Until Summer Fridays become legally mandatory in American office settings, we’ll have to rely on those precious vacation days we’ve been squirreling away since the new fiscal year started. Vacations, for many, mean an intentional refresh—the opportunity to clock horizontal hours and maybe hit the spa. Although it’s hard to argue the inherent luxury of a good pedicure, where’s the adventure in terry cloth robes? 

Obviously everyone has a different definition for “adventure.” For some, that means jumping on the back of a stranger’s motorbike in search of illicit substances on an exotic coast. For others, it may mean just stepping outside their comfort zone—even something as vanilla-sounding as staying on the 13th floor of a mid-grade hotel could be pretty dang wild for some. Regardless of varying definitions, obviously writers will tell the best story about their mind-bending trips. We spoke to 9 about their most adventurous vacations. Buckle in—it gets bumpy.