Many fun Florida road trip stops are waiting to be explored and discovered. What are your favorites Florida road trip stops?

8 Great Travel Experiences That Will Make You Happy

While I have included a few great travel experiences here that will make you happy, I certainly realize there are countless other great travel experiences all over the world. So let this serve as a starting point. I would love to hear what great travel experiences make you happy so that I can try them myself on future trips.

8 Great Travel Experiences That Will Make You Happy


Gotta drop the mic on this first great travel experience. Jumping from an airplane was the craziest thing I have done. Well, not so much jumping, as falling. Scary? Heck, yes. I kept my hands to myself because I feared clocking the instructor, knocking him out, and I would not know what to do in that situation.

great travel experiences: Skydive Delmarva

great travel experiences: Skydive Delmarva

This great travel experience was through Skydive Delmarva courtesy of Visit Southern Delaware. Yes, someone paid for me to skydive. How awesome is that?


Different great travel experience but somewhat similar to skydiving. A small propeller airplane tows your motorless glider airplane into the air. Once you reach a certain altitude, the glider pilot releases the towline and you ease back to terra firma. For the few minutes you are free floating it is very quiet and surreal. I loved it.

Great Travel Experiences: Harris Hill Soaring, Elmira, New York

great travel experiences: Harris Hill Soaring, Elmira, New York

This great travel experience was through Harris Hill Soaring in Elmira, New York courtesy of Corning Finger Lakes. Yes, someone paid for me to go soaring. How awesome is that? Hey, I might say the same thing again so get used to it!

Great Travel Experiences: Harris Hill Soaring, Elmira, New York.

Harris Hill Soaring, Elmira, New York.

Fly Fishing

The third new great travel experience I did this year was fly fishing. While skydiving and soaring are definitely great travel experiences I wanted to try (even if not 100%), fly fishing was not really on my radar. After three different people asked me within the same week if I wanted to try fly fishing, I finally got the hint. They say a bad day fishing is better than a great day at work. Lucky me, I had a great day fishing, catching a 22 inch brownie (brown trout).

Great Travel Experiences: Steamboat Flyfisher, Steamboat Springs, Colorado

great travel experiences: Steamboat Flyfisher, Steamboat Springs, Colorado

This great travel experience was through Steamboat Flyfisher courtesy of Steamboat Springs Chamber. Yes, someone paid for me to go fly fishing. You know what I was going to say next, right?


I love kayaking. It is a great way to explore an area and provides some exercise. While kayaking on Loften Creek on Amelia Island, Florida last month, I tried to remember all of the states I have kayaked in. I decided I should just start over and kayak in every state, just to make sure.

great travel experiences: Amelia Island Kayak Excursions

great travel experiences: Liquid Road Trip! Loften Creek, Amelia Island

A couple of months before that, I had the great fortune to kayak two times in the same week in gorgeous southern Delaware. The area has an abundance of natural settings and great restaurants, within a short drive of millions of northeastern US residents.

8 Great Travel Experiences: kayaking in Southern Delaware

Kayaking in Southern Delaware. Photo credit:

These three great travel experiences included: Delmarva Board Sport Adventures and Adrenaline High courtesy of Visit Southern Delaware and Amelia Island Kayak Excursions courtesy of Visit Amelia Island.

Camping Fun

A couple of weeks ago, JUCY provided me a complimentary 5 day rental of one of their mini RVs. We enjoyed camping along Big Sur and California’s Central Coast, making breakfast and dinner with views of the mighty Pacific Ocean, and driving the coolest vehicle in California. The JUCY Champ mini RV can sleep 4 persons, has a solar-powered refrigerator, 2 stoves, a sink, plenty of dishes and amenities.

great travel experiences: JUCY visits Big Sur, California

great travel experiences: McCool’s JUCY in Big Sur, California

great travel experiences: JUCY at sunset in Pacific Grove, California

McCool’s JUCY watching sunset in Pacific Grove, California

This great travel experience was courtesy of JUCY.

McCool Travel tip: If you are interested in RV travel experience (whether renting or buying), a convenient place to begin research is Go RVing, particularly the Where to Find: Rentals section.

