In times of ever-increasing instagram-fied locales, digital nomad hotspots, and “remote” areas that feel more like Western Europe than wherever the hell they really are, my cravings for a REAL adventure are stronger than ever.
I’m talking about the type of adventure that got me on the road in the first place: raw, gritty, dirtbaggery beauty that reminds me those two fantastical years I spent slumming it around India with just my backpack, a handheld map, and $3000 to my name.
Hell, THAT was an offbeat adventure.
But as you and I know, travel has changed immensely in the past 15 years.
And today, even some of the most remote locales in the world seem to have been destroyed by what I like to call the dreaded “selfie tourists.” Far-flung pieces of the Himalayas have been turned into family picnic spots for people who couldn’t care less about mountains, and formerly pristine islands have become more Westernized than some places IN the West itself.
But fear not fellow vagabonds – wild, magical experiences still exist if you’re willing to do what everyone else is not. So to get your travel inspiration flowing, here are 13 incredible offbeat adventures to embark on in 2024 and beyond.
Let’s get right into them.
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13 Bucket List Adventures for 2024
You won’t find selfie tourists, Instagram photoshoots, or crying babies on these trips…
1. Hiking in Pakistan
First up on epic, offbeat adventures that should absolutely be on your 2024 bucket list is perhaps my favorite adventure of all: hiking in the glorious mountains of Pakistan.
If you’ve popped around on the site a bit, you’ll know that this is a country near and dear to my heart, and that’s all because of the mountainous region of Gilgit Baltistan. Home to the most underrated and unknown treks in the world, Gilgit Baltistan is a part of Pakistan but looks and feels a whole lot more like Central Asia.
Aside from being home to 5 of the world’s 14 highest mountains (including K2 which is even harder to climb than Everest), Gilgit Baltistan (and its neighbor Upper Chitral) has literally thousands of trails of every length and ability level.
The best part is that the overwhelming, vast majority of these are not on the irritating domestic tourists’ radars. This means you’ll often have them all to yourself, save for kind locals of the region who are nothing like the aforementioned city folk.
While several hikes in Pakistan require permits, most do NOT which means you can go out on your own or hire local porters for incredibly reasonable prices (think $10-$15 day) to help carry your baggage and show you the way.
K2 Basecamp and Nanga Parbat Basecamp are the country’s two famous faves, but some of my other recommendations include trekking to Kutwal Lake, the Shimshal Pass, the Pakora Pass and Thui Pass, the latter of which isn’t frequently done by many people, so yes, very offbeat indeed 😉
2. Road-tripping in Oman
If you haven’t yet heard about Oman – boy am I sure that I’m about to add a country to your bucket list! This often-forgotten marvel of the Middle East is one of adventure travel’s best-kept secrets.
We’re talking turquoise blue swimming holes called wadis, stunning coastlines, the ability to wild camp ANYWHERE and perfectly paved highways to go along with it.
Despite being easy to visit for most nationalities, backpacking Oman is still very offbeat, it was when I first visited in 2017 and it STILL is today. The absolute best way to get around the country is by your own vehicle: it’s quite literally a road trip paradise.
Rentals aren’t too expensive that a backpacker couldn’t swing it, especially because you’re essentially going to get to experience a version of van life. Oman allows wild camping absolutely anywhere, meaning you can pop out your tent and spend absolutely nothing on accommodation 😉
The water activities are absolutely top-notch, but cultural travelers won’t be disappointed either – there are plenty of historical sites and authentic villages about. If you rent a 4×4 you’ll even be able to access some fantastical deserts – including part of the Empty Quarter, which is one of the largest stretches of sand on Earth.
3. Hitchhiking in Iran
I LOVE traveling in Iran. The hospitality is just about unmatched, the landscapes are insane, and the history and cultures are enough to blow your mind.
And while it’s easy to hop around by bus, train or even your own ride, the very best way to explore Iran is by way of the thumb. I spent months hitchhiking all over the country, and it was hands down one of my best off-beat adventures to date.
It’s how I met my ex-wife (obviously, that’s a whole other story) and also a ton of kick-ass folks from all over the country. Combined with Couchsurfing and a type of kindness that only Pakistan can rival, this led to one hell of an immersive, far-flung adventure.
You won’t have to wait too long to get picked up anywhere, just have a good sign, stand somewhere where folks will actually see you, and get ready to make some wild and crazy connections.
Iran has a million and one things to see, but it’s the people of this country that will truly win your heart. Perhaps not to the point of marriage, but certainly enough to make it into your top travel experiences 🙂
4. Cycling In Tajikistan
Many people haven’t even HEARD of Tajikistan, but one of the best secrets of adventure travel is that this landlocked Central Asian nation has some of the best cycling on the entire planet.
And no, I’m absolutely not just saying that.
Think endlessly beautiful roads that ramble alongside Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor with hardly any traffic all day long, lunar-like landscapes that give new meaning to the expression “the roof of the world” and lakeside camping that will likely put anything else you’ve ever seen or done to shame.
