10 Destinations for Travel Newbies

by Donna Heiderstadt

10 Destinations for Travel Newbies

by Donna Heiderstadt

Congratulations! You just got your passport and there’s a great big world out there to explore. But if you’re new to international travel, you may be uncertain about where to test the waters. We’ve come up with a list of 10 truly interesting and beautiful destinations that travel newbies will want to visit.

Congratulations! You just got your passport and there’s a great big world out there to explore. But if you’re new to international travel, you may be uncertain about where to test the waters. We’ve come up with a list of 10 truly interesting and beautiful destinations that travel newbies will want to visit.

10
Ireland
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Ireland

Have Irish roots? About 11 percent of Americans do. And we’re pleased to report that Ireland makes a great first international destination (even if you’re not Irish). The reasons: English is spoken (although with a brogue, so it can be a challenge to decipher), flights to Dublin and Shannon are among the most affordable to Europe, and the Irish are a welcoming bunch who’ll invite you join them for a pint at the local pub. Driving (on the left, mind you) can be tricky, so if you’re not confident behind the wheel look into tours.

Read more: 11 Destinations Across the World to Discover Your Roots

Have Irish roots? About 11 percent of Americans do. And we’re pleased to report that Ireland makes a great first international destination (even if you’re not Irish). The reasons: English is spoken (although with a brogue, so it can be a challenge to decipher), flights to Dublin and Shannon are among the most affordable to Europe, and the Irish are a welcoming bunch who’ll invite you join them for a pint at the local pub. Driving (on the left, mind you) can be tricky, so if you’re not confident behind the wheel look into tours.

Aruba
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Aruba

What would make you feel most comfortable on your first trip to the Caribbean? Sometimes familiar hotels such as Hilton, Hyatt, Renaissance, or Marriott (but on a gorgeous beach with terrific sunset views) make you feel more at home. How about plenty of restaurants and a late-night casino scene? If so, Aruba is the sun-and-fun getaway for you. Part of the ABC Islands (along with Bonaire and Curacao), this Dutch territory is located below the hurricane belt and is known for its constant breezes – great for sailors and windsurfers.

Read more: How To Stretch Your Dollar in Aruba

What would make you feel most comfortable on your first trip to the Caribbean? Sometimes familiar hotels such as Hilton, Hyatt, Renaissance, or Marriott (but on a gorgeous beach with terrific sunset views) make you feel more at home. How about plenty of restaurants and a late-night casino scene? If so, Aruba is the sun-and-fun getaway for you. Part of the ABC Islands (along with Bonaire and Curacao), this Dutch territory is located below the hurricane belt and is known for its constant breezes – great for sailors and windsurfers.

 

Québec, Canada
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Québec, Canada

If you’ve always dreamed of visiting France but want to test your ability to navigate a land of French-speaking wine-lovers closer to home, consider the Canadian province of Quebec. Head to Montréal, where English is widely spoken and summer festivals – from jazz to film to comedy – make for daytime and nighttime fun, especially in atmospheric Old Montréal. Then drive (or take a train) to Quebec City, which will charm you with its landmark castle hotel, historic cobblestone streets, and fondness for poutine (French fries topped with cheese curds and gravy). English isn’t widely spoken among locals, but there’s usually someone who can help you.

Read more: Authentic Québec, Without the Big-City Cost

If you’ve always dreamed of visiting France but want to test your ability to navigate a land of French-speaking wine-lovers closer to home, consider the Canadian province of Quebec. Head to Montréal, where English is widely spoken and summer festivals – from jazz to film to comedy – make for daytime and nighttime fun, especially in atmospheric Old Montréal. Then drive (or take a train) to Quebec City, which will charm you with its landmark castle hotel, historic cobblestone streets, and fondness for poutine (French fries topped with cheese curds and gravy). English isn’t widely spoken among locals, but there’s usually someone who can help you.

