It's not the destination that counts; it's what you learn along the way. Research has shown money can buy happiness, as long as you spend it on memorable experiences. So, in the spirit of self improvement and enduring happiness, we've come up with the top 10 journeys you should take in your life.
1) The soul-searching trip
Destination: Torres del Paine, Chile
Getting away from it all now and then is crucial, says Craig Harper, motivational speaker and author. “It's important to step out of your own chaotic life and think about whether you're really happy,” he explains. One of the best ways to do that, believes award-winning travel writer Rob McFarland, is with a walking tour such as the Torres del Paine in Chile, which takes you across the highlands of Patagonia.
2) The 'mancation'
Destination: Las Vegas
“A lot of men suffer in silence because they're not getting enough time with other guys – we need it,” says Steve Decker, life coach and founder of Better Blokes. So take some time out, book a flight to Las Vegas, check into a suite on the strip and just have fun. It's not all strippers and pokie machines – there are pool parties, amazing restaurants and clubs and the opportunity for competitive gambling (in moderation, of course).
3) The Perspective holiday
“Sometimes you need to go somewhere to have a paradigm shift and realise your life is awesome,” says Harper. One of the best spots for this is Nepal – birthplace of Buddhism and home to a vibrant culture. There are also some really big mountains that will make you realise how small you are in the grand scheme of things. You'll come back with lifelong memories and an awareness of just how good you have it.
4) The adventure holiday
Destination: White water rafting through the Grand Canyon, US
McFarland suggests getting your blood pumping with a multi-day white-water rafting trip on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. It's a rugged descent that will see you camping out in breathtaking landscapes. McFarland rates it one of the best trips of his life, and there are life benefits to be had as well. “To stay sane, I think guys need to go out and get messy, have fun and not worry about showering or dressing up,” Harper says.
5) The achievement holiday
Destination: Mount Kinabalu, Borneo
All psychologists agree that you need to have something to work towards to keep you happy. And the ultimate achievement for a lot of men is climbing a mountain. With Everest being touted as an “amusement park” these days, look closer to home to the picturesque Mount Kinabalu in Borneo. McFarland explains that it's an uphill slog, but not too unachievable. Your confidence will be soaring after the trip and you'll be fitter than ever.
6) The romantic getaway
Destination: Bora Bora, Tahiti
Unstressed time with your partner can greatly improve your relationship, lead to more fulfilling sex, better confidence and a generally happier life, says Decker. And there's nothing more romantic than a tropical island. McFarland believes for sex appeal you can't go past Bora Bora: “It's a picture postcard montage of mouthwash blue water, dazzling coral and lush rainforest.” If possible, schedule one of these every year.
7) The food/wine trip
Destination: South-west France
Head to the south-west of France, where you can taste your way through the Dordogne and sample the finest drops in Bordeaux, such as the St-Émilion estates. Being somewhere you can sit back and enjoy food, great conversation and wine (rather than choking down a sandwich at your desk) can take you back to a simpler time, says Decker.
8) The indulgent holiday
Destination: A luxury safari, Africa
There are life-changing holidays and then there are those trips that you just deserve. Blowing your salary on a few nights of indulgence isn't all superficial – Decker says it's important to reward yourself, especially if you're getting in touch with nature as you do it. McFarland recommends the Earth Lodge in Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve, South Africa, an award-winning escape that features 13 amazing naturally designed lodges with a private plunge pool, indoor and outdoor shower and a glass-walled bathroom.
9) The cultural awakening
Experiencing ancient history can put things into perspective and inspire you in your nine-to-five life, says Decker. And according to McFarland, Jordan is the ideal destination to open your mind. “The country is packed with Biblical wonders, not to mention Petra – a vast ancient city that once housed 30,000 people.” Plus, Indiana Jones went there too.
10) The fantasy realised
Destination: Monte Carlo, Monaco
Put on a tuxedo, order a martini and live out your James Bond fantasy. It's life-affirming to realise a childhood dream – whether that was playing spies, racing cars or sailing the Mediterranean. According to McFarland, Monaco is ideal for all of the above, with a Grand Prix track, stunning harbour and world-class casinos. “Monaco is full of fast cars, boats and women … or so I'm told,” he says. Though such a trip seems frivolous, achieving a lifelong goal is a milestone you won't forget.
What life-changing trips do you recommend?