You’re hip savy adventurous traveler trying to stay ahead of the pack. You’ve been through Southeast Asia, hit the full moon party before the movie the Beach came out, and partied on the beaches of Bali before you’re friends decided it was the honeymoon destination du jour. Your bookshelf has a dozen beaten copies of the Lonely Planet. Now you can’t seem to stay ahead of the New York Times travel section. The NYT travel section recently published an article on staying ahead of the crowd. What to do?
There’s obvious advantages to getting to places before the rest of the world does. It’s incredible and rare to find a place undiscovered by the hordes. And it’s easy to see why people all flock to the same popular destinations. There’s safety in numbers. If you get only 3 weeks off a year from work (like us Americans) then you don’t want to roll the dice on some backwater unheard of travel destination. You’d rather go with somewhere safe, somewhere you’ve heard of, but somewhere that also sounds exoctic. So you end up on the beaches of Phuket or Rio. And after a few days, you realize that there’s more exotic, exciting, and out of the way destinations in Nevada than Phuket or Hanoi or Antigua.
Exploring is a mindset, you can find out of the way places in California or close by (Baja), you don’t need to fly around the world. If you have that mindset then you’ll be able to find the these spots anywhere. All it takes is an adventurous attitude and a realization that you don’t have to take the packaged tour, you don’t have to follow the Lonely Planet Guide (not so Lonely anymore).
Costa Rica blew me away because of no matter how traveled the place seemed to be, everyone ended up in the same dozen or so destinations. It’s one of the easiest, safest countries to rent a car and run off and explore. I ended up at Mal Pais/Santa Teresa after a week of driving up and down the entire coast, and found one of my favorite places I’ve been. It’s not completely off the beaten track, but the New York Times has yet to write an article on the remarkable strech of beach home to great surf, a few tucked away yoga studios, and some incredible food.
The amazing thing about it, is that there are entire countries that area relatively untouched. Guatemala, Nicaragua, Columbia, among others are known in backpacking circuits, but how often have you had friends venture off to these places.
Here are a few other gems from my travels:
- El Tunco, Mexico (a sleepy fishing village north of Zihuatanejo)
- the entire peninsula of Baja, Mexico (all 1250 miles of it!)
- Roatan, Honduras (some of the most incredible diving I’ve experienced)
- India (get there before they build highways)
- Chang Mai, Thailand and surrounding areas
- Florianopolis, Brazil
- San Marcos, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.
The great American Roadtrip. It’s a must do experience for every serious traveler. This country is huge and you can only truly appreciate it by driving from coast to coast. Here’s a 4 minutes time lapse video of the drive in case you don’t have 4 days to pull it off anytime soon.