Melissa Cristina Márquez knows that truly exploring a destination means engaging all of her senses and that can mean everything from viewing wildlife and tasting local food to seeing fashion by local artisans and much more. The marine biologist, who is currently based in Western Australia, has soaked in the culture of diverse destinations such as South Africa, France, Italy, Greece, and Puerto Rico, to name just a few. “If it’s a new-to-me location, I try to schedule my itinerary around a little bit of everything: art, music, food, fashion, and culture,” she says.
With a lifetime of travel experience and an innate curiosity about the places she discovers, Melissa has a strategy to maximize her trips: “I check in with my friends to see if they know anyone or recommend anything at any given destination. It usually leads to me finding out some cool stuff that only locals know about.” Currently on her ever-expanding bucket list are Brazil, Chile, and Ghana. Even if she arrives without a list of must-do things, the expert traveler takes it in stride. “If you can, schedule a day to just wander aimlessly through a new city,” she says. “It’s a good way to get to know it and find hidden gems.”
If you’re ready to dive in and immerse yourself in a destination, Melissa’s curated list of 12 destinations and experiences around the world are a perfect place to find inspiration.