By: Erin Konrad
Millennials are known for their lust for life and love of travel. Being in this stage of life means you have the opportunity and drive to travel to some of the most fascinating places in the world. And a recent study found that there’s a huge positive impact of traveling on young people – everything from increased career opportunities and development to more cultural awareness. However, even though traveling can be super beneficial, it can also kind of drain your bank account. So, here’s a list of five places you can travel to that are both affordable and life-changing.
- Hiking in Portland, Oregon
One of the best places in the United States for millennials to visit is Portland. Located in the northwest corner of the country, the city has become a mecca for eco-friendly hipsters. The lush, green scenery is perfect for nature lovers, and there are tons of opportunities for hikers (either looking to stay fit or just enjoying the greenery).
If you’re wanting to soak up some flora without doing a hike, head to the Lan Su Chinese Garden. This magical garden is around 40,000 square feet located in the Chinatown section of Portland. Around 90% of the plants are native to China, so you’ll actually feel transported to Asia without ever leaving the U.S. Another similar (but equally great) option is the Portland Japanese Garden, which encompasses 12 acres of traditional Japanese plants. There’s also an authentic Japanese tea house and an amazing view of Mt. Hood. If you want to take on an actual hike, Washington Park offers tons of breathtaking views and over 15 miles of hiking and biking trails. If you need a break from hiking, there’s also an arboretum and zoo to check out.
- Taking in Natural Wonders in Iceland
Iceland has some of the most spectacular natural wonders in the world. One of the biggest draws for millennial travelers is the Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa. This geothermal lagoon is an 800-year-old lava field where you can bathe (the minerals and heat make it self-cleaning, so you don’t have to worry about bathing with other people!). Not only is it gorgeous, it’s also said to be healing for your skin. It’s also not too expensive if you want to take a tour – for around $60 you can access the spa and all its wonders.
Other amazing natural wonders include active volcanoes and geothermal hot springs. But perhaps the most impressive sight is the Northern Lights. If you’re in the main city of Reykjavik, you can probably catch them between the months of September and April. However, you have a much stronger chance of getting a clear view if you venture out to some of the smaller cities and countryside (where your view won’t be affected by street lights or cars). Some prefer to go out on their own, but it can be a smart idea to go on a tour where the experts can alert you to the very best locations for spotting the Northern Lights – and you’ll get the added bonus of not having to drive on streets you don’t know in potentially bad weather.
- Backpacking in Nicaragua
If you’re really strapped for cash, Nicaragua is the perfect option. If you want to stay in a hostel, you can usually find accommodations for as low as $5 a night! Because everything is so cheap there, you’re also likely to spend about $10 on food each day and can get around by using public transportation (their “chicken buses” will only cost you about $1 for a seat!). Once you’re there, you can backpack throughout the country. One of the favorite locations for millennials is Somoto Canyon, where you can hire a guide for $25 per day. They’ll help you explore the canyon and the river, and you can choose which kind of hike you’d like (there’s a six-hour full loop of the canyon or a three-hour loop for those who are less ambitious). For you daredevils, there are even opportunities for jumps (as high as 59 feet!). There’s also Laguna de Apoyo, which is a freshwater lagoon that offers some gorgeous views.
Interested in surfing while in Nicaragua? The best option is to head to Playa Maderas. You can rent a surfboard (for around $10 a day) and hit the waves. Want to do something a tad more adventurous? One of the most exciting activities is volcano-boarding. Head to Cerro Negro, where you can pick a volcano to race down. You sit on a longboard and race down at a 45-degree angle. Just be prepared for a somewhat long hike up to the top – and it’s a pretty dirty activity!
- Appreciating the scenery in Ko Samui, Thailand
Over 21 million people visit Thailand every year, and it’s not difficult to see why. Accommodations are affordable, there’s lots of inexpensive and delicious street food, and there’s free wifi everywhere! One favorite of millennials is Ko Samui, an island off the east coast of Kra Isthmus. There are gorgeous beaches and palm trees, so you’ll feel like you’ve escaped to a relaxing, tropical Eden. One must-see sight is Wat Plai Laem, a Buddhist temple with a ceremonial hall in the middle of the lake and breathtaking statues and murals.
For more beautiful scenery, head to Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park, which is an archipelago consisting of 42 islands. You can explore the park by hiking or camping. There’s also a fabulous 30-minute hike at Na Mueang Waterfall. If you’re interested more in beach activities, there’s snorkeling and kayaking on the Ko Taen island, or you can take in a beautiful sunset on Lamai Beach. No matter how you decide to spend your day in Ko Samui, you’re bound to discover some lovely scenery.
- Sightseeing in Greece
There is so much to do in Greece – while still keeping to your budget. Whether you’re interested in seeing the beautiful beaches or sampling some yummy Greek food, there are tons of ways to fill up your vacation. One of the most famous tourist attractions is in Athens. The Acropolis is one of the oldest sites in the world, dating back to around the fifth century BC. The ancient citadel holds remains of buildings, including the renowned Parthenon, so it’s a must-see for history lovers. If you’re interested in a more magical location, there’s the ancient sanctuary, Delphi, in Phocis.
Maybe you’d like to explore Greece but would rather do it in a relaxing setting. The island of Santorini is perfect for millennial travelers, with its gorgeous views of the ocean and remarkable white-washed buildings with stand-out blue roofs. You can sunbathe and enjoy some “me” time or venture out to the archaeological site, Akrotiri, which was a settlement destroyed by volcanic activity in 1627 BC. The ash preserved many frescoes and historical objects (similar to Italy’s Pompeii).
Just because you’re a young millennial, doesn’t mean you can’t start checking items off your bucket list now! Check out these five unforgettable trips, and post about your adventures to BUCKiTDREAM and your Facebook, Insta, and Twitter pages!