Extreme vacations offer thrill-seekers a rush

LOS ANGELES Kristina Wegscheider is a real thrill seeker on /*vacation*/. She sees it as a nice alternative to her less exciting day-to-day job in human resources.

"It just really helps me get that balance in my life between work and personal," she said.

And when she's off the clock, her adventures are extreme. From repelling down cliffs to swimming with sharks, she's done it all.

"I really just enjoy the thrill. I love stepping out of my comfort zone," Wegscheider said.

She's stepped out into some extreme conditions in places like Antarctica. Smarter Travel magazine's Anne Banas says Wegscheider has caught on to the new craze of going to places where the weather is extreme in order to find adventure.

"Sometimes if you look to bad weather for a great vacation, you can have a very incredible experience," Banas said.

Banas said storm-watching is very "in" as an action-packed adventure. One option: resorts in the Pacific Northwest near Vancouver where you can face wild weather head on.

"Watch thunder and lightning and rain and see enormous waves crashing on the shore," Banas said.

Or you can book a tour to chase storms in the Midwest. You may not always see a tornado, but there are lightning storms, thunder and even funnels.

"And you're in the safety of a car stocked with GPS, so you can always get away from the danger," Banas said.

If you want to brave really miserable conditions, there's Mount Washington, New Hampshire.

"They say they have the worst weather in the world, and it's true," Banas said. "You go up on top of the mountain and there's actually a weather observatory and they've recorded winds that are some of the worst in history, and if you want to do this in the winter, you can pay to go up in a snow tractor and actually experience this."

If you want to get close to a live volcano, go to Montserrat in the Caribbean. Another option is you can take a short flight from Antigua for $239 and fly over the volcano.

These trips are exactly the kind of thing Wegscheider considers cool.

"I just love to have fun and really experience what the world has to offer," she said.

One thing that might take these "thrillcations" to real nightmares would be the wrong gear. If you decide to book these trips in wild weather, be sure to check with the guides on what to wear and what gear you'll need to bring.

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