If asked where they would most like to travel outside of the U.S.A., Amsterdam, Paris, London, Athens, Tokyo and more commonly known world-destinations would be typical answers for many Americans. All too often though, even if the airfare for such a trip is within budget, hotel costs and getting around any major city are not, especially if its economy is tourist driven.
Sometimes tourists are sadly disappointed when arriving at one of their bucket list destinations. The city is far dirtier than its photos. Panhandlers are everywhere. The locals aren’t very friendly. It’s hard getting around. It wasn’t at all what they were expecting or were promised by their travel agent.
There are two ways to avoid the pitfalls, disappointments, and bank-draining tourist traps of the world. Don’t go. Or. Go somewhere else. This is not to say anyone should pass up seeing the Acropolis up close, but if the trip is unaffordable or the dangers of being in a large unfamiliar city are stopping them, there are alternatives for both by following the path less traveled. Far less traveled.
Here are some of the least traveled, more affordable, and safest destinations in the world. The rest of the planet has yet to discover these magnificent tucked away places so if any of them look interesting, you better go now before the word gets out.
Liechtenstein – Europe
Liechtenstein receives approximately 69,000 visitors per year as compared to the millions who flock to Paris. It’s a fairy tale country full of medieval villages, sprawling hills, lush valleys, an Alpine landscape, and secluded hiking trails. Landlocked by Switzerland and Austria, the capital city of Vaduz is modern, affluent, clean, and a major international banking and commerce center.
With a population of only 37,000 spread out over 62 square miles, Liechtenstein is the sixth smallest country in the world. It also has one of the lowest crime rates on earth with the last recorded murder taking place in 1997, and their jails being housed with very few inmates. Those handed jail sentences of longer then two-years are transferred to the Austrian prison system. The average citizen in Liechtenstein leaves their front door unlocked.
Located in the city of Schaan, a company called Ivoclar Vivadent produces 20% of the worlds false teeth or over 60-million sets per year. The city of roughly 6,000 inhabitants is largely supported by this endeavor.
There was a time when the entire country could be rented for $70 thousand dollars per night as a scheme to increase awareness of their existence, but this has since been ended. The wad a cash got someone guest accommodations for 150, their own printed paper currency, customized street signs, and wine tasting with Liechtenstein royalty Prince Hans-Adam II. Snoop Dogg attempted to rent the country for a video shoot but was turned down.
It’s a quiet country where mowing grass or creating any type of a ruckus between noon and 1:30 P.M., or after 10:00 P.M. is strongly advised against. If quiet, serene, and drop-dead gorgeous is what anyone is seeking, Liechtenstein is where they will find it.
Tuvalu – Oceania
With a population of just over 10,000, Tuvalu only sees about 2,000 visitors a year to their 10-square-mile Pacific Ocean island paradise located halfway between Hawaii and Australia. This Polynesian cultured island is the ideal spot for rest and relaxation without the commerciality of well-traveled destinations.
Crystal clear water, coral reefs, and hidden lagoons make the island ideal for snorkeling and kayaking. The island’s inhabitants have kept their Polynesian culture alive and intact with art, music, architecture, and events. Unlike Hawaii where traditional dancing and roasting pigs are done for the benefit of tourists, in Tuvalu, these things are routinely done for their own benefit and tourists are invited to observe and participate if they desire.
Many visitors to Tuvalu rent yachts or catamarans to visit some of the smaller uninhabited islands nearby where they feel like castaways on Gilligan’s Isle with no other people in sight. The most popular way to explore Tuvalu is by motorbike and these can be rented inexpensively from a number of places.
American troops were stationed on the island during WWII and remnants and artifacts can be found at various locations on the island, including the remains of plane wrecks.
There are half a dozen or so privately owned quaint hotels on the island so finding decent accommodations is never an issue.
Montserrat – Caribbean
It may seem impossible that any island in the Caribbean only receives 9,000 visitors a year, but it’s true in the case of Montserrat. If the name sounds familiar it’s because the Beatles producer, Sir George Martin, built his famed recording studio, Air Montserrat, on the island so the Fab Four would have a quiet out of the way location to record their songs.
Adrenalin junkies visit the island to explore its very much alive and active volcano. The deserted town of Plymouth is a major attraction and is the only complete city to be buried by volcanic rock. Wildlife won’t even go near it. It’s a ghost town beyond belief and perhaps even a bit unnerving when looking at cradles, toys, books, clothing and other items left behind.
The Centre Hills Forest is home to many birds and reptiles, some of them being near extinction such as the Mountain Chicken and the Montserrat Galliwasp, and this is the only place in the world to see them.
Being a Caribbean island, it goes without saying that Montserrat is home to some beautiful beaches, and finding a private one all to one’s self is very easy. It would be much more difficult to locate a crowded beach if one can be found at all.
Sailboat cruises are available for exploring the seas and watching dolphin romp and play, and it has been said the island’s inhabitants are the friendliest and most accommodating folks to be found anywhere.
If an off the beaten path experience which is both cheaper and safer sounds like the ticket, these are excellent places to check out further. There are more places like this scattered around the world, but because they don’t receive nearly the recognition they deserve, you have to hunt a little harder to find them. But it’s so worth it.