With travel restrictions loosening, and pretty much two years traveling within the U.S., it’s time to pull out those international travel bucket lists. While it can be hard to balance paying off college loans, saving for a home, paying for a wedding, child care, and your desire to explore the world in this stage of life it can be done responsibly. Between travel rewards credit cards and bringing mindful spending to just 4 areas of your budget, a bucket-list trip is possible without emptying your wallet.
If you don’t have an international travel bucket list or want to revisit yours use these 40 amazing locations throughout the world to provide some inspiration for your potential future adventures.
1. French Riviera, France
Is there anything quite as romantic as traveling to southeastern France and enjoying days along the Mediterranean coastline? It’s the perfect location to enjoy cool ocean breezes and the regional Provençal cuisine. The Côte d’Azur, or French Riviera, encompasses the French cities of Nice, Cannes and Marseille.
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2. Scottish Highlands, Scotland
From Glencoe to the Isle of Skye, the Scottish Highlands provide an unparalleled landscape for nature and outdoor enthusiasts. Channel your inner adventurer as you explore lochs and glens, searching for the elusive Loch Ness monster or trying to spot a Highland “coo.” Be sure to visit Inverness, known as the capital of the Scottish Highlands, along the way.
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3. Vancouver, British Columbia
The location of the 2010 Winter Olympics and one of the most well-known cities in Canada, Vancouver is an excellent place to visit any time of the year. Hang out in the city and get some fresh, local seafood or visit Vancouver’s famous Chinatown district for more exotic dishes. If you’re into hikes or winter sports, the outdoor playground of Whistler is less than two hours away.
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4. Barcelona, Spain
One of Spain’s most popular coastal cities is a mecca for food, architecture and plenty of culture. Take a stroll down Las Ramblas or admire the art nouveau works of Antoni Gaudí throughout the city, including the Sagrada Família basilica and Park Güell. If the timing is right, you might even be able to catch a football match at the world-renowned Camp Nou, home to FC Barcelona.
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5. Kotor, Montenegro
Where the mountains meet the bay you’ll find the beautiful town of Kotor. This Mediterranean location along the Adriatic Sea is one of the most popular destinations within Montenegro because of its access to the sea and mountains, and also its beauty. Typical red-roofed buildings and medieval structures provide a picturesque scene against the bay and distant mountains, especially when viewed from atop the city walls.
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6. Rio de Janeiro
Beaches, samba, bossanova, football and plenty of delicious food — what else do you need? In Rio de Janeiro you get a bustling Brazilian city filled with culture and excitement. Not to mention, the views of Sugarloaf Mountain and the Christ the Redeemer statue are spectacular. If you’re looking for some unique fun, try visiting during the carnival season.
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With more than 13 million people living in the Tokyo area, it’s hard to imagine ever being able to experience everything Tokyo has to offer, let alone the rest of Japan. However, you can do your best to take in all the ancient temples, stunning gardens and modern architecture of Japan’s capital city. And don’t forget, Tokyo is also one of the premier food capitals of the world, so there’s plenty to eat and drink.
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8. Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico
The Yucatán Peninsula sits between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea and regularly attracts visitors from all over the world. Cancún is a major attraction, but if you head inland, you’ll encounter the wonders of hundreds of cenotes and experience more of the cultural aspect of the area. Mérida is the capital of the Yucatán state of Mexico and the ideal spot to explore the surrounding locale, including the wonder of Chichén Itzá.
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The U.S., like many countries around the world, could easily have its own list of must-see locations. Even for Americans, though, the state of Alaska is a dreamy and surreal destination. Known as the Last Frontier, its size alone is daunting because it’s bigger than Texas, California and Montana combined. And yet fewer than 750,000 people live there. But Alaska does have millions of acres of state and federal lands, as well as national parks, which is more than enough reason to visit.
