It’s easy to get too involved with the “check-another-country-off-the-list” syndrome when you travel as much as I do (and yes, I am fully aware that this sentence makes me sound like a total brat). I sometimes forget that places I’ve been to are not fully explored just because the stamp is now in my passport. (And still, brattier).
In addition, despite the fact that I try to find something positive about every place I visit, there are a lot of places I just didn’t connect with for whatever reason, or didn’t have enough time to visit. I think everywhere deserves more than once chance–so here are ten places I need to visit again!
Some real talk here: I kind of, um, hated most of my time in Cambodia (except for moments at Angkor Wat and in the Ratanakiri Province). Awful, right? After an amazing, action-packed month exploring Thailand, my cousin and I went to Cambodia and so many things went wrong. We were both really sick; we’d left our friends behind in Thailand and missed them (and their traveling skills); the endless heat and oppressive humidity was getting to me; we were there over Thanksgiving and the homesickness was out of control; and honestly, the locals seemed to harass us, hate us, lecture us, or be annoyed that we weren’t acting the way they wanted. I feel like all of these things combined together to make me hate it, and I couldn’t wait to leave. When we crossed to border into Vietnam–via a boat on the Mekong, on a visa that our couch surfing host had done incorrectly which would make us get detained later (but that’s a different story)–I let out a breath of relief. I know Cambodia is a beautiful, complicated, impoverished country, and I think I need to give it another chance.
Read more about Cambodia here.
China is one of those places that, while I was there, I didn’t love it–but now that I look back, I think “WOW! What a great country!” China, partially because of the situation I was in while there (an internship working with earthquake survivors in Sichuan province) pushed my boundaries like no other, and therefore wasn’t exactly a comfortable experience. I witnessed tragedy, heartbreak, corruption, illness, confusing cultural norms–and was struck by the resilience and joy of the people, and the country itself. Oh yeah, I need to go back.
Read more about China here.
Unlike the Cambodia saga above, I just adored Thailand. The smiling people! The food. The diverse, gorgeous landscape. The sweaty, chaotic cities. The idyllic islands. Thailand pretty much has everything, and even though I spent a month there, I have so much left to see! Plus, E has never been, which is reason enough to return.
Read more about Thailand here.
Is it cheating to put an entire continent on here? 😉 I haven’t been to South America since I studied abroad in Peru and Ecuador in 2009. That study abroad trip was my first real time away from home, and my first solo travel, which means that a lot of my memories are overshadowed by my homesickness, my parasite (yep), my idiocy (even more yep), the reasons I left in the first place (struggles in school and relationships), and my sky-high expectations slowly crumbling beneath me. That being said, now that I’m more comfortable traveling–and (slightly) more comfortable in my skin–I would love to go back to South America. I mean, there is so much more of that giant continent to explore.
We spent only three days there on our honeymoon in 2015, on the island chain of Bocas del Toro. I…did not like it. I don’t know why. I found it overcrowded, dirty, and rather stressful. So maybe I do know why–but I have been to a lot of places that fit those criteria, and that didn’t necessarily bother me. I think the Bocas are exploding with tourism and are not equipped to handle it, and the environment is starting to suffer. It really is a beautiful corner of the world, though!
Read more about Panama here.
Two 17-hour layovers were not enough! Iceland has simply exploded onto the international travel scene, for good reason. I’d love to spend more time there!
Read more about Iceland here.
Although I would go back to every country I visited during my tour of Southeast Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, South Korea & Vietnam) the one that pulls me the most is probably Vietnam. I can’t quite put my finger on the why. It stands out in my mind as the most beautiful, but it’s also the place where, as we were traveling so quickly, my cousin and I missed a lot of gems, or just stayed for a day or two. It’s funny, because we had some visa issues and did not leave the country on good terms–but I’m still dying to go back. Or maybe that’s why, and I’m just contrary.
Read more about Vietnam here.
Okay, I know Italy is on everyone’s bucket list or return-to list. There’s a reason Italy is one of the most visited spots in the world–and I’ve only seen a few little corners! I haven’t even been to Rome or Florence. I think I haven’t been in a rush because a) Italy is expensive; b) Italy is crowded; c) I will always want to go to Italy and d) Italy is a place I can travel to when I’m older, too. Now, this is usually the opposite of my travel philosophy–I always want to see it now, rather than later, because you just never know if you’ll get another chance, do you? Italy has been creeping higher up my list after our visit to Venice, and the fact that we have friends living all over the country. Not that Italy needs a reason to creep up anyone’s list–it is Italy, after all.
Read more about Italy here.
I’ve told you (maybe too much) how even though it was a crazy trip, I completely loved Greece. And I’ve only been to Santorini and Athens–there is so much more to see! The combination of relaxed (sometimes too relaxed, admittedly) attitude, delicious food, ancient history, and beautiful scenery just hooks me in.
Read more about Greece here.
I’ve been to Paris, and Lille, but I would love to get out of the cities and explore more of France. I’m particularly intrigued by Normandy. Truthfully, I didn’t “fall in love” with either Lille or Paris, and I think France deserves another chance! And I didn’t just choose it because it rhymed with chance! I also am part French, and like any true American, I’m eager to learn more about one of my self-assigned homelands.
Read more about France here.