When you think about the generation that came before us, you start to realize how “new” this whole I have to travel mentality is. I took a look at some statistics, and while back in the day, just 40% of baby boomers made some form of travel a top priority, millennials crush that percentage with 72% saying that traveling is at the top of their list. And it shows: America’s Gen Y spent nearly 250 billion dollars on travel alone back in 2014. What this means is that we’re living in the midst of the most well-travelled population the world has ever known, and each year, that only becomes more true…
I happen to think this is pretty awesome. I love that a huge percentage of college kids have spent some time living abroad, and that a big chunk of high school students are keen to spend their summers serving communities across the globe. Even after your education is complete, it feels like a bigger crew of kids head out to spend a year or two exploring than they used to. Whether they’re working through social media or not, most of us twenty-somethings can rattle off two or three names of people we know who have ditched the 9 to 5 (even temporarily) just to see stuff.
The only downside to this (if you even consider it a downside, which I do not) is that it feels like people are running out of options faster than they used to. Especially if you’re like us and have spent some time living on the road, you hit a portion of the highlights and then start to daydream about the white whale: that lesser known haven just on the brink of being discovered with all of the beauty and less of the crowds, all of the adventure & cultural immersion and less of the selfie sticks & aggressive tour groups….
For those of you seeking out a different sort of spot, a place a few of your peers might have heard of, but none have ever been to, this list is for you. For those of you who have travelled a whole lot or very little, but for whatever reason find yourself leaning away from the idea of heading to Santorini or Positano or Venice or Sydney or Banff or Tulum, this list is also for you. Typically absent from the discover page of your Instagram, blissfully unique, these are the places we keep hearing about (in hushed tones) within the Instagram community, the places we’re hoping to get to within the next two years, and the places we’re hoping will stay under the radar until we do…
Esperance & Rottnest Island, Western Australia
Any place where you can cuddle up with a kangaroo, swim and surf in Maldivian clear waters, and camp out on literally endless stretches of white sand beaches is going to be at the top of my list. Easily accesible from Perth, Esperance and Rottnest Island are up in the northwest corner of Australia and come with the heat and crystal blue waters of any place situated right on the shores of the Indian Ocean.
Esperance is home to a gigantic nature reserve where you can camp, picnic, and watch as families of kangaroos hop along the beach at dawn and dusk. On Rottnest Island you can get up close and personal with the ridiculously adorable and rare quokkas that have no equivalent here in the states (they are way, way cuter than even the fattest of chipmunks).
I tell Port a little too frequently how badly I want to spend about two weeks in this section of the world, starting in Perth then venturing off into the wilderness. If I’m able to convince him, it will probably have to be in the dead of winter when images of warm sandy beaches are so tough to resist that the Hell (for lack of a nicer word) of getting to Australia from the east coast of America temporarily doesn’t seem so bad…I’m crossing my fingers.
image by: @peak_to_ports
Harbour Island & Cape Eleuthera, The Bahamas
The Exumas seem to be the hot new go-to place for influencers these days, and I totally get why: swimming pigs, whale sharks, crystal clear water. But unfortunately, those little islands have gone from off-the-radar to very much on in what feels like less than a few years. Bigger islands in the Caribbean are also pretty typical travel destinations: The Dominican Republic, Turks & Caicos, Aruba, Antigua, these aren’t unusual spots for a lot of families to head to on vacation if you’re from the Eastern seaboard of the U.S. But then there’s Cape Eleuthera & Harbour Island…
I grew up flipping through coffee table books mostly set in these two places (my mum, like most mums had a strong India Hicks obsession) and if the pink sand and white petrified trees didn’t win me over, the seclusion and tininess of these places absolutely would have. All of Harbour Island can be covered in a pretty quick bike ride, and Cape Eleuthera is so thin that you often drive with the sea on both sides of you. It also seems like even though there’s certainly verbal buzz for this section of the word, far fewer people actually go. We’re crossing our fingers that our next big trip will be to this still somewhat-of-a-secret island paradise…
image by: @katerinastavreva
Right near the Italy-France border with all the charm of places like Amalfi or Nice, but far less crowds, I’ve found myself obsessively scrolling through images of the pastel houses in Menton’s Old Town on more than one occasion. It’s the perfect pitstop for a drive from Nice or Monaco to the north of Italy, and spending a few days on holiday there looks like hanging out in a vintage 1950s film. Did I mention that it’s known for its incredible lemonade? I basically drink Arnold Palmer’s all summer long, so add that to the growing list of reasons I want to get there…
Getaway House, New Hampshire
Alright, alright, I know what you’re thinking…New Hampshire? But hear me out! More importantly, just look at those photos! Shark Tank lovers will recognize this one-of-a-kind hideout just north of Boston deep in the New Hampshire wilderness from an episode last season. Somewhat caught between “glamping” and camping, these tiny-house style cabins look like the perfect place to disconnect and recharge. Also, check out those amenities and the minimalist decor! When you’re that far from a road sign, you can easily convince yourself you’re in Scandinavia.
