Looking for a destination that will leave you breathless or change your perspective on life? Seventeen travel bloggers spill their most inspiring travel destinations.
In search of the next great travel experience, I asked 17 of the top travel bloggers a simple question "What is the most inspiring destination you've been to and why"? I thought I've done some serious, badass traveling, but their answers truly humbled me. I haven't begun to crack open this world. Of the 17 destinations, I have visited only one (South Africa). I mean, how can I even compete with Brad's entry of participating in a corpse dancing ritual in Madagascar? Unbelievable!
But I didn't just receive destinations filled with adventure. No, I got some beautifully introspective answers as well. Like how Candice felt a deeper sense of appreciation in the once war-torn Bosnia & Herzegovina. She writes:
There was a genuine feeling of gratefulness for life, and I feel it's so unappreciated elsewhere.
There is so much out there to see, taste, touch and experience in this big, beautiful world that it's impossible to cram it all in. So hopefully these bloggers can narrow the field a tiny bit and give you the same case of wanderlust as they gave me. So without further ado, check out a choice cut of 17 inspiring travel destinations:
Svalbard is full of quirky surprises, another being that polar-bears out-number people...
Going up north is a direction that feels right to me, and going past the Arctic Circle is a direction that not only feels right but endlessly inspiring. The adventure of heading to places of northerly latitudes has held for me a certain mystery from as early as I can remember, and this child-like wonder has never left me.
When I finally visited Svalbard, the last stop before the North Pole and also the Holy Grail for Arctic travellers, I stood in awe of the landscape – it looked like time had stopped. About 60% of it is glacier-covered, and being able to see this, to see something that’s created from rain and snow thousands of years ago, is an extraordinary feeling, especially in a world spinning in a constant state of modernization. Life here is more stripped back, there aren’t all the conveniences of modern technology that make everyday life easier and as a result women are not allowed to give birth on Svalbard; instead a few weeks earlier they take the one-hour flight to Tromsø on mainland Norway to do so. For all visitors, Svalbard is full of quirky surprises, another being that polar-bears out-number people, and although I didn’t see one on my trip, I really didn’t care. This place had given me so much already.
Blogger Bio: Shing is a twenty-something year old with a relentless love for travel. She blogs over at www.theculturemap.com, a travel and culture blog specializing in Scandinavia and the Arctic, peppered with the rest of the world in between.
Humanity shines even brighter amidst poverty.
I visited one of the biggest Slums in the Philippines earlier this year and it really taught me a lesson. Thousands of kids are living in Manila's largest dumpsite and making their livelihood by picking up garbage. The living conditions in these slums are one of the worst I've ever seen. The people living there don't really have a future, but they did not forget how to smile. They run around with their dirty faces and worn out clothes and they're laughing. It was very moving and shocking at the same time. Humanity shines even brighter amidst poverty. Happiness has nothing to do with wealth. These kids can bear more difficulties in life than we can ever imagine...
Blogger Bio: Sabrina Iovino is the founder of the travel blog JustOneWayTicket.com. She's half German, half Italian and has traveled to more than 50 countries around the globe.
Bosnia & Herzegovina
There was a genuine feeling of gratefulness for life, and I feel it's so unappreciated elsewhere.
Myanmar felt like being in another world.
When people ask me about my favorite place during all of my travels, the answer is easy: Myanmar. Despite recently accomplishing a decade old dream of traveling in South America, Myanmar is still the country I hold closest to my heart.
Being the most devote Buddhist country in the world, having only recently opened to tourism, and being home to ancient civilizations where cultures and religions met; Myanmar felt like being in another world. On top of that, given the fact that Myanmar has not made similar economic advances to its’ Asian neighbors, it felt like going back in time. I found more signs of the old – typewriters, ox-carts, oar-propelled boats – than the new. In just a few weeks, I was able to travel to four different places in Myanmar that make it a must-visit country, each offering their own unique look into the country’s fascinating and diverse culture and history. Adding to the experience is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious past and present: Buddhists, Muslims, and Hindus live as neighbors.
Blogger Bio: From hopping trains, trudging through the rainforest of Borneo, to camping alone in the Andes; the last 5 years gallivanting around the world have been life-changing for David. Travel and photography constantly compete for his love, and the stories he ends up with would shorten his parents' lives. David blogs at Guerrilla Gallivanter.
A continent with no countries, with no war, with no murders, with no office blocks.
