Two Ways to Choose Your Next Vacation

I realized something from a friend in the Philippines.

 

She was talking about her dream destinations.

 

They included Hawaii and California.

 

“They’re supposed to have great beaches,” she said.

 

The Philippines is 7000 islands. They’re ALL beaches.

 

I think universally, around the world, people often most desire to visit places that are the most similar to them.

 

And although that is a mind bender in itself sometimes, I think it is equally important to experience cultures that are very different than what we already know.

 

I thought it would be fun to make a list of the countries we’d been to, and their polar opposites and closest partners.

 

The most similar countries are the ones I think the locals dream of visiting, but which actually aren’t so different from home.

The polar opposites are the countries I think a local would have the most culture shock visiting.

 

Read the following list to decide where to go on your next vacation if you’re looking for something vaguely familiar but slightly different, or if you’re wanting an assault on your senses and the way you see the world.

 

USA:

Most similar: Australia, United Kingdom, Canada

Polar opposite: Rwanda (tiny and politically unstable.)

image

New York City Skyline

 

Australia:

Most similar: United Kingdom, United States, Canada

Polar opposite: Mexico (friendly, down-to-earth, chaotic)

image

Ryder helping to push the stroller in Queen Victoria Building, Sydney

 

Guadeloupe:

Most similar: St Lucia

Polar opposite: Australia (great shopping, lots to do, not at all xenophobic, influential)

image

 Incredibly blue water in the Caribbean

Tahiti:

Most similar: New Caledonia

Polar opposite: Egypt (aggressive people, lots of landmarks and historical significance, desert)

image

At the Pyramids during the 2011 revolution

 

Morocco:

Most similar: Egypt

Polar opposite: Vanuatu (peaceful, slow, isolated, island and not desert)

image

Couchsurfing in Morocco

 

Vanuatu:

Most similar: New Caledonia

Polar opposite: Germany (prioritizing order and competency over people and connections)

 

Mexico:

Most similar: Guatemala

Polar opposite: Bulgaria (insignificant cuisine, lesser known country in the area, more subdued)

image

Day of the Dead, Mexico City

 

Japan:

Most similar: China, Australia, United States

Polar opposite: India (chaotic, internal rather than external focused, dirty, hospitable)

image

 At our friend’s arranged marriage

India:

Most similar: Indonesia, Philippines

Polar opposite: Thailand (less genuinely friendly, sex tourism hotspot, tourist capital, easy)

image

Phuket, Thailand

 

Spain:

Most similar: Argentina, Mexico

Polar opposite: Serbia (not set up for tourists, people are more solemn)

image

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

 

Indonesia:

Most similar: Philippines, Thailand

Polar opposite: Uganda (intensity, corrupt, no beaches, unstable)

 

Ethiopia:

Most similar: Ghana

Polar opposite: France (wealthy, well-fed, dependable government, unapproachable people)

 

image

Friend from our hotel in Addis Ababa

 

Italy:

Most similar: Spain, Vatican City

Polar opposite: Ghana (warm locals, not much reason to get things done, fashion is not a priority and clothing is very colorful, cuisine not super accessible)

image

Venetian Mask

 

Macedonia:

Most similar: Bulgaria, Serbia

Polar opposite: China (massive, business-savvy, complex)

image

 First time skiing, in Macedonia

China:

Most similar: Japan

Polar opposite: Canada (more land than people, environmentally conscious, animal friendly, non militaristic, free)

 

 image

Shanghai Museum

Austria:

Most similar: Slovenia, Hungary, Czech Republic

Polar opposite: Palestine (constantly at war, children suffering, tiny and helpless)

image Prater Amusement Park, Vienna

 

Israel:

Most similar: Palestinian Territories

Polar opposite: Philippines (islands, open and friendly people, nonaggressive politics, developing)

image      

Dinner in Boracay

 

Croatia:

Most similar: Serbia, Macedonia

Polar opposite: Argentina (high crime, passionate people, lots of restaurants, vast variety in climate and landscape)

 image

Iguazu, Argentina 

Greece:

Most similar: New Zealand, Bulgaria

Polar opposite: Northern Ireland (freezing, rough recent history, lesser known area of Europe)

image

Bridge near Giant’s Causeway

New Zealand:

Most similar: Australia, United Kingdom

Polar opposite: Vatican City (not much for landscapes or roadtrips here, and New Zealanders are increasingly less religious)

image

Auckland

 

Turkey:

Most similar: Egypt, Morocco, Palestine

Polar opposite: St Lucia (people are not hospitable, tiny island, unimportant politically, Christian)

 

 image

Biking in Prince Edward Island, Istanbul

Argentina:

Most similar: Italy, Spain

Polar opposite: Hungary (peaceful, flavorful cuisine)

image

Overlooking Budapest

Scotland:

Most similar: England, Northern Ireland, Australia

Polar opposite: New Caledonia (people aren’t as down-to-earth, it’s a tropical island)

image

Carlton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland

 

Germany:

Most similar: Japan, Austria

Polar opposite: Guatemala (hippy land, high crime, low meat intake, not rigid, inexpensive)

image

 Our view from our home in Guatemala

 

Uganda:

Most similar: Rwanda

Polar opposite: Greece (diverse, islands, peaceful)

 

New Caledonia:

Most similar: Vanuatu, Tahiti

Polar opposite: Japan (keeping face is not important, people take it easy and will welcome you into their homes which aren’t particularly conscientious, cuisine is less extensive)

image

Casual local feast with friends in New Caledonia

France

Most similar: Canada, New Caledonia

Polar opposite: Turkey (very hospitable and open people, not proponents of a slow life, have lots of kids)

image

Looking down from our hotel in Cannes

 

England:

Most similar: Northern Ireland, Scotland, Australia

Polar opposite: Spain (not at all prudish, perfect weather)

image

Hen party in Leeds

Kalli Hiller

Article by Kalli Hiller

Kalli Hiller is a voluntary vagabond who, with her husband Jacob, has traveled full time for the last eight years.

Kalli has written 361 awesome articles for us.

Previous post:

Next post: