Top Destinations – My Travel Wish List

I’m constantly asked about my travel bucket list, to the point where I wrote a post explaining why I don’t believe in travel bucket lists. Simply put, I want to go anywhere I haven’t been before. I love exploring and learning and there are no bounds to that. That being said, a friend recently pressed me on the point and I acknowledged that I do have a short list of places I want to visit. These places are not necessarily on the horizon, but rather are key experiences I want to have at some point in my life. (in no particular order)

penguins Antarctica

1. Antarctica – This is probably at the top of everyone’s list, and not without good reason. In today’s world, it’s pretty easy to travel to just about any location in the world, except for Antarctica. The seventh continent remains a mystery to most and an object of curiosity for those of us who love experiencing the best Mother Nature has to offer. I desperately long to visit Antarctica to witness firsthand the majestic beauty that I know this far flung continent possesses.

photo credit: Tatters:)

2. Nauru – In both undergrad and graduate school I studied international relations. One of my professors was an eccentric Englishman who always taught using hypothetical case studies. In every single instance, the country he used in these examples was the teeny tiny South Pacific nation of Nauru. I have no idea why he used Nauru, but in so doing he instilled in me a lifelong curiosity about this island nation. Since then I’ve researched Nauru and have learned that it looks like a pretty great place, definitely worthy of a visit. I’m not sure when or how, but I will at some point in my life I will visit Nauru and promptly let Professor Ward that I have done so.

Kruger National Park South Africa

3. African Safari – This is, I am sure, another travel experience that most people dream of enjoying one day. I’ve been to Northern Africa, but never Sub-Saharan and the idea of riding around in a 4×4 in the wilds of Tanzania, Botswana or South Africa on a photo safari is pure travel magic in my opinion. This is one of the few travel dreams that has been around for decades, and I am sure will continue on to inspire future generations of travelers. No matter how small the world may get, Africa will always capture the imaginations of millions of people around the world.

 Tokyo cherry blossom

4. Japan – Japan is another one of those closed boxes that has long intrigued travelers. I think it’s the unique contrast of adherence to ancient tradition and the ultra-modernity that intrigues me the most. I will be in Tokyo next year, but for just three days, which is not enough time to explore anything other than the capital city itself. I would love to return on a dedicated visit to learn more about the history of this fascinating country, from the smallest village to the massive metropolis of Tokyo.

 farm sweden

5. Scandinavia – Again, this is a personal thing, I’m not sure Scandinavia is on the top five list of every traveler, but it is one of those regions I have long wanted to explore. Sadly though, I just haven’t found the right opportunity. Everything I know about this part of the world though has me convinced that I will love every second of my exploration. In preparation I’ve read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and memorized the IKEA catalog. Sorry, pickled herring just isn’t going to happen.

What’s at the top of your travel wish list?

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

27 thoughts on “Top Destinations – My Travel Wish List”

  1. Matt,

    Like you, I don’t particularly follow bucket lists but go with the wind. Having said that I share some of your ideas.

    My Antarctica is Greenland and my Nauru is Pitcairn Islands and my eccentric English professor, Jared Diamond and his book Collapse.

    The safari’s an interesting story, went,spent few months in Southern Africa working as a translator in overland tours and got totally hooked with the region, wildlife and culture… 10 years later, here I am! Safari bug bit me, and Botswana stole my heart. It will to you too one day.

    Japan! Always fascinated by the story and culture, I even studied two years of Japanese with the aim of going for a long stay… before Africa kicked in. Still high above the list!

    I guess I suffer of European illness and Scandinavia is our Alaska. As teenagers my best friend and I volunteered with Pirena, a dog sledge race across the Pyrenees. Alaska’s Iditarod would be a dream to be part of!

    And also up high in my list, Israel and Jerusalem. Fascinating, the cradle of Western civilization.

    One day, one day!

    As always, thanks for sharing!



  2. Antarctica is definitely up there. We also hope that within our lifetime, commercial space travel would be affordable enough for people like us. To be able to see the Earth from space is a dream :)

  3. Great list! I feel the same way about Palau as you fell about Nauru. I studied archaeology in undergrad and helped a professor catalogue artifacts from the island. Ever since, I’ve been dying to see the place for myself!

  4. It’s been a long time since I’ve thought about my list and what I would do. I definitely want to see Scandinavia as well. I’ve done a lot of Europe but that is one area I haven’t been.

