Infuse Your 2020 Travel Itinerary With These 7 Transformative Experiences

Photo taken in Lisbon, Portugal
For many, travel experiences exemplify the reward portion of the "work hard, play hard" continuum—and evidence abounds to support the notion: Both solo travel and soloish travel are growing in popularity; engaged couples are opting for honeymoon funds as part of or even in place of more traditional registries; and celecations aren’t going away any time soon.

Even if a sense of wanderlust isn't currently nipping at you, perhaps that'll change upon learning about the meaningful travel experiences so many had in 2019. Allow them to spark some inspiration—and don't worry, these are far more exciting than hearing your friend drone on about her study-abroad experience in Denmark. (It's been 10 years, Jessica, we've gotta move past it). So, allow the seven transformative travel experiences rounded up to inform your 2020 itinerary.

Hydra island in Greece is best seen by running to the top of it
Photo: Getty Images/Allard Schager

1. Why the most magical way to see a Greek Island is to run on top of it

If for some reason you weren't already drooling over the cerulean waters of Greece on Pinterest, that's about to change, thanks to Hydra Island, an authentic off-the-mainland paradise where one writer weaved through the small fruit markets and white stone houses on a grand runner's tour. True to Greece's mythical reputation, she even spotted a unicorn...well, okay, kind of. 

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary gave me cathartic tears of joy
Photo: Stocksy/Juri Pozzi

2. How crying cathartic tears of joy in an Australian Koala sanctuary set me free

Not all of us are professional public criers (ahem) and thus can only find emotional release on a trip to Brisbane, Australia's Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Okay, that sounds...extremely specific. But who wouldn't lose it upon meeting cuddly koalas you just want to smoosh?

Yoga in Paris was my method for finding a community abroad
Photo: Getty Images/swissmediavision

3. How a 5-Euro yoga class in Paris helped me feel at home while living abroad

"Very few sob stories begin with, 'I moved to Paris.' Mine doesn’t either, but when I arrived in the city’s 11th arrondissement (aka, neighborhood) as an 18-year-old college freshman, I’d never felt more lonely." Now you're curious, right? If you're feeling lonely in the City of Lights or anywhere else in the world, tune into Kells McPhillips's tale of finding a flexible community in the most unexpected of places. (Spoiler alert: She ended up perfectly happy!)

Hedonism II review: What a clothing-optional resort is like
Photo: Getty Images/Westend61

4. I went to a Jamaican sex resort after a yearlong dry spell—here's what happened

To give you a peek into this raunchy piece, one writer witnessed everything from "discreet fellating in the dining hall" and "a playroom of adult toys, like sex swings and a spanking bench,"to (of course) "an orgy or three." Basically, Hedonism II isn't f--king around, except in the very literal sense. The question is, was the dry spell quenched? Check it out to see.

Get over a breakup with a motorcycle trip through Chile
Getty Images/AdamGregor

5. A spontaneous motorcycle trip through Chile got me through a major breakup—and made me feel alive

Naturally after cycling through all the typical "cures" for heartbreak, one writer decided to take a Christmas Eve cruise on the back of a motorcycle. Of course, she does it with heart, humor, and an eyeful of gorgeous scenery as she and her cycling partner make their way down the coast of Chile.

relaxing in hawaii
Photo: Stocksy/Carey Shaw

6. Getting injured in Hawaii was actually the best thing to happen to my vacation

Okay, the best thing to happen perhaps was not the exact moment this writer sprained her ankle, but after the initial pangs passed, her injury helped her achieve the impossible: actual rest on vacation. We don't recommend the same strategy for you to achieve travel Zen, but this tale will inspire you to slooow down and enjoy the view.

Elephants in Thailand and Nora Ephron saved my life
Photo: Getty Images/woothisak-nirongboot

7. How elephants in Thailand (and Nora Ephron) helped me feel strong as hell

Pro Tip: Hiking mountains four hours outside of Chiang Mai is no easy feat if you've never hiked before and have the not-broken-in boots to prove it. Great for Indiana Jones types, sure, I just don't recommend you do it while fragile, six days post-breakup. But, that's exactly what I did—and I'm better for it. My journey taught me about developing resilience in crisis, the healing powers of Heartburn, and why you should appreciate every bacon, egg, and cheese you get in life. And, also, there's still no place like home.

In case you're late to the game, all travel is wellness travel now...if you want it to be. And be sure to plan a girl's trip in 2020, because traveling with friends promotes health and happiness.

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