Vacation ideas for turning 6 childhood dreams into reality


By Sarah Sekula, published on

During our younger years we dream on a grand scale. We imagine mastering the stealth mode of a ninja warrior or becoming a rockstar. But, sadly, as we age, we let go of some of those wild ideas. The good news is: you don’t have to. There are loads of epic excursions around the globe that will have you feeling nostalgic in no time.

“People used to be content with passively watching or seeing, but these days they realize how fulfilling it is to actually participate, and they are hungry for more direct and visceral ways to remember their journeys,” says Brigitte Crumpler, a specialist with Audley Travel (, a company specializing in tailor–made journeys around the globe. “It also ties in with the drive for self improvement, expanding the comfort zone and challenging oneself that is part of modern culture.”

That said, here are six ways to dive right back into your childhood:

Transform into a mermaid in Hawaii

Embrace your inner Ariel with See through Sea’s Mermaid Experience. This Hawaii-based company offers guests three underwater photo shoots where they get all gussied up in mermaid gear and hop into the stunning waters off of Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island. During weeklong events guests are photographed among white sandy bays, vibrant cauliflower coral reef gardens and dramatic lava tube caverns.

“Each event is designed to help facilitate our client’s mermaid dreams coming true and also incorporates elements of education about oceanic wildlife and conservation,” says Alicia Ward, co-owner of See Through Sea.

As if that wasn’t cool enough, along the way it’s not uncommon to see tropical fish, turtles, manta rays and dolphins. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll even spot whales on the boat ride over. The photos and video you take back home are real keepsakes and a portion of the proceeds are donated to oceanic conservation efforts and marine life research foundations.

Price range varies;

Rome Gladiator School

Become a gladiator for the day in Italy 

Rome Cavalalieri offers gladiator training that is part history lesson and part hands-on combat. In other words, it’s your chance learn ancient battle techniques Russell Crowe-style and burn some calories at the same time. Before the lesson, you learn the importance of the ancient Romans and what a day in the life of a gladiator would be like. By the end of it, you’ll be wielding a wooden sword and competing with your friends and family.

Audley Travel

Train like a ninja in Japan

If you really want the scoop on what it’s like to be a ninja, sign yourself up for the Tokyo Ninja Experience. It all begins with some quiet time via a meditation session. Next, it’s time to look the part by donning traditional ninja gear and learn kujikiri, a series of nine symbolic hand gestures meant to enhance the senses and create mental strength. Post training session you will get to check out authentic ninja weapons, visit temples and ninja museums. There’s also the Ninja Dojo Experience where you’ll learn proper breathing and walking techniques and how to use ninja swords, blow darts and ninja stars. Plus there’s pyrotechnics involved.

“Ninjas are a fascinating combination of espionage and traditional Japanese culture and this program is a great hands-on way to immerse kids and adults in that,” says Elizabeth Jao, Japan specialist with Audley Travel, a travel agency which arranges customizes tours around the world.

Price range varies;

Icon Aircraft

Fly a plane that looks like a sports car in Tampa

Take over the controls of an ICON A5, a two-seater amphibious plane that looks like something out of a James Bond movie. This innovative two-seater was built specifically for non-pilots in mind. That said, even a novice can learn to fly it in less than 30 hours. In fact, mastering water takeoffs and landings typically only takes about a half hour.

The Sport Flying Introduction class is 1.5 hours for $595.;


Let your inner rockstar loose in Austin

So your lofty dream of becoming a rockstar didn’t quite pan out? No worries, you still have a chance to sing on stage in the live music capital of the world. Guests at Westin Austin Downtown can book a Guitar Rockstar package that includes a private rooftop guitar lesson with a local musician, VIP access to legendary blues clubs and the opportunity to play live with at one of Austin’s famous music venues where many of the city’s best musicians have played before. Plus, you will have a guitar provided for you during your stay and a customized tour of Austin’s most musical spots.

Starts at $1,424/night;

Train like Katniss in Toronto

Inspired by Katniss Everdeen’s epic archery skills in The Hunger Games, the Archery District is a place to bump up your own archery cred. It’s survival-style combat that rolls paintball, dodegball and traditional archery all into one. Don’t worry, though the arrows are foam tipped.

$25/hour per person;