The title of this post is a bit misleading because, let’s face it: I have seen only a tiny percentage of Earth’s total surface area, even if I have technically set foot in 50 countries.
Although I do intend to make good on my childhood travel promise of “seeing the whole world before I die,” some destinations are more urgent priorities than other. Here are the seven places I’m currently most eager to visit — what are yours?
1. Sub-Saharan Africa
When I was in southern Egypt as part of an organized tour last fall, our guide informed us that we were just a few hours away from the Sudanese border. Even though I don’t particularly care to visit war-torn Sudan at this time, the tour guide’s announcement reminded me of all the great places I want and need to see in Africa. Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and many of the rest of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa are a definitely travel priority for me.
2. Sri Lanka and South India
My 2009 trip to India took me only to the northern part of India, but I’ve been itching to explore the country’s southern reaches since. From laid-back Kerala and Karnataka to Chennai, capital of Tamil Nadu state, south India’s year-round heat and overwhelming greenery are calling my name like never before. Then, there’s the island of Sri Lanka, which may indeed be the next “new” destination I visit.
I was shocked, upon landing in Lima back in February of 2011, at how cold it was not only in Perú, but also in Bolivia. Because of this — I can only take so much “winter” at a time — I cancelled my planned trip into Patagonia, the southern portion of South America. The glacier-covered, otherworldly region is nonetheless still high on my travel bucket list, from the Torres del Paine in Chile to Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world.
Fact: Indonesia is the only country in Southeast Asia I’ve never visited. This makes me sad not only because I am a travel completist, but also because the riches to be found amid the country’s thousands of islands are reputedly among the most precious in the world. I’ve got a friend (an Indonesian one) in Bali, so I can hopefully at least crack the surface of this country sometime this fall when I return to Southeast Asia.
5. Central America
One of my unspoken travel mantras is that I visit far away places first, and nearby places second. But even though many central American capitals are just a few hours by plane from my hometown of Austin, TX, I feel more drawn than ever to this narrow isthmus of land that connects the Americas together. My initial goal was to visit at least Costa Rica this year — a girl I met last year in Chile is teaching English there — but even though this likely won’t happen, Central America is definitely on my travel radar.
6. The Himalaya
My aforementioned 2009 trip to India was supposed to take me, briefly anyway, into the Himalaya region — that obviously didn’t happen. It’s probably for the best, as this large area seems much more suited to in-depth exploration. From the Indian hill station of Darjeeling, to skyscraping Nepal, to the off-the-beaten path nation of Bhutan, my desire to travel in the Himalaya region is as high as Mount Everest.
It might seem strange that I’ve never visited Japan, given that I lived in China for the better part of a year. Although I sometimes list Japan as one of the countries I’ve visited on account of my many connection at Narita airport in Tokyo, the fact remains that I need to spend at least a month exploring this country. The idea was to head there sometime in April or May, but it’s looking like November or December at this point in time.