Africa has “The Big Five”, five big game animals that are furiously chased by overland trucks and jeeps full of tourists keen to tick them off their list after shooting with their camera.

Park Rangers roll their eyes when these tourists only worry about ticking these boxes and are not even interested in spotting lesser known and sometimes more rewarding creatures.

There’s nothing wrong with chasing The Big Five, but anyone who’s been to Africa will probably tell you that the ticking boxes wasn’t the best part of their trip.

Now let’s apply this to travel in general and compile a “Big Five” list of the most popular destinations that Australian Travel Agents sell on a daily basis – and some great alternatives to suggest instead.

 

London

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Probably the most enquired about city in terms of airfares. “What’s your cheapest ticket to London?” becomes about as monotonous as can be.

If you find out that your customer has been there ‘heaps of times’ already then it might be worth suggesting flying into another city in the British Isles instead.

A lot of travellers don’t know that they could fly into Dublin or Edinburgh for the same price or less, they also may not know how much further their dollar will go in these lesser visited cities in terms of accommodation and activities.

Both are easily explored on foot as well; so no need to top up that oyster card!

 

New York

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Another major city, New York is everything you’ve dreamed about – and had nightmares about. It’s big, multicultural, hectic, amazing, smelly and stressful all at the same time. I love New York and will constantly go back again and again.

But, if your clients are on a first name basis with their bagel guy in Queens then maybe it’s time to try another big beautiful American city, like Chicago or Boston. Both are American sports meccas, brimming with legendary professional teams like Boston’s Red Socks, Celtics, Bruins and Patriots; and Chicago’s Cubs, White Sox, Bears, Bulls and Black Hawks.

 

Thailand

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It’s hard to fault “The Land of Smiles”, Thailand is home to fantastic food, fabulous beaches, thick jungles and mesmerizing culture. It will probably always be my go-to in South East Asia.

It was one of the first countries in the region to embrace tourism, so whilst it’s easy to travel there, it can also get crowded.

In recent years bordering Burma (Myanmar) has opened up to keen adventurers looking for more than Ping-Pong shows and monkeys on a leash.

Independent travellers can now explore the lush countryside brimming with temples on their own, rather than fork out for expensive guided tours. Visitors are saying it’s like Thailand was in the 80’s.

 

Fiji

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This stalwart of the South Pacific was also first in the region to welcome high levels of tourism (and resorts).

Fijians are known for their warm hospitality and love of rugby. Fiji is also known for big chain resorts, which you’ll find from Denerau to the Coral Coast.

While a villa at the Hilton and a four-hour flight might be just what the witch doctor ordered, other island nations in the region are often overlooked, generally because they aren’t marketed as heavily.

Tonga, Samoa and The Cook Islands are all fantastic alternatives where you’ll find that most hotels/guesthouses are family owned and operated, waterfalls and lagoons can only be found if shown the way by a local and the food on your plate generally comes from within a 1km radius.

 

Bali

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The Island of the Gods has many faces, with accommodation options ranging from scummy guesthouses in Kuta to holistic and wellbeing resorts in Ubud and dining choices from delicious, cheap street food to world-class luxury restaurants.

Two great alternatives come to mind for a customer who might be ready for a change of scene, Lombok and Sri Lanka.

Lombok is only a hop, skip and a boat from Denpasar and offers secluded beaches, lonely surf breaks and friendly locals – along with cheap beach huts and a relaxed vibe. It’s currently still hard to find an Aussie accent in Sri Lanka (which won’t last long) and locals treat foreigners like family.

Check out my full report on Sri Lanka here.

What’s your favourite destination to sell?