An Embarrassment of Choices ~ Travel Beyond the Crowds

Written in cooperation with Goodshop.

New travelers are often at a loss when choosing a vacation destination. For experienced travelers, the choice is not so much about where to go, but where not to go, for an embarrassment of choices for world travel exists. Searching for the best travel deals or coupons from Priceline is a given, but researching a location can be a more formidable task. While the normal, and proven, questions to ask yourself will point you in the right direction, below is a rundown of a few of the must-see regions around the world, but with a slightly different viewpoint.


Image via Flickr by Greencolander

High on many travelers’ lists, Mexico is a destination that arises again and again. Part of the appeal is simply the proximity and short flight times from the United States. However, many only look to this vibrant country as a beach destination.

While beaches on both coasts are stunning and offer different experiences from one another, part of the great appeal of this diverse country is in its hills. From the Copper Canyon, one of the largest canyons in the world, to the colonial hill towns such as Patzcuaro and San Miguel de Allende, much of the magnetism of this amazing country is found far from the sands of the coastline.

Southeast Asia~

Image via Flickr by poida.smith

Nearly every traveler is aware of the charms of Southeast Asia — the chaotic charm of the large cities, the fantastic food, the inexpensive massages, and the verdant and rich countryside. As the gateway to the region, Bangkok is nearly impossible to avoid, but move beyond this fabled city to discover an impressive diversity. Vietnam offers French colonial architecture, amazing food, and immense beauty.

Cambodia’s recently troubled past is merging into a young, progressive country full of hope, as well as the home of the extraordinary ruins of Angkor Wat. Laos, long considered the ugly stepchild of the area, has emerged as a front-runner on the lists among those in the know. Myanmar, recently reopened to tourism, offers the astonishing ruins of Bagan, as well as a feeling of stepping back in time.


Image via Flickr by jarnold221

Granted, nearly everything has been “discovered” in Europe. If finding great flight deals so that you can jet to the continent sits high on your bucket list, never fear; you can still find ways to avoid the crowds. Most travelers simply do not have the time to get off the beaten path and explore. Thus, they follow the guidebook crowd from one photo op to the next.

Fully escaping the tourist crowds may be a challenge, but to get a more personal experience, you need only walk a few blocks away. When St. Mark’s Square is literally sinking in the crowds, meander a few blocks off the square and discover a Venice with no crowds. If you can no longer bear the crush of humanity in the Louvre, see what you must see and escape to the more civilized crowds of Sainte-Chapelle or the Musée Rodin.

Wherever your holiday may take you, using a few simple techniques can create a magical experience. Instead of having a holiday like everyone else has, venture a few steps off the beaten path to find the true local charms.

Searching for Answers at Paquime

I am a sucker for a good UNESCO Heritage Site. Having explored dozens of them, all around the world, we were eager to end our birthday trip to Mexico on a high note with a trip to Paquime, in Casas Grandes. Easily the largest civilization in the Chihuahua desert, villages formed here as early as 700 AD.

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Alpine Delight in Creel

We always love a good mountain town, whether it be someplace stylish a’ la Whistler, somewhere close to home like Government Camp, or the adventure capital of the Copper Canyon, Creel. Leaving our spectacularly situated hotel on the rim of the Canyon, we were circling back to the United States, but not before being lucky enough to spend a few hours wandering scenic Creel.


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The Reason We Went ~

While a big birthday was the impetus for planning the trip, Mexico’s Copper Canyon was the draw. While we were very pleasantly surprised to fall in love with Alamos and El Fuerte on the way, the Canyon was the planned highlight.

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The Road to San Carlos

Cactus. Giant Cactus. Tree-like Cactus. Small, blooming Cactus. The drive to San Carlos is filled with Cactus! We began in Phoenix, driving south and over the border. The continuing display of cactus followed as we went, ebbing slightly at times, but a nearly constant reminder that we were not in Oregon anymore!


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Finding Color in El Fuerte

As mentioned in my last post, we are making it a quest on our long drive south to visit all of the Pueblo Magicos, the Magic towns of Mexico. On our recent trip with Trafalgar, we were fortunate enough to not just visit vibrant Alamos, but also colorful El Fuerte.


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A Less Touristy Side to Mexico

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows how totally IN LOVE we are with Mexico. Having just returned from a trip into the less touristed regions of Sonora, northern Sinaloa and Chihuahua states, our love affair has only increased. Stories are racing through my head, all to come out on these pages soon enough, but below please enjoy a short photo essay of our magical time away to whet your appetite.


The very definition of a "room with a view"

The very definition of a “room with a view”

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Back to the Beach….and Mexico!

The waves sloshed onto the shore, as the sun warmed us. Having walked a couple of miles from camp down the beach, we stopped for a rest on a downed log, luxuriating in the absolute solitude. Not another soul disturbed our peace, other than a few pesky sea gulls, but even they seemed more subdued than normal. Aspen took a break from exploring to come in for pets, as Porter leaned back against me, raising his head to the sun, eyes mere slits, the picture of complete contentment. On this uncharacteristically warm, non-windy day, at the Oregon coast in FEBRUARY, life was good.


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