Looking for off the beaten path destinations that haven’t yet been discovered by the mainstream tourist crowd?
Then I’ve done your research for you. I’ve found eight destinations that I predict will boom in coming years.
The time to go is now while these destinations remain true to themselves. Where you can still find hidden gems and places to leave the tourist hordes behind. Destinations where you won’t always be stung with tourist prices, locals are genuinely happy and curious to meet travellers, and you’re not just seen as a big fat dollar sign.
So what are you waiting for? Head to these up and coming destinations for genuine cultural experiences, unspoiled nature and travel and eat like the locals do.
Named this year as one of Lonely Planet’s top destinations, Georgia is set to be the next best thing in Europe.
I guarantee it won’t be long before everyone catches on how good Georgia is. From the food to the wine, and the incredible mountain landscapes, there’s a lot to love about this country that straddles the European and Asian continents.
You can go hiking in the snow-capped mountains around Mestia or Kazbegi, see medieval cave cities, head into wine making country, eat your weight in cheese filled bread, and soak in the sulphur baths of Tbilisi.
Getting around is affordable in marshrutkas (mini buses) and the food and wine are cheap too.
Georgia is perfect for budget travellers, and its easy to reach from other parts of Europe with regular flights into Kutaisi or Tbilisi from most major European cities.
Tourism is just starting to catch on in Uzbekistan, but word is quickly spreading about the beauty of this Central Asian country. If Europe is the next big thing in Europe, Uzbekistan will be the next big thing in Asia.
Increasingly my Instagram feed is filled with photos of the dreamy mosaic madrasahs and blue domed mosques of Uzbekistan.
And with Uzbekistan now offering an e-visa, it’s easier than ever to visit this beguiling country.
The major Uzbekistan cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva lie on the ancient Silk Road trade route, and you’ll often feel like you stepped back in time while exploring the country’s magnificent buildings.
Khiva and Bukhara are essentially open air museums filled with towering minarets, city walls and colourful madrasahs – and Samarkand’s imposing Registan complex is something you must see once in your life.
Go there now and you’ll be part of a genuine historical and cultural experience – at very affordable prices.
Hot on the heels of Uzbekistan in the up and coming country stakes is Kyrgyzstan. I guarantee this Central Asian country will be swarming with Osprey backpack wielding travellers before too long.
Kyrgyzstan is cheap, safe and the outdoor scenery is incredible. You can camp in a yurt, hike up to impressive views of snow-capped mountains, or simply chill by the shores of a calm azure lake.
If Uzbekistan is the next cultural hotspot in Central Asia – Kyrgyzstan is the next big thing for nature lovers.
You might think Mexico is old news – and it is if you’re only going to the Yucatan Peninsula. Everyone goes to Cancun and Tulum – but not everyone goes to the Oaxaca region to discover unique destinations like Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca and San Jose del Pacifico.
If you head off the well-worn tourist path, you can eat delicious traditional Mexican cuisine in Oaxaca for budget friendly prices, go beach hopping in Puerto Escondido, or see beautiful sunsets in the mountains of San Jose del Pacifico.
Lake Bohinj, Slovenia
Five years ago, no one had heard of Slovenia – a small country tucked in between its more popular neighbours of Italy, Croatia and Germany.
Today, it’s steadily gaining in popularity, so the time to visit is now before it gets completely overrun.
Ljubljana and Lake Bled are now very busy destinations – but the word is not quite out about Lake Bled’s cousin – Lake Bohinj. Most people visit Lake Bohinj as a day trip from Lake Bled but I recommend staying a few days to take in the views and do some of the hikes in the area. You could spend a month hiking in this region and still not do it all.
My recommendations for hikes include up to the Pec lookout above Lake Bohinj and to Black Lake.
Latvia is tucked up in northern Europe between Estonia and Lithuania.
What you probably don’t know about Latvia is that apart from its charming Old Town, the capital of Riga has a burgeoning craft beer scene.
There’s lots of bars and pubs where you can enjoy a budget friendly pint of craft beer.
But be quick – it won’t be long before the cheap beer loving backpacker crowd moves north from Poland and Czechia into this part of the world.
Latvia is also home to some beautiful moody forests filled with castle ruins only a short train ride from the capital.
I’m sure you’ve heard of Peru, Colombia and Chile but what about Ecuador? Ecuador is left off many South American itineraries in favour for its more popular neighbours.
But you’ll find Ecuador is cheaper than its neighbours and has lots of hidden gems.
There’s lots of high altitude volcanoes you can hike and there’s also the moody Cajas National Park to explore.
You can also explore impressive waterfalls and go ziplining in Banos, or enjoy the city life in Cuenca.
If your budget stretches a little further, you can also venture out to the Galapagos Islands.
Java Island, Indonesia
While many people flock to Bali when they visit Indonesia – Java sees only a small number of tourists.
If you’ve think you’ve seen enough of Indonesia in Bali, you’re wrong. Java is nothing like Bali – and it’s definitely worth a look.
Not many tourists come here yet so you’ll get to have an authentic experience in destinations like Yogyakarta, Malang and Mt Bromo.
You can see active volcanoes, palaces, ancient Buddhist temples and waterfalls – without the crowds.