Free Three-Month Trip to Italy from Airbnb

Author Article

Hi, hello, ciao, there’s someone I’d like to introduce you to. It’s future-you—more specifically, it’s five-months-in-the-future you.

Five-months-in-the-future you lives in a charming countryside village in Southern Italy called Grottole. (It’s in the part right between the sole and the heel of the boot.) You start every day with a cappuccino and a lesson in Italian language, before moving over to the vegetable garden to get acquainted with local produce. Next up is a cooking lesson, and a homemade lunch (fingers crossed that it’s pasta). Save some room for a sundown aperitivo, though.

One quick clarification: This could be be five-months-in-the-future you—if you apply for, and win!—one of four spots in the Airbnb Italian Sabbatical program. According to the company:

“Airbnb is sponsoring a unique opportunity for four people to move to the small village of Grottole for three months and experience authentic rural life in Italy. Selected candidates will become temporary citizens of the village and will volunteer for a local non-profit organization called “Wonder Grottole” whose aim is to revitalize the town’s historical center. The small village of Grottole, with only 300 inhabitants and more than 600 empty homes, is at risk of disappearing and is asking for your help!”

I mean, you really don’t have to twist our arms on this one. Hang on, what’s that, it’s all-expenses paid? And a €900 monthly expense stipend? Okay, we’re double in. Make that triple.

Join The Conversation

TOP COMMENT:
“I would love this opportunity to learn and live in Southern Italy with others that share love of food, travel, and culture. Pretty please!!”
— Gail B.

COMMENT

And now that we’ve reeled you in with that video, we’d like to present the following stream of daydream-inducing photos of Grottole, in an effort to distract you all until you miss the application deadline (Feb. 17). Meanwhile, we’ll be racing to get our essay submissions in! (And pondering how to answer the application question, “Why would you like to take a sabbatical in Grottole?” Forced choice response options do not include photos of our tiny, drafty New York apartments.)

Allora:

To learn more about the program or (ugh! If you must) apply, check out Airbnb’s Italian Sabbatical page.

From Our Shop
Sfoglini Seasonal Pasta Subscription

Sfoglini Seasonal Pasta Subscription $65–$225

Marcato Italian Pasta Machine

Marcato Italian Pasta Machine$99–$129


Do you ever daydream about taking a sabbatical to Italy? Let us know in the comments!

The World’s Best Hostels For Solo Travelers

See Author Article Here
By

ANECDOTALLY, IT SEEMS like solo travel is the new “it” way to see the world. But even if your Instagram feed isn’t filled with pictures of people climbing mountains by themselves, numbers don’t lie. Hostelworld — the worldwide mavens and aggregators of everything hostel-related — found a 42 percent increase in solo bookings over the past two years. A remarkable number given how popular hostels were for solo travelers to begin with.

Each year, Hostelworld filters through over 1.2 million hostel ratings to come out with its annual HOSCARS awards, its ratings for the best hostels in the world. As solo travel booms, this year’s HOSCARS included awards for the best worldwide hostels for solo travel, as well as awards specifically for solo male and solo female travel, the best of which you’ll find here.

The Roadhouse
Prague, Czech Republic

Photo: The RoadHouse Prague/Facebook

This modern-décor-meets-old-brick hostel near the Charles Bridge in the Mustek section of Prague sits along cobblestone streets and architectural marvels, perfectly situated for solo exploration. That said, if you’d like a little help discovering the city, The Roadhouse organizes daily activities like sightseeing and attending music festivals. Inside the hostel, you’ll be plenty entertained with Netflix and Wii in the common area. Or, if you’re tired of socializing, each bed comes with a privacy curtain and a reading light.

Soul Kitchen
St. Petersburg, Russia

Photo: Soul Kitchen Hostel/Facebook

“The Soul Kitchen in St. Petersburg” sounds a little like a Florida restaurant with killer shrimp and grits, but it is, rather, the top-rated hostel in Russia. The cool, white brick interior sits inside a 150-year-old Neo-baroque building, set gracefully on the banks of the Moyka River. You can take in the waterfront view from the hostel’s balcony or enjoy the indoor amenities from the funky reading room or TV lounge. If the hostel’s name inspires you to cook, the kitchen boasts one of the more unique hostel stoves you’ll find, where an antique 19th-century wood burner has been converted to run on gas.

Cozy Nook Hostel
Da Lat, Vietnam

Photo: Cozy Nook Hostel/Facebook

You’re not sitting in the lap of hosteling luxury at this spartan, wood-accented hostel in the heart of Da Lat. But assuming you’re ok sleeping on a clean, firm wooden bunk, this might be one of the best hostels in the world for immersing yourself in local culture. The owners pride themselves on giving guests a true sense of Vietnamese hospitality, which includes nightly dinners and Vietnamese cooking classes where you source ingredients from the local market. Cozy Nook also offers plenty of ways to get out and explore the city, including motorbike tours, canyoning, and trekking through the nearby mountains.

Adventure Queenstown Hostel
Queenstown, New Zealand

Photo: Adventure Queenstown Hostel/Facebook

The folks behind Queenstown’s most popular hostel were experienced backpackers who took the best things they found in hostels around the world and put them in one cozy, 49-bed establishment. The stone façade gives the place the look and feel of a mountain lodge, with balconies to enjoy the view out over Camp Street and a dining room looking onto Lake Wakatipu. Adventure Queenstown is especially appealing to solo travelers because it offers organized activities five nights a week, from pool nights at a pizza joint to Mario Kart competitions. So even if you’re not in town for hard-core adventure, you can find people to spend time with.

The House of Sandeman
Porto, Portugal

Photo: The House of Sandeman Hostel and Suites/Facebook

For wine lovers, you may not find a more perfect hostel than the House of Sandeman, set atop the Sandeman wine cellars, across the Dom Luis I Bridge from the center of Porto. The world’s first branded hostel boasts fantastic views of the River Douro, whether from nine of its exquisitely decorated suites or from the George Restaurant and Bar. The rooms all feature hardwood floors and expansive windows, so you can enjoy waking up to scenes of Porto’s unique and eclectic architecture. And, of course, you can visit the Sandeman Cellars and taste port wine, a tradition that dates back to 1790.

Hostel Lullaby
Chiang Mai, Thailand

Photo: Hostel Lullaby Chiangmai/Facebook

The common area at the Hostel Lullaby is one of the more unique you’ll find in a hostel, a large glass greenhouse that feels a bit like socializing in the Southeast Asia section of an indoor conservatory. If that conservatory served free snacks and had a patio with yoga classes. Cool as the greenhouse is, if you tire of spending your days there, you’re also a short walk from Chiang Mai’s most famous monasteries at Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang. Once you return, you’ll be laying on one of the hostel’s five-star pillow top mattresses, providing one of the most comfortable hostel sleeps you’ll ever have.

Hostel Majdas
Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Photo: Hostel Majdas Mostar/Facebook

The accommodations at the first hostel to open in Mostar after the civil war of the 1990s are perfectly clean and comfortable. But the reason to stay at the Hostel Majdas isn’t so much for the beds or the cake Majdas herself makes. It’s the tour. Bata’s Crazy Tour is without question the most immersive, personal tour of this former wartorn city. Bata takes you through the city, up to a mountain waterfall, and into a local home, interspersing the journey with unbelievable stories from the turbulent war years. Since people often stop in Mostar during a summer holiday to Croatia to dip their toes into Bosnian culture, this tour is the perfect way to learn a lot about the country in a short amount of time.

Star Hostel
Taipei, Taiwan

Photo: Star Hostel/Facebook

The modern Asian design we see in American luxury hotels is largely drawn from the sort of everyday décor on display in cities like Taipei, and nowhere is this more obvious than at the Star Hostel. Here you’ll walk through bright common areas with floor-to-ceiling windows, dotted with tropical plants and light woods. The Green Lounge is like a serene Asian spa where you can meditate while sitting on the floor and gain a sense of calm even when other travelers bustle around. The rooms are similarly done up in simple woods and whites, and though not as luxurious as Asian-inspired hotels back home, the Star Hostel is equally aesthetically impressive.

USA Hostels Ocean Beach
San Diego, California

Photo: USA Hostels Ocean Beach/Facebook

The lone stateside hostel to make the cut is this psychedelically painted spot on Newport Avenue in San Diego’s Ocean Beach. In addition to being literally seconds from the sand, the hostel does more to help you explore the city than most full-service hotels. On Sunday, you can take a shuttle to the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, and Downtown San Diego. Twice a week the hostel shuttles guests to hiking at Cowles Mountain and also offers a twice-weekly shuttle to La Jolla. It’s got a weekly beer pong tournament, a beach bonfire with s’mores, and a farmers market out in front. So for a cheap beach vacation to Southern California, this is easily the best option you’ll find.

Adventure Q2
Queenstown, New Zealand

Photo: Adventure Q2 Hostel/Facebook

This smaller, more centrally located offshoot of the Adventure Queenstown Hostel gives the same worldly, laid-back style as the original in a much more action-packed location. It sits just across from the popular Village Green, which means that by day you’ll be able to stroll outside and enjoy a beer with other leisurely travelers and by night be able to walk feet to the nearest bar. You won’t find much in the way of private rooms here, either, so be sure to wear yourself out bungee jumping, hiking, hang gliding, and generally risking your life so your roommate’s snoring won’t keep you awake.

