The Top Once-in-a-Lifetime Travel Experiences Every Woman Should Have, Including the Northern Lights, Camino de Santiago and More

by | Jun 2, 2021

The Northern Lights dancing over Norway
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Last updated on April 8th, 2024

Featured image: Bratan Temple on the lake, Bali, Indonesia | Photo by @ermakova on twenty20

This is more than a bucket list: it’s a call to intentional travel

by Carolyn Ray

For many of us, this year of loss means a more intentional focus on what we want to experience, and a willingness to invest in the experiences that will truly nourish our souls. And so, it is with great joy that we unveil the top seven once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences recommended by women, for women. These results come from our private Facebook Group and our ‘Travel Dreams” global survey, which was conducted between May 5 and 14, 2021.

This is more than just a new bucket list. It’s a call to more purposeful travel, with electrifying experiences that hit you in the heart, bring tears to your eyes and set your soul on fire. The experiences that call to you on a primal level, where you witness the natural wonders of the world that shake you to your core. The humbling moments that remind you of your own fragility, but of your connection to the earth and to the entire universe. Those are what we consider Once-in-a-Lifetime Experiences. They change you; they transform you, forever. 

Top 7 Once-in-a-Lifetime Travel Experiences Recommended by Women, for Women

#1: Set your soul on fire with the ethereal Northern Lights  

Millions of miles away from us, charged solar particles collide with atoms and molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere, creating the aurora borealis, undulating curtains or ribbons of light in dark blue, green, yellow, red and orange, dancing above our heads. While these elusive and mesmerizing lights can be seen from many countries, Northern Canada, Iceland, Alaska and Norway stand out as premier destinations to feel ‘close to heaven’, and inextricably connects us to the universe in a way that no other experience in the world can offer. 

(Community Call: May 26: Watch it here!) 

The Northern Lights dancing over Iceland

The sky illuminated by beautiful northern lights in Tromsø, Norway

#2:  Walk the Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage Route

The quest of self-discovery, a time when one explores a private awakening is achieved by embracing a spiritual journey such as the Camino de Santiago, which ranked second on our list of once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences.  This pilgrimage that traverses parts of southern France and into Spain is world-renowned as an experience that brings new meaning and renewed strength to the core of our souls.  The healing properties of a demanding daily walk, the solace of personal discovery and the joyful camaraderie with other pilgrims combine to reveal the power of faith that enriches the lives we seek to live.

The El Camino call was on June 9, 2 pm ET/7 pm BST/ 8 pm CEST. You can watch it here.   

Walking along Camino de Santiago, Spain

Walking along Camino de Santiago, Spain

#3: Connect to Nature in the Majestic Canadian Rockies

We are often led to believe that spectacular portraits of nature are found in distant foreign lands.  Nothing could be further from the truth. The Canadian Rockies display an endless array of jaw-dropping beauty, accented by snow-capped mountains, pristine glacial lakes and autumnal landscapes of colour that defy our imagination. Whether in the comfort of a glass-domed rail car, on foot exploring a network of hiking trails or portaging across pristine lakes and rivers, the Canadian Rockies beckons adventurous thrill-seekers of all skill levels who share a yearning to connect with nature at its most authentic and primal. 

Our special Community Call was on June 15, 8 pm ET/ 10 am AEST. You can watch it here.

Winter in the Canadian Rockies

Winter in the Canadian Rockies

#4: Witness Wildlife on a Safari in Africa

The evolution of sapiens dating back over 250,000 years tells the extraordinary tale of Africa and the connection between nature’s bounty, the abundance of wildlife and the diversity of thousands of tribes surviving the passage of time. To return to our biological origin, to witness the awesome spectrum of endangered species, to be granted the invitation to respect and observe our lineage is incomparable and profound. The grandeur and beauty of places like Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa are waiting to be gloriously unveiled in this once-in-a-lifetime travel experience.

The special Community Call on Africa was on June 23, 8 pm ET/ 10 am AEST. You can watch it here.

A giraffe crossing a flooded salt pan in Etosha National Park in Namibia.

