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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?