When spring first hits, you might find yourself daydreaming about the one place you've always wanted to go to, but have never had a chance to visit. Suddenly, you're lost in the landscape: perhaps exploring ancient ruins, making new friends with the locals, and pushing the limits of your own comfort zone. You're on an adventure, without ever leaving your desk.
I've always found myself drawn to Lisbon, Portugal. Something about the old cobble stone streets, the vibrant and colorful buildings and architecture, and the buzzing electricity of city life has always appealed to me. And yet, I have never found an opportunity to visit — even when I was in college, studying abroad in Europe. So when I need an escape from reality, I allow my mind to ease into the metropolis that is Lisbon, even for a few seconds. And as comforting as virtual vacations can be, I truly hope to travel there myself one day.
Luckily, travel bloggers have the luxury of combining the mundanity of a work week with the excitement of travel: there desks are plane folding tables, there time-stubs plane tickets. Here, 17 travel bloggers share their secret travel destinations: the next place you should venture off to, not only in your dreams, but on your next IRL adventure.
Leah Davis, Founder Of The Sweetest Way: Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
"One place that deserves more attention as a travel destination is Lake Ohrid, Macedonia. One of the oldest and deepest lakes in all of Europe, it's no wonder it's been listed as a Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO. And in fact, the city of Ohrid is also listed as a Cultural World Heritage Site by UNESCO, making it an especially appealing destination for history lovers who want to avoid the dense crowds of larger cities like Rome. This beguiling ancient city begs travelers to explore the cobbled streets of its old town, admiring the beautifully ornate Byzantine churches that dot the hills and taking in the sweeping views of the lake below. The Church of St. John at Kaneo has a particularly enviable vantage point. Adventure lovers can get a true bird's eye view of the region by taking a tandem paragliding flight." —Leah Davis, Founder of The Sweetest Way
Lauren Monitz, Founder Of The Down Lo: Croatia
" I would recommend Croatia. You should do a Sail Week there — it's a great way to affordably (yes, affordably!) live on an yacht and island hop. It's much cheaper than France or Italy and not nearly as popular — yet. CNN did call it the "King of the Rivieras" so it is definitely an up and coming hidden gem." —Lauren Monitz, Founder of The Down Lo, tells Bustle.
Stéphanie Smolders, Director Of Tourist Exclusive: Oman
"My number one destination to visit this year is Oman. Oman has beaches, mountains, desserts and forests. It has a green oasis in a city called salalah. I have been there for a week and loved every minute of it. It has a very open culture and the food is amazing. I recommend the recently renovated Ritz-Carlton Al Bustan palace in the capital Muscat (owned by the royal family of Oman). If you want to explore the mountains we have done mountain climbing (total newbies), you can do paragliding and so much more. It looks like the grand canyon. The best hotel to stay in the mountains is Alila Jabal Akhdar. And if you want to arrive to your hotel from the sky (sky diving) then I suggest you visit Six Senses resort Zighy Bay in the tip of Oman, close the the border with Dubai." —Stéphanie Smolders, Director of Tourist Exclusive
Michael Rozenblit, Co-Founder Of The World Was Here First: Russia
"If I had to pick one place to visit in 2018 it would definitely be Russia. The main draw card for travelers this year is undoubtedly the World Cup with 11 different host cities meaning you can explore some of the most interesting cities in Russia (St Petersburg, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan to name a few) and also watch a game of soccer or two! Even without the World Cup, Russia is an absolutely fascinating destination that has been on my bucket list for years — I’d love to take the Trans Mongolian Railway across the country so I can also explore some of Russia’s best nature spots such as Lake Baikal!" —Michael Rozenblit, co-founder of The World Was Here First.
Lauren Yakiwchuk, Co-Founder Of Justin Plus Lauren: North Central Sri Lanka
"I highly recommend traveling to north central Sri Lanka, also known as the Cultural Triangle. Stay at the huts of Mahagedara Retreat, a yoga and wellness getaway in the middle of the jungle. You'll receive spa treatments from a local Ayurvedic doctor and feast on freshly prepared cuisine with ingredients from their gardens. You can take daily excursions to many intriguing historical and natural highlights in the region. Hike to the top of Sigiriya Rock to visit the remnants of an ancient palace and the world's oldest gardens. Marvel at over 150 Buddha statues and frescoes at the Golden Dambulla Cave Temple. Go on a safari at Kaudulla National Park to spot elephants roaming freely in the wild." —Lauren Yakiwchuk, Co-founder of Justin Plus Lauren
Meagen Collins, Co-Founder Of Food Fun Travel: Japan
"Id suggest a Sushi Master Dining Experience in Tokyo. After eating my way through 87+ countries, eating sushi in Tokyo has still eluded me. More importantly, eating sushi at Sukiyabashi Jiro. Tantalizingly perfect bites prepared by 3-Michelin star sushi master Jiro Ono. It's every food travel blogger's Japanese foodie dream." —Meagen Collins, Co-founder Food Fun Travel
Kristin Addis, CEO Of Be My Travel Muse: Mozambique
"I'm betting most readers haven't been to Mozambique. What I love about Mozambique is how uncrowded it is. So few travelers actually go there so the ones who do are usually very interesting, engaging people. It's so beautiful with lovely beaches and great diving, with whale sharks in November! It's also nice and cheap and the seafood is to die for. It ticks all my boxes. Head to Tofo and Vilanculos!" —Kristin Addis, CEO of Be My Travel Muse
Christine Williams, Co-Founder Of Don't Forget To Move: Cuba