Porter and I are planning a trip there for this winter, and I’m already giddy over the idea of sitting in front of that big window and watching the snow fall, hot cocoa in hand. You don’t always have to go far to experience a place that feels a world away from it all, and that might sound a little cliche, but this place looks unlike any other New England experience. Also – Getaway House happens to have a second location just outside of DC, so Washington-area natives, you don’t need to wander far to get your own dose of the great outdoors.
image by: @eljackson
Having never been to Norway and being part Norwegian myself, pretty much this entire country is on my list. Lofoten, Oslo, Stormolla, you name the town, I’ll want to visit. But there’s something special about the images I’ve come across of Lovatnet. Quiet, secluded, somewhat difficult to get to, it looks straight out of a picture book, and from what I’ve read going there is akin to visiting Banff in Canada ten or twenty years ago. In the summertime, warm weather brings out the greenest of greens, wildflowers, and the chance to swim in those freakishly blue waters. Embarrassingly, I got sidetracked even typing this write-up watching mediocre slow-mo drone footage of this place. I don’t even care, I just want to get there…
Fortunately, our friends over at Mink Campers (we worked with them in Iceland) are currently expanding into Norway, so I’ll probably be hitting them up next Spring with plans for a Norwegian road trip…
The Faroe Islands
Basically Iceland’s lesser-known kid brother, The Faroes, as they’re typically known, have become more popular as a travel destination in the past couple of years, but happening upon a person who’s actually been there is still a pretty rare occurrence. They have everything you’d want in an Arctic-Circle-area island, and all the magic wonders you’d come across in Iceland: dense fog, rolling hills, wildflowers, grass-thatched cabins, waterfalls that empty into the sea….This is the kind of place Lord of The Rings fans will feel at home in and even the most seasoned traveller will feel refreshed after experiencing, or at least, that’s what I’m told….
Not gonna lie, The Faroes are not the easiest place to get to coming from the U.S., nor are they the cheapest, but if you can hit them en route to or from Europe, I would absolutely do so, I have a funny feeling these little islands won’t be quite as isolated ten years from now…
For some reason, even though many parts of Italy are some of the most travelled to places for millennials, Sicily often gets skipped. And look, I get it, Italy has a lot to offer. Why go through the hassle of getting to Sicily or the Aeolian Islands when you can take the road well-travelled to Venice or Positano or Puglia or Lake Como or Florence or The Cinque Terre? But then again, isn’t that exactly why you should go to Sicily because it’s tougher to get to and generally less explored by traveling twenty-somethings? I say, yes, and not just because Porter and I are both 50% Sicilian and didn’t have the time to go last October…
Sicily has all of the charming seaside towns you’ve grown used to seeing on your explore page, and plenty of people head there for the summer, but as a travel destination for Americans (and influencers), especially those traveling without their families, it’s generally ignored. Even with places like Lipari and the white rock coastline at Scala dei Turchi and towns like Ragusa that look right out of an episode of GOT, my reasoning for the oversight is that the rest of Italy is just too darn distracting. Opt out of some of those heavily-trafficked la dolce vita hotspots, and head to the Aeolian Islands for a breakfast of lemon granita instead. Then, tell me about it so I can get even more excited about our trip there next fall….
Once you’ve visited a lot of major cities in Europe, you start to crave a bit of wilderness. While a lot of outdoorsy people heading to Europe to hike and adventure go for Switzerland, Germany should most definitely not be overlooked, especially the crazy beautiful national park known as Berchtesgaden.
I came across some photos from here seven or eight months ago and have done a lot of research since. From what I can tell, the best time to go is in the summer and early fall, when you can camp out and spend your days hiking trails that give way to views that can easily compete with the Alps. Cabins with their own docks leading out to them dot the lake, and very few Americans make a point of heading out this way even during the most beautiful time of year. Also, how about that natural hot spring? That view is reason alone to book a ticket.
The Azores, Portugal
Being hotel photographers, we tend to be drawn to places that have that kind of minimalist, but progressive design we love to shoot, and it turns out, when it comes to places to stay, the Azores have that and then some. Our friends over at The Perfect Hideaway have dug up some serious gems on these islands, and if the places you can stay aren’t enough to convince you to make the trip, the hiking and swimming and culture will.
Once again, this is the kind of spot not a lot of twenty-somethings have made a priority, but from talking to people who have been, it easily outdoes the more touristy coastal towns of mainland Portugal, and has that undiscovered-ness that leaves people feeling like they don’t want to hype it up too much, just in case the secret gets out…
We hope this list was helpful for all those interested in traveling off the beaten path! Hopefully, a few years from now, we’ll have had the chance to visit at least a few of these places and share more about exactly what makes them worth the trip. Until then, I’ll keep saving all of my favorite photos of these spots, and dreaming up itineraries…
I’m curious, what’s one less-discovered place you want to travel to? Let us know over on our insta!