Every so often, one or both of us is asked to dish out stellar vacation location ideas. This can be a bit tough, because often I don’t really have a clue what type of traveler someone is.

For example, Jer is a big city guy. He loves the feel of a bustling downtown, and he’s partial to Asian super cities with a lot of in your face culture shock. I love those places too, but I’d never pass up doing absolutely nothing in close proximity to an infinity pool. We also prefer to stay in apartments instead of hotels, but that’s mainly so we have a kitchen to store snacks.

(green) tea time in Tokyo
(green) tea time in Tokyo

No two people have the exact same style, but that doesn’t mean I can’t point you in the right direction:

 1. Iceland

If Iceland ever needed a PR girl, they’d be smart to give me the job. I adore this country. Despite some misconceptions, Iceland is really not that…icy. Sure the winter months bring a sharp decrease in sunlight hours and some windy snow days, but you’ll often find lower temperatures in New York City or Denver, and this is your chance to see the stunning Northern Lights. During the summer, you can expect long days full of sunshine and plenty of adventurous Icelanders more than willing to take you out for a bike ride over a glacier or a horse back riding excursion (Iceland has its own breed of horse, trust me when I say they are mega cute.)

Christmas Day sunrise at the Blue Lagoon in Grindavik, Iceland
Christmas Day sunrise at the Blue Lagoon in Grindavik, Iceland

2. Marrakesh, Morocco

Take a deep breath. Do you smell those spices? They fill up your nose and launch an assault on your senses. Round the corner and you’ll catch a glimpse of a mysterious man floating in and out of a shop selling slippers in the entire spectrum of colors. Shop for thin gold rings to layer along side perfectly breathable linen shirts and the most sumptuous wedding blankets in an almost impossible combination of textures. After surviving the souks of Marrakesh, slip quietly into one of the city’s numerous hammams for a traditional relaxation experience like no other. Personally, I’d like to get straight off the plane and into the airy spa at the Royal Masour Hotel as quickly as possible.

3. Queensland, Australia

Australia really surprised me. I knew I wanted to go, but the amount I loved this place? Totally unexpected. But no where else have I met people as kind and genuine as in Oz. The country is MASSIVE, which I thought was hard to tell from a world map, just because there’s nothing next to it to compare to. I had this great idea we were going to drive from Sydney up to Queensland, and it would take…oh, 4 or 5 hours. I mapped it out and it would have taken us TWENTY THREE HOURS. No, thanks. Anyway, if you dig amazing people, freaking fantastic beaches, scenery to die for, and rowdy kangaroos that love to chill on golf courses, Queensland (the northeastern-most Aussie state) is the place to be. Don’t forget: their seasons are reversed, so if you want sun and surf, go during our winter – although honestly, it wasn’t that cold in June, and with a wetsuit, you could surf anytime! I’m thinking of going back for a month or so at Christmas next year to really explore – Ayers Rock, anyone?

Trinity Beach, Far North Queensland, Australia
Trinity Beach, Far North Queensland, Australia

4. Montreal, Canada

Want to see Notre Dame without flying over the Atlantic? Head north to Montreal, the most charming of Canada’s big cities. Quaint restaurants line cobblestone streets and fantastic European architecture, with Notre Dame Basilica serving as a stunning example. Canadians are notoriously nice and laid back, they really appreciate the beauty of their city and aren’t afraid to talk your ear off about it if you ask. You’ll feel so far away without battling jet lag, which is always a win in my book.

5. Budapest, Hungary

If you’re looking for a traditional Eastern European flair on a budget, Budapest is your place. And since Hungary doesn’t use the Euro, it’s far less expensive than its Western European counterparts. The city is divided into two distinct areas on each side of the Danube River, Buda and Pest (pronounced “pesch”), and each side is worth exploring. Take in the sights and smells and make sure to eat your fair share of stuffed cabbage, the Hungarian’s version of comfort food.

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