Of all the challenges Adam and I encounter when we travel, the hardest one to overcome is time. Because we both work full time and therefore have limitations on vacation time and availability, there have been plenty of occasions where we left a place we loved not because we were ready but because we needed to head home. Those are the places we think of with a different kind of longing. We wonder what opportunities we missed, what meals we skipped, and what people we didn’t get to meet.
As it turns out, we’re not alone! In fact, this post connects you to fellow travelers and travel bloggers who reminisce about places from Athens to Kampot and plenty more in between. Plus, find out which country is so incredible that two sets of travel bloggers want to return! Our contributors include part-time, long-term, and full time travelers with one thing in common: they all wish they had a little more time to explore a favorite place. We’re looking at the Road (not quite) Unraveled: the places, cities, and countries we loved and can’t wait to revisit!
► Gina and Zeke from Jet Set and ForgetHands down the country we would love to revisit is Portugal. We spent 10 days there, and it was nearly not enough. From the bustling capital of Lisbon, the romantic city of Sintra, and the beaches of the Algarve region, Portugal leaves you wanting more.
The people are incredibly friendly and helpful; we never felt like outsiders. Our hosts at the Traveller’s House in Lisbon served us grilled meats and Portuguese sangria the night we arrived, and within minutes we felt like Lisbon was a home away from home.
Located 45 minutes north of Lisbon, the beautiful city of Sintra is not to be missed. Within the city limits, there are multiple castles, forests to get lost in, and beaches to relax on. We only gave ourselves seven hours to explore, but we should have stayed overnight to fully enjoy all that Sintra offers.
If you have a sweet tooth, get ready to be blown away by the number of pastries they sell on every corner. Each pastry has the same four simple ingredients as the base (flour, egg yolks, milk and sugar), yet the Portuguese have managed to find a way to create hundreds of masterpieces to appease your taste buds.
And don’t get us started on the Algarve region. You can party with the Brits on holiday in Albufeira, take a boat cave ride through the Benagil caves, or relax on the beaches and watch the clear blue water crash against the rock formations along the coastline.
Don’t be like us and miss out on visiting Porto. We heard this city is amazing and the reason why we also would love to go back. If you are heading to Portugal soon, make sure you hit all the top spots we mentioned; you will not be disappointed!
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► Miranda from Miranda KnudtsonFive days spent in Iceland, back in January 2014, was truly a whirlwind of a trip! This country holds a special place in my heart since it’s the first country I visited overseas. Iceland’s gorgeous landscapes in nature are how I fell head over heels IN LOVE with this country. I visited the black sand beaches, Gullfoss waterfall (plus other waterfalls), the Blue Lagoon, as well as hiked a glacier and saw the northern lights. I met a few locals that were incredibly nice and even eager to talk to us about their lives and their culture. I spent most of the five days seeing the vast landscapes and very minimal time in the city of Reykjavik itself.
With more time (preferably in weeks!), I’d love to get a better feel of the local life and culture, spend more time exploring Reykjavik, and possibly discover some “hidden gems.” Most of my visit was spent outdoors, and since we ate mostly at the hotel or a few outside restaurants, I barely got to try some of their more authentic foods. (Granted at 19… I probably would not have tried most of it. I’m grown up now, though, I swear!) I believe one of the best ways to experience another’s culture is by trying traditional and popular foods… though I’ll have to pass on their fermented shark! (I will still gladly eat my weight in more Icelandic cod, though.)
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► Jasmine from A Great Big Hunk of WorldOf all the advice I received before my trip to Ireland, the most common was, “You don’t need more than a weekend in Dublin.” I rarely pay much mind to friends’ opinions in regard to travel-related time constraints, but I took note and planned for just three days in Dublin. Coming from a family with some Irish ancestry, we made sure to visit all of the attractions that made us feel connected to our roots: the Famine Memorial, the Jeanie Johnston, and EPIC Ireland: the Immigration Museum, a museum which I encourage everyone to visit. We strolled St. Stephen’s Green and spent a couple of hours touring the National Museum of Ireland, which easily deserved more time, and, of course, we made sure to drop by Trinity College to gawk at the campus and grab a peek of the Book of Kells. On our final day, we dropped by the Jameson Distillery for a tour and a tasting, because what’s a trip to Ireland without a little whiskey?
But while our three days were packed full of activity, we spent the last day noting all that we had missed and began developing a “why we need to get back to Dublin” list. In all of our running around, we had forgotten to purchase tickets for Kilmanghaim Gaol, which originally had been a high priority for us. We had skipped out on the Guinness Storehouse, which is a shame considering Guinness is one of three beers I actually enjoy. And we had absolutely no space in the schedule for Phoenix Park, the National Botanic Gardens, or to venture out of the city center to explore Howth. My recommendation is to do a bit of research before hitting the most famous city in Ireland because it is so much more than a base for tours, Temple Bar, and an airport.
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► Megan from Megan StarrIf I could go back to any place in the world to explore it deeper, I’d undoubtedly choose Athens, Greece. I kind of avoided Athens for years as I fear touristy places (I am claustrophobic and get anxiety around a lot of people). And because I studied Latin (not voluntarily, I might add), I was always more interested in the history of Italy than Greece. I had an unavoidable layover in Athens going from Sofia to Copenhagen earlier this year, and the layover was twenty-four hours long. I decided to leave the airport and explore the city that so many people rave about. I was blown away. How on Earth did I spend so much time avoiding it!? It had everything I had hoped for- good coffee, awesome beer, the most amazing food, street art, personality, and most importantly- friendly people.
