Do you ever fall in love with a place then, when it comes to planning your next trip, struggle with the decision of returning or exploring somewhere new? This is a constant conversation in our house. We always want to explore the world and experience new cultures, but then there are those memories - sharing a bottle of red wine on warm stone steps overlooking ancient Rome; jumping off a 20-foot cliff into the clear water and swimming to the next cove to do it all over again; hiking along the narrow ridge of a volcanic crater surrounded by wild hydrangeas with the ocean on one side and a lake on the other - that we just want to go back and do all over again.
Like most things in life (work, play, travel) we've found it’s all about balance. Returning to special places with the awareness that your next trip likely won’t be the same and exploring new places you’ve never been before.
Over the past two years, the majority of our clients have been well-seasoned travelers. Most of the people we’ve worked with have traveled internationally and explored places on their own, but contact us hoping for a deeper experience - a trip that’s more interesting, thoughtful and inspiring.
So, for people who have or haven't traveled, are in search of a new place to visit, or are just looking for some inspiration, we’ve put together our top 7 suggestions to give you a gentle nudge in the direction of exploration:
1. If you liked Paris, then you’ll love Budapest
With grand buildings, wide avenues, an exquisite palace, incredible restaurants, and a river separating the city, there are certainly some similarities between the two. But Budapest’s Eastern European influence results in Turkish baths and an eclectic culture that is uniquely incredible. This, and the fact that it’s much less expensive than the City of Lights, make it worthwhile indeed.
2. If you liked Mexico, then you’ll love Nicaragua
Imagine waking up each morning, shuffling down the stairs of your colonial style boutique hotel and digging into a plate of black beans and rice, sliced avocado, egg and pico de gallo. The Nica breakfast is just one of the many things this country has to offer. Add in volcanoes, expansive lakes, a beautiful coastline, wildlife and a vibrant and friendly culture and Nicaragua is certainly worth a visit.
3. If you liked Barcelona, then you’ll love Valencia
Coastal city, check. Well preserved, pedestrian friendly old town, check. A park unlike unlike any other in the world, check. A magnificent cathedral, check. Tapas, sangria, horchata, vermouth and paella, check, check, check, check and check. Valencia has it all, for a fraction of the price, with a ridiculous amount of sunshine and a fraction of the tourists. Okay, we may be a bit biased, but come and check it out for yourself. You’ll be happy you did!
4. If you liked Machu Picchu, then you’ll love Patagonia
Trekking to Machu Picchu is certainly an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience…. That more and more people do it each year. Instead, make a slightly longer journey and you'll (almost) reach the end of the earth. Trekking alongside enormous glaciers as wild guanacos gallop by is a real once-in-a-lifetime experience. Yes, it’s far. Yes, it can be expensive. But yes, yes, yes it's worth it.
5. If you liked Hawaii, then you’ll love the Azores
Anyone who knows us knows how much we LOVE Hawaii. But, the Azores - a volcanic island chain off the coast of Portugal - is a really special place in this world. Located on a triple junction of tectonic plates - where the Eurasian, African and North American plates meet - there are six different volcanic zones on little Sao Miguel Island alone. This unique location and volcanic activity has resulted in magnificent crater lakes, steep mountain ravines, lush jungles, spectacular waterfalls, and a handful of life-changing hot springs. It’s a nature lover’s dream come true... and we’re completely obsessed.
6. If you liked Thailand, then you’ll love Vietnam
Thailand is a common first-time-to-Asia destination. And why wouldn’t it be? The food is incredible, the people are soooooo wonderful, it’s inexpensive, geographically varied and has the infrastructure to support tourism. But venture to Vietnam and you’ll get the same varied landscape and deliciously chaotic Southeast Asia feeling, but with many more motorbikes, many less McDonalds’, many more cups of strong Vietnamese-grown coffee and much less English. And the food is also mind-blowingly delish. It’s becoming more and more touristy every year, so get to Vietnam soon.
7. If you liked Florence, then you’ll love Bologna
Food, coffee, nightlife, music… We love visiting (and living in) university cities and Bologna, home to the oldest university in the world, is our favorite Italian city. We have a a long list of reasons why (read them here), but two things you won't miss from Florence are 1) the hordes of tourists packing every piazza (ugh!) and 2) the additional surcharge to drink your cappuccino on the terrazza. Um, enough said.
In the past few months, we’ve planned custom trips for clients to Rome, Tuscany, the Greek Isles, Hawaii, Paris, Barcelona, Valencia, Mexico and more. Click here to learn more about our Custom Travel planning service and process and contact us for help designing your next adventure.
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