Road Trips

Many of the great travel experiences in my lifetime have been road trips. I prefer curvy, smaller roads like (Road to Hana) to major highways (like German Autobahn), but, heck, any new road in a travel destination can be fun. Some road trips that were great travel experiences this year, besides Big Sur (above), were England (always fun to drive around), the gorgeous Czech Republic/Germany mountain region, and an autumn Shenandoah Valley road trip (with a Mazda MX-5 Miata) and a summer Virginia road trip (with a Mazda CX-3).

great travel experiences: Mazda MX-5 Miata Convertible along Skyline Drive

great travel experiences: Mazda MX-5 Miata Convertible along Skyline Drive

The 2016 Mazda CX-3 and 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata convertible were loaned to me for one week each by DriveShop.

Most often, though, I am exploring the unpaved roads of Virginia in my very own Subaru Forester.

great travel experiences: exploring dirt roads

great travel experiences: McCool’s Subaru Forester in Loudoun County, Virginia

Exploring and Relaxing

One of our recent great travel experiences was a Jeep tour into the heart of the San Andreas fault near Palm Springs, California. The tour allowed time to explore (with guidance) the slot canyons where the Pacific and North American tectonic plates meet. I am glad there was no rumbling ground during my visit.

great travel experiences: Palm Springs, Desert Adventures (Red Jeep Tours)

great travel experiences: San Andreas fault in Palm Springs, California

This great travel experience was through Desert Adventures courtesy of Visit Palm Springs.

In Iceland this summer, my family hiked to natural public hot springs. It was about a 3 km hike (yes, each way) starting about 45 minutes from Reykjavik. McCool Travel Tip: We saved more than 300 Euros compared to a visit to the Blue Lagoon.

great travel experiences: Iceland public hot spring

great travel experiences: Iceland public hot spring

Last month, the same morning as the above epic fly fishing experience, we visited Strawberry Park Hot Springs in Steamboat Springs Colorado. It is a magnificent facility about a 20 minute drive from downtown Steamboat Springs.

great travel experiences: Strawberry Park Hot Springs in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Strawberry Park Hot Springs, Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Complimentary admission for this great travel experience was provided by Strawberry Park Hot Springs in conjunction with Steamboat Springs Chamber.

Your choice? Let me know.

OK, I listed 8 great travel experiences and reached out to some travel friends for suggestions. Many of them also contributed to my recent article, Absolutely Inspiring Places to Visit in 2017. Please read their wishes and recommendations for great travel experiences in 2017. After doing so, please, please let me know what great travel experiences you have in mind for next year (or any year).

Scott Eddy, Mr. Scott Eddy (web : Facebook : Twitter)

My top goal in 2017 is to go on a luxury safari in Africa, that’s something I’ve always wanted to do. There’s some magical about seeing animals in the wild, where they should be, not behind bars.

Christina ThomasGo Epicurista: (web : Instagram : Pinterest)

In 2017 I hope to finally sail on Royal Caribbean’s newest Quantum class of ships and indulge in over thirty different dining experiences! I also hope to compare sea vs. river by sailing on a European river cruise. After reading about the mind-blowing dining on Viking River Cruises on McCool Travel [Ed. Note. Thank you!], I promptly added this to my someday list and plan to #MakeSomedayHappen.

Richard Kerr, The Points Jock (web : Facebook : Twitter)

I am hopeful of getting to the Galapagos, Easter Island, and my current golden goose – the Falkland Islands. All can be reached using British Airways Avios for free flights!

Sarah Dandashy, Ask a Concierge (web : Twitter : YouTube)

I would love to visit Machu Picchu! It is one of those places that has always been on my list, but I really want to make it a reality for 2017. I am certain it would be one of those “life-changing” experiences and fun to do with family.

Johnny Jet, Johnny Jet (web : Facebook : Twitter)

I want to try flying with my three month son Jack for the first time! I look forward to showing him the world.

