So you don’t know where to travel?

by Audrey on July 4, 2014 · 37 comments

One of the most frequently asked questions that pops up in my inbox is, “Where do you think I should travel?”

I’m always happy to respond to emails asking for travel tips and advice, but this is one question that leaves me stumped. There are 196 countries in the world today (though even that’s a disputable number) - how do I even begin to narrow it down?!

I think travel destinations are a very personal choice. Sure, there may be certain countries that are easier to travel to, or cheaper to travel to, but at the end of the day you’re the one that has to decide where.

The newbie traveller.

So where do you want to go?

For many travellers a destination starts with a little seed. An image you saw on a postcard, a documentary you watched on the National Geographic channel, a photo that etched itself into your memory. Think about that place you have always dreamed of visiting.

Did you grow up wanting to see lions in the wild in Tanzania? Have you always wanted to sleep in a glass igloo in Swedish Lapland and watch the Aurora borealis from bed? Do you dream of rafting through the Amazon and falling asleep to the sound of crickets in the jungle? Does the thought of walking the Inca Trail get your heart pitter-pattering with excitement? Do you want to travel to Italy and eat as much pasta as your belly can handle?

What is YOUR dream?

If you just take a minute to ask yourself this question you’ll know where you want to go. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a destination that others may scoff at and deem outlandish. Uzbekistan? French Polynesia? Antarctica? Roll with it! These places may take a little more planning and quite a bit more saving, but that doesn’t mean they are unattainable.

Looking back on my early trips, I chose Paris because I had studied French and watched a hefty dose of movies and cartoons set in Paris as a child. (Yes, The Aristocats and Madeline count!) I chose to travel across Northern Argentina because I saw photos of red valleys and purple mountains and I wanted to see this out of the world scenery for myself. And I went to India because I was invited to a wedding, which seemed like a good enough reason to hop on a plane! So not too much rhyme of reason to my decision making.

But let’s get back to YOU, and where YOU want to travel to. I don’t want to leave you empty-handed, so even though I can’t possible choose your dream destination for you, I am happy to offer a few suggestions to get you thinking. These have been some of my favourite countries so far – all for various reasons – and I hope they’ll inspire a bit of wanderlust in you too!

Travelling in Queensland, Australia.

Australia

My recent trip to Australia opened my eyes to what a great and exciting destination this country can be. Yes, it’s quite the journey reaching the Land Down Under, but once you get here it’s so worth it!

Even though I only explored Queensland, it soon became clear what a diverse country Australia really is. When you have such a massive piece of land, there’s always a new adventure to be had! You can scuba-dive in the Great Barrier Reef, camp in the Outback, sail around the Whitsundays, drive the Great Ocean Road, come face to face with all sorts of wildlife from koalas to kangaroos, and so much more! If you’re looking for a destination where you can spend months exploring, then Australia is your place.

Great for: road-tripping, adventure, beaches, outdoors.

Art and architecture in Prague, Czech Republic.

Czech Republic

If you’re looking for that European fairy-tale adventure, then the Czech Republic should be on your radar. My recent visit was mainly focused on exploring Prague and I really do think it is one of the most beautiful cities in all of Europe. Prague was also really affordable and easy to navigate.

One of the things I liked about Prague is that there are so many hidden gems in the city. Yes, you have the main attractions like Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, and the giant Astronomical Clock (all of which are worth the visit), but then you have cute little neighbourhoods like Nový Svět, the Old Jewish Quarter of Josefov, and the remains of the old fort in Vyšehrad. It’s such a great city for walking and soaking in the environment.

Great for: culture, history, architecture.

Traveling in Northern Argentina, where the earth really is this colour!

Argentina

Maybe I’m biased because I grew up in Argentina, but I really think it’s one of the most spectacular countries in the world!

What I like about this country is its geographical diversity. Argentina is a long stretch of land which covers arid landscapes in the north, the towering Andes and the wine producing region in the west, tropical rainforests and Iguazu Falls in the east, the flatlands known as the pampas as you work your way south, and finally Tierra del Fuego (the Land of Fire) just before you hope over to Antarctica. Add to that Buenos Aires, a gorgeous capital city where they still dance tango on the streets, and you can see why I love it there!

Oh, and Argentineans love to eat, drink and be merry. What more can you ask for?

Great for: culture, food (so much delicious food!), adventure, outdoors.

Enjoying nature and the slow life in Finland.

