As exciting as it is that NASA has opened the International Space Station to tourism, not everyone has millions of dollars available to pay for such a trip.
The nightly rate of the experience has been reported to be a steep $35,000, and missions may last as long as 30 days.
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For star-struck travelers who don’t have that kind of coin, here are a few alternatives. Granted, you won’t be orbiting the planet, but these trips are out of this world. Each one takes place in a location that feels at least a little bit like another planet (minus the rocket trip.)
A Galaxy Far, Far Away in Wadi Rum, Jordan
There’s a reason why the largely anticipated Star Wars episode 9 – Rise of Skywalker filmed key scenes in Wadi Rum, Jordan. The destination feels like a galaxy far, far away.
Trafalgar is offering a new Seven-day Jordan Experience with Dead Sea itinerary that includes a journey via jeep through the desert, where participants can watch the landscape rise almost 2,000 meters from the desert floor, surrounded by canyons, waterholes and rock paintings that span millennia.
Prices start at $1,850 and include your in-destination transport, accommodations, and 11 meals that are guaranteed to be better than space food.
Million-Year-Old Caldera That’s Not on The Moon
Millions of years ago a volcano erupted in what’s now the Patagonia region of southern Argentina. It’s a geological jackpot for adventurers.
Perfectly timed with the launch of NASA’s tourism plan in 2020, social travel company, Contiki is debuting it’s 10-day Patagonia Trail trip, bringing travelers through the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, jagged glaciers, snow-topped peaks, fjords and lively beach forests of Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales, El Calafate, El Calten.
The trip is designed exclusively for 18 to 35-year-olds and will cost literally one-hundred times less than a trip to space at only $369 per day. The cost includes 15 meals, accommodations, in-destination transport, and an expert trip manager.
1.2 Billion Year Old Meteorite Crater Off Scotland’s Coast Just Discovered
Recently the impact crater of the largest meteorite ever to strike the UK was discovered right off the coast of northwest Scotland.
The meteorite hit more than 1.2 billion years ago and left a nine-mile wide crater behind. Not only did space literally collide with Scotland’s coast, but the destination is reminiscent of another planet, especially Isle of Skye.
From the cliffs to the fairy pools, Game of Thrones and Star Wars vibes, Isle of Skye is unearthly.
Ireland and Scotland experts, Brendan Vacations can take you there via private chauffeur (which is far more luxurious than a spaceship).
Travel through the Scottish Isles and experience the most dramatic landscapes in the world on a seven-day Bonnie Scotland private chauffeur itinerary inclusive of luxury transport, private chauffeur, accommodations and meals for $5,325.
Asteroid Caves Underground Mammoth Cave National Park
Just outside of Bowling Green, Kentucky, and underneath miles of uninterrupted green forests, lies the world’s longest underground cave system in the world at Mammoth Cave National Park.
For more than 400 miles these labyrinths spread out like the underbelly of an asteroid or the inside of the moon’s many craters, reminiscent of scenes from The Empire Strikes Back.
On the cave trails, park visitors can go more than 300 feet below ground, entering into a sunless world with alien-like critters and lunar landscapes. Unlike your stay at ISS, entry is free.
One Of The Six Dark Sky Sanctuaries On The Planet – Massacre Rim
Located in far northern Washoe County about an hour and a half outside of Reno Tahoe, Nevada, lies Massacre Rim, one of the darkest and most remote places on the planet providing a nocturnal environment to literally see into the milky way from Earth.
It’s one of six Dark Sky Sanctuaries in the world certified by the International Dark Sky Association, and very accessible via road trip on the West Coast.
Visitors can stay nearby in Reno Tahoe’s Renaissance Reno Downtown for less than $150 per night.
The World’s Largest Uninterrupted Sand Mass, The Rub Al Khali In Abu Dhabi, Not Mars
An experience that just may feel like visiting Mars, Abu Dhabi’s empty quarter desert sand dunes reach nearly 1,000 feet high and Tel Moreeb is noted as our planet’s largest sandmass.
Travelers can 4×4 through the desert dunes, go sandboarding or even hop on the back of a camel, and then kick back and relax and the ultra-luxurious Qasr Al Sarab oasis in the midst of the desert, arguably just as ‘bucket list’ as a Martian sand dune. Rates at the oasis start at $250 per night.