We Love F. Tourists
Lisbon, Portugal

Photo: We Love F****** Tourists/Facebook

The “F” stands for exactly what you think it does, which at first glance might make it an unlikely pick as the best hostel for female solo travelers. But top the list it did, as this Lisbon hostel set at the juncture of Praca de Figueira and Rossio squares rates highly in nearly every category. The location is prime, about five minutes from Barrio Alto and Cais do Sodre, and walking distance to the museums, parks, bars, and restaurants of the Alfama neighborhood. The hostel organizes walking tours and pub crawls of the area, so you can make the most of the location without any guesswork. 

The 25 Places You Need To Travel To In 2019

See Author Article Here

Looking at all those top nines from 2018 on Instagram was almost as irritating as posts about Bird Box. Almost. Because as harmless as it might seem to post a tic-tac-toe board of the year’s favorite memories, it often became an overwhelming barrage of food you wanted to eat, animals you wanted to pet, and countries you wanted to visit — and made planning your travel schedule for the year ahead harder than you thought.

So what are the spots that you can visit in 2019 that’ll pretty much guarantee a top-nine-worthy trip? We took a look around the world and found the places that are either doing some seriously epic stuff in 2019, are about to blow up with tourists, or are old standards we’re discovering new sides of. In no particular order (because they are all equally epic — yes, even the Midwest), these are the 25 places you should visit in 2019.

This year’s Where to Travel list was written by Noelle Alejandra SalmiMatthew MeltzerTim Wenger, and Laura Reilly, with nominations from the entire Matador Network editorial staff.

Dominica

Photo: Darryl Brooks/Shutterstock

1. Dominica

No island in the Caribbean has the dominating nature of Dominica. It’s apparent as soon as you fly among mountaintops to the island’s only airport, swearing you’re going to land in the middle of a jungle until an airstrip miraculously appears out of nowhere. The air smells like a spa, scented by gum trees and Caribbean humidity, a smell that can almost soothe your muscles during one of the island’s ass-kicking hikes.

But those hikes — many of which are straight up muddy cliffs through thick jungle — are some of the most rewarding in the world. You’ll find yourself swimming under a 200-foot waterfall in a crystal-clear river, with literally no people around for miles. Dominica isn’t big on sandy beaches or fruity cocktails, but for tropical wilderness and awe-inspiring appreciation of nature, it’s one of the most perfect places in the world.

This year, the island finally goes a little upscale too, welcoming the new Cabrits Resort and Spa Kempinskialong the sands of Portsmouth. It’s the first five-star hotel to grace the island, and though it might not be as rugged as the rest of your vacation, it’ll be a welcoming place to relax after all that jungle trekking.

 

Northern Canada

Photo: Ed Dods/Shutterstock

2. Northern Canada

There is nowhere in the world where you can experience wild, untainted natural splendor like the territories of Northern Canada — as long as you don’t mind being a little cold. Here, the untamed wilderness of Nunavut, Yukon Territory, and the Northwest Territories take national parks to a whole new level, offering camping and hiking among both towering peaks and ice-capped seascape at the same time. You can chill with wild polar bears in Nunavut and then fly into the Arctic Haven Wilderness Lodge, a completely green-energy powered establishment. Add a hot-air balloon ride in the mix for good balance. In Iqaluit, the capital city of Nunavut, you can take in the Inuit culture at the annual Alianait Festival under nearly 24 hours of sunlight in June. If you go in winter, Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories warms visitors with a surprisingly active restaurant and social scene.

If you’re up for the challenge — and have a pair of thermal underwear to keep warm — make your way across the brand new Road to Tuk, an overland voyage to the most northern reaches of the Northwest Territories. Up until 2017, the only year-round pathway to the village of Tuktoyaktuk, which borders the country’s northern coast, was an ice road that shifted as frequently as the glacial-carved lakes and snow banks it wound around in its path from the slightly larger town of Inuvik. This made it essentially impossible to reach unless you’re auditioning for a spot on Ice Road Truckers. The new road is still no easy drive, but it’s an adventure in itself. Plus, in 2019 you’ll have the unmatchable reward of smoking a legal joint on a berm overlooking the Beaufort Sea to welcome your arrival. The northern lights have never looked so rad.

 

Taiwan

Photo: weniliou/Shutterstock

3. Taiwan

At first, Taiwan’s capital city of Taipei can seem overwhelming, a tightly packed metropolis of buildings, traffic, and neon lights. But slow down and you’ll soon discover this bustling city’s charms. Museums like the National Palace Museum and the Taiwan National Museum house a treasure trove of Chinese art, and the National Museum of History is fascinating. The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hallcommemorates the first president of an independent Taiwan, hinting at the country’s uneasy relationship with China. Given China’s insistence on folding Taiwan back into “One China” and its apparent meddling in Taiwan’s recent elections, we think now’s a good time to visit the sovereign nation.

While the museums are worthwhile, the best part of a Taipei day starts after the sun sets. The city’s packed with night markets hawking interesting, and weirdly edible, foods. At the Shilin Night Market, try the fermented tofu, or hit up the Ningxia Night Market for tasty mochi. At the Huaxi Night Market, also known as Snake Alley, you’ll find more snakes than you’ve ever seen in one place, alive or dead, and you can try everything from cooked snake to eel soup. If stinky bean curd and slithery snakes don’t appeal, Taipei has plenty of sit-down restaurants serving some of the best Chinese cuisines anywhere — including hot spots Raw and Din Tai Fung, which has the most savory dumplings you’ll ever taste.

Another feature of Taipei is the densely forested hills that surround it. Just outside the city, Yangminshan National Park is full of trails and hot springs. The national park is one of 14 national forest areas, with hiking, mountain biking, and rafting options. Eventually, a national system of trails will stretch all the way from the north to the south ends of the main island. Offshore, Taiwan’s tiny Penghu Islands, located between it and China, are well known for windsurfing, as well as diving and snorkeling. If you’re ready for another urban experience, Taiwan’s southern seaside city Kaohsiung has a new arts district with cafes and galleries.

Ukraine

Photo: Oleksiy Mark/Shutterstock

4. Ukraine

For many former Soviet states, the years of seclusion and relative obscurity are over. Ukraine, a country of nearly 50 million with more than 1,700 miles of Black Sea coastline and the green, towering peaks of the Crimean and Carpathian mountains, is ready to craft its own image as a global destination. Following nearly 70 years as part of the USSR and under its own rule only since the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1990, the country is experiencing a cultural renaissance — complete with some of the best art, architecture, and food you’ll find in Eastern Europe.

You’ll likely land in Kiev, a capital city rich in architectural marvels, historical museums, and politically charged street art. Spend a few days here acclimating to the country and honing your chops in key Ukrainian phrases — and gorging on borscht, of course. As beautiful as the centuries-old churches and hauntingly enchanting old quarters of the city are, challenge yourself to go deeper into the country by train or plane.

In the culinary capital of Odessa, amongst portside cafes and vibrant food halls, you’ll find that Bichki Bullfish goes quite well with a glass of Chernihivske beer, and that a rowdy evening at a raucous food hall is the Ukrainian equivalent of a Friday night kegger. Just east of the Polish border, the lively city of Lviv throws over 50 festivals per year, celebrating everything from coffee to jazz. And in the fascinating city center, Catholic and Armenian churches share space with synagogues, mosques, and Renaissance and Baroque monasteries — it’s no wonder the entire city center is UNESCO world heritage site.

Rwanda

Photo: Radzimy/Shutterstock

5. Rwanda

No country has brought itself back as a world-class destination faster than Rwanda. The nation embroiled in a civil war from 1990-1994 has now become a model for rebuilding, conservation, and progress, and if seeing Africa’s famed wilderness is on your 2019 travel itinerary, Rwanda should top your list. Safety concerns are long gone; the country was rated the ninth-safest in the world and safest in Africa by the World Economic Forum. And through conservation efforts, the nation that houses one-fifth of the primate speciesin Africa has seen a 26.3 percent increase in primate populations since 2010.

Gorillas are the main attraction here, and there’s no shortage of places to see them through the craters and mountains of Volcanoes National Park or the mountain rainforests of Nyungwe National Park. In the wetlands of Akagera National Park, poaching has been all but eliminated, and with the re-introduction of the rhino last year it’s now home to all of the African “Big Five.” As such, it’ll welcome its first luxury lodge at the Magashi Camp this year. Wildlife isn’t the only draw though; some of the best experiences in Rwandainclude mountain biking along the Congo Nile trail and taking a helicopter tour above the Land of a Thousand Hills.

The country is also observing the 25th anniversary of the end of its civil war. In the bustling, progressive capital of Kigali, you can visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center, a harrowing yet fascinating look at where this country has come from. To honor the event — and combine the cultural with the natural — Intrepid Travel has introduced a Remarkable Rwanda & Gorillas of Uganda tour that includes both historic tours of Kigali and mountain gorilla treks, as well as a jaunt to nearby (and equally cool) Uganda.