I spent my morning wandering around the touristy bits yet finding quiet corners more often than I had expected. I had a tasty coffee and lunch, and then I headed to the neighborhood of Exarchia, known for its street art, creatives, and urban resistance. The neighborhood offered such a different and tangible perspective to the city of Athens, which I usually had only associated with ancient history (and delicious food). I have so many plans to get back to Athens now, and I will definitely stay quite a few days and explore the city thoroughly.
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► Vicki from Vicki ViajaKampot is a cute little town in the South of Cambodia that unfortunately gets forgotten by many tourists. Many expats and locals live here, which provides an overall big community vibe. The city is great for having walks along the riverside and relaxing. At nighttime you can find great places to eat, have a beer, or enjoy a cocktail without paying the abusive tourist prices charged in Phnom Penh. Nearby you can find the amazing Bokor National Park, which is full of gorgeous sights such as waterfalls, temples, and magnificent nature. On top of the Bokor Hill there is an abandoned Casino which used to be part of a french resort. Now the only remains are this casino and a church. At nighttime you can join a little cruise along the river and see the beautiful nature surrounding Kampot from the boat.
Before we came to Kampot we didn’t even know that there was so much to do. We actually thought of it as a sleepy town with not much going on, so we only scheduled one night on our way from the capital Phnom Penh to the beaches of Sihanoukville. In the end, we extended our stay to four nights as we loved this place so much.
After leaving we even regretted a little bit not having stayed longer. I would love to see the pepper plantations if I could have stayed longer. It was just the perfect place to relax, where even doing nothing doesn’t get boring.
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► Janis and Gary from Our World for YouIn 2017, we finally made it to Portugal, Lisbon to be exact. Gary and I are not really too sure why it took us so long to visit Portugal, when we had visited so many other European countries.
So, our Spring break was to the historical city of Seven Hills, Lisbon. I think seven was an understatement.
Lisbon is a great size city to discover for a mini break; it has so much to offer not just historically but culturally as well. Taking time to stroll around the praças, relaxing at an elegant café, and a highlight for us was seeking out a Fado bar in Bairro Alto and listening to the melancholic ballads into the early hours of the morning.
Although, a trip to Lisbon wouldn’t be complete without jumping onto one of the iconic trams that weave around the tiny lanes of Alfama. Take no. 28 to the top and stroll back down visiting the sites along the way, it’s much easier on the legs this way.
Now, it is only natural that you would be tempted by Lisbon’s little tarts, Pastel de Nata, as they are extremely moreish. Our favourites were at Pasteis de Belém. A treat after visiting Torre de Belém, Monument of the Discoveries and the beautiful Jerónimos Monastery.
We ventured a little further afield from Lisbon to Sintra, and since our return we have inquisitively been exploring even further. Portugal has really whetted our appetites to discover more.
Oh yes, we can hear another road trip calling, so in 2018 we are heading back to Portugal, but this time on four wheels.
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► Welile from WelileI stumbled into Guatemala, after almost three months in Mexico City, for what became one of the best and worst three weeks of my travels. The Guatemala I had imagined turned out a lot different in reality. Antigua was stunning, but Lake Atitlan is where I dreamt of being. The problem was I had no more money remaining, which meant I couldn’t go on trips. Don’t get me wrong, I very much so enjoyed my time in Antigua, attending “pool parties,” bartending, and going out, but I would have loved the chance to see the rest of the country, especially the lake. In every country that I have been to I’ve worked in exchange for a bed, which is how I ended up in Antigua even though Lake Atitlan was my first option. I did, however, get a chance to visit the lake once on a day tour, and it was as beautiful as I had imagined it. Lake Atitlan is not only cheaper than Antigua, but it has so much history, culture, and great food. After all, I had been in a large city for over two months and was ready for a little quiet time. Aside from the beauty of the lake, it is surrounded by three volcanoes. If I ever get a chance to visit Guatemala again, I would visit Lake Atitlan as well as Semuc Champey. I would love to spend at least two months getting to know more about Mayan culture and eat traditional Guatemalan food.
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► Stephanie and Adam from Road UnraveledIn 2014 we set out on a 10-day journey that took us to Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest. Our final stop was Budapest, and it took us mere moments to realize how much we loved it. Budapest packs more than 1,000 years of history within its borders, and we saw buildings that ranged from medieval to modern during our whirlwind trek through the city. On our first evening we walked over to St. Stephen’s Basillica (home of the Holy Right Hand of St. Stephen—on display in mummified form!) before sitting down to the best chicken paprekesh we have ever eaten. On our second day we took a free walking tour of the city that showed us both the Buda and Pest sides of the city, where we learned about not just what we saw but what we wouldn’t have time to see. Our final stop was Castle Hill, where we saw as much of Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church as we could before it was time to head back across the river.
What would we do with more time? The short answer is everything. We would revisit the places we saw and give them the focus they deserve. We would check out the gorgeous parliament building and Margaret Island. We would take a food tour to learn more about the cuisine, and we would take a wine tour to explore the countryside. Most of all, we would relax. One of the challenges of trying to squeeze as much time as possible from a few short days is that you are always checking your watch, estimating how much time you will need before you have to move along. Budapest is a gorgeous city where we easily could have easily spent our entire ten-day vacation. During our next visit we won’t skimp on our time there.
When it comes to using your vacation time, you know right away there will be places you won’t have time to see and activities you won’t have time to enjoy. You’re not alone! In fact, the things you don’t get to do might be just the things that inspire your next great trip.
Is there a city, state, or country you can’t wait to revisit? Let us know— we can’t wait to hear about it!