Here at Go Global, we choose locations for our programs that are different than where most students would typically study abroad. We believe that this is yet another way to get students out of their comfort zones and not only do things they normally wouldn’t do, but go places they wouldn’t normally go. We love to stand apart from the crowd.
I did my research: reading Forbes, National Geographic, and the web’s most popular study abroad blogs to see what the top 15 travel destinations would be for the upcoming year. Sure enough, the lists included most of the same places, and it was fairly easy for me to clearly see which locations were the 2015 hotspots…aside from our AWESOME 3 locations, of course! So I compiled them for you in a list of my own (in no particular order).
London, New York, and Paris are arguably some of everyone’s favorite places in the world …but isn’t it fun to take the road less traveled? Take a look at this list and start making plans.
**Disclaimer: Go Global does not own any of the images below. The images were taken directly from the sources of their written counterparts and can be accredited to the photographers associated with those sites.
Southeast Asia is becoming exceedingly more popular amongst travelers, particularly young backpackers who are looking for an alternative to the ever-so-popular Eurotrip. Thailand usually gets all of the credit for the beautiful beaches and exotic Asian culture, but Vietnam has beaches and landscape that are equally as beautiful. Because it isn’t as popular (yet), it’s even more affordable than the more common, also inexpensive Southeast Asian destinations. Vietnam is actually very reputable for amazing food and friendly people; not to mention all of the history and culture. You can even talk to a Vietnam War veteran and interactively learn more about how our history connects to theirs.
2. Argentine and Chilean Patagonia
I’m going to guess that most of you reading this own something by the brand “Patagonia.” Well, the brand didn’t take off for no reason! Hiking the South American Patagonias is becoming a very popular bucket list adventure. It’s the ultimate beautiful landscape of wilderness: a wide variety of animals, glaciers, wildflowers, lakes, and lagoons. It’s remotely and relatively untraveled, but soon, more and more people will be making the trek to see for themselves. Chilean Patagonia is a more popular travel destination than Argentine Patagonia, but be sure to check out both. Don’t miss out on taking the most beautiful and off-the-beaten-path hike of your life (and put that Patagonia jacket to really good use).
3. Seoul, South Korea
Do a little Seoul-searching in one of Asia’s most cosmopolitan cities. Seoul is hundreds of years old, yet has such a modern feel in its architecture and design; it is incredibly unique in that regard. The city is reputably very safe, and the people are very friendly, as their society is built upon Confucian principles that centralize respect. It’s home to some of the world’s largest economic powerhouses, which makes the city particularly interesting for people who have interest in business and technology. The city itself is quite the fashion mecca (Asian fashion … so ahead of the game, that it’ll make sense to the rest of the world in 2 or 3 years) and has a nightlife with energy that could give Vegas a run for its money. The villages offer a cultural experience that will allow you to appreciate Korean history. Don’t forget to eat some Korean BBQ. Visit Seoul while it’s still affordable! Don’t limit your Asian travels to China and Japan.
4. South of France
Don’t get us wrong — we love Paris. But we feel bad that the beautiful French countryside is overlooked by tourists who flock to the Eiffel Tower and then jet off to the next country. Stay in France and explore! You’ll be awed that a place can hold such simplicity and luxury at the same time. “You wanna live fancy? Live in a big mansion? Party in France?” Britney Spears said it herself. Enjoy the beaches of Nice, study Van Gouch in Arles, explore the Carcassonne Castle, or live like a celebrity in St. Tropez. In the South of France, you’ll find more wine than water, and you can indulge in it while taking in the scenery of a dream.
All of my sources indicate that Colombia is the number one up and coming South American luxury destination. One deems Colombia as having “the culture of Europe, the adventure of Costa Rica, the party atmosphere of Greece, the beauty of Alaska, the beaches of the Caribbean, lots of activities, and the friendliest, happiest, best looking people in South America.” Wow! Pick and roast your own coffee beans, raft the Amazon, salsa dance until you drop, and visit some of the world’s best gold museums. Did you know that Colombia is home to pop superstar Shakira? Her hips don’t lie, and neither do the reviews of this awesome country. See for yourself.
6. Interlaken and Zermatt, Switzerland
Zermatt is one of the most popular cities on these must-see lists because of its alpine vistas and adventurous snow sports. It’s progressively gaining a pretty hoppin’ nightlife scene, too. Stay at a luxury ski resort, ride a train, and take a stroll through what is quite possibly the most classic city in Switzerland. And did you know that Interlaken is the adventure capital of the world? The picture above is one of our former students and interns, Chris, enjoying a hang-gliding expedition on a backpacking trip through Interlaken! Want to check some thrill-seeking adventures off of your bucket list in the midst of a gorgeous country? Switzerland is the perfect place.
7. Berlin, Germany
For those of you who are exceptionally interested in travel, you may care to know that Berlin is the expat capital of the world. The people are edgy, the businesses are thriving, the art is vibrant, and the beer is cheap. It’s the perfect place for young people who are looking to independently create a new life for themselves in another country. Most importantly, the history is so recent and relevant; see what your grandparents have to say about WWII, the construction of the Berlin Wall, and where the Nazis were headquartered. They’ll be thrilled that you’re exploring a place with history so enriching and so pertinent, and you can probably learn a lot from what they can personally remember growing up in that time period. You’ll be leaving this city with a new appreciation for history, self-sufficiency, and beer. Berlin there done that.
