9 Action-Packed Travel Destinations that Will Keep You in Shape

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Vacation is often seen as a time to indulge. Fine foods, exotic drinks and lazy days are all key components of many people’s ideal travel destination. But for the inherently active and health-conscious crowd, staying in shape is also a huge part of travel plans. If you love spending your vacations hiking, climbing and diving, we have just the list for you! Here are nine of the best active vacation destinations to consider:

Thailand

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What to Expect

Thailand is known for both its mountainous regions and beautiful beaches. These lavish landscapes provide many opportunities for outdoor thrill-seekers. While rest and relaxation beachside is an enticing proposition, adventurers have plenty of ways to keep their limbs loose, including bungee jumping, mountain climbing or hiking. For a full-body workout, try an afternoon of white water rafting!

What to Bring

Essentials include multiple swimsuits, reef-safe sunscreen and bug spray with a high DEET (diethyltoluamide) percentage to combat the mosquitoes. Depending on the season, be sure to pack rain gear, as the showers can last for several days. If you’re planning to rock climb, be sure to bring your own gear, or you’ll need to rent it from a local shop.

Top Activities to Try

Tonsai Beach is arguably Thailand’s best rock climbing spot. With stunning limestone rock formations towering above crystal-clear waters, expect to get a great workout, as well as unforgettable views!

Glacier National Park

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What to Expect

Located in Montana’s Rocky Mountains, Glacier National Park is one of the best active vacation destinations and is home to 700 miles of hiking and biking trails with spectacular views. With beautiful, untouched landscapes, don’t be surprised if your adventure also includes the occasional wildlife sighting. Bald eagles, elk and bison are just a few of the indigenous animals that call this place home.

What to Bring

Sunscreen, insect repellant and hiking boots are a must! Bear spray is also a sound investment that you can purchase locally. Also, be sure to pack seasonal clothing, as temperatures can range from the high-90s in summer to the low-20s in winter.

Top Activities to Try

Going-to-the-Sun Road, a 50-mile stretch filled with epic views of glaciers and waterfalls, is a popular stretch to hike or bike. It’s best to range down this road during spring when it’s not yet fully open to cars. Guided tours are also available, with some even offering local, organic meals as part of the experience!

Iceland

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What to expect

Known as the “Land of Fire and Ice,” Iceland is home to giant glaciers and active volcanoes alike. Long summer days with up to 24-hours of sunlight per day allow for maximum adventure-seeking. But the winter months offer very little daylight (as little as 5 hours). Sparsely populated, Iceland remains largely undeveloped. The natural landscapes are perfect for a variety of outdoor adventures, like arctic rafting, dog-sledding, hiking, climbing, and skiing.

What to Bring

Due to the variety of landscapes and activities available, be sure to pack several layers of clothing. Iceland is also home to many naturally-heated geothermal pools, so don’t forget your bathing suit!

Top Activities to Try

Hike to and explore the dormant Þríhnúkagígur (Thrihnukagigur) Volcano. This excursion is ideal for true adventure-seekers, as it involves descending 120 meters by cable into the heart of the volcano. It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

South Africa

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What to Expect

South Africa is known for its geographical extremes, including mountains, canyons, and beaches. It’s arguably one of the best active vacation destinations, as there is no bad season to visit this adventure-laden destination. From more moderate activities, like hiking, to extreme experiences, such as shark diving, South Africa offers something for thrill-seekers of all experience levels!

What to Bring

The weather varies, so be sure to pack seasonal clothing. But remember — South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere, so the seasons are reversed for those traveling from the Northern hemisphere! Their summer months are November through March, where temperatures can reach over 100℉.

Top Activities to Try

For a great workout, don’t miss out on the incredible waves found at this surfing hotspot! The coastline has surf locations for both experienced surfers (e.g., Dungeons, near Cape Town) or the novice (e.g., Jeffrey’s Bay). Treat yourself to a surf lesson for less than most dinner dates (about $20) — wetsuit included!

Yosemite National Park

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What to Expect

Located in central California, Yosemite is the United States’ first national park. With 95% of its almost 750,000 acres classified as wilderness, the park offers something for every outdoor enthusiast! From hiking, cycling and rock climbing, to horseback riding and rafting, Yosemite is not only great for solo adventurers, but for the active family as well!

