Traveler's Test

18 non-banal ways to make your trip memorable

18 non-banal ways to make your trip memorable

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Featured photo:  © Maria Angelova/

There are many ways to make your trip memorable and very few of them include taking photos. What makes our adventures around the planet truly special are all the unexpected, exciting or silly things we get up to when we decide to do something completely different.

If you’re in search of crazy things to do on your next trip, here are a few ideas sourced from myself and several other travel bloggers.

#1 Fill the tank of your car to the top and then drive until you run out of gas.

#2 Spend the night in a truly unusual place like a stilt cabin, a tree house or a Neolithic-style abode.

#3 Sign up for a unique course – candy cane-making, anyone?

Candy cane-making course, anyone? | raw[ixel/Unsplash

#4 Travel with strangers. Hitting the road with friends is (almost) always fun, but choosing strangers for travel buddies can be even more exciting. You never know what unexpected experiences you’ll encounter, how many new friends you’ll make and what crazy ideas they’ll come up with. Browse travel groups on Facebook for upcoming social events or just ask a friend of a friend to introduce you to someone who is also looking for new travel companions.

“When my planned trips with friends kept getting canceled last summer, I rummaged through several Facebook groups to find people organizing a relatively easy mountain climb. Yes, I trekked Mt. Pundaquit with strangers. Traveling with people you barely know poses real dangers such as getting scammed, robbed, or physically harmed, especially when you’re going for a trek or camping in the wild. Having said that, traveling with people you just met gives you a certain kind of high. Not only you have the opportunity to meet lifelong friends, you also get to realize that people, strangers even, are not that bad at all. You get to have renewed faith in humanity as you observe how the initial awkwardness develops into the cozy exchanges or laughter as you traverse a difficult terrain,” says Noel from the travel blog Ten Thousand Strangers.

Travel with strangers | Kevin Delvecchio/Unsplash

#5 Organize a restaurant crawl.Whenever I’m doing research on a new city, I always find too many places I want to try. So to knock out as many as we can, we’ll do a “crawl” and try different dishes and drinks at a bunch of different restaurants in one night. We try to start with apps and move our way to dessert, but sometimes a churro just looks too good to pass up at your first stop – this works particularly well in walkable neighborhoods, like Zona Rosa/Zona T in Bogota!“, shares Dorothy from the travel blog Oz and Other Places.

#6 Join a dance class. I love to dance, but am in no way whatsoever a “dancer”. However, I think learning about a local dance is so interesting and includes a lot about the history/culture/music/attitude of the locals. We took a Casino (similar to Salsa) class in Havana, then got to go to a club that night with our teachers. It was by far a highlight of the trip. Learned a lot and laughed at ourselves even more,” suggests another idea Dorothy from the travel blog Oz and Other Places.

Join a dance class | Adrian Lumi/Unsplash

#7 Trust a friend to organize your trip. Treat your friend like a mystery tour company and let them choose a destination and activities for you. Take it to the next level by keeping your destination a surprise until you arrive at the airport and your friend gives you the tickets.

#8 Choose an unusual means of transport. Why not take a kayak, a donkey, or hitch a ride on the side of the road? You can even take thumbing it to the next level – organize a hitchhiking contest with your friends to see who will arrive first at your designated destination.

Choose an atypical means of transportation | Caleb Stokes/Unsplash

#9 Rely on your luck instead of bus schedules. If you have time and want to spice up your travels, try sticking your thumb out and hitchhiking to your next destination instead of taking more “standard” transportation. “I once had to head from Leh to Manali, India, earlier than planned. To make light of the situation, I decided to hitchhike down the mountain highway! Rather than a banal bus ride, I ended up riding atop eggs in the back of a pickup truck, singing to Backstreet Boys atop a 5,000-meter+ mountain pass, and being taken in by a gang of boys led by a cheerfully transparent—and filthy rich—son of a corrupt Indian politician”. This story shared by Alex from the travel blog Lost With Purpose might inspire you to try this out.

#10 Dip naked in an onsen… with strangers. “Some of my most unforgettable trips are the ones where I took steps to indulge in the culture and traditions of the area I found myself in, especially if they forced me to step out of my comfort zone. In Japan, I tried going to an onsen, or hot spring, as it is a common practice. Doing so meant that I would be bathing naked with several other naked women. As an American, it was super strange for me at first, but I got an appreciation for why Japanese like onsen so much and actually came to enjoy the experience,” suggests Kiyoko from the travel blog Footsteps of a Dreamer.

#11 Visit a famous attraction at an atypical time. Some attractions – like the Colosseum in Rome – have special days when you can visit them at night. Others are less crowded in the morning before the cruise ships/tourist buses ruin the atmosphere by spitting out thousands of loud, sweaty visitors.

Visit a famous attraction at an unusual time | Bence Boros/Unsplash

#12 If a stranger invites you over for a coffee, don’t instinctively decline. Accepting invitations on the road can lead to amusing situations, like that one time when two friends (a couple) and I were in a remote village asking for directions. An old man helped us and invited us to join him for coffee, but only 15 minutes later he was busy trying to set up his grandson with the other girl (you know, the one whose boyfriend was in the room with us). He even called his grandson and asked him to quickly come over and meet his wife-to-be. To this day the story still makes us smile (and cringe a little bit). 

#13 Guide people into a forest and pretend you are lost. Some people want to step out of their comfort zone but are too nervous to ever do it themselves. That’s when a brave adventurer like you has to take charge! So, encourage some of your friends to join you in a forest to pick mushrooms, or even just for a hike, then start acting like you don’t know where to go (I pretended that I lost my compass). Ask people for advice; my companions proposed hilarious solutions as I pretended to be more and more panicked. It’s important that you choose an area with no network coverage so your friends can’t cheat using Google Maps.

Make sure you don’t do this with people who won’t get the joke. The friends I tricked have quite a dark sense of humor, so they enjoyed the prank. This was the conversation when we got out:
– “Oh, I think I just put my compass in the wrong pocket.”

– “You asshole, you made the whole thing up!?”

Suggested by Alexander Popkov from Engineer On Tour, who has started putting all his ridiculous stories in a designated “Random Jackassery” category.

#14 Drive one hour from your city and stop at the most boring, unappealing place next the road. Spice it up by playing board games there.

#15 Meet locals to find the best off-the-beaten-paths. A great way to make a trip memorable is to participate in any kind of class where you can meet locals and ask them to show you some off-the-beaten-path spots in their city. “This is a great way to interact with locals, especially when you travel solo. I took cooking classes in Mexico City which really helped me interact with the locals and thereby navigate such a large metropolis,” says Jack from the travel blog Find World’s Beauty.

#16 Get naked. “Driving down a deserted highway in Namibia is beautiful on its own, but you’ve driven down highways before. Want to make this extra fun? Pull over, take your clothes off and jump into the middle of the road for a couple pictures. There is nothing quite like standing in the middle of a desert anticipating a car at any minute while trying to get that cheeky shot… Our naked escapades (or escapes?) have led us down some really funny rabbit holes of adventure.” This piece of advice comes from Natalie from the travel blog A Pair of Travel Pants.

Get naked on the road! | Free-Photos/Pixabay

#17 Find a stunning vantage point over the city you’re visiting, then climb to the top with a bottle of wine, nibbles and wine glasses (if you can’t find the real deal, get a pack of those picnic-style plastic glasses). What better way to organize a last-minute DYI romantic dinner under the stars, or just a memorable evening with friends. Simply Google “[name of the city] rooftop views” and choose your spot!

#18 Sleep in a hammock outdoors instead of in a regular hotel room.

Read more: 17 creative and crazy things to do with your friends on a trip