This week, a big topic of discussion was the frustration many travelers face when popular destinations are sold out or have limited availability. So, what do you do if the place you’ve been dreaming of is either unattainable or maybe sounds a little overrated? Well, that’s where a travel advisor comes in to save the day! They are the experts who know clients can often get the same, if not better, experiences at alternative destinations.

 So, we decided to ask our network of luxury travel advisors this pressing question:

What are some of your biggest "instead of X, think about traveling to Y instead" places? What do the two destinations have in common, and what unique experiences might the alternative destination offer that the more popular one doesn't?

Here is what they said:

1. Instead of Japan, think about traveling to South Korea

Both Japan and South Korea boast rich cultural heritages, modern cities, delicious cuisines, efficient public transportation, and stunning natural beauty. In both destinations, travelers can explore ancient temples, palaces, and cultural festivals while indulging in world-renowned culinary delights and navigating seamlessly through bustling urban landscapes.

Additionally, South Korea offers some unique experiences including:

  • K-Pop and Entertainment: Dive into the global K-Pop phenomenon, exploring vibrant music scenes, visiting entertainment companies, and attending live performances and fan events.
  • Historical Villages: Wander through traditional Hanok villages like Bukchon Hanok Village or the historical city of Gyeongju, known as "the museum without walls."
  • Unique Spa Culture: Relax in Korea's distinctive spa culture at a jjimjilbang, indulging in saunas, hot baths, and various wellness treatments.
  • Vibrant Street Food Scene: Delight in South Korea's bustling street food markets, savoring delicacies like tteokbokki, hotteok, and a variety of skewers.

2. Instead of Italy, think about traveling to Croatia or Slovenia

Both Slovenia or Croatia offer comparable experiences that capture the essence of Mediterranean allure. These countries share stunning coastlines along the Adriatic Sea, boasting picturesque beaches and crystalline waters that rival Italy's famed Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre. Their historical cities, reminiscent of Rome, Venice, and Florence, feature well-preserved architecture, ancient ruins, and vibrant cultural scenes waiting to be explored.

Additionally, Slovenia and Croatia offer some unique experiences including:

  • Slovenia's Tranquil Gems: Escape the crowds and discover Slovenia's serene treasures like Lake Bled, Ljubljana, and Triglav National Park, offering tranquility amidst breathtaking natural beauty.
  • Croatia's Coastal Paradise: Explore Croatia's stunning coastline with island hopping adventures, discovering hidden coves and pristine beaches along the Dalmatian coast, reminiscent of a Mediterranean paradise.
  • Slovenia's Wine Routes: Embark on a journey along Slovenia's wine routes in regions like Maribor and Vipava Valley, indulging in exceptional wine-tasting experiences amidst picturesque vineyards and medieval towns.
  • Croatia's Coastal Wonders: Discover Croatia's coastal wonders like the Plitvice Lakes National Park and Dubrovnik's UNESCO-listed old town, offering breathtaking natural scenery and cultural treasures waiting to be explored.

3. Instead of Dominica, consider traveling to Costa Rica

Renowned for their lush rainforests, both countries offer breathtaking scenery and abundant wildlife encounters. With volcanic terrain featuring rugged mountains, hot springs, and geothermal activity, visitors can explore unique natural wonders in both Dominica and Costa Rica. Thrill-seekers will find plenty of adrenaline-pumping adventures, from hiking and zip-lining to white-water rafting, allowing them to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature.

Additionally Costa Rica offers some unique experiences including:

  • National Parks and Reserves: With over 25% of its land protected, Costa Rica has numerous national parks and reserves, such as Manuel Antonio, Corcovado, and Tortuguero, each offering unique wildlife and experiences.
  • Wildlife Viewing: Costa Rica is a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts. From the howler monkeys in the trees to the colorful toucans and sloths, the biodiversity is remarkable.
  • Surfing and Beaches: Costa Rica’s Pacific and Caribbean coasts provide world-class surfing spots and stunning beaches like Tamarindo, Santa Teresa, and Puerto Viejo, offering more extensive beach options than Dominica.

