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Unleash your inner badass with these adrenaline-fueled bucket list ideas

If tropical vacations aren't your thing, take it to the next level with the most extreme adventure experiences

Some people appreciate the simplicity of a lazy, flip-and-flop-style, tropical Caribbean vacation. Somewhere easy, where the neon daiquiris flow freely from breakfast till well after dark. But some want a whole lot more out of their travels.

Instagram offers no shortage of adventure inspiration, but what if you crave something bigger, badder, bolder? No matter how much adrenaline you need to get out of bed in the morning, these 12 bucket-list-worthy experiences are guaranteed to do the trick. Just remember: Pics or it didn’t happen.

Fire an automatic machine gun from a doors-off chopper

Best Experience In Las Vegas | Gunship Helicopters

It’s one thing to pop off a few rounds at the local shooting range. It’s another matter entirely to strap into an open-door military helicopter and shoot up the Mojave Desert with a belt-fed M249 Saw light machine gun. The aptly named Gunship Helicopters is the only outfit in (Where else?) Las Vegas that promises guests this once-in-a-lifetime, bucket-list-worthy experience. From the skies over their 71-acre compound outside the city, customers can practice aerial assaults on steel targets, wrecked airplanes, and even zombies. The range is also one of a select few to offer the legendary Barrett 50-cal sniper rifle with 800-plus-yard ground targets.

Drive a world-class supercar

Three exotic supercars lined up in a parking lot in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Exotics Racing

While you’re in Vegas, why not drive a world-class supercar? Located just 15 minutes off The Strip, Exotics Racing rents more than 60 of the most exotic street-legal racecars on the planet. The stable includes “ordinary” models from Mercedes-Benz and Nissan, exotics by Ferrari and Audi, a McLaren, and even a legit racecar. All are bookable by the lap, and multicar packages are available for those who can’t pick just one. If a few laps aren’t enough, the company also offers full-fledged, multi-day racing schools.

Swim Australia’s crocodile-filled “Cage of Death”

Man with a crocodile inside Australia's "Cage of Death" experience.
Crocosaurus Cove

Australia is home to the majority of the world’s deadliest critters — the massive saltwater crocodile among them. As the world’s largest reptile, they can grow to more than 16 feet long. For reference, that’s almost the size of a 2022 Lincoln Navigator. Of course, the natural Aussie inclination is to figure out how to swim with them without dying. That’s how the Cage of Death experience at Crocosaurus Cove was born. The plexiglass enclosure lowers up to two swimmers into an active den of crocodiles where Cove handlers feed the beasts for up to 15 minutes at a time. Despite its hyperbolic name, the cage is completely safe. However, when the clear walls around you seem to disappear underwater, and there’s apparently nothing between you and a prehistoric, SUV-sized apex predator, we imagine the fear becomes very, very real.

Channel your inner John McClane as a Hollywood stuntman

Man getting blasted with fire at a Professional Stunt Course in Australia.
Stunt Park

Stuntmen do some of the most death-defying work in the world, so it’s no surprise the requisite training to qualify for the job is intense. What is a surprise is that, with the right discretionary income, average Joe’s can undertake that very same training. Australia’s Stunt Park offers a hands-on Professional Stunt Course Booking to train just about anyone in the fine art of stuntman’ing. For roughly two weeks, attendees are provided practical and theoretical training that includes abseiling, fire and human torches (yes, that means actually being set on fire), window penetrations, swordplay, wire work, stunt driving, motorcycling, and melee fight choreography. Sure, it’s a little kitschy, but how many of your friends have professionally shot video of themselves jumping out of a burning building with a baby in one hand and a full-auto machine gun in the other? Yippee ki-yay, mutherfu—

Take an urban survival course

Man staging an Urban Survival course with OnPoint Tactical.
OnPoint Tactical

Maybe the Boy Scouts didn’t adequately prepare you for a serious survival situation, or you’ve been cubicle-bound for so long that you’ve gone “soft.” OnPoint Tactical offers hardcore urban survival and training courses designed to push even hardened men to their limits. The Urban Survival course, in particular, helps even novices survive a real-life, The Last of Us-style apocalypse scenario. Entrants are placed in a full-on concrete jungle where all semblance of society has collapsed. Food, water, and supplies are running low, and the natives are getting restless (read: violent). The comprehensive course provides instruction on evacuation strategies since it’s almost always best to get the hell out of dodge. If that’s not an option, urban sheltering, water purification, off-grid medical care, urban trapping, and home defense are also covered. Be warned: This is no weekend boy’s camp, and there are no merit badges. Be prepared to sweat, stress, and run for your life.