What to Bring

A daypack is essential for carrying your clothing layers and necessities while you explore the park. Be sure to leave scented items at home, as bears are attracted to anything from car air fresheners to baby wipes! Additionally, durable hiking shoes are also recommended for any extended time spent in the wilderness.

Top Activities to Try

While hiking is a great way to explore Yosemite’s miles of trails, perhaps the best way to experience the scenic views is on horseback. Explore Yosemite’s woodlands and enjoy views of ancient sequoia trees, all while getting a great workout. In fact, just 45 minutes of riding can burn up to 200 calories! For the avid angler, Yosemite has an abundance of lakes, streams and creeks stocked with beautiful rainbow trout!

Switzerland

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What to Expect

Switzerland is next on our list of the best active vacation destinations. Located in the heart of Europe, Switzerland is best known for its mountainous regions and breathtaking views. The Swiss Alps are ideal for a variety of activities, including rock climbing and skiing. You can also try your hand at local sports, such as Swiss wrestling (schwingen) and stone-throwing (steinstossen).

What to Bring

If you travel to Switzerland during the winter, spring or fall, be sure to pack a waterproof coat that can withstand both rain and snow. It’s also a great idea to pack some Ibuprofen to combat altitude headaches and post-skiing soreness.

Top Activities to Try

Swiss skiing and snowboarding are both breathtaking experiences you don’t want to miss. From the traditional locations, like Zermatt (located at the foot of the Matterhorn), to the more wallet-friendly Val d’Annivers, Switzerland offers adventures for different experience levels and budgets. Skiing and snowboarding are also both fantastic outdoor workouts.

Patagonia

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What to Expect

With its abstract borders, Patagonia is a region shrouded in wonder and mystery. Shared between Chile and Argentina, it’s home to high coastal cliffs, rugged peaks, expansive plains and magnificent glaciers. This South American destination is perfect for any adventurer seeking a remote travel destination filled with natural beauty. Patagonia National Park, one of South America’s newest nature reserves, offers rafting experiences in the Lake District, as well as several amazing hiking trails!

What to Bring

Because of Patagonia’s unique altitude and geographical location, travelers can often experience several temperature fluctuations in a single day. As such, pack for a variety of temperatures, and don’t forget to bring comfortable layers that allow for maximum range of motion when trekking.

Top Activities to Try

Supported entirely by tourism, the town of El Chaltén is among the best active vacation destinations in Patagonia. Dubbed the “trekking capital of Argentina,” it’s located right below the Los Glaciares National Park. With well-maintained trails and no entrance fee, this is an excellent location for those looking for a challenging trek. However, if a multi-day trek isn’t enough for you, try climbing the peaks of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre!

Jamaica

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What to Expect

Located in the Caribbean, many associate this island nation with warm weather and water activities. While there are more than 50 public beaches to enjoy, Jamaica is also home to a mountain range that runs through the heart of the island. Adventurers have a plethora of activities to choose from, including surfing, snorkeling, hiking and zip-lining!

What to Bring

Swimsuits, beach towel, and sunscreen are the obvious choices for this travel destination. However, be sure to bring clothing and shoes for activities off the beach as well! For instance, water shoes are sure to come in handy when exploring Jamaica’s waterfalls.

Top Activities to Try

For an unexpected adventure and a break from the sun, visitors should definitely try spelunking (cave exploring). Descend into the depths of Jamaica’s underground limestone cave system and explore the tunnels and rivers below the island’s surface! But if you’re not an experienced spelunker, be sure to select a reputable cave tour company for an enjoyable and safe experience!

Alaska

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What to Expect

With its plethora of cold weather outdoor activities, it’s no surprise that Alaska makes our list of best active vacation destinations. Home to cold temperatures (the average temperature in Fairbanks in January is -1℉) and 17 of the United States’ tallest peaks, Alaska is heaven for those looking to ski or snowboard. With the lowest population density of any U.S. state, travelers can also expect to enjoy spectacular views of untouched wilderness and wildlife.

What to Bring

Warm clothing is a must, and visitors should pack waterproof layers suitable for a variety of outdoor activities. Binoculars are also an excellent investment, as the majestic sights extend well-beyond what’s immediately in front of you.

Top Activities to Try

If you plan to visit in the winter and don’t mind waking up in the middle of the night, schedule a Northern Lights hiking tour. Enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime viewing experience while also adding to your daily step total!


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