There are numerous references online as to what differentiates a tourist from a traveller and one of the best that I’ve come across is the one that states, ‘One blends in whereas the other sticks out!’ Does that describe you? Do you like to stick within your comfort zone or do you occasionally venture outside it? Do you try to immerse yourself in a local culture or are you happy to remain aloof from it and simply experience it at one remove? Do you tend to go back to the same place every year or do you make a conscious effort to try and add a new destination to your list every year? When you’re abroad, have you a tendency to play it safe and seek out the nearest McDonalds, Sunway or KFC or are you happy to experiment with whatever the local cuisine has to offer?
The reason I ask is because we all — to a greater or lesser degree — have a habit (and that’s all it is) of picking out places that everyone else has already been too, using the not-unreasonable rationale that it must be good if it appeals to so many other people and to be fair, I can’t find fault in that logic. The big downside unfortunately with visiting any destination that is hugely popular is that you don’t exactly get that feeling that you’re the first person to discover that little historical gem or photogenic piece of paradise. Anyone who has ever visited Venice, Machu Picchu or even the Great Wall of China will know what I mean! So, where to go if you’re yearning to move outside of your comfort zone or just want to get a sense that you’re the first person to discover the destination — surely one of the most magical experiences that one can have when exploring the world.
So, who’s advice to take as to where in the world to visit if you’re looking for someplace really magical, under-rated or relatively undiscovered by mass tourism? How about advice from someone like Gunnar Garfors, an extreme traveller from Norway who has visited literally every country in the world and who lists the following destinations as ones that you should check out in 2018:
- New Zealand
- Sierra Leone
Some, like Romania and Iceland are within relative spitting distance so you don’t exactly have to traipse half-way around the world to visit them. New Zealand on the other hand, is precisely that — halfway around the world but well worth the cost and the effort. If going for broke and undertaking the trip to New Zealand, you could kill two birds with the one proverbial stone and take in Vietnam along the way. I have visited all four of these countries and can attest to their respective charms although my experience of Romania was in 1978 and thus prior to the Revolution so probably way out of date. The remaining five I have yet to explore and Madagascar is probably next on the list so in the meantime you’ll have to take Gunnar’s word for it.
The Norwegian is a member of an extremely exclusive club — all of whom have visited every country in the world — and their number one traveller is a German by the name of Sascha Grabow who has not only visited every country in the world but has also visited over 1,000 islands. To find out more about who has been where, check out http://thebesttravelled.com/