If you want to avoid the crowds on your gap year and really experience something different, don’t just follow the hoards of backpackers that jet off to South East Asia, South America or Australia every year. Instead, think outside the box and explore one of these lesser travelled destinations.
Until the early 90s, much of Central America was ravaged by civil war.
Though the region still has big problems with gangs, the vast majority of these vibrant countries are safe for backpackers to explore.
As Central America covers a relatively small area, it’s easy to see a lot in a short amount of time. Highlights of the region include the volcano island of Ometepe in Nicaragua, the ruins of Copan in Honduras and the colonial city of Antigua in Guatemala.
Just because it’s close to home, doesn’t mean it’s boring. In fact, Eastern Europe is one of the most exciting and divers regions in the world.
Backpackers can spend months exploring the coast of Croatia, the weird and wonderful towns of Macedonia, the Baltic Coast of Poland and the myths and legends of Romania.
Though Beijing and Shanghai are no strangers to tourists, the rest of this vast country is still relatively undiscovered by the modern backpacker.
After you’ve climbed the Great Wall and explored the Forbidden City, jump on a train and head inland to discover some of China’s stunning natural sites and ancient wonders.
Though some parts of the region may be out of bounds for foreigners – check government advice before travelling – much of West Africa is completely safe and its people are some of the friendliest you’ll come across.
As one of the most stable countries in the region, Ghana makes a good starting point for a tour of West Africa. You can explore the country’s national parks, soak up the sun on its stunning coastline and discover its historic cities before head to neighbouring Togo or north towards Senegal, The Gambia and Ivory Coast.
Thanks to the recent oil boom, this region has seen big changes in the last few years.
Boasting ancient sites, a fascinating history, vast plains and strong traditional cultures, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and their neighbours will make an adventurous destination for intrepid travellers.