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  • Andrew Zimmern
  • "What are the best travel destinations for international travel rookies?"

Andrew Zimmern

Minneapolis, Minnesota

What are the best travel destinations for international travel rookies?

For travelers who haven't been outside the U.S., where would you recommend they visit for their first international trip? Why?

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  • Andy H.

    Andy H.

    Hey Andrew. Just listened to your interview on Tim Ferris' podcast. Amazing story! · (0 likelikes)

 

					
					
					
				

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  • Andy Huang

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    top answer by

    The biggest difficulty for rookie travelers is probably the language barrier. Rookie travelers should expect to make mistakes, and the easier it is to recover from those mistakes, the better. So I think rookie travelers should look to go to places where they will have little to no trouble communicating with the locals, where they understand the customs, and where they won't have to spend a lot of money.

    That essentially rules out most of central and South America, Africa, most of Asia, and a large portion of Europe.

    One destination that I think is great for rookie U.S. travelers is the Philippines. Little do people know but the Philippines was a U.S. colony during WWII and because of that most Filipinos grew up learning and speaking English. That means most places you'll visit you will have no trouble communicating with the locals.

    Another great thing about the Philippines is that living costs are extremely cheap. You can get a 1 bedroom suite in the middle of downtown Manila for less than $50/day. You can eat an amazing meal at a high end restaurant for less than $10. You can go out and party your head off for less than $20. You can travel like a king and still save money.

    Of course I also have to talk about how awesome the Filipino people are. They are super friendly and very welcoming. You can go pretty much anywhere and quickly make friends with the locals. Filipinos welcome foreigners and are genuinely curious about life abroad. They are also extremely generous and will make you feel like an honored guest.

    Lastly I'll mention the incredible beauty you'll find in the Philippines. The country has some of the most amazing beaches in Boracay Island

    Boracay Islandimage from outravel.blogspot.comsome of the best diving in Palawan

    Palawanreally awesome volcanoes in Mayon Volcano, and amazing rice terraces in Banaue. Banaueimage from bestourism.comAnd all of these destinations are within a couple of hours from Manila.

    It's still pretty surprising to me how few people talk about visiting the Philippines when they mention traveling through SEA. Honestly I think they are all missing out on one of the best kept secrets in that area of the world.

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    • Juli L.

      Juli L.

      Wow, great suggestions. I too had never thought about that as a destination but I will now! · (1 likelikes)

    • Andy H.

      Andy H.

      The Philippines doesn't do a very good job of advertising tourism, which is both a good and a bad thing. Good for travelers, but bad for the economy. · (0 likelikes)

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  • Kenneth M.

    answered first by

    Montreal
    MontrealQuebec CityAndrew, me again... I live in Europe and have for 6 yrs now. I'd recommend Montreal... European flair with American amenities and half the cost with no jet lag. Fly into MTL, spend a few days there's so much culinary going on from famous restos to little known restos that are just as good. Drive into the Laurentians and spend a day or two in Mont Tremblant. A lovely ski village that reminds me of a chalet in the Alps... After that maybe a day again in MTL and a few days in Quebec City... Quebec is very old world at least to me. The town is charming and a day touring the Ile d'Orleans with many inns and vineyards (here's a link of where we stayed http://www.aubergechaumonot.com/). Finally maybe a day up in Charlevoix Regional County Municipality a place where Presidents used to vacation... A nice Euro starter kit and of course if you fall in love with it, like I think you will, a tour of Europe next summer!

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    • Kenneth M.

      Kenneth M.

      @stephane B. Merci! · (0 likelikes)

    • Juli L.

      Juli L.

      totally agree with this, although I think that Quebec City is more like Europe than Montreal is. . . overall. . but still a great answer! · (0 likelikes)

    • Kenneth M.

      Kenneth M.

      @Juli L. I would have to agree with you... QC reminds me more of Europe Maybe Nancy, France or Lux City... Small and Quaint... What would you think MTL is? I always thought more like Paris... Personally I prefer Quebec to France... · (0 likelikes)

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  • Emily Della Fera

    answered by

    I think Ireland is a great first trip for people! No language barrier if you are from the U.S. and the people are super friendly. I got off the bus in Dublin and was looking for the hostel I was staying at, and someone came up to me and said that I looked lost and asked if he could help. I told him where I was going and he walked me there! I traveled all through the country and everyone I met was the same! Very willing to help you out, find a place, or treat you to a pint!

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    • Jaleh N.

      Jaleh N.

      Lookie who took my advice and joined! · (1 likelikes)

    • Jaleh N.

      Jaleh N.

      PS: Didn't realize you traveled through Dublin all by yourself! I must have imagined being there. Haha. · (1 likelikes)

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  • Mark Reynolds

    answered by

    The Bahamas. I am may be a little biased as a citizen and resident, but the Bahamas is an ideal destination for first time travelers outside of the U.S. Only 179 miles from Florida, it is about a 45 minute flight from Miami, or for those nervous of air travel, a short crossing by boat. To sweeten the deal for first time travelers, there's also no visa requirements for visitors to the country.