From the famous (and second highest in the world) Pamir Highway, to the wonderfully wild dirt roads of the Wakhan and Bartang Valleys, cycling in Tajikistan is undoubtedly the greatest adventure you can have.
And while it may SEEM like you need a super fancy customized cycle, that simply isn’t the case. One of our epic team members rented a basic 7-speed mountain bike and took it on a 400 km journey through the roughest roads you can imagine, and she and the cycle did in fact live to tell the tale.
The season roughly stretches from June-September, but a lot of the best roads become washed away with mud in peak summer, so don’t be afraid to head over even at the tail end of the window.
5. Motorbiking in Kyrgyzstan
In case you feel like you may be seeing a theme with Central Asia, you’re not wrong. I fully believe this region is the current peak of adventure travel, one of the last places that hasn’t been fully ruined by either foreign hippies or throngs of rich domestic families and their annoying kids.
So with that being said, let us dive into the next adventure that should top your 2024 bucket list: motorbiking in Kyrgyzstan.
Travelling to Kyrgyzstan has been at the very top of my travel plans for some time now, but something or another has kept getting in the way. I was originally supposed to head to this lush green country (of which 70% is over 10,000 ft) in June 2023, but now it’s sitting at the very top of my 2024 dreams.
And while hitchhiking and hiking are certainly epic Kyrgyz activities to partake in, I plan to cover this country by MOTORBIKE, and you should too.
With so many delicious mountain passes doubling as roads (with many of those being paved, I may add) Kyrgyzstan is ALSO home to the other part of the world-renowned Pamir Highway. But aside from that, there are an infinite amount of offroads and high-altitude locales to contend with, TONS of stunning lakes and friendly AF locals – many of which live nomadically in yurts similar to Mongolians.
Of course, you can also hop off the bike and spend a few days trekking too – the routes in this country truly may only be rivaled by Pakistan 😉
6. Yurting in Mongolia
Mongolia may just be one of the final frontiers of real, raw adventure travel. Vast landscapes that make you feel like you’ve really entered another dimension combined with remote villages that take “off roading” to a new level, it’s one of the most empty countries on the planet and one that should absolutely be at the forefront of your 2024 travel plans.
And perhaps the most interesting aspect of life you’ll find on the roof of the world are… yurts. Unmistakable white-colored cylinders of sorts, these ingenious, ancient homes are the hallmarks of Mongolians’ nomadic lives. One thing’s for sure, they look a bit rustic, but it’s going to be an upgrade from your hostel in Ulaanbaatar!
Insulated from the harsh winds and often frigid temperatures, it’s inside of yurts throughout the steppe and beyond that you’ll be able to really get to know this place that few foreigners explore, especially independently.
7. Trekking in Bhutan
Back in 2016, I had the absolute pleasure of finding myself in Bhutan, a mystical wonderland of a country situated between India and Nepal. While a trip to Bhutan does come with a hefty price tag as far as backpacking is concerned, take my word that if you’re to splurge on one country in your life, let it be this one.
There’s plenty to do and see in the Kingdom, but the adventure you should ensure is on your Bhutan bucket list is trekking, and I mean the whole camping shebang. Most visitors find themselves on the short and sweet day hike to Tiger’s Nest, and while I certainly enjoyed that myself, it was the multi-day expedition through offbeat villages and an unexpected snowstorm that will forever remain etched in my memories.
The guides (mandatory) are awesome, and the trails are the kind that NEVER see foreigners. As 99% of tourists stick to motorable roads, learning about Bhutan as you explore with your backpack and camping gear will make this already unique destination that much more special.
8. Exploring Hokkaido, Japan
But it’s also (understandably) one of the most popular destinations in travel right now, and seeing millions of foreign tourists annually.
Even so, there’s one extra special place in this universe of a country that is worthy of a spot on your 2024 offbeat adventure bucket list.
Allow me to introduce you to…Hokkaido.
Situated in Japan’s far north, this majestic region is chock full of mountainous views, hot springs, story-book villages and more with basically zero tourism.
Yes, you heard that right – it’s here that you’ll get to immerse yourself in some of the best scenery this country has to offer without the crowds.
With national parks, waterfalls, winter ski resorts and more to explore, the best way to get around this part of Japan is by renting a car. Start in the largest city of Sapporo (which has quite a different vibe from Tokyo and other big metros) before diving further off-trail.
9. Broke Backpacking in Venezuela
In 2014, I set off with a dream and a budget of $10 a day to backpack Venezuela. At the time, I was inundated with naysayers telling me I was insane, insisting that I would surely be kidnapped or killed.
What actually unfolded was hands down, one of the best months of my entire life.
First off Venezuela is CHEAP. I’m at over 70 countries right now, and still to this day, it might just be the best value for your money. Sure, I had to walk around with bags of cash (the currency is severely devalued) but I found myself in outright luxury for literally dollars.