Tahiti

Photo: Martin Valigursky/Shutterstock

6. Tahiti

Admittedly, 2018 was a rough year for discount airlines. But we can still thank them for opening up IcelandNorway, and a ton of other destinations for travelers on a budget. In 2019, you can add expensive-sounding Tahiti to the list of places cheap airfares will allow you to go. A new discount carrier called French Bee is running Tahiti — San Francisco — Paris routes, with one-ways from SFO to the islands starting at $330. Not exactly “Ñooooo… qué barato” cheap, until you realize Tahitian round trips usually run between $1,400-$2,000. So you can now go spend a week in French Polynesia for the cost of a flight to a small regional airport.

Once there you’ll find one of the world’s great island paradises, with pristine white sand beaches lined with native coconut palms and some of the best diving on the planet. If you saved a ton of cash on your airfare and want to splurge on a new resort, Coqui Coqui perfumeria opened a new resort in Bora Bora in 2018, set right on Matira Beach. Or if you’re the kind of person who likes to fly discount airlines but rents private islands, Nukutepipi Island is available to rent this year. It’s a brand-new part of Sunset Luxury Villas, curated by the founder of Cirque du Soleil.

Uzbekistan

Photo: AlexandrKuznetsov/Shutterstock

7. Uzbekistan

If there’s one region that’s trending for 2019, it’s Central Asia. The former Soviet Republics known as the “Stans” are on the lips of every travel tastemaker, from mountainous Kazakhstan to the fiery craters of Turkmenistan. But the one country rising ahead of the pack as the Central Asian destination to visit before everyone else does is Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan saw a 40 percent increase in tourism last year and shows no signs of stopping. Once a key stop on the Silk Road, few other places offer such a remarkably preserved glimpse into the past. The commanding architecture dates back to the 10th century, having survived both Mongol and Soviet invasions.

Both Samarkand and Bukhara are UNESCO World Heritage sites, owing to the roles they played as crossroads of culture in their Silk Road days. Here you’ll find grandiose Islamic architecture with dazzling blue-green tiled edifices juxtaposed against sandy buildings. Every step is filled with an overwhelming amount of sites, so take as much time as you like to marvel at the incredible level of detail present in the mosques, minarets, mausoleums, and palaces. Uzbek food is also sure to satisfy anyone who’d enjoy a confluence of Asian, Middle Eastern, and European cuisine; try hanum, steamed dough stuffed with potatoes, onions, spices, and meat then served with thick chaka yogurt, sour cream, or tomato sauce. Then wash it down with some tea — which you’ll be sure to be offered a lot of during your trip.

Actually getting to Uzbekistan doesn’t, as you might think, involve a million dollar visa, five charter planes, and a camel ride to get there. As of 2018, travelers from the US and several other countries can pay $20 for an eVisa that only takes two days to process. There’s also been an increase in direct flights from Europe, as well as a flight with only one stop from New York through either Moscow or Istanbul.

The Florida Keys

Photo: Romrodphoto/Shutterstock

8. The Florida Keys

Though the images of three-story piles of debris along the Overseas Highway seem like they were plastering the news yesterday, it’s been almost a year and a half since Hurricane Irma. And with a handful of exceptions, everything that made the Florida Keys great before the storm is back up and running, much of it vastly improved.

While damage from the storms was tragic, the money that resorts, attractions, and other businesses received to rebuild has been put to good use. The result is a region chock full of fully-renovated hotels, new restaurants, and updated infrastructure. Old hotels have reinvented themselves, as the staid Hotel Key West is now the delicately Cuban-themed Havana Cabana. The Amara Cay resort has a brand new beach. Hawks Cay has all new restaurants and a revamped pool area. You get the idea.

Add to that the water that’s exceptionally clear this year after a relatively-calm storm season, and a fish population that rebounded in 2018 as charter trips dwindled, and you’ve got the best time to visit the Keys in decades. Though the US is still slowly catching on that the islands are back in business so you still won’t deal with crowds like you might have a few years ago.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Photo: Vlada Photo/Shutterstock

9. Bosnia and Herzegovina

We can’t get enough of the enigmatic countries of the Balkans, which have come into their own since the region’s devastating wars ended on 2001. Yet, while the coastline of Croatia has become a huge draw and outdoor lovers are discovering mountainous Montenegro, this year we’re putting in a plug for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ancient, fairytale cities are set on rolling hillsides and framed by forested peaks while minarets mix with church spires in an intriguing blend of East and West. Compared to the uber-trendy countries that surround it, Bosnia and Herzegovina still feels raw and untouched by tourism — but it likely won’t stay that way for long.

The country’s most celebrated — and at times tragic — city, Sarajevo, is a stunning melting pot of cultures and religions, cuisines and architectural styles. Ascend the Sarajevo Cable Car to Mt. Trebević for sweeping views of the city before heading back down for a somber, but important, visit to the War Childhood Museum. Then head into the Old Town for burek, a filo-pastry pie filled with spiced meat, or a ćevapčići, flatbread filled with minced beef and lamb.

Two hours east of Sarajevo is the city of Mostar, where the famed 500-year-old Stari Most “Old Bridge” was destroyed by Croatian fighters. Rebuilt with stones from the original quarry, using only the techniques available when it was first constructed, the storybook bridge is now a World Heritage site. Equidistant from Mostar and Sarajevo is the country’s oldest national park, Sutjeska National Park, packed with mountainous peaks, rivers, and waterfalls — for hiking, mountain biking, rafting, and just taking in the natural splendor.

Colombia

Photo: Jess Kraft/Shutterstock

10. Colombia

Colombia is a country that mesmerizes every sense. The smells of baked goods fresh out of the oven, the visual pique of street art built on the ongoing desire for peace, and the resolve of 50 million people proud of their heritage and eager to write a new chapter in their country’s history. Both Bogota and Medellin, the two largest cities, are vibrant, cosmopolitan hubs where you can salsa until you drop or get your groove on at countless reggaeton clubs.

For a day trip in the capital, take the Breaking Borderstour and educate yourself to the country’s violent past on a guided walk run by former gang members who are now pursuing work in tourism. Then, meander through the cobbled streets of La Candelaria to photograph the city’s stunning — and highly political — street art and do some people watching at La Plaza Bolivar. In Medellin, ride the cable cars to Parque Arviand push yourself to venture beyond the backpacker hostels and tourist-centric restaurants of the El Poblado neighborhood.

Dining-wise, you can down enough freshly made empanadas and arepas to put yourself into a food coma anywhere in the country. But the culinary chops of Colombia stretch much further than baked goods. Take lechona, a traditional dish of slow-roasted pork stuffed with an amalgamation of fresh vegetables and served pulled. Or changua, the only soup that you’ve ever actually wanted to eat for breakfast. A bowl of ajiaco, Colombia’s national dish, at La Puerta Falsa in Bogota is an absolute must-east. Whatever you order, wash it down with a cold refajo and don’t resist the urge to come back for the exact same plate the next day.

Beyond the urban hubs, you can get out into the wilderness by trekking to The Lost City, or La Ciudad Perdida, located along the north coast of Colombia between the Buritaca River and the Caribbean Sea. It’ll take five days to backpack there, and you’ll be rewarded with ancient sites and natural splendor that rival Machu Picchu’s. The architectural marvel dates back to 800 AD, making it a solid 600 years older than Machu Picchu, and it’s totally free of the crowds that plague the Peruvian wonder of the world.

Ethiopia

Photo: Radek Borovka/Shutterstock

11. Ethiopia

Ethiopia has one of the most unique cultures in Africa, interesting wildlife (it’s home to those terrifying-looking Gelada baboons), and awe-inspiring mountain landscapes, and yet it continues to fly under the radar of many travelers. Start your Ethiopian journey in Addis Ababa, a city bursting with youthful energy thanks to its unbeatable coffee culture, edgy fashion scene, and all-night dance parties in the city’s central Piazza neighborhood and jazz clubs. Dip your toes into Ethiopian cuisine with the staple injera — a spongy crepe-like bread that soaks up fragrant vegetables, grains, and meats and is traditionally eaten with your hands. This isn’t the only Ethiopian dish worth trying, though; there’s also kifto (a raw, spicy minced beef dish) and doro wat (chicken stew). Bright yellow tej, honey wine, is an acquired taste but a local favorite and one you shouldn’t miss out on tasting.

Then it’s time to head out into the craggy Simien Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage site covered in forests, grasslands, and a whole lot of sheep. Stay at the Simien Lodge — the highest hotel in Africa — to have the best base for mountain adventures, which along with hiking can include mountain biking and canyoning. Ethiopia also has a prominent mixture of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish religions, and you’ll find places of worship dotted throughout the mountains, along with devout practitioners. One of the most interesting guided visits would be to the Saddique Amba monastery. It clings perilously onto the cliffside, and few people — travelers and locals alike — have ever ventured there. If that’s a little too vertigo-inducing, there are plenty of religious festivals held year-round throughout Ethiopia, all of which would make for a memorable visit.

Kauai, Hawaii

Photo: Alexander Demyanenko/Shutterstock

12. Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai, the most underrated Hawaiian island, should be on your 2019 bucket list. It’s called the Garden Isle for a reason: It’s incredibly lush. That’s due to all the rain, which staves off the crowds and is only rarely too much. Last spring, Hurricane Lane closed off the highway leading to the north shore town Hanalei. Fortunately, the road was soon repaired and the laid-back town — set between a palm-tree-lined bay and jungly peaks — was open again. Before sunning on Hanalei Bay’s beach, fuel up at the Hanalei Bread Co. If you’re not already a surfer, get lessons from the Hawaiian school of surfing, run by surf legend Titus Kinimaka. Afterward, shop for bargain bikinis at Hanalei Surf Back Door, then grab a cocktail at Kalypso. For dinner, have sushi at The Dolphin Company or enjoy creative small plates at Bar Acuda, for which you’ll need a reservation.

