My 10 Dream Travel Experiences

My 10 Dream Travel Experiences

Those of you who follow the Ladies What Travel Facebook page will already be aware that I’ve started looking into making some big travel plans for 2018. This is because next year I turn 40, and I’m hoping to celebrate my birthday with a super special travel experience.

As a travel lover its unsurprising that over the years I’ve amalgamated several dream experiences that I’d like to do, but I have also been asking around to see what others might recommend. Sadly many of the ideas are currently out of my ‘affordable luxury’ budget (maybe I should start saving towards them now to do some of these for my 50th?), but I promise you that one day I’m going to tick all of these bad boys off!

So, here are my 10 dream travel experiences – be warned that most of them involve animals! I’d love to hear if any of you have been lucky enough to experience these for yourself, or if you have any more great ideas to add into the mix for my 40th celebrations! Just let me know in the comment section below…


1 – Sleeping under the Northern Lights in a glass igloo

Dream travel experiences | Ladies What Travel

Image credit: Valtteri Hirvonen/Kakslauttanen

Dream travel experiences | Ladies What Travel

Image credit: Kakslauttanen

What better way to enjoy the Northern Lights than from the comfort of a cosy bed in a glass igloo? There are just a few spots in the world where you can do this, mainly in Finland, and they even have Northern Lights alarms, which will wake you up if there’s an overhead light show you just can’t miss!

Unfortunately this experience doesn’t come cheap, and you can expect to pay on average £600 a night. Although I’d love to do this I struggle with the idea of the cost, as I know I can get two weeks in sunny South East Asia for the same price as three nights here. Which would you prefer to do?


2 – Dog sledding in Greenland

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Image credit: Mads Pihl – Visit Greenland


I’m a little bit obsessed with Greenland – and it’s all the fault of that damned Walter Mitty. He started this obsession with Iceland and the big G, and to Justin’s chagrin, one day I will get there.

One of my many Greenland-related dreams is to go husky sledging. Seriously, can you imagine the wonder of being whisked through an arctic wonderland, with the rhythmic beat of the dogs’ paws as your soundtrack? Bliss.


3 – A stay at Giraffe Manor

Dream travel experiences | Ladies What Travel

Image credit: Angie, Silverspoon London. 

I heard about Giraffe Manor a good few years ago now, but I still regularly mention it to Justin when we talk about where to go for our next big holiday.

This small but luxurious hotel is on the outskirts of Nairobi, and is home to a group of endangered Rothschild giraffes. The most amazing thing about this place – these guys will literally pop their head in through your bedroom window to say hello to you and you can even have breakfast with them!

I hear they also do afternoon tea out on the veranda, where you might even get joined by the resident warthogs (squee!). This would be an amazing stop for my Global Afternoon Tea Challenge, don’t you agree?


4 – Gorilla trekking

Dream travel experiences | Ladies What Travel

With my health conditions this will be bloody tough to do, but I’d still absolutely adore seeing mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Sadly, they can only now be found in the mountains that straddle Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and there’s only around 850 left in the wild.

Getting close to these guys doesn’t come cheap but the experience sounds priceless. With a guide to keep you safe, you can spend anything from 1-5 hours trekking through the jungle to try find a family, but if you do, you then get to spend a magic hour alongside them. That’s 60 minutes you’d never, ever forget!

Gorilla permits cost anything from US$400 in the DRC through to US$1500 in Rwanda for one hour, but I’d choose to pay the higher fees in order to visit them in a more stable and safe country. On top of that, factor in that you’ll need to pay for the tour, or a private guide, and accommodation etc. So it’s definitely one of the most costly wildlife experiences. Understandably so though.


5 – An overwater bungalow in paradise

Dream travel experiences | Ladies What Travel

Image credit: Four Seasons Bora Bora

Whenever you see those ads for luxury holidays in the Maldives, Seychelles, Bora Bora, there’s always a shot of overwater bungalows with clear blue water below.

How amazing must it be to stay in one of these, with five star solitude and a trap door dropping you straight into the water so you can swim with your aquatic neighbours? This is my idea of utter luxury and something I’ve dreamed of doing for years. As it currently stands this is taking the top spot in my potential 40th trip list!


6 – Visiting the Galapagos Islands

Dream travel experiences | Ladies What Travel

Image credit: Lori Ulrich of Galapagos Conservancy.

Dream travel experiences | Ladies What Travel

Image credit: Kimber Wukitsch of Galapagos Conservancy.

Is this not mecca for wildlife lovers? At the Galapagos Islands you can see giant tortoises in their natural habitat, come across giant iguana, snorkel alongside playful sea lions and even swim with penguins!

