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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

11 mind-altering vacations

Image: Ayahuasca ceremony
Jaime Razuri / AFP - Getty Images File

Barbara Cleveland


Introduction

It seems like no one is going to let us forget how bad the economy has gotten — not Wall Street, not our daily newspaper (if it still exists), not our unemployed brother, who's still sleeping on our couch. Sure, you can escape the stress by taking a vacation, but for some people, the average sun-and–piña colada getaway won't do the trick. That's why many travelers are opting for the strong stuff: a vacation involving mind-altering substances. Indeed, the world offers plenty of trippy tutorials on the meaning of this topsy-turvy life, whether it's a cultural immersion where the ceremony is as important as the high — like drinking kava with a local tribe in Fiji — or a beach party in the Caribbean fueled by hallucinogenic tea.

Of course, there's a big difference between freeing your mind legally while on vacation and doing something that'll land you in a Burmese prison. We've stuck to substances that are currently decriminalized or largely tolerated in their destinations. But laws can vary over time and within countries, so check before you, um, pack your pipe (and bring your lawyer's cell number). It goes without saying, but always use caution: Talk to your doctor, only purchase from legitimate sources, always bring a friend, and register with your local consulate on arrival. It's one thing to tune in and turn on, it's another to completely drop out.

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