I’m going to go out on a limb for our U.S. readers and presuppose that many, if not all of you, have already crossed domestic treasures off your travel bucket list, such as:
- National Parks like Yosemite CA, the Grand Canyon, Arizona; Glacier, Montana; Big Bend, Texas; Denali, Alaska; Acadia, Maine, etc.
- National Monuments such as Bandelier, New Mexico; Chimney Rock, Colorado; Ft. Sumner, South Carolina; Giant Sequoia, California; Statue of Liberty, New York, etc.
- Amazing major cities like New Orleans, New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, etc., each having its own energy and flavor.
There are hidden gems in each and every state of the U.S. Likewise, Canada and Mexico both have spectacular scenery and much diversity, but one target for me, raved about by everyone who has been there is Banff/Lake Louise. Again, I’m guessing many U.S. citizens have frequented Canada and Mexico.
So, what are the travel treasures to be found overseas? Below are my picks to add to your travel bucket list:
Every country in Europe has its own culture and wonderful things to offer. I will assume most of you have been to many places in Europe but will highlight two that are a little less traveled by Americans:
What a darling little country this is, with spectacular views, mostly along the Adriatic coast. Plitvice National Park is inland and packed with visitors, but nary an American – gorgeous!!!
2. Turkey (borders Europe and Asia)
While Turkey is going through its share of turmoil at the moment, for those who haven’t had much exposure to a predominantly Muslim country, I found it very interesting and the people were incredibly friendly with a wicked sense of humor.
Africa is fascinating and so very different culturally from the U.S. It’s a political hot mess, so take care in choosing the countries to visit and keep tabs on the local situation through the state department. We visited in the summer of 2016 and felt safe while there.
If you are an animal lover (or hunter), the safaris in Africa can’t be beat. I would recommend Kenya, Botswana or South Africa, though many other countries offer safaris, as well. Do your homework to be sure where you’re going has the animals you want to see. Some locations don’t have rhinos, others don’t have the wildebeest, and gorillas are pretty much exclusive to Uganda or Rwanda.
4. Africa’s Beauty
Capetown and Victoria Falls offer Africa’s version of stunning scenery, as does the wine country outside Capetown (Stellenbosch and Franschhoek). Capetown, in particular, rivals the other gorgeous cities of the world, such as Rio de Janiero, Sydney, or Lisbon.
No travel bucket list would be complete without some travel to Asia. This is personally my weak spot since I’ve not traveled there yet, but am told these would be the highlights:
Beijing (Great Wall) and Xian (terracotta warriors) seem to be the top priorities.
Everyone I know who has visited Japan loves it for its cleanliness and order (check out the toilets).
7. Golden Triangle (Laos, Thailand, Myanmar) plus, Vietnam and Cambodia
This area obviously evokes strong memories for those who lived through the Vietnam War, but these countries offer some beautiful, historic sites.
Most will acknowledge that India is a heart wrenching place to visit for its pitiful beggars, extreme poverty and caste system (still alive and well) but it also offers extreme beauty at the Taj Mahal and other palaces and forts of Rajasthan and in the tea plantations and backwaters of Kerala.
9. Hong Kong and Singapore
Referred to as ‘Asia lite,’ a peek into Asian culture with the comforts of a very ordered, sophisticated and English-speaking society.
Land Down Under
10. Australia and New Zealand
Every single person I know who has visited Australia and New Zealand can’t say enough about the friendly people and the beautiful sites, from Sydney to the Great Barrier Reef, to historical Ayres Rock and the lush greenery of New Zealand.
While Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires are the most popular big, beautiful cities in South America, three other places stand out for me:
11. Machu Picchu (Peru)
Home of the 15th century Inca civilization, set on a stunning mountain top.
From the Atacama high desert to the volcano district (yes, a volcano really erupted while we were there) to the vineyards, to Patagonia (one of the most majestic places on earth), Chile offers incredible variety in one very long, skinny country.
13. Manaus (Brazil)
Most travelers don’t get to see the Amazon up close and personal and, while it’s a flight to get there, it is worth the effort for a peek at this enormous and famous river.
Bonus: Israel, as the cradle for several of the world’s religions, is uniquely historic and moving. Don’t miss this one if you want to see where the foundational stories took place.
Grab your bags and get moving to see this baker’s dozen of bucket list sites!
For helpful tips while traveling abroad, read on!