3 places to add to your bucket list.

Summer vacation is coming up and I am ALL about the bucket list. Making a bucket list is like setting goals for traveling, and I think it's so fun to watch what you envision come true! 

This summer we are hitting some major bucket list items for Bryant & I including Israel, Italy, and the Spanish island of Menorca (where my ancestors are from).

Bryant and I are pretty much pros at visiting places that are off the radar. Sometimes we question how we ended up in such random countries but we are always stoked on the amazing memories we make. 

Here are three underrated places you can add to your bucket list - I guarantee you'll have a super unique experience and stray from the beaten path. 

If you're looking for exact suggestions on where to go + what to do in some of my favorite places, you can check out my super affordable travel guides here!

Let's get started!

Sabah, Malaysia (Borneo!)

A couple of weeks ago I met a woman who was 102 years old! Crazy right! Well of course when you meet someone that old you have to ask them all about life. Turns out she was a huge traveller (she said her favorite place she visited was Kenya) and had been all over the world. She said there was just one place she regretted never visiting: Borneo! I couldn't believe it. Borneo isn't exactly a household name. Most people are like, "where??" when we went there! 

Borneo is a large island sandwiched between the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. Borneo is occupied by three different countries: Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia. We only visited Sabah (the Malaysian part) but even the little bit we saw was out of this world. 

I grew up reading about coral reefs, orangutans, sun bears, proboscis monkeys, and rainforests. I also watched a documentary once on the Bajau (sea gypsies) people who can hold their breath for 13 minutes and live their whole lives on the water. Never in a million years did I think I would get to see any of this. 

Borneo is not the easiest country to travel through, mostly because the tourism is geared more towards other Asian tourists rather than westerners. Only in tourist heavy areas will you find English speakers. Most tourist areas only serve dishes for the Chinese pallet.. which let's just say if you don't like fish heads in your soup, you probably won't be into it! But if you can find actual Malaysian / local food then it's pretty dang good! I loved the grilled chicken and their special way of making fried rice. 

Despite the incredible amount of wildlife Borneo is home to, they have their share of environmental issues. It was pretty sad to see! We can blame their government for not doing enough but I believe we can all do our part to reduce climate change, limit single-use plastics (such as straws and grocery bags), and avoid products that use palm oil (sorry, no Nutella for me!) because our palm oil comes straight from the destruction of Orangutan habitat! While in Borneo, you'll witness the hard stuff first hand, but you'll also be able to see the most incredible wildlife up close - before it disappears forever.

So if you're a travel lover, Borneo should be on your list! Pristine beaches, island hopping, sea gypsies, Orangutans, days on the boat, coral reefs, rainforests, and an amazing culture. I'd go back in a heart beat.

Where to go: Semporna (go boat hopping to Mataking, Bodgaya, and Pom Pom) for all your diving + ocean needs. Head to Sepilok for the orangutans. We got around hiring taxis from the airport and flying between the major towns. Hotels cost about $50-$100 per night, but food is cheap. We spent a week in Borneo which was perfect!

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Jordan

If you've followed me long enough, you'd know that Jordan is my favorite place I've been so far! The culture, the food, the desert, the Red Sea, Petra.. ahh it's all such a dream. The people are some of the kindest I've ever met. 

Jordan is getting higher on the bucket list for some people thanks to social media but I'd still consider it somewhere most Americans wouldn't consider traveling. Thanks to the news, the middle east can seem like a scary place. I won't downplay the seriousness of war and heartbreak that has been happening over there, but while I was in Jordan I didn't ever feel unsafe! In fact, I felt extra safe because the region is highly prepared and takes a lot of precautions.

The landscape in Jordan is simply unreal. The people are kind and fascinating. The food is to die for if you're a fan of Mediterranean / Arabic food like I am! Think: breads, grilled meat, lots of fresh veggies and fruits, and all the hummus. 

Where to go: I recommend the Dead Sea, Petra, Wadi Rum, and Aqaba. You can easily rent a car or hire a driver. Jordan isn't expensive but not cheap either. Almost everyone speaks English in tourism areas.  Avoid the summer when it gets super hot!

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THE ISLAND OF LANA'I

Okay, so Hawaii isn't exactly an under-the-radar spot.. almost everyone has heard of Maui and Kauai! But not many people have ventured to the island of Lana'i. Each island of Hawaii has a different vibe, and Lana'i is super unique and beautiful. 

You can go from a tropical beach to a rocky landscape that looks straight out of Southern Utah within an hour! You can ride horses and hike through pine trees and really get a taste of true Hawaiian culture since Lana'i is mostly undeveloped and the population is made up of local families. 

Where to go: ride the ferry over from Maui, walk to Pu'u Pehe (Sweetheart Rock) and learn the legend of the area, swim in some tide pools, enjoy untouched coastline, go horseback riding, explore Keahiakawelo (aka garden of the gods), learn about Hawaiian culture, and feel like you have the whole place to yourself. Definitely rent a jeep if you can!

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I hope I've planted some fun new ideas in your head for future travel! Just writing this is giving me a case of wanderlust. Which one of these places would you want to go first?! What's an underrated place you've been / or are dying to go?! Give me some of your favorite ideas!!

P.S. if you love travel, I did a lil Q+A a while back that might be helpful!

xoxo Heather