Trips to make your kids jealous

By Christopher Beanland

Photography by 4FR/Getty Images

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January 2017

What if you could play your university-aged kids at their own game and enjoy a gap year style adventure of your own? Travel writer Chris Beanland has scoured the globe to find the bucket list trips worth taking.

Explore otherworldly landscapes in Chile

South America’s longest country stretches hundreds of miles down the continent’s west coast and packs a real punch for the adventurous. Spy llamas, lizards, canyons and copper mines in the inhospitable Atacama Desert, then explore the sweeping spaces of Patagonia, where the weather is colder and sea birds flock as you near the bottom of South America and the sea. From Punta Arenas, Chile’s furthest outpost, the intrepid can join a week-long cruise into the heart of Antarctica, or fly to the South Pole – truly the ultimate journey of a lifetime.

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  • Go off road on a Dubai desert Safari © Getty

    City of Gold

    On the outskirts of the city of excess, there are thrills to be had. Book a Dubai desert safari and jump aboard a mammoth 4x4 hurtling down cliffs of golden dunes, skidding on the sand – it’s not for the faint hearted.

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  • Be sure to take a scenic snap on the Hollywood Hills @suzietravel

    Instagram-worthy snap on the Hollywood Hills

    Pit stopping in Los Angeles or there for a far-flung adventure? Whatever the reason, earn serious Insta-envy with a hike up the Hollywood Hills. Spot celebrities, get some fresh air, indulge in breath-taking views or take the opportunity for that perfect picture.

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  • Feel like you’re at the top of the world on Canada’s Capilano Suspension Bridge

    Living on the edge

    Head to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park where you can take a hair-raising walk on a thin bridge 140m long and 70m above the river skimming the tops of fir trees with snow-capped mountains of the Canadian Rockies in the distance.

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Prepare for adventure in South Africa

Majestic South Africa will bring your senses to life. Cape Town is the place to start your adventure with a four-hour hike up Table Mountain. Then head to Cape Point and the very edge of the world, via Boulder Beach, with its comical waddling penguins. Stellenbosch is nearby, and is perfect for a wine tasting weekend. Add an Avis car to your booking and follow the famous Garden Route up the coast towards Port Elizabeth. No African adventure would be complete without a safari. Pilanesburg National Park is our tip, thanks to its compact size – so you see more game – and how easy it is to reach from cosmopolitan Johannesburg by car.

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Anticipate sensory thrills in Japan

The sights, sounds and smells of Tokyo are unlike anything else in the world. This throbbing metropolis is the perfect start to a Japanese thrill ride. Indulge in karaoke, shopping, and a Lost In Translation whisky in the bar at the skyscraper of the Park Hyatt Tokyo Then take the world-famous bullet train, with its Pinocchio-esque nose, white paint job and sacrosanct timetabling. Osaka is dominated by historic buildings, including its castle, while Kyoto is home to some of the most sumptuous temples in Japan. The bullet train continues to Hiroshima, and its sobering dome preserved from the ruins of the atomic attack of 1945.

Did you know? Our partnership with Japan Airlines, Finnair and Iberia means that we have more flights to more destinations in Japan. Fly to Tokyo direct and take advantage of free connections on destinations across Japan with Japan Airlines.

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Go large in the land of the free

Everything's bigger in California, from the burgers to the sunsets. Add an Avis car to your booking and get a feel for this sublime state on a coastal journey starting from San Diego running north to San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. Stop off at Los Angeles and embrace the glamour of the movies with tours of the Warner Brothers Studios backlot and the homes of the stars in the Hollywood Hills. Follow Highway 101 up through Oxnard’s wine country and the laidback surfer hangout of Big Sur. Cut through Silicon Valley, where a new future is being created, before finishing up in San Francisco, with a boat cruise to Alcatraz Island.

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  • Golden Gate Bridge is the iconic gateway to San Francisco © Getty

    Fog City

    California is one of the top road tripping destinations in the US. The Golden Gate Bridge, in San Francisco, is 1.7 miles long with six driving lanes and is often obscured with fog due to hot inland air meeting cold ocean air at the Golden Gate passage into the Bay area.

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Go into the wild in Canada

While the Rocky Mountains stare down at you before you’ve even left Vancouver, it’s worth lingering in this hip city to explore historic Gastown or test your nerve on the Capilano Suspension Bridge. If you’re craving bigger thrills, add an Avis hire car to your booking and set off eastwards, thinking about the early settlers coming the other way as you traverse the immense Rockies. Follow Highway 1 through the incredible scenery of Kamloops and Banff – a great place to stop for a few nights of hiking (summer) or skiing (winter) – and you'll eventually come to the up-and-coming cowboy city of Calgary.

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  • The Uco Valley is ideal for wine tasting © Getty

    Happy Valley

    The Uco valley’s wineries are situated at a high altitude, producing an elegant taste that attracts many wine enthusiasts – their interpretations of the Malbec grape is Uco’s number one attraction. It’s well regarded as the most unspoilt wine region.

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  • Penguin-spot at Boulder’s Bay in South Africa © Getty

    Birds of a feather

    African penguins at Cape Rock, South Africa, are the only penguins found on the African continent, and they attract around 60,000 visitors a year to Boulder’s Beach. There were once one and a half million birds in the region but today they’re an endangered species, with only 26,000 breeding pairs.

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  • Japan’s Osaka Castle is best viewed in cherry blossom season © Getty

    Bloomin’ lovely

    Cherry blossom season sees millions of visitors flock to Japan to see the otherworldly, sakura provide a carpet of pink and white petals on the streets. Osaka castle dates back to 1597 and is one of the most popular places to see the blossom, with the building seeming to float on a cloud of petals.

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Satisfy your stomach in South America

Start in Buenos Aires with a night of tapas and tango in the riotous capital of Argentina, the city that author Borges called home and which inspired dozens of artists, writers and even footballers. For a real taste of Argentina, head west into the winelands around Mendoza and the Uco Valley. Many wineries let you stay the night, like super modern Bodegas Salentein, which also boasts the Killka Gallery by architects Bórmida & Yanzón. It’s essential, of course, to eat bife de chorizo roasted on an asado grill, and drink a glass of ruby-red Malbec at a place like Club Tapiz as you watch a million stars crowd the cloudless sky.

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Conquer the desert in sand city

Dubai is more than just a collection of skyscrapers in the desert. This city has malls, waterparks, a brand new Design District, countless luxury hotels and even history around its old creek and souk. If you want to some of the real Arabia why not join a Dubai Desert Hummer Adventure where you can get out of the city and see the rolling sand dunes up close and personal. The day ends with a selection of barbecued meats. For fans of cars and art, tag on a trip to Abu Dhabi, with its new Louvre (opening in 2017) and Ferrari World theme park.

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