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Take Me AWAY: 12 Vacation Spots That Raise Your Blood Pressure

1 OF 12

WHERE: Orlando, Florida

The most magical place on the planet is STRESSFUL. It’s tiring, expensive, there are delirious children running around everywhere, and, unless you’re with a guide or someone who’s very familiar with the park(s), it can be very easy to get lost or wait in a long line for a ride that’s totally not worth it. Rides like Splash Mountain and Space Mountain are particularly unnerving, considering the former gets you drenched and the latter spins you around at high speeds in complete darkness.

Counterpoint: It IS the most magical place on earth, and it might just make you feel like a kid again. If “feeling like a kid again” isn’t your thing, there’s still some fun to be had.

2 OF 12

A Nighttime African Safari

WHERE: Africa

This is an optimal time to watch predators like leopards, lions, and members of the hyena family hunt their prey up close. It goes without saying that you should keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle, but you should also consider the color of your outfit since animals could spot you as you drive by. The length of your outfit should be taken into account as well since mosquitoes are especially active at night, and I’m not saying “MALARIA,” but better safe than sorry. Oh, and bear in mind that you’ll be in the midst of giant spiders, like the aggressive huntsman, whose flat body allows it to fit into small spaces, like, say, between the seats of a Jeep.

Counterpoint: A nighttime safari allows you to see certain creatures that don’t really venture out when the sun’s up, like the bushbaby, the aardwolf, and the striped polecat.

3 OF 12

Chernobyl, Ukraine

WHERE: Ukraine

The UNESCO World Heritage Site makes for an interesting tour, but not everyone wants to put themselves at risk for radiation poisoning (courtesy of the explosion of a nuclear power plant in 1986) on their next vacation. More than 28 people died as a result of the Chernobyl accident, which is now one of the biggest nuclear energy disasters in history. The devastation emanating from the town–inhabitants were forced to leave the day after the incident–is palpable.

Counterpoint: Is there another eerie ghost town on earth quite like it? And yes, it is, in fact, safe to visit–specific routes have been put into place so that people can avoid any sort of radioactivity. It’s also a unique chance to see how nature has reclaimed its territory, and you might encounter quite a bit of fauna, including bores and wild horses, roaming the land.

4 OF 12

Las Vegas, Nevada, aka “Sin City”

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. This includes losing obscene amounts of money at the blackjack table to the point where you may not be able to afford a vacation for the next three years and going backstage after a Chip-n-Dale’s show with a bachelorette party. Shotgun weddings, flashy lights, and drunk college kids also abound. Does your head hurt just reading this? Mine does.  

Counterpoint: The all-you-can-eat buffets and Celine Dion.  

5 OF 12

The New River, West Virginia (Whitewater Rafting)

If you’re looking to see firsthand just how intense mother nature can be, this experience is a pretty good example. So, if you do decide to venture out onto these waters, please listen to your river guide and be prepared to hold your breath. A whitewater rafting experience is no joke, especially if you’re on the Lower New River–the aggressive rapids make it difficult to both keep a firm grasp on your paddle and keep yourself firmly planted in the raft. As someone who has fallen out and ended up beneath the raft, let me tell you: [whimpering] It’s stressful.

Counterpoint: It’s a complete adrenaline rush, and it makes for an excellent team-building experience. Also, there are calmer spots along the River for family trips!

6 OF 12

The Catacombs of Paris

WHERE: Paris

Trekking beneath Paris through walkways that house more than six million corpses sounds unnerving and unpleasantly fragrant. Also, any location whose main entrance is deemed the “Gate of Hell” doesn’t scream, “Welcome!” Neither do daily tours appropriately-titled, “The Basement of Paris.”

Counterpoint: Don’t let those ominous names fool you. The underground crypt(s) are sobering and filled with history—construction on the “graves” began in 1786. The depth of the Catacombs is equal to that of a 5-story building and you’ll take 130 steps down to reach the space(s), according to the crypt’s official website. Also, the fact that they’re beneath such a major metropolitan area will blow your mind.

