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The Most Underrated Places in the World

The Most Underrated Places in the World

Traveling is one of the most fun things you can do. You get to explore new places, meet new people, and experience different cultures. Best of all, you get a break from your regular life! But instead of visiting the same places as usual, or being caught up in a tourist trap, check out some of the most underrated places in the world.

1. Bolivia

bolivia
    Even though Bolivia is near the equator, there is still diversity in its climate, which means you can experience many different things as you travel from the Andes Mountains to the country’s portion of the Amazon basin. Indigenous people make up 80 percent of Bolivia’s population, which means there is still a strong sense of culture. A variety of festivals are celebrated, and it’s easy to find traditional food and listen to traditional songs and stories. The history is still very much alive as well, so while you’re there you’ll get a good overview of the country’s past and how it has changed. Bolivia has the most preserved land in terms of forests, mountains, rivers, and lakes. This makes the views even more spectacular, and you can hike the mountain trails or go on safaris. Best of all, traveling to and within Bolivia is very affordable – you’ll spend about a third as much as you would traveling in the United States!

    2. Sao Paulo, Brazil

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    brazil

      If you want to explore a monster of a foreign city, check out Sao Paulo – with over 20 million residents, it’s the third largest metropolis on earth! The city is known for its food, markets, architecture, and museums – not to mention it’s pulsing nightlife. The city is spread out so it’s hard to stay in just one area to do all you want, but Sao Paulo boasts 30 kilometers of car-free bike paths to make getting around a little easier. Hundreds of different ethnic groups call Sao Paulo home, including the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, so you’ll have no problem finding a variety of cultures to explore to enrich your time in the city. Regardless of your interests, make sure you visit a few of the city’s 150 museums and cultural centers, 420 experimental theaters, and 12,500 (yes, really!) restaurants that serve over 52 different cuisines. Oh, and the nightlife I mentioned? There are over 15,000 places! The city stays awake around the clock, so you’ll certainly find things to do.

      3. Zhangjiajie, China

      Zhangjiajie

        Zhangjiajie is a national park in the Hunan province of south-central China. Three ethnic groups make up 70% of the local population, so there is still a lot of traditional culture to explore, including language, festivals, clothing, and architecture. The locals are very friendly and love sharing their history with tourists, which makes this park a favorite place to visit. Because it is in a subtropical climate, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park has a unique “micro climate of forest,” meaning it is cool in summer and warm in winter. There are gorgeous lakes, streams, and waterfalls, along with a wide variety of rare species of animals. Fun fact: a mountain peak here was the inspiration for the visual setting of the world of Pandora in the movie “Avatar”!

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        4. Iceland

        iceland

          Iceland isn’t as far away as you might think – just a five-hour flight from major cities in the northeast US. As a bonus, Icelandair offers you a layover in Iceland on your way to other cities in Europe, which means you can get two trips in one! As far as what to do while you’re there, you’ll have a lot to cram in. You can visit the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa. It’s naturally heated water where you can bathe and indulge in massage treatments. If you time your visit right, you’ll have a great view of the Northern Lights, also called Aurora Borealis. There are a lot of museums about Icelandic history, including the Vikings. If you prefer the city life, you can visit Reykjavik, the capital city, which has a great nightlife, shops, good food, and a big arts and music scene. As a bonus, everyone in Iceland speaks English, so you’ll have a bit of an easier time getting help and information with anything else you might need.

          5. The Philippines

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          Philippines-beaches-Boracay

            The Philippines is one of the largest island groups in the world, with over 7,000 islands. You know what this means? Beaches! Gorgeous beaches with white sand overlooking turquoise waters. These beaches often make a variety of “Top 10 Beaches” lists. There are a lot of rare species of animals in the Philippines, not to mention beautiful nature scenes like waterfalls, lakes, and caves. You can even see Taal, the world’s smallest volcano! The temperature is always even and comfortable, so you won’t have to worry about packing for extreme temperatures, or even layers for changes from day to night. And if you love shopping, the islands boast some of the largest malls in the world. They don’t just have chain stores, either – the Philippines are known for their handicrafts.

            6. Albania

            albania

              Albania is quickly building itself up as a tourist destination after a checkered history of dictatorship and riots, so it’s a good idea to visit now, before it gets so popular you’ll feel overcrowded. While it’s being built up, the exchange rate between its currency, the lek, and American money is the best it can be – less than one cent! That means a hotel room overlooking the beach that costs 1,800 lek is actually less than $17! Your money will go so much further in Albania that you’ll get to see and do it all. You’ll want to spend most of your time relaxing on Albania’s 362 kilometers of coastline, which stretches through the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. Some areas near the beaches are isolated, but if you like a busier scene, then you can find some coastal cities with hotels and restaurants along the sand. The cities have great museums, and also some of the best cafés and bars on tree-lined streets with outside patios, so you can enjoy the view. Though it has great beaches, the country is known for gorgeous mountain ranges you’ll want to photograph, along with historic castles and ruins that aren’t even roped off – climb in and explore!

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              7. Sierra Leone

              freetown

                Sierra Leone was known in the 1990s for having a decade-long civil war, but peace was declared in 2002 and the country is now is one of West Africa’s safest destinations. It has great beaches lined with palm trees, or you can visit Outamba-Kilmi National Park to see some amazing wildlife. You can visit an assortment of island groups, like the Turtle Islands or Banana Islands, or the Gola Forest Reserve, located in a rainforest tract. Check out Mt. Bintumani, the highest peak at 1,945 meters, for an amazing view from the summit. If you’re craving the nightlife, check out Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.

                8. Mozambique

                Mozambique

                  Are you tired of hearing about beaches yet? I hope not, because Mozambique boasts over 2,500 kilometers of spectacular, secluded beaches, as well as clear dive sites to see rare marine life while snorkeling and scuba diving. There are also channels along the coast that offer some of the best fishing for marlin and sail fish. Mozambique is known for its traditional music and arts, which depict the struggle for independence as well as traditional beliefs. As far as Mozambique’s history goes, you’ll want to learn about their decades-long civil war and struggles with pirates, slaves, and gold and ivory hunters. Make sure you have time for some good meals, too – Mozambique has some of the freshest seafood you’ll ever find!

                  Featured photo credit: fdecomite via flickr.com

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                  Last Updated on January 21, 2020

                  The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

                  The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

                  Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

                  your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

                    Why You Need a Vision

                    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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                    How to Create Your Life Vision

                    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

                    What Do You Want?

                    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

                    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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                    Some tips to guide you:

                    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
                    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
                    • Give yourself permission to dream.
                    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
                    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

                    Some questions to start your exploration:

                    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
                    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
                    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
                    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
                    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
                    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
                    • What qualities would you like to develop?
                    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
                    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
                    • What would you most like to accomplish?
                    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

                    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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                    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

                    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

                    A few prompts to get you started:

                    • What will you have accomplished already?
                    • How will you feel about yourself?
                    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
                    • What does your ideal day look like?
                    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
                    • What would you be doing?
                    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
                    • How are you dressed?
                    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
                    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
                    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

                    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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                    Plan Backwards

                    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

                    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
                    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
                    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
                    • What important actions would you have had to take?
                    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
                    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
                    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
                    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
                    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

                    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

                    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

                    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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