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10. New Zealand
For people in North America, New Zealand can seem like a far-flung traveler’s dream because of how far away it is. But millions of people visit every year, with the U.S. being a main source of tourism visits to the island country. Why is that? Well, as a destination that has a beautiful landscape around every corner and is the sole filming location for the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, there’s a lot to see and do.
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Do you want to visit an island in the Caribbean but feel like you’re in the Netherlands? Well, do we have a place for you! Curaçao is one of three autonomous island countries, along with Aruba and Bonaire, that’s part of the Royal Dutch Kingdom. It sits off the coast of Venezuela and provides a unique experience for anyone looking to have the typical island trip with a twist of Dutch influence.
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12. Machu Picchu, Peru
What’s so special about Machu Picchu? It’s one of the new wonders of the world and the whole journey of even reaching the magical site makes the experience that much more unforgettable. You have to get to Cusco and acclimatize to the altitude of more than 11,000 feet, visit the Sacred Valley, ride a train through the Peruvian Andes and then shuttle up (or hike the Inca Trail) to an ancient grouping of ruins where you feel like you’re in the clouds. There’s nothing quite like it.
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13. Lake Bled, Slovenia
As you travel through Eastern Europe, be sure to leave some time on your itinerary to visit Slovenia and the world-famous turquoise waters of Lake Bled. The whole country is beautiful and well worth visiting, but for those in a time crunch, Lake Bled deserves a stop. Driving into town and getting your first glimpse of the lake and the iconic church in the middle of it is a moment you won’t soon forget.
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14. Hanoi, Vietnam
Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is a must-see destination for anyone traveling through Southeast Asia. Sitting snugly in Northern Vietnam between the borders of China and Laos, the Vietnamese capital provides a perfect introduction to Vietnamese culture and food. It’s also the ideal location for going on excursions, such as Halong Bay or Sapa Valley.
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15. Bavaria, Germany
The state of Bavaria is located in southeastern Germany, bordering Switzerland, Austria and the Czech Republic. With cities like Munich and Nuremberg, there’s plenty to do and see in Bavaria, including visiting Neuschwanstein Castle or a famous German beer hall. It would be especially good timing if you visited during the days of Oktoberfest and enjoyed this Bavarian tradition.
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16. Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires is the best place to get to know the country of Argentina. Located along the Rio de La Plata, which connects to the Atlantic Ocean, the capital of Argentina is known for its wide variety of food selections, passion for football and diverse history. Dig into Argentine cuisine with some tasty barbecue or a freshmade empanada while you stroll the streets of a Latin American city blended with European influences.
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17. Jeju Island, South Korea
The “Hawaii of Korea” is an island off the southern coast of South Korea known for its beautiful landscapes. It has a dormant volcano with plenty of lava tubes to explore, waterfalls to visit and beaches to relax on. Of course, no visit to South Korea would be complete without trying the local dishes as well. Seafood is sure to be the specialty here, but popular Korean dishes can be found all over the country.
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18. Chamonix, France
Chamonix is a popular resort area located in France along the borders of Switzerland and Italy. Using Chamonix as your base camp, travel to nearby peaks like Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps. Cable cars run throughout the year, so even if you aren’t skiing you can still enjoy the amazing views for miles around.
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19. Budapest, Hungary
Tourists love to visit Budapest, the capital of Hungary. A stroll across the chain bridge, watching boats glide along the Danube River and catching the views from Fisherman’s Bastion are all a part of the charm of Hungary’s largest city. As you admire the architecture, historic landmarks and soak in the thermal baths, be sure to set aside some time for iconic foods like goulash, lángos and chimney cakes.
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20. Italian Riviera, Italy
The Italian Riviera sits along the Mediterranean coast and constitutes popular Italian hotspots like Genoa and Pisa, as well as a smattering of small towns perched on rocky outcroppings. The most famous grouping of these small towns is known as Cinque Terre. Within Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage site, you can travel between the towns of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. Popular travel methods include the train and hiking along the seaside cliffs.
