Let's do ourselves a favor this year and make resolutions we actually want to keep... Such as skiing atop a live volcano, or taking a selfie with a penguin. We've rounded up the top 10 places you should visit in 2018 for your travel resolutions. All ten may be a little ambitious, but why not shoot for the proverbial stars?
Speaking of the stars, our personal favorite destination on this list is #9. Yes, we saved the best for (almost) last: Wadi Rum. The desert safari is spectacular by day, but come nightfall, prepare to witness the most devastatingly vivid sunset you've ever seen. The sky aglow in shades of orange and lilac, the mountains casting monstrous shadows across the sand. Never ever seen the Northern Lights? Who cares. Out here in the Jordanian desert, it will feel like the stars are literally falling down on top of you. If we sound impossibly over-eager, you'll just have to find out for yourself. And read on for your 2018 bucket list:
1. Niseko, Japan
The Swiss Alps are so 2017. Everyone knows that it's all about skiing in Japan these days, and there's no better place to do it than the slopes of Mt. Niseko-Annupuri. What's more thrilling than skiing on an active volcano? It hasn't erupted in about 6,000 years, but who's counting? The lava's still flowing underneath all the powder. For après, forego the hot tub and opt for one of the natural hot spring resorts, or 'onsen' for those in the know. And you soon will be.
2. The Galapagos Islands
A wildlife lover's paradise. Head to the Galapagos to witness creatures that exist nowhere else in world. Swim with sea lions, sunbathe with iguanas, and live out your Planet Earth fantasies. Snorkel with sharks off the coast of Isabel Island before heading over to Ferdinand Island to frolic with the world's smallest penguins. And be sure to take a selfie with one of the island's famed tortoises before you leave. 'No new friends,' Drake? We beg to disagree.
3. Cartagena, Colombia
This port city situated on Colombia's Caribbean coast offers the best of both worlds (or vibes, to quote Drake once again) the Latin flavor of South America with the tropical ambiance of the Islands. The walled Old Town has enough charming cobblestone to rival the streets of Rome, and the lush beaches of Isla de Barú and the Islas del Rosario are a mere boat ride away.
4. Ambergris Caye, Belize
Ambergris Caye is the largest island in Belize, with the Belize Barrier Reef waiting to be discovered right off the eastern shore. Book your trip and snorkel the second longest barrier reef in the world, and the longest in the Western Hemisphere. Time is of the essence with this vacation, (unless Leo DiCaprio manages to save the oceans by next summer), so book your trip now.
5. Fiordland, New Zealand
Go on a road trip through New Zealand's Fiordland National Park to treat yourself to one of the most spectacular vistas on the planet (see left). The snow-capped mountain range rivals the Tetons (the teenagers of the American Rockies), and the dramatic, jagged peaks are reminiscent of another destination on our list, locale #7 to be exact.
6. The Scottish Highlands
Stay in a treehouse, or a wigwam, or a Celtic castle, if you like. Tourism to the Highlands is booming, and the accommodations are becoming more and more unique to cater to their increasingly adventurous clientele. Why not opt for glamping beneath the stars? All the better to see the Northern Lights this year.
7. Dolomites, Italy
Now that Call Me By Your Name has officially established Northern Italy as the most romantic destination of the year, why not check out the Dolomites in the Northeastern regions of the country? Start your trip in Milan before heading up to the Italian Alps (which, unlike the Swiss Alps, are still in favor). Word to the wise: hiking these mountains in the middle of the summer is a sweat-inducing feat, so pack (and prepare) accordingly.
8. The Maltese Islands
In our estimation, Malta is one of the most underrated, undiscovered places on Earth--to Americans, at least. The islands of Malta, Gozo, and Comino have been European destinations for quite some time, not to mention backdrops to films like Troy. When I told the patron of a family-owned cafe that I was from America, he was so shocked that he dropped my kebab. Don't worry, he gave me the second one for free. Malta is the third-most generous country in the world, after all. That is a fact: you can look it up.
9. Wadi Rum, Jordan
Even if you're a sworn ocean lover, preferring the misty climes of Oregon to the aridity of Arizona, you won't be able to resist the beauty of Wadi Rum. Sign up for a Bedouin-led desert safari, and navigate the canyons while atop a camel, or the back of an old-school Jeep 4x4. Do go off-roading: the rush of running down a sand dune in the Jordanian desert, leaping into the air towards the vast, light blue, Middle Eastern sky, is simply unparalleled. The people are also amongst the friendliest in the world. Our guide brought us to meet his family later that night. They were camped miles away across the desert. We shared tea beneath the stars.
10. Blue Mountains, Jamaica
Speaking of countries where the hospitality is legendary, (shout-out to Phillip Linton, the best man to know in Kingston), we've reached our final spot: The Blue Mountains, in Jamaica. If you've ever flown into Kingston, you've surely noticed those blue giants, their azure haze cast by eucalyptus oil. Maybe you were headed to Montego Bay, but we encourage you to stay awhile longer. According to many locals, the mountains are named for their view from above (not down below): When you're up there, all you see is blue. We recommend heading to Strawberry Hill to find out why. If you have the means, we highly suggest it.
Been to any of these places? Weigh in, and let us know what's on your bucket list for 2018!
Photo Credit: Bloomberg, Travel Channel, Pick Your Trail, Tofugu, TRVL, Egged Tours, TVM, Landlopers, Topflight, International Traveler