Travel Inspiration 2019

I don’t know about you, but I get almost as much feel good mileage from travel planning as from the trip itself.

A few years ago, a study from the Netherlands found that vacationers were generally happier than non-vacationers – not necessarily after a holiday, but before the holiday, while planning and anticipating their vacation.

So I’ve been looking at travel trends, and dreaming and planning for our next trip. If you haven’t started planning your next vacation, here’s some travel inspiration for 2019 so you can take advantage of this pre-trip happiness.

Travel hot spots “off the beaten path”

Although this is an oxymoron, a lot of people want to go where the other traveling masses haven’t settled in yet.

Havana, Cuba

Havana, Cuba | photo by Michael Gaylard / CC BY

For Canadians, Cuba has been a popular sun vacation for years, but we haven’t made it there yet.

It’s great that more travelers can now safely visit formerly off-limits countries such as Cuba and Columbia. I’ve even seen Iran on some recent must-see lists. Through Instagram, I’ve seen how interesting and beautiful that country is, and I would love to visit, but today it’s still too difficult and dangerous for me. During my lifetime, the same would have been said about countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia, and today they are top tourist destinations, so maybe someday.

Getting away from it all, but closer to nature

South Georgia Island

Finding that undiscovered gem means different things to different people, but as people are traveling more than ever, you might have to go further to get “off the beaten path”. Getting closer to nature on a safari in African, elephant sanctuary in Thailand or tiger spotting in India are bucket list kind of adventures.  Lately I’ve noticed more travelers are also visiting very remote Arctic or Antarctic locations, such as Greenland or South Georgia Island, where humans are outnumbered by polar bears or penguins.

South Georgia Island

South Georgia Island | photo by nomis-simon / CC BY

In case you don’t know about South Georgia Island (which I didn’t), it’s part of the Falkland Islands in the southern Atlantic Ocean. Visiting South Georgia Island is a bucket-list expedition that looks awesome but is pretty pricey. Maybe someday!

Jasper National Park, Alberta

For spectacular mountains, outdoor adventures and plenty of wildlife, I recommend Jasper, Alberta – and with the current low Canadian dollar it’s a bargain. For the best prices and to avoid crowds, try to travel outside peak times in July/August.

Black bear in Jasper National Park

A black bear we spotted in Jasper National Park.

Jasper National Park is also one of the world’s largest accessible Dark Sky Preserves, and one of the best places to view stars and northern lights. The Jasper Dark Sky Festival is held each October. And getting to Jasper…via the the Icefield Parkway from Banff is one of the world’s most unforgettable road trips.

Speaking of road trips…

One of the best ways to put some distance between yourself and the traveling masses is by taking a road trip. A lot of travelers only take road trips locally, but internationally it’s a great option as well. Having a car gives you the freedom to stop at those interesting places not so accessible by public transport. If there are two or more of you, it can also be one of the least expensive ways of getting around.

Travel Inspiration 2016, Competa, Andalucia, Spain

Stopping at a mosaic-embellished bench to take in the view of the white hill-town of Competa in Andalucia, Spain.

A Spanish Road Trip

A couple years ago we took a road trip through south and eastern Spain. Along our planned route were a lot of places we had not heard about, and it was wonderful having the freedom to stop and explore.

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden | photo by Thomas Fabian  / CC BY

A Scandinavian Road Trip?

We recently visited Stockholm, but a road trip might be a great way to see more of Sweden, as well as Denmark and Norway. These are relatively expensive countries, so we would have to figure out some ways to stretch our budget.

Alternates to the most popular big cities

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal | photo by Rustam Aliyev / CC BY


One way of stretching your European vacation budget is to visit alternatives to the most popular destinations like Paris or Rome. Portugal is a great example, being one of Europe’s least expensive countries, but with great architecture, food and culture. Other options might be the Le Marche region of Italy, or Eastern European countries such as Hungary or Montenegro. While still popular with travelers, some of these options are less busy, and less expensive.

