· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

Once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences from around the world

Red, Amber, Green. The travel traffic light system is now firmly etched into the minds of would-be travellers. Whilst the confusion continues, tour operator Trafalgar has issued The Gold List – a curation of worldly travel experiences that you never knew existed. USA: Meet a member of Johnny Cash’s family during New Orleans Jazz Festival The New Orleans Jazz Festival takes place in April 2022, where you can immerse yourself in the culture of New Orleans and Louisiana with foot tapping, and the delicious taste of soulful home cooking. Experiencing the unique sound of the Deep South is a must, so visit the famous Nashville Sound Studio and discover legends like Elvis Presley, Jim Reeves, and Roy Orbison. With its ‘Dive into Culture’ offering, Discover the life of music icon Johnny Cash, with a private performance from original Cash soundtracks alongside a member of the music legend’s family. The Netherlands: Attend the once-in-a-decade Floriade Expo, a gardener’s dream A once-in-a-decade event is befitting of The Gold List, and a trip to the Floriade Expo 2022 is one to tell the Grandkids. Almere is a new Dutch city built on land that was reclaimed from the seas. The dangers of climate change are all around us, and this visit will open your eyes to what a green city of the future could look like. Almere is built with environmental sustainability at its core, and each of the destination’s three districts feature unique themes – Food, Energy, and Health. A once-in-a-decade experience that will undoubtedly shape how you feel about our beautiful world and the next ten years. Finland: See the Northern Lights through the glass roofs of your hotel bedroom If any experience-seeker revealed their bucket list destinations then the Northern Lights would appear on most. There’s more than one way to see this stunning natural phenomenon though, and laying in a cosy bed in the perfect hotel room takes some beating. Experience the stunning Seaside Glass Villas Kemi hotel – which even offers Northern Lights wake-up calls. Japan: Dive into culture at the Yomatsuri night-time festival of floats in Takayama during cherry blossom season Japan offers some of the richest cultural experiences on the planet, and celebrating the changing seasons with the special festival floats parade in Takayama is an unmissable event. The intricately carved Yatai (floats) date back to the 17th century, and feature Karakuri Ningyo (marionettes) which move and dance as their strings are managed by the famous Tsunakata (puppeteers). The seasons are a feature of Japanese culture, and when visiting in April you’ll see the natural beauty of the famous Cherry Blossom. Getting a taste of unique Japanese delicacies is an essential in this part of the world, so try Hida-gyu – beef from a black haired Japanese cattle breed renowned as one of the finest cuts of meat in the world. Australia: See the Field of Light Uluru from an exclusive sunrise viewing platform Australia is home to some of the most stunning landscapes on planet earth. Rise early to experience the ethereal Field of Light art installation at an exclusive sunrise viewing platform. Watching the desert awaken – the rising sun lighting up Uluru in a spectacular golden hue – is a truly unforgettable experience. Gain insights into the culture, history, art and traditions of the Aboriginal caretakers of the land on a tour of the base of Uluru. Walk deep into Walpa Gorge, where you’ll hear about the area’s distinct geological and cultural history. Toast to a mesmerising Outback sunset over the rusty red domes of Kata Tjuta with sparkling wine. Meet an aboriginal artist and discover the ritual of Dreamtime, and the meanings of the Anangu totems in indigenous art. You can even tell your own Outback story as a memento of your experience, putting paint to canvas. Germany and Austria: Witness the once-in-a-decade Passion Play and share dinner with Missionary Sisters 2022 delivers another extraordinary once-in-a-decade event fit for The Gold List. The Passion Play in Oberammergau is one of the most unique religious experiences in the world, and you can witness it first-hand. The Oberammergau Villagers dramatic depiction of the life and death of Jesus Christ and the covenant that was made with God in the 17th Century is something to behold. In Austria, you can even dine with the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood in the Monastery of Kloster – a memory that will last a lifetime. Whilst on the once-in-a-decade trip, join a local specialist and discover the city’s iconic highlights including Getreidegasse, the Salzburg Cathedral, Mozart’s birthplace and many of the locations used in the film ‘The Sound of Music’. Leave the sounds of Salzburg behind for lakeside Mondsee, where you’ll visit Mondsee Abbey, the one-time Benedictine monastery that served as the church where Captain Von Trapp and Maria were married in the film. Tanzania: Safari game drive in the Serengeti during the Great Migration The Serengeti’s reputation for wildlife viewing is second to none. This is the home of the greatest annual wildlife spectacle on earth – the Great Migration, taking place between July-November. Hear stories of how over a million wildebeest cross the Mara River annually in search of green pastures. Enjoy Swahili cuisine as you connect with locals and learn about their way of life. A walking tour through farmlands, local markets and schools of Mto wa Umbu is an amazing way to soak up the culture and community