This is based on my own experiences, as well as anecdotal evidence from fellow travellers. Factors to consider consider include but are not limited to: value for money, culture, friendliness of the people, transport, range of activities, sights and attractions.
Perhaps not an obvious choice, but Africa makes for a brilliant travelling experience. And ‘experience’ is certainly the key word here. You will need patience, as bureaucracy and infrastructure is inconsistent and delays, particularly on bus journeys, are the rule rather than the exception. The intensity of the hot African sun is also a factor particularly in equatorial countries; similarly personal safety is a key issue. That said, don’t let these inconveniences dissuade you from visiting this immense continent. A popular route is down the east coast from developed Ethiopia and Tanzania, through stunning Malawi, and newly traveller friendly Zimbabwe. Botswana and Mozambique are also increasingly popular, and are burgeoning destinations for today’s more intrepid traveller. There is a brilliantly unvarnished edge to travel in Africa that you won’t find elsewhere. The scenery is awe striking and the welcome is universally warm and genuine. Visiting a local school is an experience you won’t forget.
Animals, specifically the big five, are of course the jewel in the African crown – with world famous safaris from the Kruger (South Africa) to the Serengeti (Tanzania) and Tsavo (Kenya). The recent terror attack in Tunisia, as well as the Russian plane crash in Egypt, and unrest in Libya, has all severely impacted tourism across North Africa; but do not forget Morocco which has great infrastructure, and magnificent sights and activities, and at the moment is certainly in need of a helping hand. The same of which can be said for Africa in general, so give Africa a shot, plan well, be generous, and you will be richly rewarded.
Speaking a little Spanish certainly helps, but it is by no means essential. South America pretty much has it all – great sights and scenery, friendly people (with one or two exceptions it has to be said), excellent food and a solid infrastructure. Please don’t be put off by depictions of drug crime, cartel dominated towns are largely a nineties phenomenon. South America is perfectly safe, and with many diverse countries in close proximity it’s easy to wrack up good numbers on your overall total in a relatively short period of time.
The main draws here are the vibrant latino culture of fiesta, great food, warm welcomes and rich histories. Many countries admittedly have violent recent pasts such as Colombia, Chile, and Argentina but that only lends itself to giving a country more gravitas, and a subject for some fantastic museums and interesting conversations. There is no dressing it up, there are some arduously long bus journeys, but a positive is that perhaps in part due to the almost complete lack of trains, competition between operators is fierce which keeps services good, and prices reasonable.
There is something from everyone here, from the nightlife hubs of Buenos Aires, Medellin and La Paz to art ensconced Valparaiso and Sao Paolo, and the must see El Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia and Machu Picchu in Peru. It is also home to fantastically ubiquitous graffiti in pretty much all major cities. If you must, there are also plenty of gorgeous beaches for lounging around – the pick being on the Caribbean coast.
I would tentatively suggest when most people think of travelling round Asia, the usual favourites in South-East Asia spring to mind and for a good reason. I would however urge the modern traveller to go off the beaten track in Asia as far as possible. For example Mongolia is attracting more visitors than ever, and Myanmar (dubious human rights record notwithstanding) is perhaps one to watch as its tourism industry begins to develop. I have also had great reports of Taiwan, China, and Nepal.
Much like South America there is a grit and rawness to travel in many less developed Asian countries such as Laos and Vietnam that aligned to the sensational natural scenery, make for a complete travel experience. The main thing about Asia for me is that it caters to any type of traveller. If you like culture and history there are a multitude of museums, temples, and shrines, if trekking is your thing you also won’t be disappointed. Similarly if you want to party at night and lie on beautiful beaches in the day, well there is that too – but be sure keep your wits about you.