Finland

Finland isn’t a country that immediately comes to mind when you think of travel in Europe, and that’s why I’m putting it on the list. Finland is a hidden gem!

When I think of Finland the first two words that come to mind are ‘nature’ and ‘peace’. I visited Finland in the summertime last year and I got to experience walks through fields teaming with wildflowers, kayaking trips on the chilly waters of the archipelago, and home-cooked meals in cute family-run cafes. Finland in the summer was nothing short of idyllic. If you are looking to just be at one with nature, Finland is that place. Plus the capital of Helsinki has plenty to offer in terms of cultural events, attraction, and dining options.

Also, this country offers a whole other world of possibilities in the wintertime. If you’re not afraid of the cold, you can enjoy dog-sledding, cross-country skiing, ice skating, and a few runs between the frozen lake and the sauna!

Great for: nature, hiking, camping, wellness, slow travel.

Enjoying adventure and the outdoors in Jordan.

Jordan

Jordan is one country I’m still raving about to anyone who will listen. I felt Jordan was a great introduction to the Middle East; locals were hospitable, most Jordanians spoke some English, and it wasn’t as restrictive as some other nations in the region.

When it comes to adventure and outdoor activities, Jordan was a blast! I got to experience Petra, get muddy in the Dead Sea, camp with Bedouins, ride 4x4s through Wadi Rum, and experience the stillness of nature at the Dana Biosphere Reserve. This is a country that is brimming with possibilities.

Great for: hiking, camping, adventure.

Soaking in the history of Istanbul.

Turkey

Istanbul is a place where history is so tangible and that’s one of the things I most loved about it. Getting to visit Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, the Basilica Cistern, and the Grand Bazaar almost felt a little unreal because you’re setting foot in places that have been around for centuries!

There were also lots of cultural activities to experience like the whirling dervish performance. And when it comes to eating, Turkey knows a thing or two about food! From kumpir and köfte, and baklava to Turkish delight, this is one destination that’ll leave you licking your fingers. And have I mentioned that this city is home to the friendliest cats?

Great for: culture, history, architecture, food, shopping. 

A taste of summer in Canada.

Canada

Yes, I’m adding my own country to the list. I haven’t been able to travel around Canada as much as I’d like to (just a few quick trips to Quebec and the Maritime Provinces), but I can assure you that there is so much to see here.

You have the beautiful Rockies in British Columbia and Alberta, the Prairie Provinces where its flatlands as far as the eye can see, and if you’re really looking for some adventure you can try driving out to Yukon! Yes, we have great cities, but I think it’s our natural landscapes that really make the country shine. And we’re friendly too!

Great for: outdoors, nature, easy living. 

What destinations would you suggest to travellers looking for a little inspiration?
What have been some of your favourite destinations around the world?

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Ivana July 4, 2014 at 2:41 pm

These are some great picks, Audrey! I didn’t have an idea you spent your childhood in Argentina :)
I would suggest Romania, because of its people, food and landscape, which is really unbeatable.
Then Philippines and to explore more than just Boracay and well, now I might be biased myself, but I would suggest also Ukraine, especially west part. The culture, architecture and the Carpathian mountains with its spectacular views are just too beautiful to miss them :) Oh, not to mention the food!
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Audrey July 4, 2014 at 10:56 pm

Thanks for the suggestions, Ivana. I can’t believe Sam and I never made it to the Philippines after spending almost a year in SE Asia – we just ran out of time! And I’ll keep Romania and Ukraine in mind for when we make it back to Europe. :)

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asli July 4, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Thanks for sharing your favourite destinations. It is very nice to hear that my hometown Istanbul is in your list:) And also totally agree with you about Prague, it is just like you are in a fairy tale! Best wishes, Asli
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Audrey July 4, 2014 at 10:54 pm

Thanks, Asli! Istanbul was amazing. My only regret is that I didn’t get to see more of the country – we enjoyed Istanbul so much that we just kept extending our stay there and never made it to places like Ephesus and Cappadocia. Another visit, I guess. :)

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Emily July 4, 2014 at 3:34 pm

I totally agree with you on Argentina and Jordan, they are up there on my ‘these places are amazing’ list. I’d also put on Mexico and Guatemala, because they are countries that seem to have everything – ruins, history and adventure travelling (oh and beaches!).
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Audrey July 4, 2014 at 10:49 pm

Glad to hear you also enjoyed Argentina and Jordan, Emily! And thanks for the tips on Mexico and Guatemala. I haven’t been to either of those, so I’ll keep those recommendations in mind for future travels.