Alternatively, you could golf nearby at the Makai Golf Course, one of the top public courses in the US. Or head down to the town of Kapaa and rent beach cruisers at Hele On Kauai Bike Rentals for a leisurely ride along a stunning coastal path. On Kauai’s south side, at Poipu, splash around with the little ones at Baby Beach and then have a mahi sandwich at Brenneke’s Beach Broiler. Or hit the water by the Beach House Restaurant to look for sea turtles after renting your snorkel gear right there at Boss Frogs. Then watch the “groms,” pint-sized pre-teen surfers, slice up the waves at the Beach House surf break. For a hike, drive up the west coast to Waimea Canyon. Snap pictures of the impressive gorge and then go for a hike towards the NaPali cliffs. The cliffs are harder to reach from the North Shore these days because the road past Hanalei is still closed. However, repairs should be done by summer’s end, so September — one of the warmest, driest months on Kauai — might be the most perfect month for your visit.

Finland

Photo: Veronika Galkina/Shutterstock

13. Finland

What a long way Finland has come. Last year the Nordic country of forests, lakes, and isle-studded seas ranked as the happiest country in the world. A generation ago, Finland was better known for high suicide rates than natural beauty. What changed? Not only have Finns discovered light therapy to manage the dark winters, but the Finnish economy has also soared — meaning Finns can afford occasional mid-winter escapes for actual sunshine. And since Finland is one of the world’s most egalitarian countries, with a generous social welfare system, Finns gets plenty of vacation time. In July, they take the entire month off, soaking up the endless summer sun at a cottage on one of their 187,888 lakes or in the Baltic Sea archipelago, which has over 17,000 islands and isles to choose from.

Even before their July vacations, Finns kick off the summer partying in late June when midsummer festivals hail the longest day of the year. Days can be anywhere from 19 hours long in Helsinki to two-months long (!) in northern Finland. In fact, Finland is a great jumping off point for a midnight sun road trip. Or flip that equation on its head and head to Finland in December, when it becomes a winter wonderland. Base yourself in the Lapland town of Rovaniemi for visits to Santa’s village, reindeer rides, skiing, and a chance to catch the northern lights.

Or just stick to Helsinki, a worthy design and foodie destination on its own. Have coffee and Finnish pastries at the classic Strindberg Cafe before perusing Finnish design houses like Marimekko and Iitala. Then stroll to the harborside market for fried muikko fish before having a drink at Allas, where you can watch hardy swimmers in the open-air pools. Grab a casual dinner at the new restaurants by the Pohjoiossatama (North Harbor) or be wowed by inventive Nordic cuisine at OraGrön, or Juuri. If it’s summer, walk along the water and have a sauna and a casual dinner at Löyly, stopping for a drink first at waterside bar Mattolaituri. Better yet, between the months of May and October, reserve the sauna on the island of Lonna. Take a ferry there from the harbor, enjoy an incredible Finnish sauna with a birch-tree-framed view of the sea, then stay for an impeccable locavore dinner at the island’s restaurant. The view of the late evening sun behind the city on your ferry cruise back will be unforgettable.

Sri Lanka

Photo: TRphotos/Shutterstock

14. Sri Lanka

A decade after its long, ruthless civil war, Sri Lankafinally seems to be hitting its tourism stride. This island the size of West Virginia is the perfect mix of tropical island escape, fascinating cultural immersion, and architectural marvel. It’s a similar experience to visiting India, with a fraction the crowds and minimal stress. And for those looking to visit South Asia, it’s the perfect destination for 2019.

You’d be hard pressed to find more stunning buildings per square mile than you will in Sri Lanka, with spots like Temple of the Tooth, the Dambulla cave temple, and the Ruwanwelisaya stupa offering the same jaw-dropping architecture as the Taj Mahal, minus the masses. Or you can hit the colonial Galle Fort, a walled city that harkens back to the days of Dutch imperialism. For fans of ancient history, the Cultural Triangle is full of UNESCO World Heritage sites with ruins that date back over 2,000 years.

Of course, a vacation shouldn’t be all about education — and in Sri Lanka you can turn your brain off along some of the most beautiful beaches in the world like Trincomalee and Batticaloa. If you’re up for going in the water, head to Pigeon Island and snorkel with sea turtles and reef sharks. Or take a boat a couple of miles off the coast and dive with blue whales. For land-based wildlife viewing, Sri Lanka has the densest population of leopards in the world, and you can spot plenty of them as well as noble elephants at Yala and Wilpattu national parks.

Nicaragua

sPhoto: Bryce Jackson/Shutterstock

15. Nicaragua

About this time last year, Nicaragua was well on its way to a tourism renaissance. It was Costa Rica before Costa Rica went all Costa Rica. The long-impoverished people of the rural countryside were welcoming thousands of visitors, drawn by the world-class surfing, unspoiled beaches, and thick, tropical jungles. And they were buying things like houses, cars, and new clothes with the money rolling in.

Then the political unrest of April happened, and the world was effectively scared off. Though most of that trouble was relegated to the capital of Managua, people still stayed away. And just like that, it was back to square one for one of the most beautiful countries in the Western Hemisphere.

Today, the unrest is over for the most part, and regardless of your opinion on the government, the country is as safe as it’s ever been. Hiking through the steep mountains near Rancho Santana on the southern Pacific coast, you’d never know the country was under a tourism warning. Hotels are trying to lure people back with steep discounts, with some resorts offering rooms at literally half of what they were a year ago. For the country’s sake, we hope the world wakes up and realizes it’s safe to go back to Nicaragua. But until that happens, you can visit this country that’s still on the verge of making it big-time, for a steeply discounted price.

Houston, Texas

Photo: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

16. Houston, Texas

If you believe government lies like “the moon landing,” that alleged historic event happened 50 years ago this July. And though we all know it was filmed on a sound stage near Burbank, they’ll be perpetuating the hoax all year long in Houston, where the entire “mission” supposedly was managed.

But using our suspension of disbelief, this will be a pretty awesome year to be in H-Town. The original Mission Control, which monitored Apollo 11 on its historic mission, is being fully restored at the Johnson Space Center, including a new interactive moon-landing experience. Space Center Houston continues its new “Above and Beyond” exhibit, where you can ride in an elevator in outer space, or design and fly your own supersonic jet. Further, July will be Space City Month, where the city will be awash in special programs and festivals to commemorate Houston’s role in the 1969 moon landing.

Beyond space stuff, America’s fourth-largest city is getting five new food halls, including the world’s first chef hall at Bravery Hall. It’s getting a slew of new hotels including the city’s first Thompson, a Hotel RL, and an AC by Marriott. Following 2018’s massive expansion of the already-impressive Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the city follows suit this year with expansions at the Holocaust Museum and Stages Repertory Theatre. And in April, Houston will host its first-ever Nuit Blanche, the international nighttime arts event that captures an entire city with performances, art installations, and, of course, parties — all under the cover of darkness.

Iran

Photo: Mazur Travel/Shutterstock

17. Iran

Nearly everyone alive today hears “Iran” and is reminded of the phrase “Axis of Evil” plastered across their television screens. And we’re not just talking about the hostage crisis in the late ‘70s; Iran has been called a state sponsor of terrorism as recently as President Obama, and of course, our current president. So, we’ll forgive you if you’re scratching your head as to why we’d send you to certain death instead of somewhere nice and safe, like Disney World or the Bahamas.

Well, we wouldn’t send you there if we hadn’t gone there first, met some of the coolest people, had some epic outdoor adventures, and in general encountered a society that’s far different from the violent reputation that has burdened Iran for decades. Don’t believe us? Check out our original five-part documentary, appropriately titled “Is it Really That Bad?” where filmmaker Reinier van Oorsouw explores Iran, taking people’s pictures and asking them what’s on their minds. There, he found a totally safe and modern country for travelers to enjoy, with awesome ski resorts, incredible desert terrain for 4×4 expeditions and partying in the dunes, and pockets of alt culture where young people pose for Instagram, and to the sure surprise of many, some women risk not wearing headscarves in public — and it’s perfectly ok.

Your own visit to Iran should not be taken lightly; it’s still important to exercise caution and travel responsibly as Disney World this is not. But once you get over your initial trepidations, you’ll enjoy a country with a cultural heritage dating back thousands of years, bustling bazaars in Tehran, the sprawling Bafgh desert, the snow-capped Alborz mountains, and mind-blowing historic sites — like the Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse, Vakil Mosque, Zoroastrian temples, and even the ancient remains of Persepolis. But the real draw is the people, who may invite you to share a lamb and potato hotpot, smoke some shisha, or simply talk about their lives and what they wish foreigners understood about their country.

Occitanie, France

Photo: AWP76/Shutterstock

18. Occitanie, France

Say you’re going to the South of France, and people will surely conjure up images of George Clooney galavanting on a speedboat around Nice. Not that you’ll necessarily want to correct people’s perception of your lavish travel lifestyle, but your trip to the South of France in 2019 will be considerably more rustic, fattier, and boozier.

