I was born and raised in a small town in Norway right at the border with Sweden. In fact, you can actually see Sweden from my home. When I was growing up, I always went on a trip or two every year to a typical tourist destination in Spain with my family.
It wasn’t until I was 18 that I took my first solo trip and really got “hit” by my current travel addiction. My journey started when I bought a one way ticket to India with plans of doing a 1 month trip. Of course, this was never going to be long enough and I ended up staying in India for a full 6 months!
I was hooked on the travel bug ever since this trip. I have been back to India 7 times already and I’m heading back for the 8th time later this year. So far I have been to around 107 countries. Believe it or not, I’m actually quite a slow traveller. If I find a country I like, I’ll revisit it before going to a new one.
For example, I’ve been to every country in Asia at least 2 times, except for North Korea where I’ve been only one time. This has included 21 visits to China, 7 visits to India and Nepal, and 6 visits to Indonesia.
I always try to get away from the touristy parts of the country which I visit. That is where you will find the most friendly, welcoming and honest people. The more remote you travel, the more friendly the people are.
I find it sad that most people only want to visit over-touristy places around the world. The more unknown parts of the world I visit, the happier I am. The world has so much more to offer than crowded beaches in Thailand or wannabe hippies in Bali.
My Favourite Unexplored Corners of the World
One of the reasons that I travel to places that seem strange or dangerous is that I don’t really trust the media. In February this year, I travelled around southern Iraq for 10 days. Baghdad was an amazing city with great coffee houses, bars and bazaars which I discovered all on foot.
Iraq is in my top 10 countries for the most friendly and welcoming places that I have visited. It was the complete opposite of what you would expect reading the news. I think there aren’t really any dangerous countries, just bad times and wrong places.
Iran was by far the friendliest country that I have visited with the friendliest people. The country has so much to offer as well: amazing hikes and all the history and sites you can ever dream of. And for us who live in the West, it is currently one of the cheapest countries we can travel around.
The most misrepresented part of the world is probably the Middle East. Only a small part of it has seen recent violence, the rest of it is completely safe and is home to extremely friendly people.
The country that surprised me the most was the tiny island nation of Sao Tome & Principe on the west coast of Africa. Sao Tome & Principe is a beautiful country and probably the cleanest I’ve ever been to. You can enjoy amazing hikes, pristine beaches and the best coffee and rum in the world!
When it comes to my best experiences in the unknown parts of the world, my favourite 3 would be:
Solo Travel Tips for the Unknown Parts of the World
Solo travel is the best thing I’ve ever done. It gives me the freedom to do whatever I want. Even though I normally leave home as a solo traveller, I always meet people during my travels. We always end up travelling together for a few days or weeks. Rarely do I travel alone for long periods.
For those who are wanting tips on solo travel all I would say is just do it! My first ever solo trip was to India more than 10 years ago, and it was the best thing I ever did. You will learn more about yourself when it comes to comfort and limits when travelling solo than you ever would back at home.
Right now, I’m currently travelling around West Papua in Indonesia, doing a few hikes and scuba diving in some of the most pristine parts of the world. Later this year, I’m off to the far eastern part of Russia before visiting the most remote and wildest islands in the world by the end of this year.
I’m also currently at the planning stage for a trip to what is considered to be the world’s most dangerous country. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Feel free to follow my travels to the unknown parts of the world on Instagram or on my travel blog: www.unusualtraveler.com.