7 OF 12

Washington, D.C.

Is there ever a good time to be in a city that’s filled with gridlocked traffic and zany congressmen? So many suits. So many phones calls. So many handshakes. So many tweets. So many meetings made about my financial future that I’m not being made aware of. Heck, so many meetings about my future, generally, that I’m not being made aware of. My blood pressure is rising just thinking about this place.

Counterpoint: It’s our nation’s capital–from the bevy of historic hotels, to the copious monuments and memorials, there are more than a few reasons to visit at some point. We also recommend planning a vacation around the Cherry Blossom Festival!

8 OF 12

St. Barts

WHERE: St. Barts

Not what you expected to be on this list? Hang on a sec. St. Bart’s is a celebrity hotspot; specifically, the Kardashians. Obviously, if you’re going on a vacation, you don’t want to be surrounded paparazzi or be worried that Kim’s spilled tears following the loss of a diamond earring in the ocean could distract you (that may have been Bora Bora, but you catch my drift) . Look, maybe you do want to watch the Kardashians cry in-person. But, personally, I get plenty of that on Instagram’s Explore page.

Counterpoint: There’s a reason this place is a hotspot for the glamorous: It’s gorgeous and luxurious.

9 OF 12

Cu Chi Tunnels, Ho Chi Minh City

You’re not claustrophobic, are you? Good, because the 155 mile-long Ho Chi Minh City tunnels-–initially built in the 1940s as a form of refuge from air raids during the First Indochina War then expanded during the Vietnam War by Viet Cong guerrilla troops as a form of protection from opposing forces–-are tight-fitting and booby-trapped. Many natives spent years in the tunnels to avoid above-ground bloodshed. In doing so, “bedrooms”, kitchens and even hospitals were established in the tunnels. Though some areas have been made larger to cater to the groups of tourists, it’s still unnerving to think about whole villages of people living down there for most of their lives.

Counterpoint: The structure and thought put into building the tunnels are impressive and a must-see for history buffs.

10 OF 12

Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge, Hunan, China

WHERE: Hunan, China

Do you know what acrophobia is? It’s the fear of heights. If you’re acrophobic, the last place you want to be is walking along Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge. The glass-bottomed bridge–which contains more than 100 glass panels–is suspended between two cliffs in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park and was built as a tourist attraction in 2016. It’s suspended more than 850 feet from the ground. Although it was built to only hold 800 people at a time, the number of daily visitors has been reported to be around 80,000. Yikes.   


Counterpoint: You can say you walked across a glass bridge! The Park is gorgeous as well, and there are even some cool sights to see in Hunan, like the Changsha Museum and Phoenix Ancient Town.

11 OF 12

The Island of Dolls, Mexico City, Mexico

According to its official website, this place is dedicated to the soul of a girl who “drowned in mysterious circumstances many years ago on the island and the dolls are possessed by her spirit.” The man who found the girl’s body also found a doll floating nearby shortly thereafter and he hung it on a tree to show respect. Allegedly, the man was haunted by the girl’s spirit, so he continued to hang dolls in order to appease her ghost. He drowned on the island in 2001. Legend has it that said dolls move their eyes and limbs and some have even been rumored to whisper to one another.

Counterpoint: Is there one?

12 OF 12

Kīlauea, Hawaii (and volcanoes, generally)

WHERE: Hawaii

Yes, Hawaii is gorgeous. However, visiting this popular–it garners millions of visitors each year–volcano is especially nerve-wracking because of the five volcanoes that make up the state, it’s the most active. It has consistently erupted for the last 30 years. Actually, the glow of its leaking magma pretty much defines the surrounding landscape. Hrm, now that I think about it, all volcanoes make me nervous. Like, generally. I’d like Pierce Brosnan to save me now.


Counterpoint: Pierce Brosnan saves me. Also, like I said, Hawaii is gorgeous.

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