I am most inspired by the wonder of Antarctica. Antarctica is a travellers dream destination. I made it my target to go there and visit all seven continents and I went and did it. Antarctica always fascinated me. A continent with no countries, with no war, with no murders, with no office blocks. A pure continent of peace, tranquility and extremes. Antarctica is the coldest, driest, windiest and least visited continent on the planet. It is a land of pure fire superlatives. From hiking up Cuverville Island to landing on the mainland at Neko harbour, Antarctica for a travellers incites more love affairs than you could ever have believed. I also visited a post office, a museum, a Polish base, a British base and an active volcano during my 13 day excursion from Ushuaia in Argentina to Antarctica and back by boat. Put simply, it was the most inspiring place I have ever been and I cannot recommend it enough.
Blogger Bio: Jonny Blair is a limitless, culture hungry Northern Irishman jaunting around the globe. Since leaving his hometown over a decade ago, he has travelled to over 100 countries across all 7 continents. During this time he has worked in lots of different jobs as well as running the travel resource and lifestyle blog Don't Stop Living.
You actually get the feeling you can capture the whole Adriatic Sea from up there.
The place that absolutely knocked off my socks in the last years of my travels was the city of Dubrovnik in the very south of Croatia. This extremely romantic Mediterranean town comes up with cobbled stone streets, small backstreets and sundowner bars hidden in rocks at the sea. How awesome it that? And the best is that the old part of the place is nestled between Old City walls, that you can actually climb up and take a walk while the sun sets at the horizon. But there is more: you have beautiful beach spots, sport activities like kayaking or hiking and an amazing amount of charming bars, restaurants and cafés offering the best that south European cuisine has to offer. Furthermore, there is a backyard mountain called ‚Srd‘ that rises behind the Old Town of Dubrovnik and cable cars bringing you on top of it. The views from up there make it absolutely worth a visit. You actually get the feeling you can capture the whole Adriatic Sea from up there.
Blogger Bio: Clemens Sehi has been to over 60 countries and writes travel stories on Anekdotique.com that immerse its readers into strange worlds, near and far, and tell them how it feels to be there. With stories that look into the soul of a city, region, or country, from how these places smell to how they taste. These stories are called anekdotiques.
I feel rejuvenated there, full of energy, passion and simply alive.
I have always been attracted to pyramids and ancient buildings in general. And Mexico has been my favorite country in the world since I was a kid, even many years before I even visited. Many people say I used to be a native-American woman in one of my past lives and I guess it might be true. I am a sort of obsessed with the Mayas and the Aztecs and even my University thesis was about the Aztecs, their religion and the pyramids. So when it comes to a place that really inspires me, logically it has something to do with the Aztecs and Mexico. My most favorite place in the world probably would be Teotihuacan, the so called Place of Gods where all the magic happens. For an unknown reason, I feel rejuvenated there, full of energy, passion and simply alive. Standing on top of the Sun or the Moon Pyramid looking down to the Avenue of the Dead along which the victims walked the last time just before they got sacrificed, is very powerful. The ruins of Teotihuacan are truly magical.
Blogger Bio: Alexandra Kovacova is a crazy Slovak girl who made traveling a reason of her life. She writes about crazy travel, fun adventures and sexy photos from around the world on her 3 travel blogs. Alex is also a healthy lifestyle consultant and a passionate yogini. Alexandra has visited more than 15 archaeological sites in Mexico and has written approx. 100 articles about Mexico which can be found on Crazy Sexy Fun Traveler.
Not to mention we have the Great Barrier Reef, the oldest rainforest in the world, and the world's oldest civilization...
After travelling around my own country, Australia, for the past 12 months, I would have to say it is the destination that inspires me most. It is such an incredibly beautiful and diverse land, with exotic animals, ideal climate and STUNNING landscapes that change from the red, dusty outback, to wetlands filled with gorges and waterfalls, to farmlands and vineyards, and some of the world's most stunning beaches. Not to mention we have the Great Barrier Reef, the oldest rainforest in the world, and the world's oldest civilisation - the Aboriginal people. And our lifestyle is pretty amazing - laid-back, outdoorsy with plenty of opportunity for adventure, fun, sun, and relaxation.
Blogger Bio: Caz Makepeace is a serial traveller and blogger and co-founder of yTravelBlog.com with her husband, Craig. They are currently road tripping around Australia with their two daughters, proving travel does not have to stop after kids.
And what is more misunderstood than those few destinations everyone fears so much - Iran, North Korea, Yemen or Pakistan.
