8 Adventurous Alternatives to Typical Holiday Celebrations

Are you looking for a different kind of experience this holiday season? Do you want to maximize your vacation days and turn it into an adventure rather than the usual feasting, gift-giving, and obligations?

What if this time, it was all about seeking new thrills in places that are far from home, often very warm, and in exotic locales? This holiday season, if you want to start the New Year off with a bang, consider the following eight options for adding a little adventure to the holidays this year:

1. Take a Hike in Patagonia


When winter rolls around in the northern hemisphere, that’s exactly when the southern hemisphere has its time to shine, literally, thanks to their summer.

The further south you go in South America, you can still expect some cold temperatures, loads of ice in the form of glaciers, and festivities at the hotels and in the little towns, but you can also count on a much different experience than your typical Christmas back at home.

For real adventure, take a multi-day trek in Torres del Paine in Chile. The O trek takes about eight days traveling down well-marked trails through Rocky and rugged, sometimes tree-lined, and always beautiful landscape.

2. Jump off a Bridge in South Africa

The world’s highest bridge bungee jump is located in South Africa which is also experiencing warm and sunny summer temperatures during the North American winter.

Want to real rush of adrenaline and excitement? Take a jump off of the Bloukran’s Bridge Located on South Africa’s Garden Route for a free fall that is 216 meters (719 feet) long.

3. Hit the Slopes in Austria


Aching for some snow but want a change of scenery? The Austrian Alps have an awesome variety of slopes for every skill level and a very cozy atmosphere with lots of delicious and hearty food for a combination of holiday celebrations and active vacations.

Apart from skiing and snowboarding, there are also sledding tracks, trails for snowshoeing, and even paragliding. If it’s a party you’re after, don’t forget the après-ski celebrations at the huts!

4. Go Whale Watching in California

Even in the midst of winter, California often still feels a little bit like summer. All along the California coast there are opportunities to view dolphins and whales but at no time of the year are they better than in the winter.

Thanks to migration patterns, and December you can often see Killer whales, Humpback whales, and Blue whales.

5. Surf in Maui

Thanks to the tropical climate, it doesn’t matter if it’s December because Hawaii is still warm and full of awesome things to do.

If you love surfing, or even if you have never tried it before, there are waves suitable for your skill level in Hawaii. Instead of a white Christmas this year, make it a deep blue Christmas and catch some waves!

6. Sandboard in Namibia


If the last thing you want is more snow, why not strap on the board and hit the stand? Namibia is full of dunes and in December, will be in the heat of summer.

Swakopmund in many ways is the adventure capital of Namibia and apart from sand boarding you can skydive, ATV, and surf all in the same week. Or in my case, Sand board and skydive in the same day!

7. Take a Sunset Helicopter Ride

Whether you choose to do it over the cityscape of Manhattan, along coastal California, or down to the Grand Canyon, flying above feels peaceful yet adventurous and but allows you to get that awesome bird’s eye view that you can otherwise only get briefly from an airplane window.

8. Hunt for the Northern Lights in Iceland

Iceland Aurora

If you are dying to see the northern lights, heading up to the Arctic when it is at its darkest is one of the best ways to make that happen.

Thankfully, Iceland benefits from the Gulfstream meaning that it is not as cold as the rest of the Arctic, even during the winter. Temperatures don’t pass below zero nearly as often as they do in Lapland, next door.

From hiking, to bungee jumping, surfing, and even sand boarding, you’ve got all kinds of activities to keep you busy and excited until we hit 2017. What would you add to the list, and how are you going to add some spice to your holidays this year?

Kristin Addis

Kristin Addis is the solo female traveler behind BeMyTravelMuse.com, a website for off the beaten path adventures!  She is also the author of solo female traveler guidebook, Conquering Mountains and How to Solo Travel the World Fearlessly.