Why they dig Americans: Indians are some of the friendliest people you'll ever meet, and they're mostly keen to offer up directions, travel advice, or a helping hand to anyone -- regardless of nationality. Being so well-versed in English, locals aren't averse to expressing their curiosity, either. It's a cordiality that can be pleasantly infectious.
Another reason to connect is India's burgeoning middle class, rapidly being exposed to new ideas from abroad. They've got a little bit of spending money and they're curious about the West. Whether it's American shopping brands, coffee culture, fast-food chains, or craft beer, India is starting to delve into lots of new concepts -- and they're interested to hear about what's new and trendy back in Illinois or wherever you're escaping.
Why you should go: You'll share your culture, and Indians will be more than happy to share theirs. You can't get that kind of open, honest exchange just anywhere -- especially in a place so drastically different from the States. Culture shock can be a welcome jolt.
Besides offering ethereal journeys through Hinduism, ancient customs, and tradition, India serves up gorgeous physical surroundings. Look to the epic sunsets on Keralan backwaters or Goa's golden coasts. Or, go to the most beautiful place in the world, as determined by a Japanese man who traveled the world straight for 40 years and who offered me this tip at a hostel in Laos: the mountains of Ladakh. Where, it should be noted, far too few Americans venture. -- Barbara Woolsey, Thrillist contributor