I had the good fortune of working for a major travel company that paid me to travel to a very cool place once each year, and I quickly fell in love with globe-trotting. Unfortunately, at this point in my life, the only types of vacations I can afford are the ones I create in my head.
There are many other places in the world I'd love to visit, and to make a list of places I wouldn't go to would likely be shorter and easier. I would travel like Anthony Bourdain, learning from the locals, eating what they eat, etc. No packaged tours for this girl! If money were no object, and time were on my side, here are some of the places I would while away the weeks.
1. Greece: Let's pretend for a minute that their economy is not in shambles. I would do a quick pass through all the ruins--the Acropolis and the temples and all that--and then spend lots of time on the smaller islands--Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, etc. Simplicity of life is the key here. Quiet, solitude, and the magic of one of the most significant cultures in modern human evolution.
2. Hawaii: I've been to Oahu, Kauai, and Maui. But being there for work with 15 travel agents is not exactly how I want to re-experience Hawaii. It was sort of like a sampler platter. If I went back, I would split my time between Maui and the Big Island, secluded beaches, volcano exploration, snorkeling and diving with sharks and other sea critters, and lazing around in a hammock. Hawaii is, by far, one of the most peaceful place I've ever been, and the Spirit of Aloha is truly the way I would like to live.
3. Japan: I have always been interested in the Japanese culture and way of life. They have such a different philosophy than us Westerners, and their history is spectacular. I'd likely quickly jaunt through Tokyo and spend more time in smaller towns and villages, and definitely make my way to Okinawa. Kind of makes me want to sit with Mr. Miyagi and trim a bonsai tree.
4. Eastern Europe: Prague, Krakow, Budapest... castles, old cities, quaint villages... An incredibly awesome blend of rich history and a late arrival to modern freedoms and cultural evolution. Of course, I can't leave beaches out of my adventure, so off to Croatia and the Adriatic for some quiet time with the sea.
5. Africa: Yes, the whole damn continent! I've been to Morocco, but I was 16, it was a poorly planned day, and, overall, was not indicative of how one should experience it. But Morocco, Egypt, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Capetown... these are places I would love to visit. The Fertile Crescent, people! Home of LUCY! The Sahara Desert! maybe swing on over to Madagascar... Cultures and experiences that seem epochs away. I think there'd be some kind of higher level connection to being human to return to where we, quite literally, began.
Where does your inner world traveler want to take you?