A giraffe crossing a flooded salt pan in Etosha National Park in Namibia

#5: Embrace Adventure on an Expedition to Antarctica

To venture into an unspoiled land where only the bold and courageous dare is the elusive dream of many and an envied achievement by only a few. Antarctica, the forgotten continent, has no peers and is hailed as the ultimate adventure for those who seek to experience a clear, rugged landscape and observe vibrant species of wildlife, untouched by time and untamed by humankind. To witness a world so remote and so alluring is to capture a memory of nature that lasts a lifetime.

We held a special Community Call: July 8, 8 pm ET, 10 am AEST. You can watch it here

The Neumayer Channel, Antarctica

The Neumayer Channel, Antarctica

#6: Discover the Ancient Wonders of Machu Picchu, Peru

For centuries, the mystery of lost civilizations has been fodder for bold explorers, inquisitive historians and curious tourists.  Modern fascination with the past is best experienced at Machu Picchu, set amid a tropical mountain on the eastern slopes of the Peruvian Andes. It was built at the height of the Inca Empire 600 years ago. The extraordinary ingenuity and resilience of the Incans is to be marvelled. Machu Picchu’s walls, terraces, temples, stairways and sanctuaries blend seamlessly into its natural setting, bearing witness to the Inca civilization’s architectural, agricultural and engineering prowess.

Join us on a special Community Call: July 14, 8 pm ET. You can watch it here

Two women in Maccu Picchu

Overlooking Machu Picchu in Peru

#7: Find your bliss in Bali

The precious gift of travel is the opportunity and reward of cultural emersion as a way to be enriched by ancient traditions, enlightened by the fusion of architecture, religion and art while welcomed as a guest in the lives of strangers.  Nowhere is this more pervasive than the Indonesian island of Bali.  Bask in the warmth of Balinese smiles, reinvigorate with the daily regimen of yoga, indulge in the savory island cuisine, explore the vast artistic riches of carvings, jewelry, paintings and Batik to treasure for ages from an island paradise unlike any other, making this the seventh in our list of once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences.

 Subscribe to our YouTube site to watch this video! 

Rice field in Tegallalang, Bali

Rice field in Tegallalang, Bali

How We  Travel Matters

When we travel, we do so with a greater sense of connection among the mosaic of humanity – with a deeper respect and compassion for the connection between the sun and the earth, between animals and humans, and nature and wellness. From childhood and throughout our adult lives, the allure of travel for self-discovery, for adventure, for renewal grants us the privileged opportunity to expand our understanding of the world we share.

These once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences are calls to satisfy our curiosity and travel with a sense of renewed discovery and purpose.  

Methodology: Initial recommendations for our Once-in-a-lifetime Travel Experiences survey were gathered on our private Facebook Group and prioritized through an online survey to our entire mailing list of 55,000 women between May 5 -15, 2021.

Women's Travel Directory CHAT

More Iconic Places to Discover

As the CEO and Editor of JourneyWoman, Carolyn is a passionate advocate for women's travel and living the life of your dreams. She leads JourneyWoman's team of writers and chairs the JourneyWoman Women's Advisory Council and Women's Speaker's Bureau. She has been featured in the New York Times, Toronto Star and Zoomer as a solo travel expert, and speaks at women's travel conferences around the world. In March 2023, she was named one of the most influential women in travel by TravelPulse and was the recipient of a SATW travel writing award in September 2023. She is the chair of the Canadian chapter of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), a member Women's Travel Leaders and a Herald for the Transformational Travel Council (TTC). Sometimes she sleeps. A bit.


  1. Cheryl

    Hi Carolyn
    Can you let me know when the El Camino will be published so I can see the recorded version?

  2. Margarita Gravesande

    I’m glad to be part of this traveling circle..
    I’m looking forward to exploring solo travels in the future


We always strive to use real photos from our own adventures, provided by the guest writer or from our personal travels. However, in some cases, due to photo quality, we must use stock photography. If you have any questions about the photography please let us know.

Disclaimer: We are so happy that you are checking out this page right now! We only recommend things that are suggested by our community, or through our own experience, that we believe will be helpful and practical for you. Some of our pages contain links, which means we’re part of an affiliate program for the product being mentioned. Should you decide to purchase a product using a link from on our site, JourneyWoman may earn a small commission from the retailer, which helps us maintain our beautiful website. JourneyWoman is an Amazon Associate and earns from qualifying purchases. Thank you!

We want to hear what you think about this article, and we welcome any updates or changes to improve it. You can comment below, or send an email to us at [email protected].

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *