From the Canadian Rockies to the Orient Express: 9 epic journeys you need on your bucket list.
We’ve all been there.
The summer holiday period is behind us, and after a couple of months back at work, our minds start… wandering.
Wandering to a Southeast Asian adventure, a trek among the beautiful Canadian Rockies or watching the landscapes go past as you traverse the iconic Trans-Siberian Railway.
These are bucket list experiences. Moments that you can look back on and say ‘I did that’.
No matter where your mind wanders, Flight Centre’s experienced Round the World Travel Experts can help you get the most out of your travels. No itinerary is too complex – they know exactly how to help make multi-stop itineraries that are perfectly tailored to you – including accommodation, tours, cruises, trains and more.
So whether you’re in need of a short break from work, a month-long adventure or something more substantial, here’s a little inspo for the epic adventures to add to your bucket list.
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The small islands of Samoa are much less travelled than some of its other Pacific neighbours, meaning the sense of community you feel when visiting is unrivalled. It might not have Fiji’s resort culture, but Samoa offers authentic Pacific experiences as well as enough adventure to jam pack any itinerary.
You’ll want to make the To Sua Ocean Trench, on the island of Upolu, top of your to-do list. The place is so photogenic, you’ll hardly believe it’s real until you lay your eyes on it yourself. After a dip, the nearby gardens are the perfect place for a picnic and to let it all sink in. It’s around two hours’ drive from the Apia Faleolo International Airport – do a day trip with a tour or drive yourself, if you’re feeling adventurous.
A Filipino island paradise.
If a Southeast Asian jaunt is on the cards, but you’ve been-there-done-that in Bali and you’re looking for more of a nature trip, the Philippines’ most sparsely populated region Palawan may just be calling your name.
The main island is a long, thin 650km stretch, meaning that no matter where you are, you’re within reach of the ocean. And what an ocean it is.
Board a trusty bangka, aka speed boat, and island hop to any of the region’s 1780 islands. The far-north Calamian Islands are surrounded by sand so white it’ll blind you, and perfectly clear emerald water.
With practically nothing but coastline, Palawan ensures there’s always an empty beach you can enjoy all to yourself and once you’re done with the sand, you can head inland to rainforests where you must keep an out of for some truly unique creatures. See if you can spot the trifecta of monkeys, the endemic Palawan bearcats and giant monitor lizards.
Fly into Manila and it’s just an hour and 15 minutes’ flight to Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
A Nile river cruise.
Egypt, the ancient land of pyramids and pharaohs is full of bustling cities and more than 5000 years of stories, and so much of that can be seen on a cruise boat sailing up the world’s longest river.
Once you’ve experienced the hustle-and-bustle of Cairo and marvelled at the Pyramids of Giza, it’s time to hop on a luxurious boat and head south. You may want to head to Luxor, known as ‘the world’s greatest open-air museum’. A stone’s throw from the city is The Valley of the Kings, where for a period of nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BC, rock-cut tombs were excavated for the pharaohs and powerful nobles.
With palm-tree lined banks and more mysterious ancient temples than you can possibly imagine, a Nile river cruise is literally like sailing through history.
Fly across the Pacific Ocean to Peru, where you can choose from a range of different transport options to find yourself high in the mountains, at one of the New Seven Wonders of the World: Machu Picchu. The Incan citadel is found in the Andes Mountains, and even today the mystery of the 15th century structures remain – no one quite knows exactly what it was used for.
The Inca civilisation’s ‘Lost City’ can be accessed through a four-day trek for those active travellers, a day trip from closest city of Cusco or on a private tour with an overnight stay, for those with limited time or less desire to tie up their hiking boots.
Trans-Atlantic ocean crossing.
Tossing up between two of the world’s greatest cities? There really is no need to choose: You can have a famous New York pizza slice and visit a good old London pub on the same trip.
With a Trans-Atlantic crossing, you can spend your time on Broadway, exploring the streets of Dumbo in Brooklyn’s most trendy area and take a day-trip to the luxurious Hamptons.
Then the following week, you can compare the West End, have a picnic on Primrose Hill and take in the history of the spectacular Tower of London. Cheers to that.
The Orient Express. Sort of.
The famous Orient Express railway saw many different forms in its 126 years, but the original route was from Paris to Istanbul. In December 2009, the train ended its final run in Vienna, and the ‘Orient Express’ name ceased to exist on European timetables.
But do not worry: If you’re after tradition, you can trace the train’s original route through a number of different European trains (with a few extra stops) or enjoy the luxury of the original with a specially designed tour, such as with the Venice Simplon Orient Express.
As decadent as its inspiration, the train is comfortable, the food is decadent and the service is extraordinary.
The most popular route runs from London to Venice via Paris, but the train also serves Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Innsbruck, Istanbul and Berlin, so you can enjoy dinner in the very west of Europe and wake up to breakfast in the east.
Four weeks or more.
A drive across iconic Route 66.
Affectionately known as “The Mother Road”, The United States’ iconic Route 66 spans three time zones, eight states and 3940 kilometres. The road runs through the heart of America, running from the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles right through to Chicago.
Travelling through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Illinois, a drive along Route 66 will have you experiencing all the intricacies of US culture, from a classic bite at a smalltown diner to the vibrant art scene of Santa Fe. Plus, imagine the sing-a-longs you’ll have over nearly 4000 kms.
A Canadian Rockies nature escape.
Canada’s Rocky Mountains span the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia and they are, to put it simply, mind-blowing.
Hike the trails of Jasper and Banff, go canoeing on the picturesque Clearwater Lake and spot moose, deer and even bears and wolves for the brave at heart.
With lakes, mountains, glaciers and towns full of fun – and spas, to soak those sore muscles – like Whistler, a Canadian Rockies adventure will have your mouth ajar and audibly gasping at every turn.
A rail trip on the famous Trans-Siberian Railway.
The Trans-Siberian Railway is shorthand for the train tracks running from the Russian capital of Moscow, across seven time zones through the world’s largest country to where Asia meets the Pacific, to Vladivostok near Russia’s Chinese border and Beijing, on the Trans-Mongolian route.
The railway – once known as ‘the fairest jewel in the crown of the Tsars’ – is steeped in history. It has survived wars and revolution and still unites the vast landscapes of Russia today. With stops along the way you can enjoy time in Siberia, visit the spectacularly old (as in formed 25 to 30 million years ago-level old!) Lake Baikal and experience the interesting mixing of cultures in Russia’s far-east.
The railway doesn’t just end in Vladivostok or Beijing, either. The railway links Europe with China, Japan, Korea and even Southeast Asia through a number of connecting ferry and train routes. If you travel westbound, you can link all through Europe from Moscow. So, where would you like to go? Tokyo? Tibet? Hanoi? How about Berlin, or Amsterdam?
Feeling inspired? Now it’s time to put in your annual leave request and get planning.