Thanks to The Jetsons, we once imagined that the future of vacation travel might involve flying cars. Yet even though our vehicles have largely remained earthbound, there are plenty of exciting new adventures and offerings for you to get out there and enjoy.
You can get a lift up the ski slopes in spaceship-like “bubble” chairs, catch a breath of fresh air while jogging along Alaskan mountaintops, or sleep beneath the stars in a hotel with a retractable roof.
And what would any vacation be without some cool new gear? Pocket-size water filters make sipping from streams safe, solar-powered chargers can juice up your GPS, and maps that fit in the palm of your hand can replace that crumpled atlas.
So pack your bags and your imagination. Our travel guide will help make your next getaway unforgettable.
The Sky’s the Limit
What: A fresh take on trail running, skyrunning involves jogging or hiking along Alaskan mountaintops.
For: Runners with legs, lungs, and a limitless appetite for adventure.
Why: Everything’s more fun at altitude. “Our guides talked about being in a state of ‘optimal flow,’ and as a lifelong triathlete, I get that concept,” says Margy Weisman, who went on a skyrunning tour in the Tongass National Forest to celebrate her father’s 80th birthday. “But to have this adventure with my family was magical — it’s hard to describe how unique it is when you see the glacier, and what a sense of pride and accomplishment it is to have gotten there by running and hiking.”
Where: Run through the rainforest of Southeast Alaska for five to six miles, taking up to five hours to complete the journey to glacial vistas and breathtaking trails.
More Information: www.adventureflow.us/adventure/running-excursion
Harvest Your Own Dinner
What: A retreat that nurtures you as you nurture the land.
For: Travelers who want a hands-on, relaxing, educational vacation option.
Why: These days, almost everyone’s a foodie, but not everyone has a green thumb. That makes this new take on farm-to-table cuisine a winner for anyone curious about where his or her dinner comes from.
The Woodstock Inn & Resort in Woodstock, Vt., sources hundreds of ingredients from nearby Kelly Way, a 2.5-acre garden that grows everything imaginable, including baby ginger and Malabar spinach. Chefs, gardeners, and florists offer collaborative educational classes that explore the rows of herbs, veggies, and flowers.
At the Stanford Inn by the Sea in Mendocino, Calif., a chef and nutritionist offer weekend classes on plant-based cooking techniques, sharing their favorite recipes along with tools for enjoying a healthier life — including a mountain-bike rental.
Where: Vermont’s Woodstock Inn and California’s Stanford Inn by the Sea.
Cost: $15 per person for Kelly Way Gardens Educational Classes at the Woodstock Inn; $450 per person for the Transition to Health Experience at the Stanford Inn.
Hang Ten Outside Hawaii
What: Surfing trips with a twist — in Texas, Montreal, New York’s Rockaway Beach, and other places that are even more fun than a barrel of Oahu waves.
For: Wahines and surfer dudes stoked about finding new spots to be at one with the water.
Why: Surfing is all about the zone: the breaking waves known as the surf zone and the mental state of being “in the zone.” But when you zero in on places outside of most surfers’ comfort zones, the sport becomes an even richer experience. And you can reach that zone in some surprising locales.
“We have lots of great characters and score epic days,” says Morgan Faulkner, the director of Texas Surf Camps, which holds classes throughout the Lone Star State. Faulkner has ridden sick waves behind tankers, a wild experience that allows surfers to stay on the swell for as long as five miles, thanks to the motion of the ocean behind the big ships. “Less than 1 percent of Texas surfers have tried it,” says Faulkner. “It takes a lot of resources and some insider information, but it’s worth it for a 10-minute wave!”
Where: Surf the beaches of Port Aransas and Galveston with Texas Surf Camps; the St. Lawrence River in Montreal with Kayak Sans Frontières; Rockaway Beach in New York with Skudin Surf; the Pacific Northwest with Oregon Surf Adventures; or Florida’s Cocoa Beach with Ron Jon Surf School.
Cost: $45 for a one-hour lesson with Texas Surf Camps; $175 per person for a charter group of four with Tanker Surf Charters; $70 for a three-hour beginner surf session in Quebec; adult surf camps for $105 per day in New York; $99 per person for a beginner, three-hour surf lesson in Oregon; $65 for a one-hour lesson in Florida.
Oh, the Fastest You Can Go!
What: Adrenaline-fix trips with a high-speed focus.
For: Men and women who poo-poo meditation and would rather clear their cluttered minds and find enlightenment by satisfying their innate need for speed.
Why: That rush you feel when you push your body to go as fast as it can — well, it can actually do your body good. One study, published in Yale Scientific Magazine, found that getting your adrenaline fix makes you more resilient and more prepared for life’s real crises.
Then there’s the pure fun factor. Take it from Olympic alpine skier Daron Rahlves, who won the fabled Hahnenkamm downhill race on the Streif course at Kitzbühel, Austria, where skiers hit speeds of 80 miles per hour. “Racing the Hahnenkamm and holding nothing back was a very satisfying feeling and a huge rush,” he says. “It’s risk versus reward, and facing your fears to get in the gate, pump yourself up, and lay it all on the line. I knew the consequences and was willing to face them for the ultimate feeling of believing in myself and skiing to own it.”
Where: Ski the world famous Streif at Kitzbühel, Austria; or tackle McConkey’s at California’s Squaw Valley, famous for its 68-degree pitch in the final section of the double black diamond.
Cost: From about $50 for a one-day lift ticket at Kitzbühel; $139 for a one-day lift ticket at Squaw Valley, Calif.