4. Instead of Vietnam, consider traveling to Laos

In both Vietnam and Laos, travelers can immerse themselves in a world of rich cultural heritage, stunning landscapes, delightful cuisine, and warm hospitality. Deep-rooted traditions are evident in the numerous temples, historic sites, and vibrant festivals that grace both nations. Scenic wonders abound, from lush jungles and serene rivers to breathtaking mountainous regions, inviting exploration and awe.\

Additionally Laos offers some unique experiences including:

  • Less Crowded: Laos offers a serene and unspoiled travel experience compared to Vietnam, with fewer crowds allowing for a deeper appreciation of the country's natural beauty and cultural sites.
  • Luang Prabang: This UNESCO World Heritage city boasts well-preserved architecture, stunning temples, and a tranquil atmosphere, offering unique cultural experiences such as the daily alms-giving ceremony to Buddhist monks.
  • Vang Vieng: Known for its dramatic karst landscapes, Vang Vieng offers thrilling outdoor adventures like tubing, kayaking, rock climbing, and cave exploration amidst breathtaking scenery.
  • The 4,000 Islands (Si Phan Don): Nestled in the Mekong River, this picturesque area invites relaxation and exploration of its idyllic islands, offering opportunities for dolphin watching, cycling, and boat trips.
  • Plain of Jars: This mysterious archaeological site features thousands of large stone jars scattered across the Xieng Khouang plateau, providing a unique and intriguing historical experience.
  • Traditional Handicrafts: Explore local markets and villages to witness traditional handicrafts such as weaving, pottery, and basketry, with places like the Ock Pop Tok Living Crafts Centre in Luang Prabang offering insights into traditional textile production.

5. Instead of Cancun, consider traveling to Sardinia

If you're considering a beach getaway but seeking an alternative to the bustling shores of Cancun, look no further than the serene island of Sardinia. Much like its Mexican counterpart, Sardinia boasts an array of attractions and experiences that make it a wonderful destination for sun-seekers and adventurers alike. Both destinations offer stunning beaches with powdery white sands and crystal-clear turquoise waters, perfect for soaking up the sun and enjoying water activities.

While Sardinia shares similarities with Cancun, it also offers distinct features and experiences that make it an exceptional alternative destination including:

  • Atmosphere and Crowd Levels: Sardinia offers a tranquil atmosphere with fewer crowds compared to the bustling tourist hub of Cancun.
  • Natural Landscapes: Sardinia's rugged coastline, dramatic cliffs, and pristine nature reserves provide diverse and unspoiled natural scenery, offering hidden coves and scenic hiking trails.
  • Cultural Immersion: Visitors to Sardinia can immerse themselves in its unique heritage through charming villages, local festivals, and traditional craftsmanship, offering an authentic cultural experience.
  • Historical Sites: Sardinia boasts ancient ruins and archaeological treasures such as the impressive Nuragic complex of Su Nuraxi, providing insights into the island's ancient past.

6. Instead of the Maldives, consider traveling to Bora Bora

When comparing the Maldives and Bora Bora, both destinations offer idyllic island escapes characterized by pristine beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and luxurious overwater bungalows. These tropical paradises are renowned for their breathtaking natural beauty, with vibrant coral reefs, abundant marine life, and stunning sunsets creating a picturesque backdrop for relaxation and romance.

Additionally Bora Bora offers some unique experiences including:

  • Iconic Overwater Bungalows: Bora Bora is renowned for its iconic overwater bungalows, offering unparalleled luxury and breathtaking views of the island's azure lagoons and volcanic peaks.
  • Mount Otemanu: Unlike the Maldives, Bora Bora features a dramatic volcanic peak known as Mount Otemanu, providing opportunities for scenic hikes and helicopter tours with panoramic views of the island's lush landscapes.
  • Thrilling Water Activities: Bora Bora offers a wide range of thrilling water activities, including snorkeling, scuba diving, and jet skiing, allowing travelers to explore the island's vibrant underwater world and embark on exhilarating excursions such as shark and ray feeding tours.
  • Cultural Experiences: While the Maldives is primarily known for its luxury resorts, Bora Bora offers opportunities for cultural immersion and exploration, allowing visitors to interact with locals, learn about Polynesian traditions, and experience traditional dance performances.
  • Scenic Beauty: Bora Bora boasts picturesque landscapes with pristine white-sand beaches, lush tropical forests, and stunning coral reefs, providing travelers with opportunities for leisurely strolls, beachfront dining, and relaxation amidst natural beauty.

While it can be disappointing when popular destinations are sold out or overhyped, there are always incredible alternatives waiting to be discovered. With the expertise of a travel advisor, you can uncover hidden gems that offer equally, if not more, memorable experiences!