Iceland
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Iceland

Just a five-hour flight from New York but with a landscape that seems transplanted from the moon, Iceland's the most easily accessible place that’s like no other. It's known for its volcanoes and geysers (most of the energy is geothermal), its populations of adorable Icelandic horses and puffins, its otherworldly Blue Lagoon, and its tradition of Vikings and elves (yes, elves). Reykjavik nightlife is incredible, and while food and alcohol prices are high, we’ve never met a person who hasn’t returned from Iceland smiling. One caveat: Visit in summer when daylight lasts 18-20 hours vs. five hours in winter.

Read more: 4 Ways to Save in Iceland

Just a five-hour flight from New York but with a landscape that seems transplanted from the moon, Iceland's the most easily accessible place that’s like no other. It's known for its volcanoes and geysers (most of the energy is geothermal), its populations of adorable Icelandic horses and puffins, its otherworldly Blue Lagoon, and its tradition of Vikings and elves (yes, elves). Reykjavik nightlife is incredible, and while food and alcohol prices are high, we’ve never met a person who hasn’t returned from Iceland smiling. One caveat: Visit in summer when daylight lasts 18-20 hours vs. five hours in winter.

 

 

Costa Rica
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Costa Rica

Attention nature-lovers: This safe and budget-friendly Central American country is a must-see. With its combination of beach resorts on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts and jungle retreats that are near waterfalls, hot springs, and volcanoes, you’ll have access to some of the highest biodiversity on the planet – 50,000 species in all. Among those easily spotted are sleepy three-toed sloths, raucous howler monkeys, tiny hummingbirds, and blue morpho butterflies. And while Spanish is the national language, most Ticas and Ticos (what Costa Ricans call themselves) in the tourism industry speak English.

Read more: When Is the Best Time to Go to Costa Rica?

Attention nature-lovers: This safe and budget-friendly Central American country is a must-see. With its combination of beach resorts on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts and jungle retreats that are near waterfalls, hot springs, and volcanoes, you’ll have access to some of the highest biodiversity on the planet – 50,000 species in all. Among those easily spotted are sleepy three-toed sloths, raucous howler monkeys, tiny hummingbirds, and blue morpho butterflies. And while Spanish is the national language, most Ticas and Ticos (what Costa Ricans call themselves) in the tourism industry speak English.

Alberta, Canada
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Alberta, Canada

If you love to hike, fly fish, or ski, and want to see mountain vistas and glacier-fed lakes that give our Rocky Mountains a run for their money (sorry, Colorado), then visit this stunning province that’s bisected by the Canadian Rockies. Home to the resort areas of Banff, Jasper, and Lake Louise, its easy access (fly into Calgary and rent a car), five national parks, 600 lakes, abundant wildlife, and massive Columbia Icefield make Alberta an adventure-lovers playground at a very appealing price: One Canadian dollar is about U.S. 75 cents, so take 25 percent off the cost of everything.

Read more: 8 Great National Parks in Canada

If you love to hike, fly fish, or ski, and want to see mountain vistas and glacier-fed lakes that give our Rocky Mountains a run for their money (sorry, Colorado), then visit this stunning province that’s bisected by the Canadian Rockies. Home to the resort areas of Banff, Jasper, and Lake Louise, its easy access (fly into Calgary and rent a car), five national parks, 600 lakes, abundant wildlife, and massive Columbia Icefield make Alberta an adventure-lovers playground at a very appealing price: One Canadian dollar is about U.S. 75 cents, so take 25 percent off the cost of everything.

 

Switzerland
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Switzerland

If you like your vacations well planned, favor mountain and lake vistas, and you love train travel, consider Switzerland: a small and orderly country that’s big on scenery. Depending on where you visit, the locals will be speaking French, German, Italian, and Romansh. But most people who work in hospitality know English. So if you adore chocolate, cheese, and Charlie Chaplin (his former home and a terrific museum are in Vevey), surrender to Swiss efficiency – and discover some surprisingly good Swiss wine in the process.