There’s a lot more to the islands than its wildlife, for sure, but for me this is the main reason to visit. Every day here would be a dream!


7 – Working as an animal conservation volunteer in Costa Rica

Dream travel experiences | Ladies What Travel

Image credit: The Great Projects.

Costa Rica looks oh so beautiful and what better place to volunteer with animals than the home of my absolute number one critter, the sloth?!

There appear to be many different projects available to take part in, so a lot of research would need to be done to find one that is best for the animals and not just about making money. Once you know you’ve found a suitable place though, how amazing would it be to work with and for these beautiful creatures; developing enrichment activities, feeding them, keeping their enclosures clean and even possibly being there to see one returned to the wild!


8 – swimming with whale sharks

Dream travel experiences | Ladies What Travel

I can only imagine how awe inspiring it must be to swim alongside the world’s largest fish. These big boys can grow up to 40 feet long!

There are good spots to swim with whale sharks all around the world; from Mexico and Belize through to Australia and the Philippines.

Sadly though, in some areas locals are taking advantage of these gentle giants to make money, so be aware of ‘whale shark encounters’, where locals will hand feed the sharks, disrupting their natural behaviour.

Here’s a great post I found on the best spots to go diving with whale sharks, which also highlights the places you should avoid.


9 – Visit Torres del Paine National Park

Dream travel experiences | Ladies What Travel

One of my earliest travel dreams was to visit the Torres del Paine National Park, after seeing an image of the mountains in a travel brochure. At first glance I actually thought it was a painting and couldn’t believe this place was real. I thought it was so beautiful that I cut the picture out and pinned it to my wall. It’s worn and curling up now, but is still blu-taked to my world map, where it will stay until I finally make it there.

Dream travel experiences | Ladies What Travel


10 – Taking the Rocky Mountaineer across Canada

Dream travel experiences | Ladies What Travel


I thought I’d end my list with one of my dream experiences I’ve already had the pleasure of doing! A few years ago I spent three weeks travelling across Canada with my mum in the heart of winter. Starting in Toronto and ending in Vancouver, we travelled by train across snowy tundras and into the mountains, with the highlight being the four days we spent exploring the Jasper and Banff National Parks. We spent our time visiting frozen lakes and waterfalls, dealing with roads blocked by mountain goats and having breakfast interrupted by a herd of deer running through the high street!

Dream travel experiences | Ladies What Travel


Ten of my dream travel experiences

So, what experiences are on your personal travel wishlist? Perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to tick some off already? I’d love to hear all about them, so please let me know in the comment section below!


10 dream travel experiences | Ladies What Travel.jpg

Oregon Girl Around the World

By day Co-Editor Keri is a freelance journalist and copywriter, but spends most of her free time either travelling or planning her next trip!  A complete travel fanatic, she has a love of tropical climates, wildlife and afternoon tea (hence the creation of her Global Afternoon Tea Challenge!)

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  1. September 4, 2017 / 8:14 am

    We have a very similar bucket list! I’ve wanted to trek with gorillas for years and of course the northern lights igloos, water bungalows and giraffe manor! I’ve been to Costa Rica but wasn’t able to volunteer but it’s a project I’ve looked into many times! Hope you get to cross every single one off 🙂

    • September 5, 2017 / 10:15 am

      Cool Eppie! I’d love to go to Costa Rica so much – what were your highlights?

  2. September 4, 2017 / 7:27 pm

    What an amazing list! I also really want to do the gorilla trekking – had no idea it was so expensive though! I would definitely pick 2 weeks in Asia over one night in any hotel I have to be honest, though I can see the temptation. Also, I definitely definitely recommend one day venturing to Torres del Paine. We only did a day trip there when we went from Patagonia in Argentina across to Chilean Patagonia but we have dreamt of one day going back there and spending longer. Can’t wait to see what you end up choosing Keri!

    • September 7, 2017 / 2:21 pm

      Yeah its understandable in a way, but sad that getting to see those magnificent creatures in their natural habitat costs so much. One day though, one day!

      Ah I didn’t know you’d been to Patagonia Shikha, how lucky you are! So, what’s on your dream travel list then? 😉

  3. September 4, 2017 / 8:52 pm

    What a fabulous list! I’m so up for doing every single one of them with you btw…

    • September 5, 2017 / 10:16 am

      I’m down with that! 😉 We should start getting together for wildlife tourism trips and squeal over all the cute animals together!

    • September 5, 2017 / 10:16 am

      Uhhu! I hope they go from dream to reality though! 😉

  4. September 5, 2017 / 12:50 pm

    Wow! All of these experiences seem unique and outstanding! I especially loved the idea of dog sledding in Greenland! When’s the best time of the year to go there and experience that?

