The best things in life are not things.
Top things to do
On Earth in 2024
By Alex Farlander, founder of Travelhood
January 10, 2024
Even though the best thing do to in travel is to avoid "top things to do" lists, I decided to write my personal list of top things to do.

It's personal and based on my experience as a professional travel organizer, a full-time traveler, and a human.

I hope you'll find it useful for your travel planning in 2024 and beyond.

Ok, let's go!

1. See the Milky Way and meteor showers

Image by Pexels
When was the last time you saw the Milky Way? Have you ever seen it?

Studies say that one-third of the world's population never sees the Milky Way because of light pollution. It's right above you, but with the bright light of cities, it became a rarity. And it's sad because experiencing a clear starry sky is so special. It makes you feel how remarkably vast is the universe (if we can feel that).

To make it more dynamic, add a meteor shower observation into the experience. In August, go see the Perseid meteor shower. It peaks on the night of August 12 to 13th, but you can see meteors flying throughout the whole month, and often they are quite bright. Also, August 13th happened to be my birthday, so why wouldn't we get together to see the sky?

2. Hear the forest life

Image by Tõnu Tunnel
This one is a recent discovery for me. I found out, that if I just put a chair in the forest, close my eyes, and focus on listening, the forest sounds become three-dimensional.

With eyes closed, hearing becomes a sense of space. There, a variety of birds sing and jump around looking for food – you can hear each of them individually. Flies, dragonflies, mosquitoes, and other insects live their short lives, actively buzzing. Wind plays in the trees – you can hear it moving through the forest. It is a special feeling.

To find quiet places like that, you'd need to go further away from the highways and airport approaches – and just like light pollution, noise pollution is everywhere. But there are Quiet Places all around the world, and it's great to visit and support them. Estonia even has "forest megaphones" that create a unique forest sound experience.

3. Feel the majesty of Earth

Image by 12756913
I use the word "feel" because I don't know a better word for it. It's not just seeing, or hearing. It is a combination of senses that makes you feel like a small grain of sand on an enormous planet flying around an enormous star for billions of years.

I felt it for the first time on the edge of the Fish River Canyon in Africa. The rays of the setting sun were breaking through the clouds, there were no other visitors except us – just an enormous canyon in front, the place so ancient that it is called Gondwana Canyon Park. A good place to see Earth pre-anthropocene.

There are many places where you can experience it. Mountains, canyons, deserts. Look for scenic observation points, and try to find time when you can be alone. Sunrise hours may work well: just take warm tea and a cozy blanket.

4. Eat in a farm-to-table restaurant

Image by Via Organica
I am the kind of person who's never been really interested in food.
But the food in the supermarkets has become so "artificially flavoured", that even I can't ignore it anymore. Gunter Pauli said, "An apple a day doesn't keep the doctor away anymore, now it does the opposite!".

Healthy food becomes a rarity. Industrial agriculture takes over small independent farms. Supermarkets take over small markets.

In this case, one of the best things you can do is to visit more farms and countryside restaurants that cook what they grow. This is great for your taste buds and health, learning a lot about food, great time spent, and supporting important missions. And these places are run by pretty awesome people!

5. Experience places like a local

Image by 12019
Instead of travelling like a visitor, try to experience places in the way that locals do. Use public transportation, talk to people, and get to know the ways of life in different corners of the world. Becoming a "temporary local" is a great way of travelling anywhere, from Venice to the Gobi desert, and may be the best way to fight the negative effects of overtourism.

If you would like to step further than just renting an apartment in a big city, try this:
  • Live in one of the magic towns in Mexico – there are 130+ of them, just pick any.
  • Rent a rural house in the countryside, and make friends with neighbors.
  • Spend a week living in a yurt in Mongolia. Pick a map, point your finger at anywhere in Mongolia, and get there – you'll love it. Kyrgyzstan is another great place to go.
  • Experience a seasonal migration with nomads. For adventure travelers: there's no need to climb Everest (Chomolungma) to do an ultimate adventure. An ultimate life adventure is to migrate with nomads in Siberia or Mongolia, following along their path between seasonal camps.

6. Travel through time

Image by Vladimir Kerdensky
Time is relative. Some parts of our planet live in future, while others live in the past (which is also relative, but we'll talk about it another time).

Just a few days ago, I visited a friend in a small Mexican village. As I was walking through the streets, I understood how much it reminded me of my own childhood in the village of my grandmother (that's her and me in the picture).

Just a few old cars, rural houses, dogs, chickens, and friendly people saying hi. I haven't felt it for 30 years, my grandmother died during covid, and I think you can imagine how priceless are these moments of feeling the memories.

On the other side, some places lead us into the future, using technology and science for regenerative ways of living. It's so inspiring to visit them, to learn about where to move with our own lives.

7. Visit Estonia

If you got this far and you keep reading, here's my top recommendation for 2024 – go visit Estonia. It is the best time to visit this country, to see both the future and the past.

Come to see more than Tallinn. There's so much more. Tartu and Southern Estonia are the European Culture Capital 2024, and across the whole region, there will be celebrations, events, and open doors. A visit for 4 days will be great, but the 2-week trip will be truly memorable: there's so much to experience.

Also, it is a great chance to get to know the country before the amazing Song Festival in 2025 – and I'm sure you'll want to come back to see and hear this amazing gathering of tens of thousands of people in a single choir.

If you're looking for an ultimate destination that nobody else knows about, it's Estonia.
I'll write about it more soon, but if you want to start planning a summer trip, I can give you some directions – reach out to @alexfarlander anywhere.
Travel has a unique power to disconnect us from routine, and reconnect with people that matter the most in our life: our families, true friends, and ourselves: our past, present, and future.

I think that travel is not a bucket list of things to do, but rather a way to create memorable experiences for a happier, more meaningful life. Let's travel this way.
About the author
Alex Farlander
Alex is a travel entrepreneur. Being born and raised in Siberia of late- and post-USSR, he spent 20 years of his tourism career working with hundreds of remote destinations worldwide. He is currently based in Mexico and works full-time as a travel experience designer and a travel industry consultant.

@alexfarlander everywhere
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