Your first adventure usually takes you to Southeast Asia, where you follow the tourist trail starting in Bangkok and then tracing the steps of millions of others who came before you to Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and maybe Singapore for a stopover before you head home.
This is like a rite of passage for anyone fresh out of college before university. They have heard all about the sights, the scenes and the smells, and they are drawn to it. And when they come back, they can talk with others about their favourite spots, and they can feel included.
There’s nothing wrong with this, but sometimes it is not enough. If you’re someone who still has the travel bug and wants to try something different (especially once everything gets back to normality), why not travel somewhere that no one has heard of?
Europe is such a glorious microcosm of culture that you can explore easily in just a weekend. You can go from the UK to the Eiffel Tower in a matter of hours, and still have time to check out the Leaning Tower of Pisa before needing to go back home.
However, there is more to Europe than the typical tourist attractions. Places like Moldova and Liechtenstein are two places to explore. If you’re not someone who has an affinity for the beach, then landlocked Liechtenstein can provide ample hiking opportunities. At the same time, Moldova offers an expanse of vineyards, as well as a rich winemaking history that stretches back over 5000 years.
In the Middle East
Considered to be the birthplace of civilization, the Middle East is steeped in history everywhere you go, and despite the fact it is a region that everyone knows about for one reason or another, it is still one of the less-travelled destinations for travellers.
Part of this could be to do with funds, as places such as Qatar or UAE can be expensive, especially on a traveller’s shoestring. However, a Jordan tour to see Petra or see if you can really float in the Dead Sea (you can), or a trip to the previously neglected Oman can open up your world to a range of possibilities, and it will give you stamps in your passport that others will never have.
In the South Pacific
When we think of the South Pacific, think of tiny islands dotted around that are never somewhere you could actually visit, but that is far from the case. When people say the world is more connected than ever before, they mean it. There is no place on Earth that you cannot explore.
Destinations such a Vanuatu, with one of the world’s most active volcanoes balancing against the dichotomy of the desktop screensaver beaches, give you a fresh perspective on the world. Likewise, Tuvalu, one of the most isolated nations of the planet, is a gateway to exploring other island nations in the region.
In the Caribbean
There is a beautiful balance of adventure and luxury in the Caribbean, and this means it has something for everybody. The likes of Anguilla bring your white sand and relaxation if you can handle the heat. Dominica has nine active volcanoes, and the Waitukubuli National Trail is the Caribbeans’ first long-distance hiking trails.
Finally, if you’re looking for a genuinely laid-back destination, St. Kitts and Nevis have that to offer. The cuisine, while unusual at first glance, is something that you will find yourself craving many years later when a slap of a steel drum or sip of spiced rum brings back fond memories.
Most people travelling to Africa will stick around Morocco or Tunisia if they prefer the northern part. In contrast, others may venture to South Africa, with much of central, Eastern, and Western Africa ignored.
Ignoring these places, however, means you miss out on some of the unique experiences. Eritrea, while still dangerous in some areas, still boasts some of the best scuba-diving around, and for history buffs, the remnants of Italian occupation prevails. If you want more of a jungle exploration experience, São Tomé and Príncipe are a naturalist’s dream. This hotspot of biodiversity has just about everything you need, including coffee plantations and more birds than you ever knew existed.
There is nothing wrong with following in the footsteps of millions of other travellers who have come before you. But if you want to try something different and discover magical parts of the world before they become overrun with tourists, these hidden gems are a fantastic place to start. Be quick, though, because you never know how soon they may burst onto the scene.