    While the capital Nassau has it's examples of colonial architecture and fine dining in the form of Café Matisse, Mahogany House and Graycliff, it's essentially an overpopulated city and a 'Tourist Trap' with few redeeming qualities.

    My suggestion is to hop an inter island flight or ferry (there are over 700 islands in the Bahamas) to Eleuthera, Long Island or the Exuma. Within an hour you can then step back in time and visit small friendly communities and idyllic empty beaches, explore caves, snorkel reefs and feast on the bountiful local seafood simply prepared including spiny lobster, grouper, snapper and stone crab.

    If none of this is enough to entice you, there's always a hammock in the palm trees and cool ocean breezes.

    Hope you make it down here soon, Andrew!

    P.S. I don't know if you've tried sheep tongue or pig's feet souse but we've got some bizarre foods too!

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    • Debbie L.

      Debbie L.

      Really great answer, Mark! I need to make it there someday. If sheep tongue is half as good as cow tongue, I want to try it! By the way, I'm a community manager here and I've helped you highlight the places in your answer on a map! In the future, you can do this yourself as you answer a question by simply typing the @-symbol followed by the name of the place. Take a look at your map next to your answer :) · (1 likelikes)

    • Mark R.

      Mark R.

      Thanks, Debbie L. Appreciate the compliment and the tips! It's a great site, I'm looking forward to contributing. Make sure you get down here. We've got swimming pigs too! http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/4380199 · (1 likelikes)

    • Debbie L.

      Debbie L.

      Great to hear! And omg, swimming pigs!!! :D · (0 likelikes)

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  • Melissa Embrador

    answered by

    Aside from the obvious choice that I'd pick my own country of course, I'd probably suggest Singapore since you wouldn't worry about language barriers since they speak pretty decent English despite having slight regional modifications to it. Their airport is definitely world-class, the public transportation is pretty easy to understand and get the hang of, and there are so many things to see from Sentosa Island to Marina Bay Sands. Shopping is a must, whether in the dozens of shopping malls along Orchard Rd, the cheap night market in Bugis Junction or the humongous shopping complex that is Mustafa Shopping Centre. Though some hotels are really pricey, you'd be surprised to find there are accommodation options for every budget if you research well enough. Nightlife is good too, despite beer and cocktail prices being slightly steep than most in the SEA region, but Geylang and Clarke Quayhave some nice happy hours that are worth checking out. And one of the things I highly consider when travelling is the food culture of the place, and Singapore has an amazingly vibrant one. I love the hawkers especially the one in Tiong Bahru and the night food market in Chinatown, and Makansutra Gluttons Bay is a must-visit. Even Changi Airport Singapore has great food options in Changi Village Food Centre.

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    • Janelle K.

      Janelle K.

      Singapore is the best foodie destination on the planet, bar none! I think Makansutra Gluttons Bay is a bit overpriced and touristy though. Golden Mile is my favourite hawker centre. · (0 likelikes)

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  • Staci Nicole

    answered by

    Hi Andrew!! My vote goes to Italy because that was my first international trip and I didn't have any issues. Language isn't a major barrier. The only places I had a small issue was in Sicily and small towns/islands in southern Italy.

    Also, if you're a picky eater you can find a lot of familiar foods to eat in this country. The locals are also kind. Traveling from place to place is simple with the rail system. Basically, I fell in love with the place and had the time of my life.

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  • Jason Haas

    answered by

    England, Scotland, and Ireland are great places to start. There are enough similarities to the US that you won't be blown away but enough differences to make you appreciate other cultures. Also, if you are into history, castles, or just beautiful scenery you are in for a treat. Europe in general is great because you can see such a variety of cultures and landscapes in a small geographical area.

    From the UK I would probably go to Western Europe. France, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Italy etc. Most Europeans speak English as well as their native language so the language barrier really isn't a big deal. As far as European cities go, these ones are a must: London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Rome. Each city has its own appeal, you'll have to decide what you like best. Once you hit the major areas then I would explore from there.

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  • Ross Sparks

    answered by

    Asia. Singapore

    americas. Costa Rica

    Europe. Spain

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  • Carlyle Smith

    answered by

    I have a few countries to recommend - Canada, Mexico, England, Holland and Denmark are pretty easy to adjust and all primarily speak English with exception of Mexico.

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  • Ashley and Ryan R

    answered by

    London because there isn't a language barrier, food is pretty similar and it's relatively easy to get around. Berlin is also great, everyone speaks English, lots of food options, easy to navigate.

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    • Brandon B.

      Brandon B.

      totally agree. You feel like you are out of the US but a lot to see right in London and surrounding areas. No language issues. · (0 likelikes)

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  • Nathaniel Boyle

    answered by

    New Zealand. Hands down.

    Nearly the entire country is setup for new travelers of every kind to plugin to the backpacking or independent travel networks, and see everything it has to offer. It's a remote destination that offers everything from beaches to mountains (okay, no deserts), from culture to solitude. People are distinctly different (even to Aussies), yet friendly and English-speaking. Plus it's arguably the most beautiful country in the world.

