• Jessie Lynn Photo

Europe is Overrated

Europe isn’t worth the hype. It’s an overrated tourist trap. Stop wasting thousands of dollars to travel around clustered streets to catch a glimpse of over photographed locations.

Go to Cambodia instead! Cambodia was marked the 14th cheapest travel destinations of 2020 by Indie Traveller writer Marek. It was also ranked one of the safest Southeast Asian tourist locations by TourRadar in a 2018 list and held a spot on the updated 2020 list.

Tuktuk ride next to boats on the river in Cambodia. Photographer: Jessie Glander

During the summer of 2017 I traveled to Cambodia because of a single photograph I saw while scrolling on Pinterest. There was no rhyme or reason behind the trip. I had just graduated from college and wanted to do something crazy.

One day at work I decided to buy a round trip ticket out of Detroit Metro Airport and into the Siem Reap Airport in Cambodia. The ticket cost around $700 for a month-long trip. I would leave on June 26th and return July 24th, spending my 22nd birthday alone in a foreign country.

At the time I hadn’t told anyone I was going; it was an impulsive decision. To be honest, I didn’t know what I was thinking at the time, all I knew was that I wanted adventure.

The first thing I did after buying the plane ticket was creating an extension information packet for my mother, knowing the news of my surprise solo trip would not go over well with her.

Once the shock was over and she finished asking a thousand questions we came to an understanding. I was going on this solo adventure if I had an international phone plan for the month for emergencies. I wasn’t going to say no to that.

Preparing for a month-long solo vacation to foreign country in just under two months was insane but ultimately doable. After a trip to Henry Ford hospital to see the travel specialist, ordering travel gear online and breaking out my luggage it was time to depart on my journey.

Cambodia is nothing like Europe, in fact it is the opposite. The south Asian country features long stretches of dark orange dirt roads, the kind of dirt that stains everything you wear, doesn't matter the color or material. Animals, including cows, dogs and chickens, graze and mill around on the sides of the roads in most areas.

In the summer months the weather ranges from scorching hot to humid and rainy, after all the summer is Cambodia’s rainy season. Luckily for me, summers are the off season for tourism. Most travelers avoid the off seasons in foreign countries due to weather, but not me.

My trip just narrowly missed the rain, most days were sunny and hot, and I mean really hot. I spent the month traveling across the country, booking hotels and hostels as I went. I even stayed in a treehouse on and island for a couple of nights.

In Europe, travelers can visit museums, famous locations, and stop by one of hundreds of quant shops or cafes. Cambodia offers a different type of experience for travelers. The country is home to famous Buddhist temple ruins, islands, cities, and a historic floating village.

Along with the amazing sights, the people were worth the trip. The people made the trip. Everyone I met in Cambodia was friendly and willing to help me with whatever I needed from directions or recommending the best cafe to get coffee, which was made with a sweet cream milk and had a handle for easy carry.

The coffee wasn't even the best treat on the street. If you’ve never tried grilled corn from a vendor on the side of the road or rolled ice cream in a busy market, you really haven’t lived. Europe may have tasty food, but Cambodia has dishes that delight the taste buds and soothe the soul.

Rolled Ice cream vendor in a night market in Siem Reap. Photographer: Jessie Glander

I indulged on the food as I trekked through temple ruins, lounged on an island beach, and relaxed on a boat tour of the floating village. A month just didn’t cut it when it came to exploring the country, but I did come out of the trip with endless stories and memorable experiences to share with others.

Stop going to Europe, it’s not worth it. With lush scenery, outdoor markets, and food to die for (I'm talking about the corn), Cambodia should be your next travel destination.

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