I must admit it is a very tough question, as all my travels are inspiring for me one way or another. You always learn something new, either about the world at large or something more intimate about yourself and you get to be inspired either to continue your journey or move in a new direction. Iran was one amazing country which inspired me the most from 9 years of traveling solo. I knew I would love it. I knew I would have the time of my life. I knew the country was beautiful and that cultural and historical heritage was omni-present. I knew that Iranian people are truly great, but what I experienced exceeded all my expectations and assured me that traveling to misunderstood and unusual destinations is my way to go, my way to travel. It is a path I need to follow, because visiting those unique countries seems very right to me. And what is more misunderstood than those few destinations everyone fears so much - Iran, North Korea, Yemen or Pakistan. It was truly overwhelming how much good, how much help, hospitality and just pure joy I experienced from Iranian people. I think it restored my faith in people in general - beautiful country, beautiful people, beautiful experience.
Blogger Bio: Marysia is the Crazy Polish Girl behind My Travel Affairs blog, wonderer, humanitarian and adrenaline junkie, also known as The Luckiest Girl in the World.
I haven't seen anything quite like it since.
Visiting the Darien Gap on the border between Panama & Colombia was probably my most inspiring destination, due to how fascinating the landscape, people, and history there is. I haven't seen anything quite like it since.
Blogger Bio: Matthew Karsten has been traveling around the world for 4 years. Adventure travel & photography are his passions. Let him inspire you to travel more with entertaining stories, beautiful images, and money saving tips on http://ExpertVagabond.com
Understanding this gives over to pride that they have been able to get past this (atrocities of the Khmer regime) and to be able to continue to showcase a country of great interest.
I have no intention of sugar coating some realities about Cambodia. The place is not clean. It is filthy with plastic bags strewn all over the place. In fairness these are cleaned up overnight but is littered within seconds of people waking up. There are beggars everywhere, and there are people without limbs all around eking out an existence. Yet understanding how all of the people were affected by the atrocities of the Khmer regime is paramount in dealing with this onslaught of sadness and confrontation. Understanding this gives over to pride that they have been able to get past this and to be able to continue to showcase a country of great interest. The people of Cambodia are happy and friendly people, the culture is exciting and the food is amazing. They are examples of living through adversity, which is not even a close enough word to describe what they have come through. I was amazed at just how pragmatic they were, and whether this is a method of survival well so be it; they are really lovely decent people and indeed inspirational.
Blogger Bio: Paula and Gordon of Contented Traveller like the shabby chic houseboat in Amsterdam, the tatami mat in a ryokan in Japan, the cave house in Goreme. They do on occasion do the 5 star like an over water bungalow in Vanuatu or Bora Bora. They like to ski, to have backstreet massages in Chiang Mai and to have a beer with locals in Ghent. They are masters at organising their travels and sharing tips and resources with their readers.
It was a deeply moving experience that still haunts me today...
I’ve been on a mission traveling the globe the last 9 years to find the most different places on earth to find my story. The fringes of civilizations with bizarre rituals and strange foods and downright scary practices bring a mind-expanding benefit. Madagascar is that kind of place. Affectionately called "Dr. Seuss Land,” it definitely lives up to that reputation. This ark of an island is a melting pot of creatures found nowhere else on earth and people who have developed in total isolation. The abandoned French colonization has left a thin facade of influence over many traditional practices unchanged in hundreds or thousands of years. I was fortunate enough to be invited to an ancient ritual few outsiders have ever seen. During the Famidihana ceremony, families dig up corpses from the graveyard, some still “wet,” dress them and dance around with them. As the ceremony went on, I began to shed layers of preconceptions, and adjust to their reality. I found myself being asked to grab a shovel and go into the crypt and participate. It was a deeply moving experience that still haunts me today... In a good way. It was particularly inspiring to me because in one of the most isolated and “different” places in the entire world, I found so much more about myself than I ever thought possible.
Blogger Bio: Brad Bernard has traveled through 89 countries to find off-the-map experiences and authentic adventure travel. He pushes his own personal boundaries by travelling experimentally. Brad’s personal quest to find the most extreme and unique in travel has bred misadventures and moments of enlightenment alike. You can read his craziest stories on his adventure travel blog, myWanderlist.
The Taiwanese are the kindest people I have ever met and are both generous and welcoming to foreigners.
