Some folks prefer the tried-and-true when it comes to travel: as is the case with being a regular customer of McDonalds, Ford Motors, or Holiday Inn, they want to know what to expect, and what they expect are no surprises. They also like to stay on the trodden path with lots of other fellow travelers. The reasoning: if so many people like it, it must be good.

Of course, there’s a time and a place for that. But the flipside is that a destination that exclusively caters to tourists presents little challenge or illumination about the place. Even if you count yourself in this category the majority of the time, you may occasionally prefer to stray off the beaten path and hobnob with locals instead of other tourists, not just for an hour but for your entire trip.

All corners of Latin America are packed with under-the-radar hotspots that can’t help but make you all warm and fuzzy about travel, although you do want to strike a balance between an undiscovered gem and a place that has no infrastructure for tourism.

It goes without saying that the risk of publicizing these little-known places is that as more people flock to these destinations, there’s a good chance that a formerly charming under-the-radar town or region will start to change, and not necessarily for the better. Want proof? You need look no farther than Cuba.

So if any of our 10 places strike your fancy, it’s a good idea to head there sooner rather than later in order to catch them before they change.

Lisa Rogak is a freelance writer and New York Times Bestselling author. Her latest book is "And Nothing But The Truthiness: The Rise (and Further Rise) of Stephen Colbert."

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