BootsnAll.com is one of the leading sites in the world for independent travelers. Over the years, ConsumerTraveler has worked together with them on promotions and our management has collaborated on many issues.
Every year, BootnAll starts the year out with their list of “Top Indie Travel Destinations.” In the words of Sean Keener, the founder of the site:
This year we used a variety of the above tactics to come up with our list for 2013, but with two exceptions. First, we avoided reading other lists. We wanted a fresh perspective, so even though it has been difficult (I love these lists, too!), I have ignored literally every other Top Destinations of 2013 travel list that I have come across. Second, we purposely chose not to highlight any of the cities or countries on our previous lists from the past five years. Those were our two starting points.
Lists like these are meant to be inspirational. They allow readers to think about places they may not have considered exploring. They allow us to see what other travelers like us consider the cream of the crop. Here is the BootsnAll Top 10 Indie Travel List with a few words of description from their website.
Beautiful and awful. Breathtaking and grotesque. Alluring and repulsive. There are very few places in the world that offer the contrasts that India offers. It can be amazing one minute and appalling the next, but one thing is certain, you’re sure to leave India with a different perspective – of both travel and life.
Andy Knight, who visited Burma in 2011, says, “Burma is teetering on the precipice of incredible popularity. It’s got everything an indie traveler could want and more, and none of it is even close to becoming crowded. Go soon, though, because it won’t be quiet for long.”
Jenna Homeyer, who has been living in Jerusalem since August 2012 and plans to be there for about a year, says, “Israel/Palestine is a great region to visit because you can see some of the holiest sites to the three monotheistic religions…You will also be amid very different cultures between Orthodox Jews, secular people, and Muslims. You will also be in the middle of the rich history this place has and will be exposed to the political conflict that consumes media attention.”
Once you get over the sensationalism and realize that the vast majority of the country is perfectly safe, you’ll open yourself up to a multitude of possibilities. A lot of the beaches get the pub, and rightfully so, but Mexico is also home to one of the world’s largest and most bustling cities in the world (Mexico City), plenty of history and ruins to see, explore, and learn about, and one of the best food scenes in the world.
Jessie Beck, who has been living, working, and traveling around Madagascar for the past year and a half as a Peace Corps volunteer, says, “Malagasy are curious of foreigners and generally easy to befriend and quick to tell you anything you might want to know about Madagascar…All of Madagascar’s 18 regions are dominated by a different tribe, each with their own dialect, customs, art, music, and dance, and each with its own vibe. In short, Madagascar is more than just lemurs and baobabs.”
6. Istanbul, Turkey
One of the largest cities in the world, Istanbul has a history and culture matched by few others. While much of the rest of the world has seen slowing economies over the past five years, Turkey has not only weathered the storm, but thrived. Though their economic growth slowed in 2012, it was the second fastest growing economy in the world in 2011 after China.
Andy Browning, who just spent the last year living in Tuvalu, says, “Tuvalu is an example of how the Pacific used to be before the resorts opened and the tourists started to flood in. Its remoteness (and price!) ensures that only the most persistent travelers ever make it to the islands, ensuring that those who do find a beautiful group of islands full of friendly, hospitable, and genuine people. Also, it’s fantastic to watch someone’s face when you tell them you’re going to Tuvalu!”
8. Sri Lanka
Natalie Lyall-Grant, who is back in Sri Lanka for the fourth time since 2006, has seen both sides of Sri Lanka – pre-war and post-war. She says, “Sri Lanka is a destination bursting with personality and adventure. This isn’t a Club Med-style vacation; it’s a place of discovery, new friendships, and intrigue. With its long and complex history, extraordinarily friendly people, and the kind of scenery that re-defines your view of beauty, this is a country that knows how to take your breath away, and it will do so repeatedly.”
9. South Korea
Lauren Fitzpatrick, who lived and worked in South Korea from 2010-2012, notes that, “Visitors to Korea will be welcomed and encouraged to partake in all Korea has to offer – natural beauty, spicy food, traditions, language, and culture. It’s been overshadowed by China and Japan for so long that it’s still relatively undiscovered by tourists…Because there isn’t a ‘tourist trail’ or even a clear list of must-dos in Korea, the indie traveler is free to form their own itinerary and truly can discover Korea on their own terms.”
10. Puerto Rico
Katrina Balcius has been to Puerto Rico on two separate occasions in the past couple years and says, “Puerto Rico is the perfect place for the person who loves tropical destinations like Hawaii – but hates the tourists and how expensive it is. The person who likes adventure and to be in a culturally stimulating country – there’s so much variety! Puerto Rico is cheap, so if you are on a budget – it’s great. You are guaranteed to meet locals who are more than happy to show you their country – the way travel should be. ”
Photo: “Sas Bahu” Temple, Eklingji, India by archer10 (Dennis) from Flickr Creative Commons