    • September 5, 2017 / 1:13 pm

      Don’t they Agness?! Sadly I don’t know the best time to go off the top of my head, I’d have to look into it. Can any other readers answer this question?

    • September 7, 2017 / 11:20 am

      I guess you’d want to go in late winter (February to April) as that’s when polar night has ended and the days are bright again but there’s still enough snow. It totally depends on where you’re going though – Nuuk, the capital is much further south and doesn’t have a real polar night, in contrast to Illulisat for example, where you can find the Icefjord.

      • September 7, 2017 / 2:23 pm

        Thanks Van, that’s really helpful! 😀

  5. September 6, 2017 / 10:24 am

    What an incredible list!!! All of this I would love to do, especially the gorilla trekking and visiting Torres del Paine.

    • September 6, 2017 / 2:48 pm

      There’s some amazing things to tick off there, I do hope I manage to work my way through them all eventually! 😉

  6. September 7, 2017 / 4:11 am

    I have not done any of these but are on my list of dream experiences too. I still hope to make at least two interesting trips before the end of the year. I have not planned for next year but want to do something nice to celebrate my 10th year wedding anniversary. #wanderfulwednesday

    • September 7, 2017 / 2:22 pm

      Have you got any ideas in mind Ruth? Hope this post helped inspire you! 😀

  7. September 7, 2017 / 11:17 am

    Some of these are on my bucket list as well- like the Galapagos, and staying in an overwater hut. And staying in Giraffe Manor would be so awesome. You’ve added another one to my list! #farawayfiles

    • September 7, 2017 / 2:22 pm

      They never stop growing, do they?! lol

  8. September 7, 2017 / 11:18 am

    I want to stay at giraffe manor too one day!! That’s by far the most extraordinary place I’ve ever heard of!

    • September 7, 2017 / 2:23 pm

      I love that you can enjoy an afternoon tea outside and the warthogs may come over to check you out. Wildlife heaven!!

  9. September 7, 2017 / 11:22 am

    Agreed! I want to do alllllllll of these, except #8 haha #FarawayFiles

    • September 7, 2017 / 2:24 pm

      Awww, why not eight?!

  10. Wow – that is a great list! I’m voting for the huts over that blue blue blue water! But that’s maybe because it’s rainy and grey here in Copenhagen today. Look forward to see which ones work out and where you go! #FarawayFiles

    • September 7, 2017 / 2:24 pm

      I feel ya Erin! Getting a little cooler here in the UK too, dreaming of warm sunny places already…

  11. September 7, 2017 / 11:54 am

    Big YES to all of this from me! Gorilla trekking and Northern Lights are certainly top 5 for me. #FarawayFiles

    • September 7, 2017 / 2:25 pm

      Yay! Great choices! 😉

  12. September 7, 2017 / 1:21 pm

    I think you might just need to turn 40 a couple of times!! How do you choose out of this amazing list? The Bora Bora bungalow is my choice 🙂 #FarawayFiles

    • September 7, 2017 / 2:26 pm

      Tell me about it Annette! I’d be doing one a year if I could afford it but sadly these will need to stay for special occasions. Maybe every 5 years perhaps? 😉

  13. September 7, 2017 / 6:03 pm

    Oh my goodness – your dream experiences reads like a travel brochure or a ‘bucket list of things you may get to do one of before you die”! I’m beyond jealous of all of these. Via #thetravellinkup

    • September 8, 2017 / 2:33 pm

      Ha ha, I suppose it does Emma! Still, I’ve only ticked one off so far, so I’ve got a long way to go yet. 🙂

  14. September 7, 2017 / 8:05 pm

    I’d love to do the igloos too!

    • September 8, 2017 / 2:36 pm

      They look amazing, don’t they Angie! x

  15. September 8, 2017 / 5:59 am

    Woe! What a list! Sleeping under the Northern Lights in a glass igloo is definitely also number one for me 🙂 Since seeing those amazing pics in an article a few years back, I just can’t get it out of my mind. The other thing is gorilla trekking … that would be so incredible! #farawayfiles

    • September 8, 2017 / 2:37 pm

      Yeah me too Birgit, those travel mags have got a lot to be blamed for lol!

  16. September 8, 2017 / 5:48 pm

    What a wonderful idea for a post, Keri! You’ve got me thinking about all mine. I’d love to do ALL of these. Staying at Giraffe Manor has been on my wishlist for years and I love the idea of sleeping in a glass igloo under the Northern Lights. I’ve been lucky enough to have stayed in an overwater bungalow in the Maldives – it was wonderful although we were only there for a few nights so perhaps another time I could stay there longer. Loved this post for #FarawayFiles

    • September 11, 2017 / 11:53 am

      Thanks Clare! Aww, where did you stay in the Maldives? And if only for a short while, where did you go on to? I’m seriously thinking about this for my 40th so would love to get some recommendations!

