10 destinations to pique your wanderlust

The following destinations are places that will give you an experience you will never forget and will get you in the right mindset to see more of this world.

As an aspiring digital nomad, going online to find cheap flights around the world has been somewhat of a hobby of mine for the last four or five years. There’s something exciting about picking your route around the globe and knowing that yes, you could actually see all of the places of your dreams if you just took the leap.

“It’s not about how many breaths we take, but about the moments that take our breath away.”

Learn how to become location independent like me and be able to travel the world!

Marrakesh, Morocco

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Jemaa el-Fnna at nighttime. Photo by USA Today.

Located at the foot of the Atlas Mountains in the western African nation of Morocco lies the historic and mysterious Marrakesh – the county’s fourth-largest city.

Marrakesh’s medina – the historic and traditional Arab quarter of town – is littered with authentic and near-ancient gardens, courtyards, and millennia-old architecture. Colors splash from all sides and visitors won’t need to look far for local cuisine or gifts.
Head to Jemaa el-Fnaa, the country’s most popular marketplace, for an Arab experience you won’t soon forget.

Wind your way through the cobbled streets of this preserved area, and you’ll find yourself wondering if you got stuck in a time machine.

  • Europeans or people currently in Europe countries have it the easiest when traveling to Marrakesh. Many nonstop flights are available from major cities across the continent.
  • If you’re coming from North America, find a connecting flight into Boston, Newark, or Miami and take off from across the pond from there. Flying out of JFK or Laguardia in New York City can be a hassle, but can save you money, too.
  • Getting to Marrakesh from Asia on the cheap can be tough. Try the Bangkok, Hong Kong or Singapore airport hubs for the best rates.
  • For my friends down in South America, flying into Marrakesh is going to be the cheapest from Brazil. Take an intercontinental flight into Rio de Janiero or Sao Paulo first before traveling to Africa!

I like authentic and cultural immersion experiences when I travel. AirBNB is a great way to do this (I am not affiliated with AirBNB in any way, shape, or form.)

Check out this sweet suite!

Best time to go: March-April; September-November. Best for cultural immersion

El Chalten, Argentina

El Chalten is the gateway to some of the most breathtaking glacial mountain views on Planet Earth. Just 10 miles east of the Chilean border, El Chalten makes for a great base to explore Torres Del Paine National Park to the south and the lesser-known Bernardo O’Higgins National Park to the west.

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Set in the Andes Mountain Range, glacial runoff from mountain peaks creates lakes all hues of blue and green. Hire a boat to take you through the Chilean fjords for a unique view of the nature surrounding you, or lace up the hiking boots and do one of the most famous hikes in the southern hemisphere, Mirador Las Torres.

The photos remind me of Glacier National Park, only on the other side of the globe.

AirBNB: Fork over the extra dough for this place at the base of Fitz Roy.

Best time to go: November-March. Best for exploring raw wilderness.

Palawan, Philipines

Close your eyes. Fasten an invisible and imaginary snorkeling mask over your face. Without opening your eyes, envision crystal clear waters with no sediment blocking your view as you eye fish of all colors and sizes. Picture tropical fish all colors of the rainbow from the internet.

Now imagine if this didn’t have to be a dream or a fake scenario. Get to the island of Palawan in the Philipines and this can be yours! This is the type of destination where time goes slow, and the fun exceeds expectations. Shipwrecks, reefs, and incredible flora and fauna seen nowhere else in the world can all be yours.

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Dubbed the best island in the world by Travel and Leisure, Palawan’s gorgeous waters can be seen from space and is a great destination for beachgoers if you have already been to or are looking for a different culture than the Caribbean.

Some of the biggest hubs in SE Asia are Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Denpasar, and Taipei. Get yourself to one of those airports from wherever you are and take a cheap flight into Puerto Princesa (nonstop from Manila, Singapore).

As I’ve said above, I am a huge fan of AirBNB to get an authentic, cultural experience. Not only can you live like a local, but you can be in the midst of the local traditions as well. Hit up this one, this one, or this one.

Best time to go: October-June. Best for water activities and beaches.

Kathmandu, Nepal

For many adventurists, extremists, and people interested near the highest peak of them all, getting to Mount Everest is as high on the bucket list as you can go. In order to get to base camp, or even to start the climb all the way to the APEX of the highest place on Planet Earth, you need to get to Nepal in the heart of the Himalayan Mountain Range.

I won’t tell you that attempting to summit Everest without the proper conditioning or training is a good idea, although I know that many of you may someday aspire to reach the peak of the world. In order to do so, you’ll need to make your way to the northern end of the Indian subcontinent in central Asia.

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Getting to Everest will best be done from the entry point of Kathmandu. Take public transport or a guide to the best viewing point of the massive crag, which actually makes berth in the Chinese province of Tibet.

The cheapest way to get to Kathmandu is through Dubai. It is easy to get a cheap flight into Dubai and through to Kathmandu from Europe, but harder from the Americas. Expect to pay at minimum $800 one way to get to central Asia from the Americas. Same basic principle applies from Asia: Bangkok, Singapore, Taipei, or Hong Kong will be your best departure points for access to the beautiful Himalayas.

Check out some of these crazy awesome AirBNB’s in Nepal for your base camp to base camp.

Best time to go: September-November. Best for cultural immersion, mountain scenery

Lofoten, Norway

When I was sitting in front of the most beautiful mountain I had ever seen in the Swiss Alps in the Summer of 2017, I heard an older gentleman exclaim that the Alps were indeed the second most beautiful mountain range in Europe – and much more expensive to boot. He said to his comrade at the time; “Switzerland is just the southern Norway.”

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Following photographers based in the northern Norweigan archipelago of Lofoten has become somewhat of an addiction since then. The deep fjords filled with dark blue water looks like a painting. The peaks that jut out of the water seem surreal and can be seen as far as the eye can see.

