Achieving your dreams before you metaphorically kick the bucket shouldn’t have to mean spending your kids’ inheritance in one fell swoop.
Sure, a ticket on one of the first commercial space flights costs more than the average house, and trekking to the top of Everest looks like a conga line for rich people, but there are still plenty of once-in-a-lifetime, do-before-you-die adventures worth dropping some cash on without going for broke.
Mountain biking in Moab
Climbing grippy boulders and swooping down some dusty singletrack in the hot, hot summer heat of Moab, Utah, is the ultimate dream for mountain biking enthusiasts. And because it’s close to major outdoor meccas like Denver and Salt Lake City, it’s easy to tag this trip onto your family vacation.
Pitch a tent at the Sand Flats Recreation Area and hit the legendary Slickrock Trail or Porcupine Rim first thing in the morning.
Deep-sea fishing in Florida
Both Jimmy Buffet and Ernest Hemingway called the Florida Keys home at some point in their lives, and we can’t help feeling that the fresh catch of the day was a big motivator to plant some roots.
Luckily, you don’t need pricey rods and reels to catch your own mahi mahi and yellowtail; you’ll have everything you need when you charter a private boat from Bahia Honda, Key West, Big Pine Key or Sugarloaf Key.
It’s surprisingly affordable, as are the hotels peppering the strip of islands.
Dog sledding in Canada
If all your dog does is poop on the lawn and steal food off the kitchen counter, take a trip to Banff, Alberta, and see what a team of trained sled dogs can do. Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours offers one-on-one lessons on how to drive your own dog team across the frozen landscape, for a reasonable price.
Even if you don’t feel like making the calls, sit back in a handcrafted sled hidden down in a warm wool blanket. Cozy adventure still totally counts as adventure.
Taking a train ride in Alaska
If you’ve always wanted to disappear into the wilderness Christopher McCandless style, but you still need to be at work next Monday, book a ride on the Alaska Railroad. Travel in the off-season (May to September) will afford you more reasonable rates along a line from Anchorage to Denali on the Denali Star Train.
Spend the day there soaking up the Alaskan wilderness before packing it in and calling it an adventure.
Surfing in Puerto Rico
Sure, sitting pretty inside a barrel in Fiji or off the coast of Australia sounds nice, but surfing pristine waves is much easier when you book a trip to Puerto Rico. Because it’s a U.S. territory, you won’t need to exchange currency or even own a passport.
Just a four-hour flight from New York City will land you at Rincon, where you can rent a board for $30 for half a day to slide over world-class waves and eat food-truck fare right on the beach. Go there in the winter for the largest swells.
Walking on a volcano in Hawaii
If you thought making a science-fair volcano rocked your world, just wait until you step foot on the real thing. Hawaii’s Crater Rim Drive winds you along 11 miles of volcanic landscape, from the lush forest to the caldera itself.
You can even hike around the Thurston Lava Tube, a one-third-mile trek where lava carved out a cavern hundreds of years ago.
The best part? The red-hot price: It’s just $25 to get into Hawaii Volcanoes National Park by car.