Top destination lists are everywhere. However, what really matters is what you want to see and do and not what someone else is doing or what is popular. Instead, what is your list of top destinations?
Whether one of the many “top destinations” is calling your name or your list looks completely different (Latvia anyone?), how do you stay clear of crowds? How do you get the best of the destination? How do you fully immerse yourself?
1. Go in the off-season
If a popular destination is at the top of your list, the best time for you to visit might be the off-season, especially if your vision of an ideal vacation includes staying away from crowds.
Venice in February. It might be chilly, but also beautifully peaceful (unless you go during Carnival that is).
The Croatian coast in September (my favorite time to visit). Maybe not exactly offseason, but since schools are back in session, it will be quieter while much will still be open.
Iceland in the winter. Enjoy the quieter months and northern lights.
Don’t go when everyone else thinks it's swanky to go and you may discover something unique.
2. Go off the beaten path
Choose an alternate destination with a similar vibe.
The Azores instead of New Zealand. Explore dramatic cliffs, whales and dolphins, lagoons, hot springs, waterfalls, and delicious foods. An archipelago of islands scattered off the Portuguese coast, the Azores might not be home to the “adventure capital of the world” or sumptuous wines, but they are home to breathtaking scenery and natural wonders that are sure to rival those of New Zealand.
Easter island instead of Machu Picchu. Venture to this intriguing Polynesian island and discover the mystery of the Rapa Nui people and the moai statues. enjoy pristine beaches, excellent hiking, and accommodations.
Consider the luscious green Caribbean islands of Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, or Dominica instead of Hawaii. Enjoy the luscious countrysides, scuba diving or snorkeling, hiking, sun and sand, and golf
3. Go deeper
Maybe you want to avoid crowds or you are returning to a destination where you already checked your top places off the list. Explore beyond the main visitor hubs in a destination. Explore the lesser-known cities and attractions. You might be surprised at the gems you find.
Instead of a day trip to dive or snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, choose a liveaboard to truly see the magnificent sites without the clock
For a more Italian flare, visit Rovinj, a town on the west coast of the Istrian peninsula, instead of Dubrovnik.
Durmitor instead of coastal Montenegro. Head inland and you will discover a whole new world.
4. View top attractions from a different perspective
Visit attractions when others aren't there. Choose an early-access tour or go behind the scenes of an attraction to see areas not readily available to the public.
5. Go smaller
Heading on a cruise? Choose a smaller, more intimate ship.
6. Choose wide open spaces
When selecting properties, choose those with access to large outdoor spaces where even at full capcity you don't feel like a number and where you can immerse in outdoor activities and explore at your own pace.