  17. September 8, 2017 / 8:55 pm

    So many of these are on my list as well!! I did go to the “poor man’s Galapagos” while in Ecuador–it probably wasn’t quite the same, but we saw some turtles and blue-footed boobies!

    • September 11, 2017 / 11:54 am

      I’ve not heard of that before Amy, what’s it called? I’m sure it was still bloody beautiful, right?

  18. September 9, 2017 / 10:41 am

    This is basically my dream list too! I can’t fault or question any of these experiences that you have listed – they all are right up on my most-wanted travel experiences! The igloos, the huskies, whale sharks, giraffes, overwater bungalows – you said it, I want it! #farawayfiles

    • September 11, 2017 / 11:54 am

      Ha ha, not surprising though really, they’re pretty amazing sounding experiences…

  19. September 9, 2017 / 1:41 pm

    So I just pinned this post to my “Bucket-List” board because I want to do every single thing on this list! I have been to Torres del Paine, but other than that, every other thing here looks UNREAL. You just added 9 travel experiences to my never ending travel bucket list … Thanks a lot …. hehe 😀

    • September 11, 2017 / 11:55 am

      Woo hoo! Glad to be of service Lauren lol! Yeah the lists just get longer and longer, don’t they! Loved your Torres del Paine post, I want to go there even more now!

  20. September 10, 2017 / 9:18 am

    Great list!! Sleeping under the northern lights is one of the top travel experiences on my list too! Giraffe manor would be cool too!! #farawayfiles

    • September 11, 2017 / 3:26 pm

      I guess that’s why the prices are so high Tracy – everyone wants to experience it! 😉

  21. September 10, 2017 / 6:46 pm

    I seriously want to do everything on your list! Every. Single. Thing. lol I’m going to Africa for the first time in December but we aren’t going to Kenya to the giraffe manor but I’m excited to see all the amazing animals!

    • September 11, 2017 / 11:56 am

      Oh wow! I bet an African safari is amazing – something I’d like to do too, only safari I’ve done was in Sri Lanka but it was amazing getting to see the elephants…

  22. September 11, 2017 / 11:27 am

    I think I need to get out more! Bit of a reluctant traveller, most of favorite places are where I visit on a regular basis and hang out with friends but could be tempted into a glass Igloo or a bedroom on stilts. Was briefly in Finland recently and once we got the fish slapping song out of our heads really was impressed by the country.

    • September 11, 2017 / 11:57 am

      ha ha, nothing wrong with returning to favourite haunts I think. I have to ask, what’s the fish slapping song?!

  23. September 11, 2017 / 9:46 pm

    This is a great list. I have had the privilege of visiting the Galapagos and it really is a unique experience. However for your 40th birthday I would highly recommend the bungalow over water experience. I was fortunate enough to stay in one in the Maldives some years ago and have dreamt of doing it again ever since. Its hard to beat dropping from your own deck straight into a clear blue sea. Hope you are able to fulfil some of these dream experiences. #FarawayFiles

    • September 14, 2017 / 2:29 pm

      Ah it sounds like total bliss Angie. I really hope we can find a way to do it (things have had to go on hold due to some job insecurity!) Fingers crossed things work out ok!

  24. September 14, 2017 / 8:44 am

    Oh my word – I want to do all of these! I think the Northern Lights one would be my top dream travel experience. It would be amazing to see them!

    • September 14, 2017 / 2:30 pm

      Wouldnt it?! I totally need to go on some photography courses first though, so I can at least attempt to capture a shot or two to bring home. I hear they’re really hard to get a good photo of!

    • September 20, 2017 / 11:58 am

      Sure – when you free?! 😉

  25. September 20, 2017 / 4:46 pm

    Wow, a lot of these places are on my list, too! I actually know someone who has done the giraffe manor. She said it was amazing! I’d also give my left arm to stay in one of those igloos to see the northern lights. How amazing would that be?? And yes yes yes to the Galapagos Islands!

    • September 21, 2017 / 3:21 pm

      Oh I’m so jealous, it must be an amazing place to stay!

  26. September 28, 2017 / 5:07 am

    Amazing experiences. I also want to sleep with the northern lights in a glass igloo. yah it is more costly but it does not matter to fulfill my dream.I want to do this as soon as possible.Thanks for sharing this article.

    • September 28, 2017 / 5:28 pm

      I totally get what you mean Marsha!

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