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Franca July 4, 2014 at 3:47 pm

I don’t know exactly why, considering I’ve never been there, but Jordan is a place I really want to visit. I imagine it as a place with very unique landscapes, loads of animals to love and with incredibly nice and friendly people.

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Audrey July 4, 2014 at 10:46 pm

The landscapes are out of this world. One of my favourite spots was Wadi Rum – it’s so peaceful out there and the sand is this beautiful shade of burnt orange. It feels like you’ve set foot on Mars!

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Ashley July 4, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Great list! I keep hearing such great things about Jordan- I need to go!
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Audrey July 4, 2014 at 10:45 pm

It lives up to the hype! Go if you get the chance. :)

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Kayla July 4, 2014 at 5:52 pm

I recently travelled to Jordan as well! Only for two days as I spent five weeks in Israel and Palestine and just went on a tour with Abraham Tours to Jordan. I loved it and I know I have to go back and spend more time in Jordan. My next destination, hopefully, will be Prague. I have been obsessed with that city for over a year now. I am not sure why but something is drawing me in and I hope I can travel there as I have heard nothing but amazing things about it.
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Audrey July 4, 2014 at 10:44 pm

That’s awesome, Kayla! How did you enjoy Abraham Tours? I travelled with them last year through Israel – I thought they were a really fun group and I got to see so much more than I would have had I attempted to do it all on my own. :) P.S. I hope you make it to Prague soon!

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Naomi July 4, 2014 at 7:24 pm

I’m a South America lover but Colombia has to be my favourite and the country has so much to offer: huge cities and crazy parties, beautiful countryside to find peace, beach, desert, rainforest, mountains, the whole shebang! So much to see and do as well as having the friendliest people ever.
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Audrey July 4, 2014 at 10:41 pm

I’ve been hearing such great things about Columbia from so many people. It used to be considered a dangerous place when I was growing up in South America, but it’s nice to see that its image is changing.

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Claire July 4, 2014 at 10:00 pm

Are those the green tea fields in Korea? I’ve been wanting to make it down there!
Jordan and Turkey are definitely on my list, and I’ve always wanted to go to Iran. But South America is calling my name! After my contract is up in Korea that’s where I’ll be heading (and a short stint in SE Asia of course).
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Audrey July 4, 2014 at 10:39 pm

They sure are! I ended up visiting the Boseong Tea Fields twice over the course of my year in Korea. It’s really pretty down there, especially in the summertime when everything is green. :) And that’s exciting that you’ll be heading over to South America once you finish teaching! I hope Buenos Aires is on your itinerary – I love it down there!

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Renuka July 4, 2014 at 10:31 pm

So far, I have been to only Australia out of this list. Great suggestions. Prague is on my radar too. I still remember your ’50 things to do in Prague’ post. It IS a gorgeous city. You’re right that different people have different inspirations. In my case, I’m fascinated by so many destinations that I can’t even begin to mention them. :)
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D Haldar July 4, 2014 at 10:32 pm

Nice one….If possible plz do a similar on SE Asia
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Audrey July 4, 2014 at 10:36 pm

Hi D! This post might be helpful – it’s a round up of my 7 favourite spots in Southeast Asia. :) Enjoy!

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Alejandra July 4, 2014 at 10:49 pm

Its so tough to pick one country when in reality each country has its uniqueness and things that will make us fall in love. On the other hand, there are those that will stay with us longer than expected and resonate in our heart. I think for me thats Costa Rica, I haven’t felt in any other country how I felt while in Costa Rica, it could be that it was my first solo travel, or the way they respect and protect their natural resources and parks, all the wildlife I was able to encounter, the diverse landscapes, or the latino rapport. Thanks for sharing your picks
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Karyn @ Not Done Travelling July 5, 2014 at 4:14 am

Great list! If I could add anything to it I would recommend Thailand, because it’s the springboard to the rest of South East Asia, and it’s a great place for a person to find their feet when they’re first backpacking.
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Steve July 5, 2014 at 7:28 am

There are some interesting choices. Hoping to get to visit Helsinki during my Baltic trip in September. Turkey is on my radar for the future. Thanks for the tips.