Hokkaido, Japan

Tokyo is a must-see if you are visiting Japan, but for something completely different, check out the mountainous northern island of Hokkaido. It’s a popular recommendation this year, as the Hokkaido Shinkansen high-speed train from Tokyo will begin service in March. Hokkaido is known for it’s wilderness areas with outdoor activities such as skiing or hiking, and Sapporo’s famous snow festival with enormous ice sculptures. Hokkaido is also a great food destination, with fresh seafood, dairy, produce and delicious local dishes such as soup curry. If you go to Hokkaido, be sure to visit Otaru, a picturesque small harbor city northwest of Sapporo. In addition to the rail link, it’s easy to fly from Tokyo Haneda to Sapporo with more than 80 flights per day.

Food in Hokkaido

Food in Hokkaido | Light and delicious cheesecake in Sapporo, and fresh grilled shellfish in Otaru.

More dream destinations for 2019

  • MATERA, ITALY and PLOVDIV, BULGARIA | In 2019, Matera and Plovdiv are the European Capitals of Culture.
  • ARLES, FRANCE The town famous for Vincent Van Gogh is getting a major new arts venue which features the Luma Arles tower by Frank Gehry.
  • SINGAPORE | More famous this year after the success of Crazy Rich Asians

So if you haven’t planned your vacation yet it’s time to start dreaming!
Where would you like to go in 2019?

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Travel Inspiration

24 replies
  1. Sue Slaght
    Sue Slaght says:

    Oh i feel my wanderlust kicking in . I always like to have a trip booked before we come home from another. Lots of great suggestions here Shelly. Antarctica has been roaming around my bucket list for years.

  2. David
    David says:

    This describes me to a T. In mid-March, I’ll be heading to Cuba for a week of sightseeing. And as much as I am looking forward to that, I’m reading guidebooks and travel forums to plan trips for this fall and early 2017. I enjoy travel planning. Just thinking about where I could go makes me happy. And buying that flight starts the process to pure bliss.

  3. Suzanne Fluhr
    Suzanne Fluhr says:

    I’d love to visit Cuba and I’d love to return to Colombia where I studied for a semester and lived with a Colombian family right before narco-terrorism exploded. I wouldn’t hesitate to return now, so it’s on the “must visit” list. I’m also wanting to visit Antarctica. The hubster is less enthusiastic about that one. Much of our travel gets tacked onto my husband’s work travel. He tells me where he has to be and when and then I get to plan the rest of the trip. So far, England and Italy are on the “go” list for this year. Yes, we’ve been to both before, but as you point out, there’s plenty more to see and experience in both places than the “usual”.uz

    • Shelley
      Shelley says:

      We’re always drawn back to places we’ve been before and loved, including England and Italy. But there are so many new and wonderful places to see. Such a dilemma!

  4. Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru
    Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru says:

    We totally concur with going off the beaten path! Your picks are the most interesting I’ve read so far! We’ll see you in Stockholm! 🙂

  5. Donna Janke
    Donna Janke says:

    I agree with Gaelyn that travel planning is half the way. I don’t know all the new and familiar places 2016 will take me yet, but I am currently in Panama for a month, will be back in Arizona later in the winter and am planning a road trip up the western coast of the U.S. I also plan to continue to explore close to home.

    • Shelley
      Shelley says:

      I would love to visit Panama, especially since it has such good incentives for retirees (dreaming of the future). We’ve road tripped through the Western U.S. a couple times and loved it.

  6. Carole Terwilliger Meyers
    Carole Terwilliger Meyers says:

    I’d love to add South Georgia Island to my list! Looks like I’ll be going to Lake Charles, Louisiana for the “other” Mardi Gras, to Taiwan to see their famous lantern festival, and to China to visit lesser-known areas. And if I’m really lucky, Cuba might also join the list. Most likely NYC and LA will be in there somewhere, too.

  7. Rebecca (Bex)
    Rebecca (Bex) says:

    Ohhhh – some lovely food for thought here! Sth Georgia Island and Cuba sound interesting, especially now Cuba’s opened up more – and I’ve visited Spitsbergen in the north, so I fancy some ‘south penguins’.
    I’m off to Portugal – Porto and surrounding regions – to research for a travel guidebook company this year. It’ll be long days and hard work, but enjoyable and interesting too!
    Thanks for inspiring me.


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