Read more: Michelin Stars and Meditation in Switzerland

If you like your vacations well planned, favor mountain and lake vistas, and you love train travel, consider Switzerland: a small and orderly country that’s big on scenery. Depending on where you visit, the locals will be speaking French, German, Italian, and Romansh. But most people who work in hospitality know English. So if you adore chocolate, cheese, and Charlie Chaplin (his former home and a terrific museum are in Vevey), surrender to Swiss efficiency – and discover some surprisingly good Swiss wine in the process.

Italy
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Italy

First a confession: Italy is every bit as crazy as it is captivating. But amid the travel frustrations – train and bus strikes, long lines at museums, hotel rooms with ridiculously small bathrooms – are sights, sounds, and tastes that will stay with you for a lifetime. Here, you'll encounter once-in-a-lifetime experiences like the Colosseum in Rome or Michelangelo’s statue of David in Florence; the Puccini aria is sung by a gondolier as he navigates the Grand Canal in Venice; the best fried calamari ever on the Amalfi Coast, and the freshest cannoli imaginable in Sicily. So if you’re up for a challenge that delivers abundant rewards, choose Italy.

Read more: Where to Go in Italy
 

First a confession: Italy is every bit as crazy as it is captivating. But amid the travel frustrations – train and bus strikes, long lines at museums, hotel rooms with ridiculously small bathrooms – are sights, sounds, and tastes that will stay with you for a lifetime. Here, you'll encounter once-in-a-lifetime experiences like the Colosseum in Rome or Michelangelo’s statue of David in Florence; the Puccini aria is sung by a gondolier as he navigates the Grand Canal in Venice; the best fried calamari ever on the Amalfi Coast, and the freshest cannoli imaginable in Sicily. So if you’re up for a challenge that delivers abundant rewards, choose Italy.

 

New Zealand
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New Zealand

If “go big or go home” is your motto, discover why travelers have long sung the praises of this two-island, English-speaking nation that neighbors Australia in the South Pacific. Think of everything you love about California's gorgeous beaches and exceptional wines, Maine's quaint harbor towns and delicious seafood, and Montana's majestic mountain peaks and trout-filled lakes. Add in glaciers, fjords, massive bird colonies, millions of sheep, and the Maori people unique to Aotearoa (their name for New Zealand), and 13 hours on a plane will be well worth it.

Read more: High Style in Queenstown, New Zealand

If “go big or go home” is your motto, discover why travelers have long sung the praises of this two-island, English-speaking nation that neighbors Australia in the South Pacific. Think of everything you love about California's gorgeous beaches and exceptional wines, Maine's quaint harbor towns and delicious seafood, and Montana's majestic mountain peaks and trout-filled lakes. Add in glaciers, fjords, massive bird colonies, millions of sheep, and the Maori people unique to Aotearoa (their name for New Zealand), and 13 hours on a plane will be well worth it.

Hawaii
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Hawaii

Our 50th state is about as international as it gets within the U.S. – making it a great first long-distance destination for travel newbies. Not only is it in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but it’s also home to fascinating tropical flora, fiery volcanoes, and a melting pot of Polynesian, Asian, and even European cultures. And yes, there’s lots of relaxation, too. The main islands – Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island of Hawaii – are known for their golden-sand beaches and stunning sunsets. You can even visit all four in a single week aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America.

Read more: How to See Hawaii – and Save – With a Cruise
 

Our 50th state is about as international as it gets within the U.S. – making it a great first long-distance destination for travel newbies. Not only is it in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but it’s also home to fascinating tropical flora, fiery volcanoes, and a melting pot of Polynesian, Asian, and even European cultures. And yes, there’s lots of relaxation, too. The main islands – Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island of Hawaii – are known for their golden-sand beaches and stunning sunsets. You can even visit all four in a single week aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America.

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