I always wanted to travel, just a little bit here and there. It was only when I went to Taiwan that I realized, actually that’s not quite true. Really, I wanted to travel the world. The year I spent living in Taiwan inspired and prepared me for a life of long-term travel. During that year, I worked as an English teacher and travelled around the whole of the island in between. If you ever pull out a map anywhere in Taiwan, without fail, someone will come up within less than 3 minutes and ask if you need any help. The Taiwanese are the kindest people I have ever met and are both generous and welcoming to foreigners. Taiwan itself is beautiful too with it’s azure ocean and incredible mountains. How could such an amazing people, culture and country not inspire you to travel the world?
Blogger Bio: Charlie is a long-term traveller, freelance writer and house sitter taking an alternative path across the world. Her travel blog, Charlie on Travel, is about simple, sustainable and socially responsible travel.
It's just you, the mountain scenery and the insatiable curiosity and smiles of whatever local people you happen to meet along the way.
We took the shabby old sleeper train from Hanoi to Lao Cai and stowed our motorbike in the cargo carriage along with a few others, numerous crates and a variety of live animals. We awoke to noticeable changes in the air; the fresh smell and cooler temperatures letting us know that we had left the city behind and climbed high into the mountains. We instantly sensed the more relaxed and pleasant stride of life in the north and adjusted ourselves to suit. This was the start of a weeklong journey from Sapa in the West to Thac Ban Gioc in the far-east, where Vietnam and China meet across a series of spectacular waterfalls. Sapa is the only tourist hot spot here; as soon as you leave it’s just you, the mountain scenery and the insatiable curiosity and smiles of whatever local people you happen to meet along the way. And you’ll be glad you did; this beautiful landscape is challenging to cross and you often find yourself in need of the help and kindness of random strangers on the road, which is always generous and forthcoming. Memories of the breath-taking scenery and beautiful people will remain in my mind forever.
Blogger Bio: Jonathan Howe is the British traveller and writer behind twomonkeystravelgroup.com, working his way around the world finding new and interesting ways to support a life of long-term travel. He loves tropical beaches, surfing, hiking, the outdoors, yoga, adventure sports and motorbikes.
South Africa honesty does appeal to every type of traveler, from the adventurer to the luxury aficionado and even budget travelers find a welcoming country.
Like many travelers, I’m inspired by every new destination I visit, but there is one country that continues to inspire me and one that I know I will never tire of visiting - South Africa. One of the most dynamic countries I have ever visited, South Africa honesty does appeal to every type of traveler, from the adventurer to the luxury aficionado and even budget travelers find a welcoming country. But it’s more than what there is to see and do there that is so inspiring, it’s the people. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a country that is so welcoming and so accepting and so eager to share their gem of a country with the rest of the world. Every time I visit I meet new people who inspire me to be a better human being, and if that isn’t what travel is all about, then I don’t know what is.
Blogger Bio: An experiential luxury traveler at heart, Matt Long shares his adventures with thousands of readers every day through his award winning site LandLopers.com. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer. Based in Washington, DC, Matt has been to more than 65 countries and all 7 continents.
(Kashmir) has changed my life.
I could not stop looking. Was it her exotic look? I took a look around to realize that her whole family all shared the same unique and beautiful trait. I had to ask. “Do you mind if I photograph your eyes? You have the most amazing eyes I have ever seen.” A cherry red color flushed through her cheeks. She grinned with a large smile and said, “Hold on…” as she ran off past the door behind her. Her family laughed at her reaction including Faiyaz. Faiyaz is a tall dark man, well dressed and handsome. He defies the stereotypes of his people, as do most of the people I have meet on this trip. Faiyaz, my guide, helped me understand more about this beautiful place. Where am I you ask? They call this place “Heaven on Earth”. This place is known as a war torn region, yet it defies what the news reports about it. With the beauty it possess and amazing people Srinagar, Kashmir, made me learn a culture that was different than what others have perceived it to be. It has changed my life. This place, Kashmir was a place that I can truly call “Heaven on Earth”.
Finland, The Caucasus, Wherever I am
I get inspired by the present: The wind, the light, the feeling of the air on skin
The most inspiring place for me is wherever I am at any given moment. I get inspired by the present: The wind, the light, the feeling of the air on skin, my breathing and the breathing of everything around me. So, when I was in Finland recently, that was the most inspiring destination; before that, the countries of the Caucasus inspired me greatly. Inspiration isn't a matter of 'here' vs 'there'; it's just a matter of showing up.
Blogger Bio: Robert Schrader create Leave Your Daily Hell to inform, inspire, entertain and empower travelers. When he isn't writing and photographing his way around the world, he lives in the incredibly inspiring city of Austin, Texas.
So there you have it. Feeling inspired?
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