The Occitanie region of France comprises 13 departments and was created in 2016 to combine the former French regions of Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées. Set on the border of Spain, the Occitanie is a hotbed for rich southern French cuisine and seemingly endless wineries. In Montpellier, you’ll find all of the attractive qualities that draw people to Marseille — historic squares, medieval architecture, cozy wine bars — but with more local charm and hardly any tourists. The surrounding Languedoc region is also home to hundreds of thousands of acres of vineyards, producing everything from Provencal rosé to Grenache-based reds to the refreshing bubblies of Limoux. For outdoor pursuits, the Languedoc also has over 90 hiking trails (40 of which lie within the jaw-dropping Pyrénées-Orientales), along with miles of beaches where flamingos almost outnumber what few tourists there are.

Further west in the Occitanie, the capital city of Toulouse has mild Mediterranean weather, gorgeous red brick facades — which gives the city its nickname ”La Ville Rose,” or the Pink City — and a casual, cool local atmosphere. While you could spend your time in the city visiting the fine art museums, marveling at the cathedrals or even taking in a rugby game, you’ll find us kicking back with a bottle of red, a decadent smearing of foie gras d’oie, and a hearty pot of cassoulet, a fatty stew made with beans and duck meat. Be sure to save room for dessert — tarte aux noix, a nut pie with a scoop of ice cream — before walking it off along the canopied Canal du Midi in the evening.

Chile

Photo: kavram/Shutterstock

19. Chile

It’s always a good time to visit Chile, our favorite gateway to South America, but 2019 is actually the year to go. For one, the country has just inaugurated the “Route of the Parks,” a highway connecting 17 national parks covering an astonishing 44,000 square miles. From the 3,000-year-old trees at Pumalín Douglas Tompkins National Park to the glacier-fed lakes of Torres del Paine National Park, the scenery is mind-blowing. You could spend all your time in Chile’s southern zone, and it would be the trip of the year. Add in a bit more of this lanky country and it may be the trip of a lifetime.

On its northern end, the Atacama Desert astounds with giant salt formations, alpacas, pink flamingos, snow-capped volcanoes, geysers, and more stars than you thought a sky could hold. Or spend a couple of day in Santiago, shopping and drinking in the hip Bellavista or Lastarria neighborhoods, and eating great food in the upscale Vitacura zone. If you go early this year, you’ll get the tail end of the Chilean summer with an incredible collection of beaches, from surf spots to party beaches, to choose from. Go during your own summer, and a one-to-two hour drive from Santiago delivers you to excellent skiing in resorts like Valle Nevado or the famed Portillo resort. In fact, if you can’t decide when to go, we have a suggestion, and it’s the other big reason 2019 should be your year to see Chile. Be there July 2, 2019, and get yourself to the coastal town of La Serena or up into the Elqui Valley for a truly memorable experience: a total solar eclipse.

Zimbabwe

Photo: Vladislav T. Jirousek/Shutterstock

20. Zimbabwe

After much political turmoil that long kept Zimbabwe from being engaged in tourism, the country is finally open for business. Previously, most people had only ever visited landlocked Zimbabwe to see Victoria Falls, a natural wonder it shares with Zambia (meaning nearly all of the tourism dollars went to the neighboring nation). Now, you can take in the magnificent falls with a helicopter tour from above before boarding the luxurious new Stimela Star overnight sleeper train by Imvelo Safari Lodges. The electronic locomotive includes a dining car that serves two hot meals, a bar lounge car, and private cars where you can be rocked to sleep before arriving at Hwange National Park.

While the surrounding countries are crowded with safari vans filled with photo-happy tourists, Hwange National Park is still practically untouched. It’s home to the Big 5, including one of the largest elephant herds in Africa, along with plenty of other wild game and over 400 species of birds. If a luxury game reserve isn’t your scene, there are still plenty of options for wildlife watching. Take a walking safari in Mana Pools National Park, which features lions, elephants, hippos, and crocodiles. Or chill out on a rented houseboat in Kariba Dam, one of the largest artificial lakes in the world where you can still see the Big Five from afar, along with some killer sunsets. In Matopos National Park, climb boulders and traverse rock caves in the recreational half of the park, then spot both white and black rhino in the other half of the park.

Don’t make your trip to Zimbabwe all about the animals, though. Check out the capital city of Harare with its lush parks, botanical gardens, and modern architecture. The National Gallery of Zimbabwe has a huge collection of African contemporary art along with traditional textiles, jewelry, tools, and instruments. Four hours south of Harare, you can explore the Great Zimbabwe Ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage site that was a civilization settlement from the 11th to 15th century. It was the capital of the kingdom of Zimbabwe during the Iron Age and an important hub for the Swahili gold trade, and it’s fascinating to walk around its stone remains today.

Azores Islands, Portugal

Photo: Nido Huebl/Shutterstock

21. Azores Islands, Portugal

By now, advising people to visit the Azores Islands“before they get too big” is kind of like telling people to quit smoking. You’ve heard it so much, you don’t even want to hear it anymore. But much like anti-smoking advice, it’s still painfully true.

Fortunately for the Azores, their tourism industry has learned from the mistakes of the Caribbean and have rebuffed major resorts looking to build on the islands. Along those same lines, tourism officials are trying to limit the number of hotel beds to 20,000 in the entire archipelago. Lofty goals when the world seems to be waking up to the emerald mountains and bright blue lakes of São Miguel and the UNESCO World Heritage site at Angra do Heroísmo. And as demand rises, time will tell if the islands stay small.

For now, you can still ride ATVs through the hillside pasturelands of Terceira Island, rolling through green canyons and roads filled with hydrangeas, past cows with perfect views of the Atlantic Ocean. You can still run with bulls through island villages without many other tourists around, and swim with dolphins off the coast of Ponta Delgada without hoards of other boats scaring them off. But with painfully cheap vacation packages and a nonstop Delta flight from JFK bringing planeloads of Americans here every day, it’s hard to say when you won’t be able to do this anymore. Maybe it’ll be this year. Maybe it’ll be never. But 2019 still seems like a pretty safe bet.

Indonesia

Photo: Donnchans/Shutterstock

22. Indonesia

Unless your idea of adventure travel stops at the end of a yoga mat, it’s time to go further into this massive archipelago than Bali. Indonesia is the fourth most populous country on the planet — right behind the United States — and the 264 million people here have a lot to show you. For starters, the country is made up of over 17,000 islands and has both densely populated, active urban centers and vast expanses of untainted natural splendor. On the island of Java, the sprawling capital city of Jakarta is among the best places in the world to sample cuisine from across south and southeast Asia. Tour Kota Tua, the city’s historic Old Town, and walk off the street food while gazing at Dutch-colonial-era architecture.

Divers come from around the world to explore the waters off the islands of the Alor Archpelago, where you can get your fix with black sand critter diving and also experience the rapid currents of the Pantar Strait. Excellent diving is also found off Lembeh, Raja Ampat, and Komodo, giving you another reason to visit Komodo National Park besides gawking at the giant lizard that bears the park’s name. Komodo’s tree-lined coasts and rolling hills stretch across 29 islands, and you can take in many of them via boat tour from the island of Flores. Komodo beckons all who’ve had enough of the traffic in Ubud, and it’s just a boat ride away.

The islands of Raja Ampat are some of Southeast Asia’s most underrated destinations, the type of place that comes to mind when you picture perfect turquoise water and afternoons swept away over rum cocktails and the sounds of crashing waves. Here you can snooze beachside in complete solitude, save for a few pygmy seahorses just offshore. If you’re hooked on Indonesia and never want to leave, Indonesia is actually one of the easiest Asian countries to expatriate to due to the relatively straightforward process of getting a work permit. Plus, it’s much easier on the wallet than just about any US city — exceptionally comfortable living comes for about $1,400 per month.

Indiana

Photo: Travis Eckert/Shutterstock

23. Indiana

At the end of “Escape from Ohio,” a hard-driving Electric Six number that is the best song ever written about the Buckeye State, lead singer Dick Valentine lists off all the states that border Ohio with some sort of clever rhyme, then ends with “And I’ve heard great things about Indiana, too.”

This about sums up what most people can say about Indiana, other than the fact that they have some friends who had an epic time at the Indy 500 one time and that they liked the first season of Parks and Rec. It’s a place we don’t know much about, part of the vast, red, middle-of-the-country unknown.

So, intrepid traveler, you like going to places the rest of the world hasn’t? Then we dare you to visit Indiana in 2019. First, because there is some really underrated beauty here, especially along Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and in the rolling hills of the heartland in fall, when the changing leaves and the vast swaths of land make it a beautifully American landscape.

There’s also the Indy 500, which has acknowledged that Indy Car racing is not the captivating sport it once was and now throws a full-on EDM festival on the infield DURING the race. Because nothing compliments roaring car engines better than Deadmau5.

But most importantly, visiting Indiana will give you a new perspective on an America you might not understand. First, you can learn that life in smaller, midwestern cities like Fort Wayne is just as rewarding and enriching as life in a big, coastal metropolis — and you can still afford a house there. It will also give you a chance to meet the people from a culture you might not always agree with politically. In a time when the nation seems divided, the key to coming together is traveling to learn how people in other places live, and why they think the way they do. And if you accept the challenge to spend some time in Indiana, you’ll learn that most people are pretty much the same.