"The ONE place people should go but most have never visited is Cuba. Cuba is an incredible country and is still not overrun by tourism. Some may disagree with the local government, but no one can deny what a beautiful, vibrant culture exists in Cuba. Just walking through the cobblestone streets of Old Havana you get a sense of the warm hospitality that Cuba is known for. For first timers in Cuba we recommend visiting a tobacco farm, traveling to the colorful town of Trinidad and of course going dancing in Havana (with a fresh mojito in hand!)" —Christine Williams, Co-founder of Don't Forget To Move
Suzanne Wolko, Founder Of PhilaTravelGirl: New Zealand
"One place everyone should go to is New Zealand' South Island to marvel at nature's beauty in abundance. Many go to visit Milford Sound but I loved Doubtful Sound as it was a bit more adventurous. You take a boat ride to a bus ride to a boat to sail the sound as one of the few (if not the only) boat to enjoy the water. Ideally, I would suggest staying in Queenstown take a tour to Doubtful Sound, stay overnight in Te Anu and then go to Milford Sound the next day to compare the experiences and views in the Fjordlands. A luxury return to Queenstown by plane to see the Fjordlands from above. Its the ultimate itinerary for those that love nature and gorgeous landscapes." —Suzanne Wolko, Founder of PhilatTravelGirl
Chelsea Hudson, Founder Of Girls Catch Flights Not Feelings: Thailand
"I highly recommend Thailand. I recently went to Phuket and Patong Beach in Thailand and absolutely loved it. Phuket has many beautiful sights to see and activities to get involved in. From touring the Phi Phi Islands to volunteering at the Elephant Retirement Park, you will love every second of the trip." —Chelsea Hudson, Founder of Girls Catch Flights Not Feelings
Carolyn Scott-Hamilton, Founder Of The Healthy Voyager: Easter Island, Chile
"My pick on where to go is Easter Island. If you are a mysterious, ancient history enthusiast as well as outdoor and exotic locale kinda traveler, EI is the place! Great biking, hiking, very low tourist count so you aren't bogged down by crowds with all the allure of a remote destination with cultural uniqueness, EI is an underrated yet super awesome place to add to your bucket list!" —Carolyn Scott-Hamilton, Founder of The Healthy Voyager
Keishi Nukina, Founder Of KN Aviation: Iran
"The one place I would suggest everyone to go to would have to be Iran. I went there for the first time to fly on old aircraft that cannot be flown elsewhere. However, the second, third, and fourth time (the latter two times I organized a tour titled Iranian Skies & Cities aimed at introducing the country from both aviation and cultural perspective to aviation enthusiasts) I returned there was because of the people. They are all very kind, friendly, and helpful. One thing I would suggest doing — rather than seeing the beautiful sights in Shiraz or Isfahan (which are certainly well-worth a visit), I would suggest going to a less touristy city and just strolling on the streets. In my case it was Ahwaz. While there are no significant sightseeing spots in the city, just grabbing a taxi and wandering around the city was a great experience and eye-opener. I would suggest everyone to do so on their own, as it provides for great perspectives on the different views of the governments versus the actual people you get to interact with in the cities, and so on." —Keishi Nukina, Founder of KN Aviation
Niki Gordon, Founder Of Chasing Departures: Greenland
"I think Greenland is a must visit place for people to visit. Greenland has epic landscapes and tons of outdoorsy things to do. Two things to do high on my travel list are whale and iceberg spotting off the coast of Nuuk because of the incredible photos that could be captured." — Niki Gordon, Founder of Chasing Departures
Kirstie Jeffries, Founder Of Venga, Vale, Vamos: Georgia
"Since emerging as an independent nation since the fall of the Soviet Union, Georgia has, for the most part, remained far from most tourists' radars. In the past few years, however, tourism has skyrocketed as the country becomes increasingly accessible.
Its capital, Tbilisi, features its unique blend of antique and modern, with ancient structures looming over hip cafés and trendy bars. Head out to the countryside to spot incredible, mountainous landscapes or taste wine at some of the oldest vineyards in the world. Hospitality is almost a religion for Georgians, so you'll find locals eager to share their culture and homes everywhere you go. And the country's warm, hearty cuisine is a total delight — be sure to taste khinkali dumplings and khachapuri cheese bread... Tourism is sure to grow in the years to come, so visit Georgia while it's still in its tourism sweet spot: plenty of infrastructure without overwhelming crowds. I never expected to love Georgia as much as I did, but I left a piece of my heart there, and I guarantee you will too." — Kirstie Jeffries, Founder of Venga, Vale, Vamos
Adrienne Barile, Founder of The Haphazard Traveler: Cappadocia, Turkey
"The ONE place you should go, but have never visited, is Cappadocia, Turkey. Its landscape of fairy chimneys and cave hotels is unlike anywhere else in the world. Also, it's a relatively easy and affordable travel stop: flights from Istanbul and hotels are inexpensive, and most hotels run airport shuttles and will arrange all your excursions for you. The must-do activities in Cappadocia are staying in a cave hotel and taking a sunrise hot air balloon flight over the amazing landscape! Other activities include hiking, shopping for Turkish pottery and carpets, and taking tours of underground cities, cave churches and wineries." —Adrienne Barile, Founder of The Haphazard Traveler
Tessa Juliette, Associate Editor Of Travel Where To Next: India
"My top spot on where to go is India. More specifically the Golden Triangle: Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. The triangle can take anywhere from 7-10 days to complete and along the way you will see the magnificent city of Delhi, the gorgeous Red Fort in Jaipur and of course the famous Taj Mahal in Agra. You need to go to India, not only because it is cheap and you can travel on a shoestring budget (or live like kings for next to nothing) but also because it is so different, culturally, than many other places in the world." —Tessa Juliette, Associate Editor of Travel Where To Next
There you have it — 17 places to add to your bucket list. Life is too short to live with regrets. So instead of asking yourself 'what if?', go with your gut, so one day you can proudly claim 'yes, I did.'