I think Lofoten would be best seen as a larger tour of Norway itself, but I’m not naive enough to assume everyone has two months to go exploring this beautiful place at a slow pace. My recommendation is to rent a car from Tromso near the Arctic circle and drive to Lofoten at your own pace. Make sure to stop in Hennigsvaer to see one of the most unique soccer pitches in the world, and to Reine for one of the best reflection shots you’ll ever hope to see.

Your best bet to get to Tromso on the cheap is to go to Norweigan Airlines‘ website and find a flight through the capital, Oslo. You can even get the rental car on that site, no problem! Although I am indeed a travel agent, I am in no way affiliated with Norweigan Airlines.

This, though. Sleep here.

Best time to go: April-September for daylight; November-February for Northern Lights.

Zion National Park, Utah, United States

Whereas I have not been to the above destinations, and they are instead bucket list places I someday aspire to get to, I have actually been to Zion National Park on two occasions and would go again without a moment’s hesitation if the opportunity presented itself.

In the summer of 2015, my brother Michael and I went on a western United States National Park tour. We visited seven national parks in 17 days and hiked nearly 100 miles of trails. Our first stop was Zion National Park. From my hometown of Wenatchee, Washington, we drove the 18 hours all the way to southern Utah in one day. We finally arrived in a small town called Hurricane and promptly passed out of exhaustion. What awaited us in the morning was my first interaction with the canyon.

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The view seen above is one of the two absolutely must-dos on any trip to the park: Angel’s Landing. A video of the treacherous hike can be seen here and will make you feel one of two ways: jacked, or terrified. I’ve done Angel’s Landing twice and I would do it again. If you are afraid of heights, get out of your comfort zone! So long as you carry out common sense and don’t flail your body around in strange ways, you will absolutely be fine on this hike.

The second must-do is the Zion Narrows. Head over to Springdale, the small community that borders Zion canyon to the west, and stop at one of the Narrows outfitters to pick up your walking stick, water wicking socks, and shoes.

The hike through the Zion Narrows is in water and is one of the most amazing experiences in Utah. Coupled with the beautiful orange cliffs and a rich history, Zion is my favorite National Park in the western United States.

Best time to go: March-September. Best for exploration and wonder.

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Nairobi, Kenya

Have you ever thought of going on an African safari? Think it’s impossible. Well, it’s not! Of course, you get what you pay for but hop a flight to Nairobi and there are plenty of low-cost safari outfitters to get you access to some of the best Game Reserves on Planet Earth.

Go in August-November to catch a glimpse of the biggest migration on Earth – the stampeding wildebeest. Think the opening scenes in the Lion King, but without the animation.

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Nearly everyone has heard of Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, but perhaps less well known is the Maasai Mara Game Reserve in southwestern Kenya. The Maasai is a triangular stretch of savannah that boasts some of the best wildlife sightings on the planet. Check out Big Cat Diary for any additional motivation.

Maasai Game Camp.

Best time to go: March-June; September-November. Best for wildlife.

Bagan, Myanmar

I first found out about the temples of Bagan from Anthony Bourdain and his show on CNN called Parts Unknown and I haven’t been able to shake it since.

The journey to Bagan is arduous. It is difficult to get a visa for the newly-opened-to-tourists country of Myanmar, and the easiest and most cost-effective entry point to the place formerly known as Burma is through its capital of Yangon, in the southern part of the country. The journey is perhaps best done on an overnight commuter train through the rolling countryside of Myanmar, but the trip is a long and rickety one.

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Once to the land of the thousand temples, rent a bike from one of the local shops, sign up for a morning hot air balloon ride, or find an empty temple and soak in your surroundings. It’s unlikely you’ll find much cell service here, and that’s pretty much the beauty of it.

If you want to be within smelling distance of the temples, stay here for the best experience.

Best time to go: November-February. Best for religious exploration and aesthetic beauty .

Vik, Iceland

Iceland is the place where you go to feel like you have somehow been transported off Earth and into a different realm. The setting for some of JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings films, Iceland has some of the most unique terrain in the world. This place is easily and cheaply accessible from Europe and the United States, and notoriously difficult to get to from SE or Central Asia. If coming from the eastern part of the globe, search Emirates and Icelandair first.

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Vik is on the eastern side of the island and is best known for its stunningly-unique black beaches. The landscape is dramatic everywhere you look, but Vik is especially strange. Couple a tour to Vik with National Geographic’s top trek in the world, the Laugavegur Trek, and you’ll have an experience to talk with your grandchildren about when you are 80 years old on a rocking chair.

Rent a car through Auto Europe for the best prices and flexibility, and drive until you can’t drive anymore. Get this whole yurt near the water for your stay.

Best time to go: June-October. Best for untamed beauty and backpacking expeditions.

Banff/Jasper National Parks, British Columbia, Canada

Last but certainly not least is the rugged National Parks of Banff and Jasper in the Canadian Rockies. If you like fresh mountain air, stunning vistas, and shopping, this is the place for you. The small town of Banff has upscale shopping for its visitors with stunning mountain peaks as its backdrop.

The two parks are combined by the Icefields Parkway – a highway that winds its way through the Rockies and is flanked by glaciers of all shapes and sizes – and can be done in a day, even with stopping at all the jaw-dropping vistas.

Don’t miss Moraine and Peyto Lakes, you’ll be glad you didn’t. The following photos are from my own camera, and let me tell you, if I can get decent photos of this place, so can you!

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Rent a car in Calgary and make sure you have at least a week budgeted for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Best time to go: June-October. Best for: Mountain, lake, and waterfall landscapes

Think I missed one?

Let me know by commenting below or tagging me in a post on Instagram @davidheiling

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