I’ve traveled to 29 countries. My non-traveler friends think that means I’ve gone everywhere.
“What other places are left?” they ask.
But I disagree. I feel as though I’ve traveled almost nowhere. The more places I go, the more I realize how little I’ve seen.
Yes, I’ve visited a lot of places. I’ve gazed at the Pyramids and Sphinx, seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the temples at Angkor Wat. I’ve snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef, walked the Taj Mahal grounds, and biked the ancient city of Bagan. I’ve trekked in the Himalayas, rock-climbed in Thailand, and scuba-dived in Indonesia.
But some of my favorite places have been less iconic:
- The botanical gardens in Singapore
- The rose gardens in Madrid
- The sidewalk cafés in Paris
- The rolling hillsides just outside of Ubud, Bali
- The cobblestone streets in Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
I’m writing out that list to show that my favorite places aren’t famous hotspots. They’re not the icons that you see printed on coffee mugs and mouse-pads.
I prefer anonymous sidewalk cafés over the Eiffel Tower. I prefer a simple outdoor garden over the grand Petronas Towers.
On that note, here is a list of five places that I’ve never traveled to, but that I would love to visit. Each of these are spots that aren’t necessarily iconic or famous. But they represent the lifestyle, the culture, and the atmosphere I like to find most when I travel.
In no particular order:
#1: Taketomi, Okinawa, Japan. Most people think of temples when they imagine Japan, but Taketomi is known for its beaches – as well as its authentic Ryukyu village, traditional homes built along the town’s white-sand lanes.
#2: Bodo, Norway. I’m usually not drawn to cold places, but the “gateway to the Arctic” is worth a little shiver. The sun shines at midnight in the summer, and the imposing Lofoten archipelago, with its rugged mountain peaks, forms an unforgettable backdrop.
#3: Sand Dunes, Namibia. Did you know that Namibia is twice the size of California but has a population of only two million? Most of the vast nation is dotted by nothing more than awesome desert landscapes – including spectacular sand dunes bordering the Atlantic.
#4: Petra, Jordan. This might be the most famous hotspot on my list. Petra is an ancient city in southern Jordan, in which many of the buildings are carved directly into the rock. It was built in approximately 312 B.C. and declared one of the “New 7 Wonders of the World” in 2007.
#5: El Camino de Santiago, Spain. The historic El Camino is a pilgrimage route to the Church of St. James in northwestern Spain. The precise length of the route depends on your starting point, but could be 200 – 400 kilometers (125 to 250 miles). Needless to say, people spend weeks or months walking this route, passing beautiful countryside along the way.
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]