spirit. Witness how local banana beer is made and taste it for yourself, before tucking into traditional dishes cooked up from local ladies – and be sure to ask for the recipe secrets. An afternoon drive through the Lake Manyara National Park to spot the tree-climbing Lions is a must. Costa Rica: Witness baby turtles hatching Watching baby green turtles hatching on the beaches of Costa Rica doesn’t have to be something reserved for TV documentaries – experience it in real life. Head to Costa Rica between July-September to witness this incredible moment, and enrich your experience and embark on a river journey to Siquirres and visit the Sea Turtle Conservancy Tortuguero Visitor Center. Canada: Meet a former mountaineer and ride the Rocky Mountaineer Goldleaf The Canadian Rockies are home to some of the most stunning views in the world, but there’s much more to experience than just the views. Journey aboard the Rocky Mountaineer Goldleaf, a world-renowned train known for its finest service, and meet a First Nations member in Kamloops and a retired Mountie in Banff. Immerse yourself in the First Nations traditions and culture, with soul-stirring sounds of the Shuswap melodies, and storytelling over dinner with a First Nations member. Leave with more than just a photo with a Mountie – meet a retired Mountie where you can learn about their experiences and the history of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Turkey: Witnessing Cappadocia air balloon spectacular before sleeping in a hotel carved from rock Just visiting the Cappadox Festival in April, and witnessing the sky filled with floating colourful hot air balloons is enough. But soar higher, be part of the festival, and ride in one of the hot air balloons yourself. Gain appreciation for the unique history of Cappadocia, with its honey-coloured rocky spire providing the perfect backdrop for a visit to the underground city of Saratli on the ancient Silk Road. Indulging in the flavours of Turkey is a must, so enjoy a traditional pottery kebab in a local restaurant before retiring to your hotel room carved from rock, which offers extensive views of Cappadocia and its fairy chimneys. Canada: See polar bears and learn about dog sledding from a local specialist Roam the Great Canadian North on an epic safari through tundra landscapes to discover the home of the polar bears and the indigenous Inuit people who share their icy landscapes. Eyes-peeled, embark on a full-day safari through the Churchill Wildlife Management Area, and witness the arctic fox, ptarmigan, and other sub-arctic animals in their natural habitat. Getting a first-hand experience of just how inhospitable this extreme part of the world is one of those life-changing moments. Get a taste for local delicacies in this remote part of the world at the Tundra Buggy Lodge, then join a local specialist dog-sledding expert, learn about this tradition and the modern Métis lifestyle – before feeling the sub-zero breeze on your face with a dog-sled ride yourself. Antarctica: Become a true explorer and visit the 7th continent It’s mostly daring explorers that can retell their stories after visits to some of the farthest corners of the earth. You can board a luxury expedition ship, the m/v Sea Spirit, and sail through the icy waters of the Drake Passage and into the surreal landscapes of Antarctica. Retrace the ocean trail of Charles Darwin, through the Beagle Channel and the rugged southern coastline of South America. Get a deeper understanding of this untouched continent through briefings, lectures and orientations from experts. Stretch your sea legs, and embark on Zodiac excursions to experience the wilderness first hand, kayak the icy waters, and spot whales, penguins and other species of bird that find sanctuary surrounded by gigantic cliffs of ice. Taking all the worry out of traveling in today’s world, Trafalgar has also launched multiple protocols to keep travellers safe on their trip. Increased wellbeing measures ensure guests are taken care of 24/7 – with an always on support team, distancing and hygiene protocols and 24/7 incident response – whilst new smaller group trips and the introduction of private ‘bubble groups’ provide a safer experience. Flexible and risk-free bookings also give peace of mind for the ever-changing traffic light system.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

Did you enjoy this article?

Receive similar content direct to your inbox.


  1. Tanzania:
    July To November migration Will be in Kenyas Masai Mara and very north in Serengeti. December to July they are only in Serengeti.

    1. I desperately want to see the northern lights but I don’t want to stay up night after night hoping the cloud will clear.

      That hotel in Finland with the glass roof seems perfect to me. You don’t lose out on your sleep. If the lights turn up you get to seem them, back to sleep when you’ve had enough.

  2. The trouble with once in a lifetime experiences is that they are so good that you end up wanting to do them again. And as it’s usually the cost or the amount of time required that makes it a once in a lifetime trip repeating the trip will have its costs.

  3. I would think that we must be living in the most travelled era in history, so many us have been to so many places.

    Antarctica is another hurdle though and so different to anywhere else that most of us have been.

  4. Those hot air balloons in Turkey are amazing. I can’t imagine what it would be like to stay in a hotel that was carved out of a rock. I wonder if there are any hiking spots there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *