Thus far in my twenty-year tenure on this planet, I’ve traveled to quite a few places–within the United States, I’ve been to Portland (Oregon), Reno, Yosemite, Las Vegas, Niagara Falls, New York City, Boston, and Atlanta. Internationally, I’ve been to France, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Taiwan. However, there are a still a few places I’d really like to spend some time in before I kick the bucket, so I’ve gone through my own travel bucket list and condensed it to five travel destinations that may not immediately pop into one’s head.
Traveling throughout Taiwan, where my mother spent most of her childhood before immigrating to the United States, was an unforgettable experience for me because it not only helped me to understand why she had such pride in where she came from but also allowed me to learn about my ethnic background. As a result, I’ve made it one of my life goals to travel to the other countries to which I owe my cultural heritage: China, Laos, and Vietnam, but if I had to choose one, it’d definitely be Vietnam. Though it’s a small country geographically (as is Taiwan), Vietnam has some of the most jaw-dropping landscapes I’ve seen…on Google Images, of course. With its beaches, mountains, farmland, cities and islands, Vietnam provides the traveler with so much to do in just 128,000 square miles of land. And let’s not forget the food: think authentic banh mi or pho with freshly made spring rolls that you can buy off the street!
At the moment, my aunts and uncles are traveling around Hungary, but it’s always been a travel destination on my bucket list. Hungary, though a European country, isn’t a place that immediately comes to mind when you think “EuroTrip,” but it should be–it’s way cheaper to stay in than say, France or the United Kingdom, and it does have that very European feel. Within Budapest, the country’s capital, there are many thermal baths that vary in architectural style and health benefits, but any one of them is a wonderful place to relax in with friends while playing a game of chess. North of Budapest is Szentendre, a Hungarian town situated near the Danube that is known for its unique architecture and the Marzipan Museum!
And of course, this wouldn’t be a Travelin’ with Jacqueline destination if I didn’t mention food, which brings me to Kürtőskalács, a.k.a. chimney cake, given its cylindrical shape. Chimney cakes are a Hungarian dessert with a spiral design that is often coated in powdered sugar, cinnamon, or anything you can think of. These hollow treats can also be filled with whatever you like–whipped cream, or maybe something savory for a change.
Alright, alright, alright, so I’ll admit that India isn’t the best example of a less popular travel destination and that y’all probably already know a lot about the country, but it’s so high up on my bucket list that I really had to include it in this listicle! Although I’m aware of India’s reputation for not being the safest country for a lone (Western) woman, its vibrant culture and historical sites are just the beginning of what compels me to visit this destination someday. Personally experiencing how religion and architecture intersect in India through visiting the Taj Mahal and the country’s other countless UNESCO World Heritage Sites or seeing the diverse Indian wildlife are some of the ways in which travelers can appreciate what India has to offer. And you can do all this while enjoying some naan or chicken tikka masala!
Although I can understand why some people balk at the mention or idea of visiting Africa, given the continent’s history of and reputation for political instability, Morocco is an African country that I believe most travelers would be more comfortable traveling to. With its mix of Arabian and European cultures, Morocco offers a diverse range of experiences within cities like Marrakech, Tangier, Casablanca, and Fes. Travelers can shop and bargain at the country’s bazaars, which offer products such as teas, spices, shoes, and leather goods. Or, you can pay a visit to Chefchaouen, a city in Northern Morocco known as the “Blue City,” due to its breathtakingly blue- and white-colored buildings. As for Moroccan cuisine, try some bastilla, a savory chicken pie that comes in puffy pastry and is often garnished with spices and nuts.
I really wanted to include a destination that would not present any possible language barriers for Americans, and so I’ve chosen Australia as the last place on my list—because unlike the UK or Canada, it might not be the first English-speaking country to cross your mind. Furthermore, whereas I embarked on a EuroTrip before college, my older sister decided to go to Australia for her pre-college trip and has been gushing about her experience ever since. Although Australia is a HUGE country and comprises almost the entirety of the continent of Oceania, the very first place I would probably like to visit is the Great Barrier Reef. As the ocean temperatures and levels continue to rise, our opportunities to enjoy the beauty of the Reef are decreasing, so I encourage you all to enjoy it while we can! However, aside from marine life, Australia is known for its quite exotic yet dangerous kangaroos and adorable koalas. And if you don’t venture into some rainforests or deserts inhabited by the indigenous Aboriginal peoples, kick it back with some Australian city-dwellers and “slip another shrimp on the barbie!”