Retirement Goals: 10 Trips That'll Make You Dream of an Early Retirement

From the Great Wall of China to Machu Picchu in Peru, let these 10 incredible trips be your motivation to contribute more to your 401(k) and save toward life-changing journeys.

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Taj Mahal, Agra, India

Called one of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal is an ivory marble mausoleum constructed during the Mughal empire in the 17th century. The grounds feature impressive soaring minarets, a mosque, and gardens known for their symmetry. Pause by the reflecting pool and think about the grounds designed as the earthly replica of paradise.

Machu Picchu, Peru

This Incan capital has drawn increasing numbers of tourists in recent years. Set in the Andes Mountains, the 15th century structure is known for its stone walls and buildings set in astronomical alignment. Also named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its original use is still a mystery.

Northern Lights

The mysterious phenomenon of aurora borealis occurs when gas particles in the Earth’s atmosphere collide with charged particles released from the sun’s atmosphere. From September to April, visitors can find trips in Alaska, Canada and Scandinavian countries such as Iceland, Sweden and Finland to see the lights.

Route 66

A road trip along one of the country’s original highways should make any bucket list. Known as the Main Street of America and constructed in 1926, the route runs more than 2,400 miles long through eight states. Travel the same path as those who migrated west during the 1930s Dust Bowl, and stop at the small towns along the way from Chicago to Los Angeles.

Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

The world’s largest coral reef system boasts more than 900 islands and 2,900 reefs across 1,400 miles. Sail, seaplane, snorkel and dive to see the colorful coral, fish, stingrays and tortoises that make the reefs their home. With so many activities available, there’s an option for every family member.

Havana, Cuba

Now that tourism is opening up in a former embargoed nation, it’s time to see the pastel houses, 1950s-era cars and Spanish-colonial architecture before it changes. Dance to salsa music and attend cabaret shows in the country’s capital. Since regulations are still adapting, find a tour to join to meet visa requirements and stay safe in a group.

Grand Canyon, Arizona

More than 1,900 square miles, Grand Canyon National Park showcases the layered red rock that gleams each day during sunrise and sunset. The South Rim is open all year to visitors who want to see the canyon, which stretches 277 miles long, 18 miles wide and one mile deep. Camp, hike and take a river trip to see all of the angles.

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

The country’s capital is becoming more accessible to tourists around the globe as officials push for better air travel, accommodations and activities for visitors. Originally a nomadic land home to Genghis Khan and Buddhists, the modern city features Soviet-era buildings and surviving monasteries. Stay in a yurt, learn about shaman ceremonies, and talk to hawk experts on the steppes.

Great Wall of China

One of the largest manmade construction projects in the world, the wall runs along the historic northern borders of China. Created with stone, brick, wood and soil, the wall once measured more than 5,500 miles long. Imagine how many people it took during several dynasties to complete construction.

Temples of Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Outstanding ruins remain from the Khmer Empire, which existed from the 9th to 15th centuries. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the famed temples showcase advanced architecture, art and society that was present in the megacity so long ago. The most well-known temple, Angkor Wat, is the largest religious monument in the world.

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