8 Great Travel Experiences That Will Make You Happy

Photo credit: Johnny Jet

Julie McCool, Fun in Fairfax VA (web : Instagram : Twitter)

A trip with Viking Ocean Cruises Into the Midnight Sun is at the top of my 2017 travel wish list. My previous ocean and river cruises with Viking were spectacular, and they would be ideal guides for exploring the coast of Norway and cruising above the Arctic Circle. Stunning natural beauty, remote villages, and endless summer nights sound like a winning travel combination to me.

Cathy Merrifield, RoarLoud (web : Instagram : Twitter)

Want to try something new this winter?  Go beyond snowshoeing or skiing and try freeride airboard by Undiscovered Pyrenees!  Snowshoe up the French Pyrenees with incredible views wherever you look.  Sounds like a challenge but the reward is well worth it.  Zoom back down the mountain on your inflated kevlar airboard.  This is most definitely a RoarLoud adventure.

Pam Rossi, Always5Star (web : Facebook : Twitter)

I have spent several years trying various methods to add luxury to my travel at more economical costs. In 2017 I am on a quest to further expand my knowledge through connecting with other travel experts. A large part of my travel will be focused on meeting other travel bloggers, including international travel conferences. I have a goal of connecting with @CharlesMcCool and his wife @FuninFairfax [Ed. Note. Definitely!]. Expanding relationships with people that share your travel passion is exciting. I look forward to sharing these experiences on social media as well! Cheers to you and your travel dreams in 2017!

What great travel experiences are on your mind?

These 8 great travel experiences will make you happy, and include some suggestions from leading travel experts. What are your great travel experiences?


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8 Great Travel Experiences That Will Make You Happy was originally published on McCool Travel on 23 December 2016.

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47 Responses to “8 Great Travel Experiences That Will Make You Happy”

  1. Sue Reddel December 26, 2017 at 7:34 pm #

    Sorry not as adventurous as must of your readers. I’ll stick to road trips always a wonderful way to stop and find interesting spots to visit.

    • McCool Travel February 5, 2018 at 5:09 pm #

      Adventure is subjective. I love a fun and scenic road trip, Sue!

  2. pattimorrow December 24, 2017 at 1:49 pm #

    Spot on with this list! I can’t pick just one though…my favs are skydiving, kayaking, exploring, road trips and hot springs.

    • McCool Travel February 5, 2018 at 5:09 pm #

      Wow, you are quite adventurous, Patti. What upcoming adventures do you have planned?

  3. Kristin Henning December 20, 2017 at 11:26 am #

    I like that you included fly fishing! I haven’t done that. I have jumped from a plane, but would love to explore via helicopter or the more serene soaring.

  4. Doreen Pendgracs December 19, 2017 at 4:16 pm #

    Hi Charles. I must say, my list would be much different than yours. I think my happiest travel moment ever, was being slathered in molten chocolate at the Pure Jungle Spa in Costa Rica, and then having to wash it off myself in the outdoor jungle shower. I was totally giddy with the endorphins released from the cocoa and higher than a kite from it! 🙂 Have a wonderful festive season, my friend.

  5. Carole Terwilliger Meyers December 18, 2017 at 10:00 pm #

    I plan to take a road trip in 2018. From San Francisco to Las Vegas, probably via Death Valley. I’ve done it before through the back door via the Tioga Pass in Yosemite, but that will be closed when I go in January. So I’ll do this other route, which I’ve also done before, but long enough ago that I’ve forgotten most of it.

    • McCoolTravel (@CharlesMcCool) December 19, 2017 at 6:35 am #

      Love that you are re-doing a memorable road trip. So much gorgeousness to explore (and re-explore) in California.

  6. Karen Warren December 18, 2017 at 4:52 am #

    What makes me happy is exploring and discovering new things. But I also love long distance hiking and hope to do more of that in 2018.

  7. loisaltermark December 18, 2017 at 1:15 am #

    Wow, you are much more adventurous than I am! My happiest travel moments come in much more relaxing activities, like getting a good spa treatment or enjoying the view on a Viking Ocean Cruise!

  8. allis July 25, 2017 at 6:39 am #

    I just really like this kind of amazing articles.

  9. Mary Norton (@aesta1) January 15, 2017 at 7:40 pm #

    Road trip on the Miata was one of the best experiences we’ve had. Now that we’re much older, we look for comfort more.