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Charlie July 5, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Wait, people struggle with the question ‘Where should I go?’? I thought the common problem was: How do I afford to go everywhere?! ;) That’s my issue anyway! These are some great picks though, I’m sure your list could go on and on. There’s so many factors that need to be considered when choosing where to travel, but I agree, it really has to grow out of a personal fascination with a place, somewhere you’ve always dreamt of seeing.
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Wendy Greene July 6, 2014 at 1:01 pm

I get the “I don’t know where to go!” thing… So many people have limited time or limited funds for travel and with so many places to choose from, it can get overwhelming. There’s a pressure to get it right each time. But you’ve provided some good tips for figuring it out along with some suggestions to get people thinking. Great post!
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A Montrealer Abroad (@marievallieres) July 6, 2014 at 3:58 pm

Such a good post idea, Audrey. So many people don’t travel because they don’t know where to start and get overwhelmed by the idea of it all, it’s great that you just put it out there for them!

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Mike of Mapless Mike July 6, 2014 at 10:21 pm

Thanks, Audrey! I completely agree that choosing a travel destination is incredibly personal. I’ll be moving to Spain this September, and there’s plenty of places I want to travel to in and around Spain. I’ve never been to any of the countries you listed above, but I’ll add them to my list!
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Christine | GRRRL TRAVELER July 6, 2014 at 10:32 pm

What a diverse list to get travelers dreaming and lovely photos too. Jordan and Argentina are two countries I’m still leaving up to the cards but am hopeful they will arrive. Czech Republic and Finland are on my list but I’m a little concerned at the affordability of one night’s stay. I guess I measure in between ‘where do I want to go’ and ‘what can I afford’. At the moment, seems to take bigger priority. :(
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STOFFEL July 7, 2014 at 3:33 am

WHY NOT VISIT SOUTH AFRICA.
WONDERFUL PLACES TO SEE BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY
SAFE PLACES TO VISIT
FRIENDLY PEOPLE
CURRENCY R15 TO ONE UERO

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Hannah Wasielewski July 7, 2014 at 8:46 am

I’ve only been to Argentina on the list, but I would say as far as ease of traveling in South America, Argentina and Peru are the easiest! So a good place for someone to get started. I plan on visiting Australia in January, so I can add one more!
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MollyG July 7, 2014 at 9:19 pm

New Zealand. Without question the most amazing place I have ever been. It’s such a diverse country, considering the small size of it, and the nature is just unbeatably beautiful. Plus, hobbits!

I also recommend Costa Rica. Volcanos, beaches, rain forests, awesome birds (toucans!!), sloths. Really just an awesome place.
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Rashad Pharaon July 8, 2014 at 9:11 am

I love your list, although I’d definitely add Lebanon to it. It’s a diamond of a country, absolute in its beauty and scenery. I was just there, and despite all the BS the media spouts about it, seemed very safe to me. I even reached the Syrian border and had no issues. I really like how you chose Paris because of a childhood influence. It’s exactly how I choose my countries too. I’m in Sa Dec, Vietnam, right now. It’s in the middle of nowhere. But it’s where my greatest influence–the French author Marguerite Duras–once lived :)
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Amrita Das July 10, 2014 at 9:02 am

Hey Audrey, I’ve nominated you for the Liebster Award. Please have a look at my latest blog post: http://wp.me/pWr3I-d9. Love you blog! :)

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Emily July 14, 2014 at 3:23 pm

Thanks for this post, I really like your travel blog! It inspired me to make my own. Looking forward to checking more of this website out :)

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Kim July 18, 2014 at 5:27 pm

I loved this post! Recently posted on my blog about how I narrowed down where to go on my first big adventure: http://howthiscrowflies.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/upcoming-itinerary/
and you’re post confirms I am definitely on the right track :) Thanks

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Nikki August 19, 2014 at 8:39 pm

Audrey – you must definitely go to South Africa. Cape Town is the most beautiful city in the world, full of rich cultural experiences.. You would love it!

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Haya August 20, 2014 at 7:46 am

Hi there :) I was googling what to do in Istanbul & I found your blog. I really like your travel destinations & how you summarize each of them and write tips on what to visit. I can see that you’re targeting the fun part of your destination as you have covered it well in my hometown (Jordan). I’ll be travelling to Istanbul (for the second time) soon & I’ll try the tips that you wrote :) Thank you for the lovely blog

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Nita September 25, 2014 at 7:00 am

Spot-on about choosing where to travel to. Everyone is different and may not love the same places. But what a fab round-up of your favorite countries! Argentina seems fascinating – need to explore South America soon ;) Haven’t made it to that side of the world yet. I love Turkey too!! Istanbul is exciting and Cappadocia is out of this world. Thanks for sharing such great places, Audrey! :)
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