  5. I love your reason behind wanting to visit Nauru. Sometimes we travel not for the places themselves but for the personal lure, that feeling when different echos of your life collide into a real life experience. I think on a more general scale, that’s why people are drawn to landmarks like the Taj Mahal or the Great Wall. They are things you’ve seen in pictures a million times and to stand in front of them in real life is somewhat surreal.
    As for me, when I was a wee lass and never dreamed that I’d one day circumnavigate the globe, my brother and I would play a lot of Nintendo 64. We owned this game, maybe you’ve heard of it : Cruisin the World. Basically you drive racecars around in different locales. The most embarrasing thought I had standing in front of Mao Zedong’s photo in Tiananmen Square at age 21 was: “wow, I totally drove a racecar through this plaza countless times as a child and now HERE I AM!” Now my (used-to-be) secret bucket list is to visit in real life all the countries in that video game.
    Impressing your professor by visiting Nauru is so much more noble. :)

  6. I definitely agree with you about Antarctica and an African safari. I took a picture in that very same place in Japan. I absolutely loved Japan even though I was only there for 3 days. Your 3-day introduction to the country will probably leave you with the same feeling I had– a big desire to go back ASAP.

  7. Antarctica’s at the top of mine to. I’m thinking about it as my trip in 2013, so we’ll see.

    Namibia, Scandinavia and The Silk Road are also high on that list.

  8. Such a cool reason for wanting to visit Nauru! You should move that visit to the top of your list. There might be a reason why that destination was repeated to you and why it has stuck with you throughout the years. :-)

    For me, my top three would be Greece (Oia, Crete & Athens … similar to you, I’ve been enamored with Greece since an art history class in college), Argentina (I used to practice Tango dance), and South Africa (a good friend of mine is from there, so would be great to see her homeland, and would LOVE to do an African safari).

  9. I love how the destinations in your wish list are all so unique!

    You just made me think about a trip to Antartica… At the moment my travel wish list for the next few years includes the classics of south-east Asia, and then i want to hit Oceania and Latin America

    Marina C.

  10. Antarctica! totally forgot about that one for my travel/bucket list!! I agree, it’s hard to have an actual list when anywhere new is a thrill.

    You definitely need at least a couple of weeks in Japan!! It’s definitely getting easier to travel around the country than when I was a kid. I just love hanging out at my grandfather’s farm – nestled in the midst of rice paddies. I still remember how all the local kids in the village would whisper around me, knowing that I didn’t belong – i assumed because of the way I dressed, although they told me when I was older that it was more my attitude that set me apart from the other village kids.

  11. Apart from Antartica, you’ve got a pretty ‘modest’ list of destinations in your bucket. Those places are easily reachable – with a little bit of money of course – but I’m sure you would be able to visit those places in a matter of years. I’ve seen travel bucket lists by other bloggers and most of them are much more ambitious. Good luck anyway.

    1. LOL, well I don’t believe in bucket lists, these are just the places I would like to visit sooner rather than later. I could concoct a rich variety of trips I’d love to take, but these appeal most to me. :)

  12. I feel the same as you, I want to go to everywhere I have not been and go back to a few places I fell in love with but only had a short time to enjoy the beauty. Santorini is one place I want to go back to watch the sun setting and of course living in Mexico there are so many places here I am yet to explore.

    I had lots of friends who worked in Nauru with the Aus Gov, they told me there is some amazing cave dives that you can do in the middle of the island that will bring you out in the ocean and still many relics from the Japanese war (including un-exploded bombs). Since the island has been used to house asylum seekers the island has almost impossible to go to and has had a strict media ban.

    I can’t wait to read about your adventures in 2012…..

  13. Matt,

    I bet you know a few people over at Lindblad’s who could get you a good deal on a trip to Greenland, Svalbard, and Antarctica. I went with them for a 10 day visit to Antarctica a couple of years ago–amazing. Great staff, highly knowledgable, and well traveled. You’ll meet a lot of well traveled passengers as well. Well worth the money.

    And bring that zoom lens!
    Whom did you use for your African Safari?

    1. Hey Josh, I love Lindblad, I sailed with them to the Galapagos a few years ago and they’re just great. I’m actually confirmed now for Antarctica with Adventure Life and I’m very excited, should be a great adventure. The Arctic will have to wait for now :)

      In Africa they properties with whom I stayed coordinated the game drives as they do for all guests. So in Namibia I stayed on the Zambezi Queen luxury cruise ship and we went to Botswana and also did on water game “drives.” In Zimbabwe I stayed at the Stanley and Livingstone resort which is actually located in the middle of a nature preserve.

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