Humans have been obsessed with the idea of flight for decades. Because we have no ability to flap our wings and soar into the skies, we’ve tried our hardest to innovate and become airborne through technological means. Many of these inventions have been on the practical side, of course. Drones, for example, are now being used to help engineers and architects tackle construction tasks with more accuracy. But we’ve made aviation advancements for our own pleasure, too.
After all, approximately 79% of domestic trips are taken for leisure purposes — and a majority of those vacations probably start with air travel. But when you arrive at your destination, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stay on the ground. If you’re a natural adventurer, you might want to consider adding one of these incredible, aerial activities to your travel itinerary.
Whether you want to marvel at 17 of the 20 highest peaks in the U.S. during your trip to Alaska or get a bird’s eye view of the world’s most active volcanoes in Hawaii, a helicopter can be a phenomenal addition to any trip. You can see the Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef, and all kinds of incredible landmarks from your seat inside a helicopter. Make sure to wear dark, fitted clothing (for safety and visibility reasons), bring along a camera, and take some anti-nausea medication beforehand if you’re prone to motion sickness. While you won’t experience turbulence like you will in a commercial jet plane, you still won’t want to let anything keep you from enjoying this unforgettable experience.
Paragliding and hang gliding can be completely exhilarating. Whether you’re soaring over a beach or taking in city scenes, the view is unparalleled. If you’re a total newbie, you can do what’s referred to as “flying tandem,” where you’ll be tethered to a professional hang glider and can experience this activity without much prep at all. If you want to fly solo, you’ll need to complete a course before you’re allowed to glide. It’s not necessarily a popular family pastime, but if you’re determined to check off a bucket-list item and you’re eager to get an aerial view of your vacation spot, this can be an amazing option.
Hot Air Ballooning
Arguably, this has to be the most idyllic way to experience a given location. Even if you aren’t typically a fan of heights or thrill rides, a hot air balloon ride can become one of your most cherished memories. These rides are offered all over, but some industry favorites include those that travel through the Napa Valley, soar over the Colorado Mountains, and take passengers over the falls in Letchworth, New York. There are even hot air balloon festivals all across the country (including the much-photographed Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta). Should you decide you don’t actually want to go up in the air, you can at least appreciate the incredible beauty of these flying, colorful balloons.
This fast-paced flight activity has become immensely popular in recent years — and the courses are becoming longer and more intricate all the time. Some of the best zip lining courses are in exotic locales like Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Belize, and New Zealand. But there are also plenty throughout the United States. If you want to zip through a jungle or forest, you’ll need to make this part of your trip.
Have you always wanted to run away and join the circus? Now you can — while you’re on vacation. Resorts like Club Med and The Phoenician are now offering trapeze programs and other immersive experiences put together by renowned groups like Cirque du Soleil and I.FLY Trapeze. These unique offerings are a must for athletic adventurers and families who want to try something truly special during their getaway. Plus, if you don’t feel confident enough to soar through the air on a flying trapeze, you can always make do with watching the excursions of others.
Vacations are often seen as the best way to get some much-needed rest and relaxation. But many thrill seekers feel you can always sleep when you’re dead. With so many adventures to experience, who would want to merely sit around on the beach?