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21. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Angkor Wat is a huge and ancient temple complex located in Siem Reap, Cambodia, dating back to the 12th century. Named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992, this former Khmer capital attracts millions of worldwide visitors each year. Part of the attraction of visiting the many temples is observing the local monkeys. Be careful, though, because they aren’t afraid of visitors and can be bold enough to go after your belongings if you let them.
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22. Las Vegas
For a city built in a desert, Las Vegas has defied all expectations. Its party vibes and huge vacation appeal has attracted visitors from throughout the U.S. and the entire world. From the Bellagio fountains to Fremont Street, people are always having a good time and testing their luck in the so-called Sin City. These days Vegas is even full of family-friendly offerings. And a visit doesn’t have to be expensive if you know how to avoid Las Vegas resort fees.
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23. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
If you want to visit an extremely modern and sophisticated city, Dubai is the place for you. Home to the world’s current tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, and the capital of the UAE, Dubai is located along the Persian Gulf coastline, just up the coast from Abu Dhabi. Dubai has plenty of sightseeing, shopping, golf and other activities, though it may be difficult to find the motivation to leave your room because of how amazing the hotels are.
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Have you ever wanted to visit a country that’s mainly located within one of the world’s highest mountain ranges? If so, Nepal is the place for you. The landlocked country of Nepal is bordered by China on the north and India to the south, which means it has a unique culture influenced by the two most populous countries in the world. Nepal is known for its trekking tours and awe-inspiring landscapes, especially among the Himalayas.
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25. Patagonia, Chile
Across the world and on a different continent, you’ll find another awe-inspiring area: Patagonia. Shared by both Chile and Argentina, with the Andes mountains dividing the ownership, Patagonia is more than just a name on your favorite jacket, it’s a sweeping landscape of jagged peaks, frigid lakes and ancient glaciers. If you like being outside, you’ll fit right in.
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Morocco is an incredibly unique North African country located across the Strait of Gibraltar from Spain. Popular tourist destinations include Marrakesh, Casablanca, Tangier, Fes and the famous blue city of Chefchaouen. Each city provides its own type of experience, but you might need some time to visit them all. For a quick jaunt from Europe, schedule a day-or-two trip to Tangier, leaving from Málaga in Spain.
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A land of fairytales and freezing temperatures, this region typically includes Norway, Denmark and Sweden, but you could argue for Finland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands to be included as well. For a sleigh ride with reindeer and perhaps some of the best views of the northern lights anywhere in the world, consider a visit to Scandinavia.
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28. Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
These famous islands off the coast of Ecuador are known for their incredible numbers of unique wildlife species and diverse flora and fauna. Since a visit by Charles Darwin in 1835, the Galápagos Islands have continued to grow in popularity, especially in more recent years. It’s not the easiest to get to the islands, but the beauty and wonder of the area are sure to provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
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29. South Coast, England
The United Kingdom often has a reputation for being a cold and rainy group of islands with rough coastlines. It’s likely a deserved reputation to some degree, but England’s South Coast can be more than pleasant and is filled with popular landmarks such as the White Cliffs of Dover, Canterbury Cathedral and the Jurassic Coast UNESCO World Heritage site.
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30. New York City
The location that once welcomed millions of immigrants into the U.S. is now known to the world as the Big Apple and the City That Never Sleeps. With a population of more than eight million and some of the most diverse mixture of cultures found in North America, New York has plenty to see, do, eat and drink. From the Statue of Liberty to Times Square, Central Park to Broadway, there’s no shortage of excitement.
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31. Gold Coast, Australia
The Gold Coast region lies south of Brisbane along the eastern coastline of Australia in the state of Queensland. With an average of 300 days of sunshine each year, there’s no particularly bad time to visit the Gold Coast. This makes it easy to have some fun in the sun along the 35 miles of white sand beaches.