    • McCool Travel January 15, 2017 at 8:18 pm #

      Love the Miata for road trips, although we are limited in how much stuff to bring. Super sweet vehicle.

  10. Sue Reddel January 2, 2017 at 11:16 am #

    Lots of great ideas for travel folks. I really want to try stand up paddle boarding in 2017.

    • McCool Travel January 2, 2017 at 4:08 pm #

      Go for it. I need to try it again. Did it one time but only sat and kneeled.

  11. Tree House Bhiwadi December 30, 2016 at 2:28 am #

    Great destinations! Very nice list with amazing pics. I like this list very much. Thanks!

    • McCool Travel December 30, 2016 at 3:39 pm #

      Thank you for the note. Love your tree house!

  12. andrewkevinscott December 29, 2016 at 3:20 pm #

    Nice list, Charles! As a regular kayaker, I will definitely vouch for it making me happy. There’s something so soothing about being on the water, completely alone with your thoughts. I would love to try soaring sometime; that looks incredible. 🙂

    • McCool Travel December 29, 2016 at 7:40 pm #

      Soaring was so fun. Love your kayak description. I will remember that next time I go.

  13. StephanieM December 28, 2016 at 6:36 pm #

    Great list of great travel experiences that make you happy! I would also add hiking! Anything involving getting outdoors while travelling abroad, or in my backyard really make me happy!

  14. The GypsyNesters December 27, 2016 at 2:15 pm #

    Happy to report that we have done all of the above, and yes, they did make us happy. Speaking of happy,

    • McCool Travel December 27, 2016 at 11:37 pm #

      You are rock stars! What great travel experiences are on your mind for the near future?

  15. MoreTimeToTravel (@MoreTime2Travel) December 27, 2016 at 2:13 pm #

    You sure sound like a “Renaissance Man” with a diversity of interests!

    • McCool Travel December 27, 2016 at 11:38 pm #

      Variety is the spice of life. Travel Happy!

  16. Karen Warren December 27, 2016 at 7:13 am #

    My best travel experiences are hiking, exploring and discovering new things. I hope I’ll be doing a lot more of all of them in 2017!

    • McCool Travel December 27, 2016 at 7:21 am #

      Me, also. May 2017 bring you countless enjoyable and memorable travel experiences.

  17. alison abbott December 26, 2016 at 12:47 pm #

    I experienced my first river cruise this year and think it’s a great travel experience that will make you happy. What a change of pace to have all the details taken care of for you and unpack once and let your hotel do the moving around. Big smile here!

    • McCool Travel February 1, 2017 at 9:29 pm #

      So totally agree. Love being able to unpack one time and wake up in a different place every day.

  18. Rebecca Hall (Bex) December 26, 2016 at 6:49 am #

    Agree with you re: Skydiving…it’s such a natural high, I compare it to what it must be like to get a hit of some drug!
    I love glamping since I discovered it (glamorous camping) and now feel I’m a bit spoilt!

  19. Rachel Heller December 26, 2016 at 5:43 am #

    You left out scuba diving and snorkeling! My most recent diving was in Jordan, just south of Aqaba. It was magnificent! And I’d also add a whale-watching trip: there’s something magical about spotting that whale!

    • McCool Travel December 26, 2016 at 8:22 am #

      Oh, I love snorkeling. Have not tried SCUBA. Maybe 2017?

      • Rachel Heller December 26, 2016 at 9:48 am #

        Go for it! I caught the bug in Eilat, Israel, where I’d been snorkeling but decided to try “snuba.” That let me try it out without going through the training. I loved it!

  20. Julie @ FuninFairfaxVA December 23, 2016 at 9:46 am #

    Everything on this list appeals to me except sky-diving. I chose not to plummet. 🙂

  21. RoarLoud December 23, 2016 at 9:17 am #

    I would love to go to that hot spring in Iceland!! Sky diving- no thanks:) Thanks for including us Charles!

    • McCool Travel December 23, 2016 at 11:51 am #

      Oh, you would roar very loud, and hardly anyone would hear you.


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