8. Budapest, Hungary
Move over Amsterdam, there’s a new European hipster hotspot: and it’s Budapest. Pictured above, Budapest sits on abundant thermal springs. Relax (or throw a party) while enjoying yourself in a historic bath, and then appreciate the architecture of the bathhouses. Budapest hosts TONS of festivals: wine, cheese, beer, chocolate, art, music, you name it. Its nightlife is famous for its pub scene which serves some pretty unique craft beer. Another pertinent reason to visit this upcoming year: the Royal Gardens Bazaar recently opened after being closed for 30 years, so you can check out a modern twist on a historic complex. To put it in perspective, Budapest is also known as “the little Paris of Europe.”
An island just off of Australia, Tasmania is home to lush rainforests, picturesque beaches, breathtaking mountains, and beautiful lakes. The night sky is mesmerizing because of the low light pollution — a scene that truly looks like a painting! This night sky is enough for me to want to get here as soon as possible. It’s home to the largest lavender farm in the world, the cleanest air in the world (comparable to Antarctica), and some incredible walking trails. You’re sure to get fit while walking around to see all that this untouched treasure has to offer. This place has a whole lot more to offer than just the Tasmanian Devil (which, yes, is real. and terrifying). Google it if you don’t believe me.
Nicaragua was once a place where people would often visit for mission trips and service, but now, the Central American country is becoming more of a vacation spot than ever and is actually very comparable to Costa Rica, just less touristy. As a matter of fact … the Go Global executive team is there right now! Vacationing in Nicaragua offers many of the same opportunities as Costa Rica but is considerably cheaper because of difference in tourism. So now’s the time to go! Enjoy surfing, horseback riding, and volcano tours. Also, because tourism is on the prowl, you could be one of the first to stay in some of the brand new luxurious hotels and bungalows that are now being built. And that’s pretty cool. Any Survivor fans out there? Enjoy your day on the very beach where the show was filmed. Except you can relax — no need to build your own shelter and boil your own water. They’ve got ya covered.
11. Portland, Oregon, USA
Most travelers who take on the West Coast of the USA are set on exploring California, and usually Southern California at that. We love Cali, but don’t forget the Northwest; the city of Portland, Oregon offers clean air with tons of outdoorsy activities and an environmentally friendly, clean, sleek feel. There’s great beer, funky neighborhoods, fresh farmers markets, great bike trails (it’s the biking capital of America!), urban gardening, food trucks … it epitomizes the West Coast feel that most Americans haven’t even experienced. This unique city will change your perspective on all things hip and trendy…especially if you’re in town for the ‘Portland World Naked Bike Ride’ (I’m not kidding)…
12. Macchu Picchu, Peru
Environmental degradation due to excessive tourism is a serious problem at Macchu Picchu, so unlike the other locations on this list that haven’t gotten too popular yet, this location is a super popular one that you should see before you can’t anymore! Preservation of Macchu Picchu will one day prohibit tourists from hiking certain parts, so now’s the time to go while you can! If you’re interested in seeing South America’s most incredible landmark and taking in the rich history of the Incas firsthand, you better prioritize this one. You can ride the train, see the llamas, and explore the beautiful colonial city of Cusco, where you can relax in the hot springs and enjoy the incredible view. Alpaca my suitcase, will you pack yours?
13. Washington D.C., USA
One of the USA’s very own cities, Washington D.C., made every list! Most of us have traveled to Washington D.C. to explore the monuments, maybe as a child on a family roadtrip or a school fieldtrip, but have you experienced the city as an adult? Go back and appreciate the history more than you could have understood as a 4th grader. Visit in the spring to see the cherry blossom festival. Grab a friend and participate in a protest for a cause that means a lot to you. Experience the multicultural and authentic food on every street corner — Thai for lunch and tapas for dinner? Why not. Indulge in Georgetown shopping…far more exciting than the Smithsonian gift shop t-shirt you bought when you went to D.C. for the first time. I have to admit … this is my hometown, so I’m a little bit biased. Nonetheless — D.C. is a must for everyone. After all, it’s our nation’s capital.
14. Lisbon, Portugal
The beautiful beaches and colorful nightlife of Lisbon need not be ignored — this hotspot offers so much of the same opportunity as Barcelona and Madrid, such as nightlife and topography, but is considerably cheaper. There are hip neighborhoods and vibrant architecture covered in graffiti, and there’s a lot of fusion cuisine and a lot of contemporary art. Explore the castles, be a beach bum, or splurge on some crazy designer goods: this city itself isn’t just beautiful, the people like to look good. You’ll have less difficulty with the language barrier in Portugal than you would in Spain, as more people in Lisbon speak English than in Barcelona or Madrid. Geographically, Portugal is the closer country to the USA anyway…so don’t skip over it if you’re trekking to Spain! Give Lisbon a chance.
15. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is reputably the only European city that reflects what Paris looked like 50 years ago. The longer you wait to travel to this city, the more you’ll miss out on understanding how rapidly Europe is developing and what it looked like before your time. You may be familiar with the John Lennon Wall, and if you’re really on top of things, you may be aware that it was recently painted over. Well, it’s not the first time this has happened, as the wall was most recently painted over in 2002, and John Lennon himself would probably have agreed with the artistic group’s theoretical reason to paint over the wall (for those of you who know a little bit about his history with art, music, and politics). Being that the wall is now blank, 2015 would be a relevant time to visit, as you could be a part of history in making your own mark on the wall! Experience the Icepub, the Gothic cathedrals, and the Charles Bridge. Be sure to Czech this one off your list.
Other locations on the prowl according to these sources: Tokyo and Koyasan Japan; Singapore; Cambodia; Tunisia; Nepal; India; and Vienna, Austria…maybe I’ll have to write a sequel to this post? Stay tuned!
As for us…we can’t wait to see you in Greece, Italy, and South Africa! What will 2015 hold for you?
-Anna and the Go Global team