Egypt

Photo: Marcelo Alex/Shutterstock

24. Egypt

Sadly, Egypt ended 2018 with a roadside bombing near the Pyramids of Giza, aimed squarely at deterring travelers to this tourism-dependent country. Why then do we have Egypt on our list of places to go in 2019? Because Egypt is more than pyramids. Because it has plenty of beautiful places to enjoy its delicious cuisine, stunning beauty, and rich culture. Because our own staff has visited Egypt in recent months — and because we won’t let terrorism dictate our travel plans for the year — we’ll be doing so again in the weeks ahead.

While the Giza pyramids will take your breath away, they aren’t the only relics of the country’s formidable history. Egypt has several ancient ruins that are worth a visit, including the Temple of Horus in Edfu, the Temple of Hathor in Dendera, and the Red Monastery near Sohag — all of which are along the Nile River north and south of Luxor. In the city of Cairo itself, the archaeological museums and ancient market lanes of Khan el Khalili will keep you mesmerized for hours. (As per the travel advisories we’ve consulted, exercise caution and avoid crowds.)

In the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a colossal incarnation of the ancient library of Alexandria. Throughout the city, you’ll be overwhelmed with history, from the age-old Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa to Roman amphitheaters. And while we don’t recommend going overland to the coast, if you can fly into the busy seaside town of Hurghada, you’ll land at Egypt’s dive central. From Hurghada, you can dive, snorkel, cruise to nearby islands, relax on the sand, or hit up one — or several — of the town’s many nightclubs. The highlight of your visit, though, may be swimming with dolphinsin the Red Sea. You’ll not soon forget the dolphins’ endless curiosity and their seemingly ever-present smiles.

New Zealand

Photo: Robert CHG/Shutterstock

25. New Zealand

New Zealand? On a travel list? Groundbreaking. Yes, while skydiving in Queenstown, trekking the Great Walks, and tucking into Hobbiton are been-there, done-that for many outdoorsy travelers, the country is far from over. In 2019, we’re avoiding queuing up to take the same photo at Roy’s Peak, and instead discovering all of the amazing adventures the rest of New Zealand still has to offer.

Start your offbeat New Zealand trip in the North Island in the underrated capital city of Wellington, whose small but mighty cafe culture can go toe to toe with big coffee cities like Melbourne any day. Wellington also has killer craft beer, a rising restaurant scene, and a laid-back waterfront where you can sunbathe, people watch, or actually hit the waters for a sail around the city.

In the South Island, New Zealand recently reopened the Coastal Pacific railway, an incredibly scenic and romantic train journey along the glittering eastern coast from Christchurch to Picton. The railway was closed after an earthquake in 2016, but is now open for your day-tripping pleasure. If you’d rather get into the mountains, you can also take the TranzAlpine Railwayfrom Christchurch to Greymouth, past the sprawling Canterbury Plains, yawning gorges and valleys, the Southern Alps, and lush beech forests.

For water lovers, you won’t find a better destination for kayaking than the cool waters of the Abel Tasman Sea or the Avon River. You might even spot a whale if you’re paddling through Kaikoura. Further south near Dunedin, take in the stunning beauty of the Catlins coastline with a wildlife cruise around the Otago Peninsula. All told, there’s enough to do in New Zealand to fill many trips without ever setting foot in Queenstown.

But hey, if you’re still set on going to Queenstown, there’s a brand-new epic human catapult just waiting to toss you into oblivion.

Hey, Thrill-Seekers! 11 Once-in-a-Lifetime Trips to Book Right Now

Who says travel has to mean regimented museum tours and hours stuck on a bus? Backpacking groups, cross-country excursions and day trips out on the water are just a few of the affordable options available to you if you know where to go.

Slideshow Here!!
By 

Surprising Countries Where U.S. Citizens Need an Advance Visa

See Author Article Here

Many countries require U.S. travelers to present entry visas on arrival.

U.S. passport owners have the privilege of being able to visit various countries—among them CanadaMexicoFranceItalyBelizeIcelandNew Zealand, and more—without needing a visa. However, a number of international destinations do require that travelers with U.S. passports purchase tourist visas before entering the country. Here’s what you need to know about a few of the more frequently visited countries that require visas from U.S. citizens upon arrival.

Australia

Before heading to the Land Down Under, travelers with U.S. passports must apply for an electronic authorization from the Australian government known as the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). You can purchase an Australian ETA online up to—but no later than—24 hours in advance of your departure. Electronic tourist visas are valid for one year and permit multiple stays of up to 90 days in Australia. They currently cost $20 per person.

Bolivia

Although U.S. passport holders can obtain visas on arrival at the Bolivian border, the extensive paperwork you need to have with you can complicate matters, which is why it can be better to apply for a Bolivian tourist visa online or at a consulate in advance. To enter Bolivia, U.S. citizens must provide a completed application form, a passport-size headshot, evidence of hotel reservations (or a letter of invitation to stay at a private residence), proof of sufficient funds and departure tickets, a photocopy of your passport, plus a yellow fever vaccination certificate. All of this is in addition to a fee of $160, which is only accepted in cash at the border.

Brazil

A Brazilian tourist visa costs $44 for two-year entry or $160 for 10-year entry, and it can be applied for online or at a Brazilian embassy at least one month before travel. In early 2019, Brazil’s Foreign Ministry announced that the country will soon eliminate visa requirements for visitors from the United States (as well as from Canada, Japan, and Australia). However, timelines for this change have not yet been announced, which means that until further notice, U.S. passport holders must still obtain travel visas prior to arrival in Brazil.

article continues below ad

China

Non-business travelers with U.S. passports are permitted to visit Hong Kong visa-free (for stays of up to 90 days). But to enter China’s mainland, U.S. passport holders must purchase an entry visa through the Chinese embassy no less than one month before their trip. China’s required visas currently cost $140 and allow for multiple entries to the country over the course of 10 years as long as the U.S. passport has a remaining validity of one year at the time the tourist visa is issued.

Cuba

Cuba might be the least surprising country to appear on this list due to its complicated history of travel regulations with the United States. But U.S. passport holders can visit the Caribbean island nation—they just have to adhere to a few specific requirements for entry, the first of which includes applying for a Cuban Tourist Card (sometimes referred to as a Cuban visa). These tourist cards can be purchased online and grant visitors a maximum stay of 30 days on the island. They’re valid for 180 days after purchase, which means you will need to travel within six months of obtaining the document. (Learn more about the legwork required to visit Cuba here.)

India
India’s visa application process changes frequently, so the Indian embassy in Washington, D.C. urges travelers to check its website for updates before planning a trip. At the moment, however, India’s tourist visa regulations are as follows: U.S. citizens can apply online for an electronic travel authorization referred to as an “e-Visa” up to four days before arrival in India, but no more than 30 days before travel. The e-Visa costs $100 and is valid for 60 days upon entry to India. (Be prepared to present a printed copy at customs in the international airport.)

Vietnam
Just as with Australia and India, U.S. citizens planning trips to Vietnam have the option to apply for an e-Visa—also referred to as a “visa on arrival”—online and in advance. Acquiring this e-Visa, which is valid for stays of up to 30 days, requires paying two fees: one “visa letter service fee” at the time of application and another “stamping fee” upon arrival in Vietnam. (The cost varies depending on length of travel and other factors—see more information here.) It’s important to note that Vietnam’s online visa approval process only applies to air travelers who arrive at one of the country’s international airports in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, or Da Nang; travelers arriving by land or sea must apply for a visa through a Vietnam embassy.

For the full list of countries requiring tourist visas from U.S. citizens, including Russia, Nepal, and Tanzania, click here.

Italy’s Abandoned Villages Plan To Save Themselves From Ruin By Selling Homes For $1 Or Less

See Business Insider Article Here
By Aria Bendix

With its quaint fountains, ancient churches, and proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, the Italian village Ollolai may seem like the ideal refuge from city life. In reality, it’s losing people at an alarming rate as residents trade the historic hamlet for bustling metropolises.

In a last-ditch attempt to save itself from ruin, the town opted to sell its abandoned homes for 1 euro (about $1.14) each, starting in 2018. In exchange, owners must renovate the properties within three years — a process that could cost about $25,000.

Read more: 8 cities and towns where you can get a home for free — or buy one at a massive discount

“My crusade is to rescue our unique traditions from falling into oblivion,” the village’s mayor, Efisio Arbau, told CNN.

Almost a year after the program was announced, interest continues to boom. According to Magaraggia, a law firm that advises people on how to buy, sell, and manage properties in Italy, Ollolai received 5,000 requests for its first 100 properties. The program is now oversaturated with demand and has been temporarily put on hold as the government searches for new properties to sell.

Gangi homes 2Gangi has a population of less than 7,000.

The Ollolai initiative is part of a larger program called “Case a 1 euro,” meaning “houses at 1 euro,” which aims to lure new residents to sparse villages in places like Sicily, Tuscany, and Sardinia.

In 2015, the small Sicilian town Gangi began offering free homeswith a similar set of caveats: Buyers had to develop renovation plans within one year and carry out the plans the homes within three.

More recently, the Sicilian village of Sambuca started selling homesowned by the local government.