    And most importantly, you can learn to do any sort of travel or adventure or exploration from here, in preparation for the harder places, with less infrastructure.

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  • Cherie Y

    answered by

    I'm going to have to say the Kansai area of Japan, most notably Kyoto, Kobe, and Osaka.

    While there is the element of the language barrier, it's also part of the adventure. Generally, people are very friendly and it's possible to get around knowing minimal Japanese (i.e. Train stations usually have the English word along with the Japanese characters)

    Hint: Look for students if you have a question – they're more likely to feel confident speaking English.

    Besides the natural beauty, historical sites, and amazing places to eat, I think the biggest advantage of this being a first international trip for rookies is safety. Japan is notoriously safe – travelers would not have to worry about being pick-pocketed or scammed. The second biggest advantage would have to be transit – it's clean and efficient and will take you to most places you want to go. You can also purchase a Japan Rail Pass in your own country.

    <3 Nihon!!


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  • Alisa Roup Kennedy

    answered by

    IrelandI agree with Emily Della Fera - Irelandis fantastic, for rookies and experienced travellers! I have travelled quite a bit over the past 3 years and am now living in Dublin. No one beats the Irish for their friendliness and willingness to help a stranger. I don't even think the word 'stranger' exists over here - in my observations, the Irish treat each other with such a warm, easy-going attitude - I've never seen anything like it. Plus, there isn't much of a language barrier - notice I said 'much' since some of those accents can be quite thick! :) And for photography, the Irish countryside is hard to beat. My biggest word of advice would be to get out of the big city of Dublin and go explore the small towns!

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  • claus andersen

    answered by

    I would recommend Laos

    Super interesting and very exotic country that is cheap and safe to travel and it's not as over crowded with western tourists as Thailand is.

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  • Jenna Davis

    answered by

    This is going to be the first and likely last time I say this but I always think it helps to follow the 'tourist trail' when you're a new traveller, especially if you're a new SOLO traveller .. let me add female to that as well!

    When I'm travelling solo, I often wish I could take the 'off the beaten path' route but at the same time it's important to stay safe.

    This is when I would recommend tour groups - I haven't taken one but I know my sister loved G Adventures and Contiki Tours.

    I travelled solo to India and ended up working for an Internship company called Leave Ur Mark. This is where I met other travellers in the area and ended up making long lasting friends who could then explore the 'off the beaten track' destinations with me! :D

    AustraliaCountries I'd suggest?
    - Thailand
    - Germany
    - Caribbean
    - Australia

    Hope this helps! :D

    Jenna
    http://www.giveforgranted.com

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  • Jaleh Najafali

    answered by

    I am not sure when one is no longer considered a rookie since I still feel like one when I visit a new country, but for people who are really green, there are three places I would suggest. Prague, Lisbon, and Dublin are all very different areas, but offer similar benefits for new travelers. The food is fantastic, the people are incredibly friendly, they're three of the cities I've felt safest in, and (as much as my Spanish-major-self may hate this) it's easy to get by in English.Also, they're easy cities to navigate with activities like Prague Castle or Guinness Factory Tourto appeal to a wide range of interests. While I think travel should really be about pushing boundaries, these cities are all amazing while also easing a newcomer into international travel.

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  • Adrian Amy

    answered by

    I'm a travel rookie, and I'm also from the States. I think it would really depend on where you are originally from, and what kind of traveler you think you'll be. For example, if you're a budget traveler from the States, checkout Central America. If you're from Australia, save lots of money first and then go everywhere you can because flights are so expensive to and from Aus/NewZeal. If you have a more specific idea let me know and I'll try to help more!

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  • Z Holly

    answered by

    In Asia, I agree Singapore is definitely a nice toe-dip for "beginners" - safe, clean, diverse, and friendly, with minimal language barriers.

    But even I - admittedly a bit jaded and preferring more exotic destinations - still love to return often for the food. The locals have a long proud history as *serious* foodies (and the hygiene is super clean), so treat every meal as an opportunity not to be missed. The vast choices are inspired by cuisines from around the eastern hemisphere. In my personal opinion, it's the best place to eat in the world!

    Enjoy!

    And take stretchy pants :)

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  • Paula Leifer

    answered by

    Really, most Europeans nowadays speak English and do not hesitate, the one possible exception being France so I don't think language should be a huge barrier.

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  • Peter Dorfman

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    ParisI scanned the answers here and I can't believe no one has mentioned Paris. In my mind, every stream of history, culture, politics and business converge in Paris. You're asking where I'd advise a "travel rookie" to go. I tried to make a distinction in my mind between rookies who are looking forward to a long lifetime of foreign travel and those who might never go overseas again. It makes no difference. The one most essential destination in the world, regardless, is Paris.

    (Runner up: Rome, but it comes in second because for a first-time foreign traveler, Rome can be a much more stressful place to get around.)

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