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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
More dream destinations for 2019
- MATERA, ITALY and PLOVDIV, BULGARIA | In 2019, Matera and Plovdiv are the European Capitals of Culture.
- THE PELOPONNESE, GREECE
- THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS
- 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.
- MUMBAI, INDIA
- SINGAPORE | More famous this year after the success of Crazy Rich Asians
- MEXICA CITY, MEXICO
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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