Your quintessential bucket list
We all have a must-do list, but it’s so easy to let life get in the way of our dreams. Here are some things to check off before you check out.
See the Northern Lights
Those spectacular lights in the sky can reduce a grown man or woman to tears. Local kids will tell you they’re afraid of them, running home in the darkness before the great bright monsters from above reach them. Others, however, pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars for the experience of witnessing this natural phenomenon. November through April is the best time to see the Northern Lights in Anchorage, and tours can be arranged to spots where it’s so dark you can’t see your hand in front of your face.
Where to stay: The Lakefront Anchorage is the perfect base. From here, you can also watch the float planes fly in against the backdrop of the beautiful Chugach Mountains. Recline in your well-appointed lodge-style room, while deciding whether to take a fishing tour from here or head out to view the awe-inspiring Portage Glacier.
Ride a hot air balloon
Floating up in the basket of a hot air balloon is a thrilling experience for everyone, and Dubai is a great place to get high in that sky. Study the desert dunes from above at sunrise and watch the camels grazing around their Bedouin camps. It’s just like riding a magic carpet, only safer.
Where to stay: Millennium Plaza Hotel Dubai caters for all your five-star needs and is located conveniently on Sheikh Zayed Road, close to lots of shopping malls and restaurants.
Visit a Hobbit house
The Lord of the Rings has stirred the imagination of millions, so it's no wonder travellers are willing to go the distance to experience a Hobbit house for themselves. It's a far-flung corner of the world, but it will be more than worth it when you take your Hobbit Movie Set tour across the magical Kaimai Ranges to The Shire from Rotorua. You'll see the sets created for the movies and learn how Middle-earth was really made.
Where to stay: Millennium Hotel Rotorua sparkles almost as majestically as the mystical Lake Rotorua close by. When you're done with admiring the views, geothermal geysers and mud pools, there’s no lack of bars and restaurants serving up fantastic meals.
Be an extra in a movie
Why stop at just visiting a film location when you can get your five minutes of fame? Believe it or not, becoming an extra in a TV show or movie isn’t that difficult, and there's no better place to test out your acting chops than in the heart of Hollywood. Opportunities pop up year-round, but for your best shot at making it in front of the camera, head here around pilot season (January through April) and check for open casting auditions.
Where to stay: Millennium Biltmore Los Angeles is the home away from home for a number of celebrities, no thanks to its glorious comforts and superb service in a premiere downtown LA location. If you're not snapped up as a movie star yourself, maybe you'll meet one?
Experience Asia’s famous beaches… on horseback
Sounds simple enough, but it’s the kind of thing that could be rubbish (if it rains and you wind up freezing cold and wet) or life-changing (if it’s sunny and your loved one is galloping across the sand by your side in a cowboy hat). There are lots of places you can go, but there’s a reason why Phuket in Thailand has been a favourite of throngs of holidaymakers for decades. Check out the Phuket Riding Club for a host of options in the saddle.
Where to stay: Millennium Resort Patong Phuket is right in the heart of one of Thailand's liveliest destinations. Just a few minutes on foot from Patong Beach, the hotel is an oasis of tranquility from the busy nightlife scene.
Stand atop the Empire State Building
How could we forget New York? While the Big Apple is exciting enough, you absolutely must take the elevator ride up the Empire State Building. Watching an evening sunset from the top floor in the open air is one of life's greatest pleasures, and it's even better knowing you have a whole night ahead of you in the city that never sleeps. Gaze out over Manhattan and know you're standing right at the awesome core of NYC.
Where to stay: Millennium Broadway New York Times Square puts you right in the heart of the action in Times Square. You'll also be able to strike off a number of things on your bucket list in a location like this, such as getting front-row seats to a Broadway show. Just ask your hotel concierge to make you a reservation.
Have you got much on your bucket list? What are you most determined to achieve before the end of the year?
While you’re at it, here are more travel ideas to add to your list.