“We’re not intermediaries who liaise between old and new owners,” Sambuca’s deputy mayor and tourist councilor, Giuseppe Cacioppo, told CNN. “You want that house, you’ll get it no time.”

The homes cost 1 euro and range from 430 square feet to 1,600 square feet. Like other villages, Sambuca requires homes to be renovated within three years of purchase. The village also asks for a $5,700 refundable security deposit.

By mid-January, 10 houses had been sold, with much of the interest coming from foreign buyers in Europe.

Gangi dollar homesAn Australian director and producer visits a 1 euro home in Gangi.

Though the discounted homes have yielded considerable attention abroad, some potential owners remain put off by the hidden costs.

A woman from Melbourne, Australia, previously told Business Insider that she traveled nearly 10,000 miles to purchase a 1 euro home in Gangi, only to discover that the home would cost her $17,000 in fees and permits before any renovations could be done.

“I stayed there for a week and looked at all the ones that were for sale,” she said in 2015. “They were all terrible and needed to be knocked down and rebuilt.”

The homes often show visible signs of neglect, including crumbling walls, rotting wood, and overgrown landscapes.

For some, fixing these issues is a small trade-off for an Italian address. Renovations might also improve the resale value of a property, though home flipping is uncommon in Italy, given thatresidences are often passed down from generation to generation.

Gangi homesA house that was on sale for 1 euro in Gangi as of September 2017.

In the case of European buyers, they could also be investing in the strength of their countries’ economies.

As Italy weathers a recession that began in late 2018, the nation has been forced to borrow money from European banks. Nations such as France, Germany, and Spain own the largest shares of Italian debt, making them particularly vulnerable to a financial downturn in Italy.

While the Italian real-estate market is only one contributor to the nation’s financial crisis, the continued fall in property prices has placed even more strain on the nation’s economy.

Even the state government has sought to reduce its financial struggles by listing abandoned properties.

In 2017, Italy’s State Property Agency offered to give away more than 100 castles, farmhouses, and monasteries to owners who volunteered to transform them into tourist destinations.

Around the same time, the mayor of a remote village offered discounted rent and a $2,100 cash incentive to people who agreed to move there. He later retracted the offer because of excessive demand.

Best Travel Tips And Vacation Spots For 2019

See Forbes’ Article Here
By Richard Eisenberg

The Polar Vortex this week was good for one thing: giving many of us incentive to ponder where we’d like to vacation to get away from the big chill. Soon! After spending two days at The New York Times Travel Show in New York City recently, I have some suggestions as well as ways to save money when you take a trip in 2019.

Where to Go in 2019

“The world is on sale,” said Mark Murphy, president and CEO of Travalliance Media. “The dollar is strong against every foreign currency. If you ever thought about going abroad, 2019 is the best time.” Murphy said traveling abroad is 30 to 40% cheaper, based on the dollar, than 10 years ago. But he had a caveat: airfares. “The most expensive thing you’ll do is fly. But when you’re on the ground, things are dirt cheap.”

Pauline Frommer, editorial director of the Frommer’s travel guidebooks and co-president of FrommerMedia, reeled off her annual list of the best places to go. Among her picks, which she said are “less expensive than usual or have special celebrations going on or are under the radar but about to pop big:”

Tahiti  “It’s a great year to go there believe it or not,” Frommer said. “The new airline French Bee is doing direct flights from California for a fraction of what others charge, so there’s a major airfare war going on. Prices are sometimes 30 to 40% lower than a year ago.” Frommer recommend tourists visit the nearby Austral Islands — “Tahiti as Gaugin would’ve experienced it, where you stay in guest houses on the beach. It’s not Bora Bora where you might spend $400 or $500 a night. Here, it’s more like $100.”

Matera, Italy  “This is the year to go to one of the longest continually inhabited places on earth,” said Frommer. (Mel Gibson used the setting as a stand-in for Jerusalem in The Passion of the Christ.) A city of caves, “Matera will be one of Europe’s Capitals of Culture in 2019, with 1,000 artists descending and putting on artworks, dance, opera, and theater. It will be amazing to be there,” said Frommer.

New York State  “We think our home state is one of the best places to go in 2019,” Frommer said. “It has more ski resorts than any other state and more improvements the year, with better trails, snowmaking and resorts.” Also, she noted, in March, New York City will begin opening the largest real estate development in U.S. history, 28-acre Hudson Yards (what Frommer’s calls “the grandly envisioned, multi-tower mini-city”), an indoor-outdoor arts complex with an Escher-like climbable sculpture called The Nest. The Jackie Robinson Museum will open downtown, too. And there are two big, 50thanniversaries: June’s Stonewall Inn gay rights uprising, which will be marked during WorldPride NYC (“Madonna is rumored to be performing,” Frommer said), and Woodstock 2019 coming August 15-18, two concerts to be held at the site of the original rock concert.

Singapore  “It became famous this year in the hit movie Crazy Rich Asians,” Frommer noted. “You’ll see cutting-edge, wacky architecture, with vertical gardens and elevators big enough for a car. But the real reason is it’s a culturally-rich place and a very unusual one, with some of the best food on the planet. And it has the most inexpensive Michelin-star restaurant on earth — a noodle shack where you can eat for $1.80.”

Frommer said a few spots have become overrun with tourists, though, and had alternatives for them: Instead of Iceland, go to the nearby Faroe Islands. Skip Bali and go to Komodo Island instead. In Thailand, rather than sunbathing on May Beach, head to the Similan Islands. And ditch Dubrovnik for Rovinj, also in Croatia.

Rudy Maxa, of public television’s Rudy Maxa’s World, said “I really like Uruguay. It’s quite unspoiled and it’s not a place Americans talk about a lot.” He also talked up the former Soviet republic of Georgia. “It’s my new favorite place. I expected grim Soviet-style buildings and grandmas with babushkas. I was surprised. It’s an incredible value for the American dollar and has five-star hotels for $189 a night and dinner for two for maybe $33. But it’s a little tough to get to; I had to overnight in Istanbul.”

How to Save on Flights and Hotels

Saving on airfares Kurt Knutsson, aka “Kurt the Cyber Guy” from Fox & Friends, says the site where he starts looking for airfares is Google’s ITA Matrix, which shows “every single seat for sale for the best price and experience.” He also recommended the Donotpay.com travel site. “It’s an amazing resource. You sign up free for a flight and they watch the fare. If it’s worth re-ticketing between the time you bought it and the time you’ll travel, they’ll alert you,” he said.

Frommer said her company’s search for the lowest airfares had the best results with the Momondo and Skyscanner.net sites. “They whupped the competition,” she noted.

Book airfares on Sundays and avoid purchasing on Fridays, Frommer said. She cited an Airline Reporting Corporation study that found you can save 17% buying on Sundays and pay 12% more on Fridays.

Also, she said, for the lowest fares, it’s best to book flights six to eight weeks in advance. ‘You won’t save booking seven or eight months out.”

Saving on hotels A few websites are especially good for finding hotel deals. Frommer’s picks: Booking.com, and for Asian trips, Agoda.com. If you don’t mind using an opaque site (think Priceline) where you don’t know in advance which hotel offers the lowest price, Frommer recommends BiddingTraveler.com and TheBiddingTraveler.com.

Also, look for an anniversary deal at resorts and hotels. “Many resorts offer really nice anniversary packages,” said Nancy Barkley, a Philadelphia-based travel planner and founder of Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways. “They may offer a complementary romantic dinner.”

And see if you can get a free night by staying an extra day. “You might be able to pay for three nights and get the fourth free at a luxury hotel,” said Matthew Upchurch, chairman and CEO of the Virtuoso network of luxury travel agencies.

11 More Travel Tips

Be careful about “New Distribution Capability” or NDC. This travel-industry online pricing program “will shape how you book airfares in coming weeks,” said Frommer. Essentially, NDC will let airlines track you better to learn how you’ve booked tickets in the past “and then give you what they think you want and what will give them the most money.” The problem? If you’ve bought tickets for work, and paid for, say, priority boarding and a checked bag, the airline will assume you’ll pay that higher price for a vacation and only show you that fare, Frommer noted. To avoid NDC, Frommer advised, “be anonymous when you search for travel online and clear your history and cookies. It’s the only way you will see the true prices.”

If you want a tour, check out marketplace websites that vet tour operators. Frommer recommended Tour Radar, StrideTravel, Viator and Evaneos.net.

Know the differences among river cruise companies before you book a river trip. Frommer said Uniworld, Tauck and Scenic are “over the top” lines. By contrast, Emerald Waterways, Croisieurope, Grand Circle U and Vantage are budget lines.

Scrutinize a travel insurance policy before you buy it. Travalliance’s Murphy said it’s essential to read the fine print so you’re not unpleasantly surprised that the policy doesn’t cover what you expected. “It ought to have trip interruption insurance to cover you for prepaid items if you don’t fulfill the trip. Be sure it picks up costs if your airline cancels on you and you need a hotel or meals.” Frommer likes the Squaremouth.com site, which searches for the best travel insurance policies. “Never buy travel insurance from the same people you’re buying your travel from. If they go belly up, you’ll lose the cost of the trip and the insurance. And you’re paying them a commission that’s more than if you go direct,” she said.

