extraordinary experiences that promise to change your life. According to the travel planning and booking site TripAdvisor, however, crossing these items off the bucket list can be an expensive venture. A trip to the top of Everest, for example, routinely costs upwards of $45,000. There’s the price of alpine equipment and oxygen tanks, and the cost of hiring a Sherpa. Add in training, food, and flights to Nepal, and it’s easy to see how a two-month journey can get expensive quickly. And while the Himalayan peak is not be on TripAdvisor’s TripIndex, but it gives you an idea of how quickly these things can add up. On average, the cost of the top 10 most popular life-changing adventures is about $5,000 for two travelers. By factoring in an upscale hotel stay, round-trip airfare, taxi rides, a day tour, and meals, TripAdvisor and research firm Kantar TNS were able to identify an approximate price tag for ever vacation. “Those on a tighter budget can book a [trip to] Angkor Wat or the Grand Canyon for about $3,000,” said TripAdvisor’s senior director of communications Brooke Ferencsik. Fortunately, these “once-in-a-lifetime” trips, for many visitors, are really just that: a one-time cost, for a transformative, unforgettable experience you can carry with you until your savings account recovers.

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10. Visiting Angkor Wat in Cambodia

TripAdvisor trips of a lifetime
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The most affordable trip on the Experiences of a Lifetime TripIndex is a weeklong journey for two to the Cambodian “City of Temples.” Even with a day trip to the 12th-century UNESCO World Heritage Site, a four-star hotel stay, and meals, travelers can spend as little as $2,971. That’s thanks largely to the county’s affordable food and accommodations.

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9. Admiring the Grand Canyon in Arizona

TripAdvisor trips of a lifetime
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Outdoorsman Aron Ralston (the inspiration for the film 127 Hours) says a trip to the Grand Canyon in his adolescence made him fall in love with the National Parks. A weeklong trip for two to watch the sun rise over the rim may also be considered a “value” for some travelers, especially those based in the U.S. Expect to spend $3,003.

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8. Walk Along the Great Wall of China

TripAdvisor trips of a lifetime
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While you can save big on meals in Beijing, it’s the round-trip airfare that will really get you. A round-trip flight will cost, on average, $1,020 per person. Add in the tour ate and hotel room costs, and this bucket-list experience will cost upwards of $3,990.

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7. Check Out the Taj Mahal in India

TripAdvisor trips of a lifetime
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It can easily cost a couple $4,330 to fly to Agra and to admire the Taj Mahal’s masterful Mughal and beautifully manicured grounds. Fortunately, the white-marble mausoleum now boasts free Wi-Fi.

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6. Go on a Safari in South Africa

TripAdvisor trips of a lifetime
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Safaris have long had a reputation for being expensive, and TripAdvisor only confirmed this fact. Couples will spend more than $4,332 on a South African safari—especially if you consider that many trips to the African continent last closer to two weeks than one.

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5. Hang Out in the Galápagos in Ecuador

TripAdvisor trips of a lifetime
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Six hundred miles off the shores of Ecuador lie the Galápagos Islands. TripAdvisor expects pairs to drop $4,616 to hang out with blue-footed boobies, the planet’s only marine iguanas, and extremely rare tortoises.

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4. Dive Into the Great Barrier Reef in Australia

TripAdvisor trips of a lifetime
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If you want to see one of the world’ most fragile ecosystems before it’s irreparably changed, allocate $1,634 for round-trip airfare, per person, and $376 for a tour. The grand total for a week on Australia’s famed coast will cost over $5,598.

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3. Watch the Northern Lights in Iceland

TripAdvisor trips of a lifetime
Felix Odell

Unless you score a crazy flight deal (we’ve seen flights for as little as $99 one-way) you could drop $1,093 on round-trip airfare from the United States to Iceland. Your grand total could be $5,877, thanks largely to pricey hotels and expensive taxis.

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2. Trek the Inca Trail in Peru

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A pilgrimage to Machu Picchu isn’t a small commitment: after all, you’re on your way to find the Lost City of the Incas. Each person in the party will pay $899 for access to the Incan citadel, totaling $5,890 for two over the course of a week.

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1. Seeing the Sun Set Over Santorini in Greece

Sunset off the coast of Santorini

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According to TripAdvisor, your dream trip to Heaven on Earth could be the most expensive trip-of-a-lifetime you take, thanks to round-trip airfare costing $2,500 per person. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend a thing on the activity, if you don’t want to. Just find a nice viewpoint and watch the sun transform the white-and-blue island with its brilliant glow.

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