Visit the “Gates of Hell” in Turkmenistan

People in silhouette standing in front of Turkmenistan's "Gates of Hell."
Adventour

Few things make you appreciate your own mortality like the raw power of nature. While it’s difficult to plan a tour of a hurricane or a tidal wave, you can visit the (almost literal) Gates of Hell. The Darvaza crater in Turkmenistan is a massive natural gas field that collapsed into an underground cavern. To stop the spread of lethal levels of methane gas, geologists set it on fire 50 years ago, and it’s been burning ever since. Today, extreme travelers can visit the edge of the crater to stare into the flaming abyss and question their existence. A handful of local companies like Advantour coordinate day and overnight trips to the crater, just in case volcano camping isn’t disco enough for you.

Strap yourself to the wing of a vintage biplane

Pair of vintage biplanes with daredevils wing walking on their wings.
Breitling Wingwalkers

Few things test your tolerance of high-g maneuvers like taking a ride in a vintage biplane. For some, however, that just isn’t enough life-threatening fun. Enter: wing walking. The “sport” (We’re using that term very liberally) has been around for nearly a century and involves flyers tethering themselves to the upper wing of a vintage biplane. Once strapped in, they’re taken on a 15-minute flight that includes intense aerial acrobatics, barrel rolls, and ground fly-bys. The grand finale is a 140-mph, death-defying dive, straight down. Diapers not included.

Be a supersonic Russian fighter pilot for a day

Russian MiG-29 fighter jet taking off.
MiG Flug

If you’d feel a bit safer inside the plane, perhaps playing fighter pilot for a day is more your speed. Russian outfitter MiGFlug offers a dozen options for wanna-be fighter pilots to test their skills. None, however, is as extreme or expensive as its MiG-29 experience. The company’s flagship journey takes budding dogfighters aboard a twin-turbine MiG-29 to brave 45 minutes of loops, rolls, Immelmann-turns, and tail slides. The Russian-built fighter pulls a maximum of 9Gs and breaks the sound barrier in the process. It culminates with a flight to “the edge of space,” an altitude of more than 13 miles up where passengers can see the curvature of the earth. The cost of admission? A cool €14,500 (roughly $16,000 USD).

Escape to space

Virgin Galactic aircraft in flight against a clear blue sky.
Gene Blevins/Getty Images

If flying just to the edge of space isn’t enough, Virgin Galactic has you covered. For decades, the promise of mere mortals visiting space was the stuff of science fiction. Now, thanks to billionaire visionaries like Richard Branson and Elon Musk, we’re closer than ever to realizing that dream. Commercial space tourism isn’t here yet, but 2023 might be the year it will finally become a reality. To be fair, it will be a very expensive reality. Tickets aboard the first Virgin Galactic flights currently top $200,000 (peanuts and pretzels not included). But remember, flying from New York to London was once only for the uber-rich. As with any high-tech endeavor, that price will drop. Even if you can’t yet afford the stratospheric price tag, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t add “Become a Spaceman” to your Pinterest vision board.

Skydive Mount Everest from a high-altitude helicopter

Skydivers jumping from a helicopter over Mount Everest.
Everest Skydive

Skydiving is so safe these days that even your Nana probably has a cool story about “jumping out of a perfectly good airplane.” To ratchet up the conversation at your next cocktail party, try skydiving Mount Everest. Everest Skydive takes jumpers via helicopter to an altitude of 23,000 feet, just below the summit of the world’s highest peak. The fall back to Earth, complete with supplemental oxygen, includes views of the most breathtaking scenery on the planet. Landings take place at one of the two highest dropzones in the world: Amadablam Base Camp (15,000 ft) or Syangboche (12,350 ft). Survivors join an elite group that includes few other human beings with the video footage to prove it. At more than $20,000, the once-in-a-lifetime solo experience costs almost as much as a Prius. But “skydiving motherf**king Mount Everest” sounds a whole lot more fun than driving a hybrid.

Cheat death in a wingsuit

Man gliding above the clouds in a wingsuit.
Jonathan Murrish/Getty Images

Wingsuit flying is among the craziest ideas man has ever concocted. Because the stakes are so high, students must complete a minimum of 200 skydives before they can even attempt their first wingsuit flight. Thereafter, Texas Wingsuit Academy offers a comprehensive course to dive (Get it?) into the sport. This includes ground training and a tandem first flight that focuses on safety. Students can expect a higher-than-normal launch from 5,000 feet, plus basic piloting and a few 90-degree turns on their first outing. The fun stuff — docking, extreme flying, and fancy maneuvers — is taught only after the school’s instructors are convinced you know what you’re doing.