More Information: www.kitzbuehel.com; www.squawalpine.com
Three breakthrough features that we’ll be seeing more of in the coming years.
I Can Ski Clearly Now
What: Bubble chairs.
For: Skiers and riders who love Mother Nature but loathe Jack Frost.
Why: Convertible cars are great for summer, but when it comes to cold, wet, and snow, why put the top down? New fleets of bubble chairs are making their way into U.S. ski resorts.
“Bubble chairs make winter wonderful,” says Janet Wolbrom, a Winchester, Mass., skier who’s tried the chairs at Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow, Vt. “I don’t have to go inside to take a break from the cold wind, there’s more cushion on the seat, and the ride is quiet and smooth compared with other lifts.”
Where: The Orange Bubble Express at Canyons Village at Park City, Utah; the Sunburst Six and Quantum Four at Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont; and the Bluebird Express at Mount Snow in Vermont.
Open Up and Say “Ah!”
What: Hotel rooms with retractable roofs.
For: Nature lovers who like stargazing but prefer creature comforts over critters.
Why: You’ve traveled all this way, so why limit sightseeing to the day? That’s the theory behind the Cabriolet, a 323-square-foot suite at the five-star L’Albereta resort in Italy. A touch of a button opens up the room’s roof to reveal the sky, allowing you to slumber under the Milky Way atop milky-white luxury sheets.
Less exotic “glamping” resorts across North America apply a similar principle to posh tents that take the grunt work out of digging stakes and getting a fresh take.
Where: L’Albereta resort in Brescia, Italy; The Resort at Paws Up in Greenough, Mont.
What: Life and health coaching at spas
For: Goal seekers and go-getters looking for long-term stress solutions
Why: When I check into the Stoweflake spa, I’m frazzled by family, work, and a fitness funk. My hormones have gone haywire. But instead of receiving a robe right away, I sit down for a two-hour consultation with Surinda Oberai Cavanagh, who begins to coach me toward a more balanced-life approach using the principles of Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of wellness. By the time I submit to a massage and a Shirodhara treatment — in which a stream of warm oil pours into my hairline to soothe my “third eye” — I’ve already slept better and feel more buoyant about life.
“I now see myself as a boat bobbing in the water leaning to one side and then the other,” a fellow guest says of this life-coaching service. “Surinda gave me the tools to right my boat and then to make the small adjustments every day to keep me sailing smoothly.”
Where: East of Eden Retreat and Spa in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.; Mind Over Mountains in Colo.; Westglow Resort & Spa in Blowing Rock, N.C.; The Stoweflake in Stowe, Vt.; and Life Coach Retreats across the U.S.
Cost: $100 for holistic life coaching at East of Eden; $175 for a wellness assessment at Westglow; $250 for a diet and lifestyle consultation and $185 for a Shirodhara treatment at Stoweflake
The latest travel necessities for safer, warmer outdoor adventures.
What: Goal Zero Solar Recharging Kit
For: Those in need of extra juice for their electronic devices.
Why: Weighing in at a paltry 11.2 ounces, this foldable solar panel recharges phones, tablets, and almost anything with a USB port while you’re off trekking, surfing, or catching some rays.
Cost: About $100; www.goalzero.com
What: Voormi outdoor wear
For: Active wool aficionados who care about giving back to communities.
Why: Show your support for small-scale wool producers and artisans while staying warm out on the slopes. This company works with local farmers and craftspeople to create activewear for the high life.
Cost: $30–$399; www.voormi.com
What: SteriPEN Ultra
For: Travelers looking for the power of a pocket-size water filter.
Why: When H2O might be an “Oh no!” SteriPEN takes the guesswork out of drinking water by using UV light and a USB-rechargeable battery. It fits in a shirt pocket and filters 50 liters of water on a single charge, so you can drink up safely.
Cost: About $100; www.steripen.com
What: Giro Silo
For: Green-minded bikers looking to protect their noggin
Why: The first-ever biodegradable bike helmet? That’s a no-brainer.
What: Mission Cooling Towels
For: Serena Williams, Drew Brees — and athletes who need the temp-dropping, competitive-edge effect of an icy breeze
Why: Pros swear by these towels that chill the skin by up to 30 degrees in sweltering heat — making them perfect for Rio or anywhere conditions turn tropical.
Cost: About $18
These nifty apps and websites will help you wise up before climbing a 14er, increase your avalanche awareness, and locate places to pitch your tent.
What: Smartphone books
For: Serious climbers and fitness-seeking travelers.
Why: They’re the yellow pages of hiking, mountaineering, cycling, running, and swimming. The folks at 14ers.com provide tips on getting to the top of Colorado’s peaks exceeding 14,000 feet. Strava Local is an athlete-curated insider’s guide for getting your fitness fix in cities across the globe, from San Francisco to Sydney.
Cost: Books are free. www.14ers.com; www.strava.com
What: Avanet app
For: Backcountry skiers and hikers hoping to stay safer in the field.
Why: You want to move mountains — not have them fall on you. Avanet provides crowd-sourced, real-time data covering backcountry topics from A to Z.
Cost: App is free; iOS only. www.avatech.com
What: Hipcamp website
For: Campers who want to pitch a tent somewhere beyond ho-hum campgrounds.
Why: The niftiest thing to hit the great outdoors since s’mores, Hipcamp helps you locate ranches, farms, vineyards, and land preserves from sea to shining sea where you can pitch your tent.
Cost: Camping prices are determined by landowners. www.hipcamp.com