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Tanzania is a country in East Africa that’s home to more than 58 million people and some of the world’s most exciting wildlife safaris. With more than a dozen national parks to visit, you’re almost guaranteed to see exactly what you want, like lions, wildebeests, elephants and much more. And that’s not even including the stunning landscapes of the area.
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The Maldives is a tiny island country in South Asia that attracts tourists from all around the globe. Known as a luxury destination because of the time and expenses it takes to get there, plus how much it costs to stay any period of time on one of the islands, its beautiful beaches and blue waters are the dreams of many travelers. The overwater bungalows available for stays and rentals are especially sought after.
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34. Lisbon, Portugal
Pastel de nata, anyone? Get your fill of Portuguese custard tarts in Lisbon, the coastal capital of Portugal. Once you’ve had your fill, be sure to walk it off by heading up one of Lisbon’s many streets and paths located on a hill. Or take the iconic yellow trams that ferry people around the city. Once you’re at the top, enjoy the sweeping views and red roofs of this grand European city.
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35. Dubrovnik, Croatia
For a unique change of pace, make a space for Dubrovnik on your travel bucket list. This city in southern Croatia garnered international fame as one of many filming locations for the popular HBO TV series, “Game of Thrones.” Although you can recreate your favorite scenes from the fictional King’s Landing, Dubrovnik provides much more than being a filming location. It has nearly complete city walls encasing the Old Town that you can walk around and get amazing views of both the city and the Adriatic Sea.
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The city-state of Singapore in Southeast Asia is an exciting and popular destination for many reasons. It’s modern, there’s plenty to do, and the food and culture are phenomenal. Be sure to check out attractions like the Gardens by the Bay and Sentosa Island, as well as immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the hawker centres and other foodie locations.
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37. Costa Rica
If there was a place in the world to get your fill of multiple types of natural environments without having to travel far, it would probably be Costa Rica. The Central American country and home of Pura Vida, or pure-life way of living, has rainforests, beaches, mountains, volcanoes and access to both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. It’s quite literally a paradise on earth and a gem for fans of Latin America.
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38. Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a modern city located along China’s southeastern coastline. It’s a huge, sprawling metropolis split into multiple islands that connect to the mainland. But even with a population of more than 7.5 million people, there’s still plenty of space to move around, get outside and stretch your legs. You can easily decide to take the tram up to Victoria Peak one day, go hiking on Lantau Island the next and eat tons of delicious food the entire time.
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39. Rajasthan, India
Whether you’re visiting for the Holi festival or not, Rajasthan is worth the time for a stop. Every region of India is unique, including the state of Rajasthan. Here, you’ll find the Pink City of Jaipur, where you can enjoy typical Rajasthani cuisine and street food. Also, be sure to see famous landmarks like the Amber Palace, Hawa Mahal and City Palace.
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40. Bali, Indonesia
Bali exploded onto the international tourism scene recently and has continued to be a top destination for visitors from all over. To decide what kind of Bali experience you want to have, be sure to do your research ahead of time. You’ll likely come in from Denpasar and find yourself in Ubud and the monkey sanctuary at some point, but there’s a lot more waiting for you away from the crowds. Head to nearby islands like Nusa Penida or Lombok to find your own slice of paradise. Or try Lovina in Northern Bali and look for some dolphins. Wherever you go, enjoy the hospitality and friendliness of the locals, as well as the sheer beauty of the area.
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The world is a vast and diverse collection of peoples, cultures and landscapes. Just about everywhere is worth a visit, but it takes a decision to get the ball rolling on your next adventure.
There’s plenty to do in life before you turn 40, including making the right money moves to set yourself up for the rest of your life. But let’s not forget to enjoy our income by using some of it to see and explore the world around us. Money mistakes come in all forms, including not spending money on ourselves every once in a while.
So as you work toward your future and strive to keep your finances in order, don’t forget to leave some room for traveling to amazing locations. The experiences and memories are well worth the money spent.