Oh! The Places You’ll Want to Go

Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, cariocas landscape, general view with the Christ of Corcovado
All I want for Christmas is a bucket list trip. Rio, anyone? (Photo: Travel + Leisure)

Between the shopping and wrapping and baking and singing, I like to pause during the holidays and daydream about the vacations I want to take in the new year. Every December there are many “Best Of” lists published and each one comes with gorgeous slideshows. I pour a glass of wine, kick back, and swoon. It’s Tinder for travelaholics: swipe right, swipe right, SWIPE RIGHT!

The Best in Travel 2016 from Lonely Planet is particularly wonderful. It features 10 countries, 10 cities, and 10 regions and the reasons why the editorial staff thinks they’re swell.

Included is Western Iceland. If you haven’t considered a trip to the land of ice and snow, do it now. The country’s tourism board expects three million annual visitors by 2020, so go before the place is overrun. It’s a short hop from the east coast of the U.S. and the national airline, Icelandair, offers a number of vacation packages that make trip planning a breeze. You’ll want to photograph and/or eat the puffins, take a dip in a geothermal pool, and tour the dramatic waterfalls.

iceland glacier snowmobile
Snowmobiling on a glacier in Iceland was a great way to celebrate my birthday!

An equally sumptuous slideshow is presented by Travel + Leisure magazine. They’ve included several U.S. cities that I adore, including Seattle, Denver, Detroit, and Asbury Park, N.J., and ones that I can’t wait to explore like San Antonio, Pittsburgh, and Bozeman, Montana.


They also feature two Belgian cities, Liège and Ghent. Belgium is really small, so it’s the perfect place to explore by car if you’re thinking about trying a European road trip. You can sample a number of cities in a couple of days, soak up some art and history, eat your weight in frites and chocolate, and wash it down with the world’s best beer.

Frommer’s Places to Go list includes the university city of Wroclaw, Poland, which will be a European Capital of Culture in 2016. It is a great destination for the budget traveler ($1 = $3.99 zloty at current exchange rates) and provides an opportunity to meet warm, friendly people who love to practice their English while talking about the country’s unique history. If you go, include a trip to the Wieliczka Salt Mine, a UNESCO Heritage Site and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial. Visiting the death camp was a difficult experience but an important one because I agree with the famous assertion by the Spanish philosopher George Santayana that it is necessary to remember the past to avoid repeating it.

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For me, 2016 will begin with a major bucket list trip to celebrate several personal milestones – I’m heading to South Africa and Zimbabwe! It’s very exciting and terrifying because it’s a different kind of trip than I normally take; my vacations don’t usually involve anti-malarial pills. Also planned is a family reunion beach week on Tybee Island this summer. On the “possible” list are trips to historic U.S. resorts like the Greenbrier and/or Pebble Beach. And, I’d really love to visit Maine.

Where are you planning to go in 2016?