The country also has a vibrant Couchsurfing scene, which is something I highly recommend you delve into to get a taste of what this place is really like beyond the headlines.
But it’s not all cities and chaos either – Venezuela is where I embarked on one of the most insane hikes of my life that no itinerary is complete without.
Mt. Roraima – which gives you a chance to see some of the world’s highest falls – is an EPIC 7-day adventure that virtually zero other backpackers have conquered. Pakistan is certainly offbeat but plenty of backpackers have been there by now. NO ONE goes to Venezuela. Talk about an offbeat adventure for your 2024 bucket list, eh?
10. Navigating Isolated islands in The Philippines
There’s no doubt in my mind that the islands of the Philippines are some of the most beautiful pieces of tropical paradise on the planet. White sand, crystal clear water, endless waterfalls to chase…
But the problem is, this is FAR from a secret these days, and the country’s most popular islands are packed and notably overpriced.
But with 7,641 (yes, you read that right) isles, there are some truly special and very offbeat parts of the Philippines that the masses are still unaware of.
I still remember my epic journey into the unknown to a place that’s still remote, but now very high at the top of most tourists’ bucket lists: a customized tattoo by 106-year-old female tattooing legend Whang Od.
Situated deep in the hills of Luzon, the largest island, the journey isn’t much easier than when I first undertook it nearly a decade ago, but her home of Buscalan went from being an unknown, truly remote locale to the focus of a Vogue cover story.
All the more reason to prioritize an off the beaten path Philippines adventure ASAP, as it’s becoming more and more on the radar.
Here are a few more still-lowkey locations to add to your bucket list:
- Sibuyan Island
- Jomalig Island
- Danjugan Island
- The Caramoan Islands
- Sambawan Island
11. Temple Hunting in Bagan, Myanmar
Undoubtedly the most offbeat backpacker destination in Southeast Asia, travelling Myanmar will always hold a special place in my heart – specifically the moments I sat upon several-thousand year old temples in the magical town of Bagan, watching the sky catch on fire.
Though Burma as it’s officially called, is genuinely thought of as “off limits” these days due to political instability, it’s actually been reopened to intrepid travelers for over a year now, and locals are absolutely keen for tourists.
In terms of Bagan, I’d reckon there’s truly never been a better time to visit the country’s premier destination. While never packed anywhere close to the likes of Thailand, this temple-filled wonderland definitely used to see its fair share of backpackers.
But these days, you can basically have it all to yourself – an experience that for sure makes it into my personal top 3 favorite offbeat adventures ever.
Flights from Bangkok are cheap, e-visas are available, and in terms of the tourism spots, they’re open and ready to blow your damn mind.
12. Camping in Cappadocia in Turkey
I know you must be thinking: “A trip to Cappadocia – but Will isn’t that one of the most popular places to travel in Turkey these days?
But I NEED you to hear me out on this one.
Cappadocia is truly one of my favorite places on the planet. And while it has gotten quite a bit more popular since my first jaunt to it in the dead of winter, I can assure you that it has immense offbeat potential.
Because 99.99% of tourists just get into their hot air balloons or walk amongst a small section of Cappadocia’s wonders. They rarely take the time to delve deep into what it has to offer. And what way to better get to know it than taking the time to experience sunset, sunrise, and more from your tent?
I say skip the hot air balloon and wander about the site from the ground, with your tent as your home base. Go off and find a secluded space far away from any groups or entryways, and you’ll undoubtedly have an Cappadocia adventure unlike anyone else
13. Experiencing Raw Culture and History in Afghanistan
These days, more travelers than ever are going backpacking in Afghanistan, and before you write me off as crazy, I truly believe it is the absolutely best time in 40 years to go. While many think of it as nothing but a war-torn desert, this is a land that’s teeming with centuries-old historical sites, stunning landscapes, and incredibly friendly and welcoming folks.
As of Fall 2023, the new government has a fairly organised tourism system set up, which includes a ministry in each province where you can get travel permits from. It’s quite similar to traveling in Pakistan, with slightly more nuance and virtually zero “domestic tourism” or groups of selfie tourists. Obviously, travelling here isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve ever wanted to do it, every road and province is open and safety has arguably never been better.
Getting Insured BEFORE Adventuring Off the Beaten Path
An essential part of any epic adventure is travel insurance. And I’m not just saying that: I almost learned this one the hard way.
ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.
They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.
SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!
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And there you have it … 13 incredible, perhaps even LIFECHANGING offbeat adventures for your 2024.
I hope these ideas prove that even in a climate of mass tourism and “Instagrammable” everything, there are still odysseys to be undertaken that will take you right back to the golden ages of exploration.
Any one of these experiences is sure to inspire, and surely rekindle your love for life on the road if that’s what you need.
I know I plan to check off a few of these in the coming year – perhaps I’ll catch you out there? 😉
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!