Consider using a travel agent — now called a “travel adviser” — to get luxury-travel perks. Upchurch, of the Virtuoso network of luxury travel agencies, gave an example. “A client called about booking a three-night stay at the Aria hotel in Las Vegas, after finding an ‘awesome’ rate online and asked one of our travel advisers to beat it. The adviser said: ‘I can’t beat the rate; my rate is $20 more per night, but if you book with me, you get breakfasts included and a VIP upgrade and a $100 resort credit, so the value of the stay is much better. You’ll pay an extra $60 total for a three-night stay in exchange for $200 in value.”

Spend money for a private guide when traveling abroad. “If you’re going to splurge on one thing, do it on a private guide who can take you places where you can’t go otherwise or wouldn’t have gone — a local who knows the ins and outs so you’re not waiting in lines,” said Barkley. If you need to find one, ask your hotel’s concierge, she added. And, Upchurch said, you may be able to get a guide for 20 to 40% less during the week than on a weekend.

Try “high/low” eating when overseas. That, said Upchurch, means you might go to a Michelin-star restaurant lunch (where prices can be half those at the same place for dinner) and then have street food for dinner.

Know whether haggling is expected or shunned. “In some parts, it’s expected and it’s a nice thing to do, going back and forth. When I was buying jewelry in India, tea was brought out,” said Daisann McLane, a former New York Times Frugal Traveler columnist. “I wouldn’t try doing it in Paris.”

When packing a suitcase, lay on the top a printout with your name, address, phone number and email address. That way, said Liam P. Cusack, managing editor of Cruise & Travel Report, “if your baggage tag gets ripped off and your bag gets delayed by the airline, they’ll be able to know how to find you.”

Be sure your passport is valid for at least six months after you plan to travel. If it’s not, Cusack said, you may be denied boarding on your flight.

Buy an AirSelfie, said Knutsson. “It’s a drone with a camera that you can fit in your pocket. You download the app and throw the AirSelfie up in the air and it takes aerial pictures of you for a minute or two and then comes back to you,” he explained. The AirSelfie2 sells for $199.95.

Seeking Travel Suggestions!

Hiiii Everyone! I recently was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to choose a trip to ANYWHERE in the world & I can’t begin to narrow down choices!

I would super appreciate anyone’s suggestions ~ the location can be ANYWHERE – & the time of year/cost/distance isn’t a factor. I currently live in Portland, Oregon… if that matters.

I’ve been to a few countries in Europe (Italy, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands) I am OBSESSED with Italy, but want to try to branch out to new places!
Other placessss I’ve already been: Costa Rica, St. Martin, Barbados, Dominican Republic, Canada….

Can’t wait to hear some awesome ideas!!!!

Texts are welcome too! @ 503.217.4223

These Italian Villages Will Pay You To Live There — Here’s The Catch

See Author Article Here
By Laura Itzkowitz

Who among us hasn’t fantasized about ditching the rat race and moving to a charming village in Italy à la “Under the Tuscan Sun?”

If you’ve been dreaming about buying a crumbling stone house perched on a hillside, you might just get your chance. Locana, a village in the northern Italian region of Piedmont, has become the latest town to attempt to lure new blood with an offer that seems too good to be true.

As first reported by CNN Travel, Giovanni Bruno Mattiet, the mayor of Locana, is offering up to €9,000 (about $10,300 at the current exchange rate) spread out over three years to families willing to settle in the town. The catch: new residents must have a child and a minimum annual income of at least 6,000 euros (approximately $6,800).

“We’re looking to draw mostly young people and professionals who work remotely or are willing to start an activity here,” Mattiet told CNN Travel. “There are dozens of closed shops, bars, restaurants and boutiques just waiting for new people to run them.”

The town is located about an hour from Piedmont’s capital Turin and almost two hours from the famous vineyards of Barolo, Barbaresco and Asti, which have brought great wealth to the region — or parts of it, anyway. Locana, it seems, has been suffering from depopulation as young people move to cities in search of work. It’s a trend that’s playing out all over Italy, where a weak economy has made many young Italians pack up and move abroad.

“Our population has shrunk from 7,000 residents in the early 1900s to barely 1,500, as people left looking for a job at Turin’s big factories,” Mattiet said. “Our school each year faces the risk of shutting down due to too few pupils. I can’t allow this to happen.”

A vineyard in Asti, a Piedmont town known for its sparkling wines. Photo by Laura ItzkowitzA vineyard in Asti, a Piedmont town known for its sparkling wines. Photo by Laura Itzkowitz/TPG

And the mayor of Locana isn’t alone. Just a couple of weeks ago, the village of Sambuca, in Sicily , announced it was selling houses for just 1 euro. After CNN broke the story, it went viral and has apparently resulted in a flood of interest. The mayor’s office even set up a dedicated email address — case1euro@comune.sambucadisicilia.ag.it — which received tens of thousands of emails, he said.

TPG spoke with Leonardo Ciaccio, the mayor of Sambuca, who said “the official call for bids will kick off on Feb. 10, but already lots of visitors from all over the world have come to Sambuca and purchased houses available for prices other than one euro.”

According to Mayor Ciaccio, the town is home to around 6.,000 residents and offers cultural attractions including museums and theaters as well as opportunities to go hiking and explore the region’s gastronomy. The closest beach is about a 15-minute drive away in the town of Fiori Menfi. The closest airport is in Palermo, about 70 minutes away by car. According to Italy Magazine, the town was founded around 830 by the Saracens and still has archeological sites, narrow, winding streets and underground caverns.

Seems too good to be true? Of course it is.

The 37 homes for sale are crumbling and in dire need of repair. In order to get one, you have to commit to investing at least 15,000 euros (over $17,100) in renovations, which must be completed within three years. Add to that the property taxes, which in Italy are notoriously high. To prove you’re serious, you must put down a security deposit of 5,000 euros (about $5,700), which will be returned once the renovations are complete — that is, if you can get one at all.

Jonathon Spada, an American web designer living in Rome, heard about just such a deal being offered up by a town in Abruzzo a few years ago and went to the town hall to try to bid for a house.

“In that case, it was structured like a competition and there were dozens upon dozens of entrants for just the two small homes that I was interested in,” he told TPG. “Additionally, the competition required [that] a minimum amount of private funding (something like 50,000 euros) was secured before applying and an entire design project, including specs and budget.”

Sextantio Grotte della Civiltà hotel in Matera. Photo courtesy of Design HotelsSextantio Grotte della Cività hotel in Matera. Photo courtesy of Design Hotels

Spada says it seemed like a ruse to gain media coverage before just giving the opportunity to a local. He added, however, that in the case of these other towns, investing 10,000 to 20,000 euros into a property might still be a good deal, citing the examples of Basilicata’s ancient cave city of Matera — currently the European Capital of Culture — and Santo Stefano di Sessanio in Abruzzo, where crumbling old homes have been transformed into sister locations of an albergo diffuso called Sextantio.

Translated literally, an albergo diffuso is a “scattered hotel” — in essence, a hotel that operates as a collection of suites in renovated houses or, in the case of Matera, cave dwellings spread out around the town. In fact, Sextantio Le Grotte della Cività in Matera and Sextantio Albergo Diffuso in Santo Stefano di Sessanio are chic members of Design Hotels.

“You can see that the road to success lies with foreigners buying up these properties, renovating them and spending vacation time there,” Spada said.

Who knows — if you’ve got the money to spare and want to play a part in a town’s revitalization, it just might be worth it.

Featured image of the Langhe Hills of Piedmont by Laura Itzkowitz.

Top Travel Tips For Introverts

Reblog from: Bonded By Adventure

  1. Always travel with headphones, a book and maybe even a sleep mask – If you are too nervous to talk to people then this is one of the easiest ways to avoid conversation without appearing to be really rude.
  2. Try a retreat – There are plenty of different options for retreats available, whether it’s writing, spa, yoga, or something else. Retreats tend to offer a calm and quiet space in pristine natural settings. You will probably end up surrounded by like minded people who like to keep to themselves.
  3. Order room service – This can be a nice break if you have not got the social energy for a restaurant. Treat yourself to a nice and easy meal in the comfort of your hotel room.
  4. Keep a travel journal – Many people find journaling to be quite therapeutic and travelling can be quite emotional. Documenting your feelings during your travels can be very useful.
  5. Push your comfort zone – I personally feel that travelling is one of the best times to face your fears because you’re surrounded by people that don’t already have an impression of you.
  6. Take a tour – This is a nice calm way to take in your destination’s culture without it being really overwhelming.
  7. Schedule some down time – Don’t tire and overwhelm yourself by trying to fit too many activities into your schedule. Make sure you let yourself have some time to just relax.
  8. Wake up early – While staying in a big resort if you wake up early you can wander around the grounds without seeing many people, and even when you do there seems to be a mutual understanding that you want some quiet time. Early in the morning will also let you get some amazing photos with great lighting as the sun rises.
  9. Bring your hobbies with you – If you don’t plan on socialising there are still a lot of activities to enjoy on holiday. Bring a yoga mat for on the beach in the morning, bring a sketch pad and draw your views or just enjoy some photography.
  10. Small population – Another option is that you could always go on a trip somewhere where there are not a lot of people around. One of these options is a trip to certain parts of the Scottish Highlands.

So that’s all for today guys. We hope you found these tips helpful. Let us know on our social media @BondedByAdventure if you have any more travel tips for introverts. Until next time guys, thanks for the adventure, now go have a new one.