Mike Richard
Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South…
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Don’t let it be a "compatibility test"
Above all else, be honest with each other about what’s involved in a long-distance road trip. A six-week, cross-country RV trek isn’t the time to learn that you and your significant other are not quite as compatible as you thought. Hard travel days have a way of bringing out a different side of people. That can put a strain on even the healthiest relationships.
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Decide your roles
Traveling in or towing an RV requires more planning than your average road trip. Setting up and breaking camp isn’t just a matter of jumping in or out of your car and checking into your hotel. There’s finding your campsite, parking and leveling your RV, hooking up the electric, water, and sewer lines, double-checking that your appliances are working correctly -- the list goes on. All of this is much, much easier with two people. It’s easier still if you decide on your roles beforehand. When I travel with my girlfriend, we don’t even have to discuss what needs to be done when we get where we’re going. We just do it. This is especially nice at the end of a long travel day. I take care of parking, leveling, and hooking up our utilities while she gets our cat squared away, fixes our bedding, and sets up the kitchen.
Plan your en-route entertainment
This might seem trivial, but I promise it’s one of the most essential tips on this list. If you’re planning to cover hundreds of miles and hours in a confined space together, you’ll probably want some entertainment along the way. If you and your S.O. are always in sync here, great. If not, take a second before your trip to plan out a playlist, download some audiobooks, or find the best long-road-trip-friendly podcasts to listen to together. That way, you’re not stuck arguing over how many replays of Despacito is too many.
Be realistic
Traveling with an RV, even an ultra-light travel trailer, isn’t an ordinary road trip. Campers are big, unwieldy, and unlike ordinary vehicles. Navigating freeways means being patient, extra cautious, and hyper-aware of your surroundings. All of this makes RV road trips more tiring. If this is your first RV road trip together, be prepared for this. If you’re used to covering 600 miles in a day on a normal road trip, you may only want to tackle half that with an RV in tow. If you and your significant other are both comfortable driving your RV or towing your travel trailer, divvy up the driving duties whenever possible so you can both rest along the way.
Make time for yourself
For couples traveling long distance, they may be together almost non-stop. Depending on your relationship, things can start to feel a bit cramped. Even in a more spacious RV, things will be cramped. Some couples can spend day and night together for weeks on end. Others, even those in perfectly healthy relationships, need regular time apart. Learn to appreciate each other’s need for space. If you want to take a solo hike or visit a museum your partner isn’t interested in, go it alone. Don’t overthink it. Use the time apart to allow the heart to indeed great fonder.
Learn to say "yes!"
There’s no sense in traveling hundreds or thousands of miles from home only to go to the same shops and restaurants and do all the same things you do back home. If your partner wants to try something new, lean into it. If it’s something you wouldn’t normally be into, be flexible. Learn to say “Yes!” without thinking too much about it. Travel is, after all, about new experiences.
Stop often
On a long pleasure trip, forget about “making good time.” You probably won’t with an RV in tow anyway. Who cares if you get where you’re going an hour later than you expected if everyone was stressing over keeping to a predefined schedule? Stop frequently along the way whenever you or your S.O. needs a snack, bathroom break, or to snap a photo. Learn to ignore the clock and just enjoy the journey.
Document your journey
Remember to take photos and videos and write down your experiences in a journal, even if it's just notes and not comprehensive. This is the best way to make the memories last, which you can cherish long after the trip is over.
Try new things
Take advantage of being somewhere new and step outside your comfort zone and try new foods, activities, and experiences. You might discover something you love that you can bring back from the trip.
Be prepared
Even for solo trips, it pays to be prepared. But, this is doubly true for couples. You don’t want a lack of preparation to become a sore spot when the unexpected happens on the road. Even if planning isn’t in your nature, at least think about the next few days in advance. Consider the route you’re planning to travel and whether it requires any special preparations for your RV. Do you need to change up your directions to account for poor road conditions, a certain bridge that’s too low, or a ferry crossing? Call ahead to confirm your reservations at any upcoming campgrounds or campsites. Pack plenty of food, water, and extra clothing in case of a breakdown. A first aid kit and a well-stocked emergency automotive kit are wise, too.
Roll with the punches
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