Was one of your New Year’s resolutions “travel more”? If so, I don’t blame you! Traveling is one of the only expenses that truly pays you back tenfold. The lessons you learn about yourself, the memories you make, the beauty you encounter – there isn’t any better investment.
But that’s the thing: it’s an investment. Especially when we are talking about traveling internationally! Since I know many of you are dreaming of planning a big trip for 2018, I’m sharing my top four international trips we took last year. Every trip we take is wonderful in its own way, but these are the ones I recommend most highly.
Best International Trips I Recommend for 2018
Everyone we know attempted to dissuade us from visiting Mexico City… “It’s unsafe!” “My uncle goes there for work and has to be escorted around town!” “Have you seen Man on Fire?” “You’ll stick out and get robbed!”… I’ll be honest, it almost worked. Almost.
Well I’m here to tell you: go! Not only did we came back in one piece but we haven’t since stopped raving about it to anyone who will listen.
Here’s what you need to know: it is the most populous metropolitan area in the Western hemisphere. Knowing that, it seems obvious that with that many people there are going to be some “bad” folks and some areas to stay away from. However, just like in the US, people tend to live and hang around like people, so while I’m sure there are areas that are wildly unsafe, we never had even the slightest encounter. In fact our experience was quite the opposite.
The one plus side to it’s bad reputation is that it isn’t very touristy (at least not foreigners). A trip to Mexico City will give you an authentic view of Mexican city life – beautiful parks, cheap eats, charming neighborhoods with just enough edge. In our experience, the local people recognized us as foreigners (can’t imagine how!) and bought us drinks, came up to engage us in conversation, gave us directions and recommendations, and even invited us out with them at night! So yeah, Mexico City – do it.
To see the best of Southern Germany, you will need to rent a car. To be perfectly honest, this is part of what makes it so romantic! I recommend flying in to Frankfurt, driving south via the Romantic Road, looping through the Black Forest, and coming back by way of the Rhine River Valley. Each of those three areas is distinct but all are straight up out of a fairytale.
As you venture from location to location you’ll find yourself driving through small towns. You’ll see local kids getting off the bus from school and old grandmas out watering their gardens. You’ll also pass through so much of the untouched landscape which was blew away my expectations (so green! so vast! so breathtaking!) Luckily you’ll be in a car so you can pull over at your leisure to snap a photo which I promise will happen a lot!
Most of these areas get a ton of visitors during the high season so I recommend visiting during the off season like we did. Sure, not everything will be open, but you’ll find yourself enjoying these cities alone except for the occasional local passerby. The eerie beauty is a feeling you will want to bottle up!
Personally, I had never really heard anyone rave about Madrid and after visiting I have to say: it is so underrated. If you are looking for a destination that you can experience as a local – feeling like you live there rather than as a tourist – then Madrid is the place for you!
It doesn’t have all that many “tourist draws” but I think that’s what makes it such a hidden gem. In my experience, it has all the charm of an Italian city like Rome or Florence but is so much cleaner and less overrun with tourists. The architecture is incredible and the pastel buildings give the illusion that it is always golden hour in Madrid. While it is the capital of Spain, the city isn’t all that large – we found it very walkable! We could reach everything by foot or public transit within 15-20 minutes from our hotel in the city center.
If you’re looking to visit a historic European city but want to truly embrace the laid back Euro culture, Madrid is the spot for you. Wake early, walk around, grab tapas for lunch, take a siesta, venture back out for drinks at sunset, then head to a spot for paella, and end the night out on the town!
True story: I started this post last month and it was originally a “top THREE“. However, after returning from Tulum on New Year’s Day, I had to extend the list – it was that amazing!
With limited wifi and cell service, Tulum is the ideal retreat if you are looking to disconnect. Plus, to my surprise, the city is so much more than a beach town; it has something for everyone. Of course you can spend your time laying on the white sand beach with a book in hand and swimming out in the bluest waters you’ve ever seen, but you could also spend your trip jumping into crisp cenotes around the area. Or touring one of three ancient Mayan ruin sites in the area. Or getting pampered at the spa. Or simply hopping from one amazing restaurant reservation to the next! Due to all the options, you can truly tailor an itinerary to fit any budget – making it a destination that everyone should add to their list.
Did you take any memorable international trips last year? Spill in the comments!
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