Going Her Own Way: Adventure and Solo Woman Travel

Author Article

I’ve had an adventurous spirit for as long as I can remember.

My first solo trip was at 19 years old, when I boarded a plane for Honolulu, Hawaii, to celebrate the end of high school. I booked a stay at the YWCA and spent my days exploring the beaches and haunts of spring breaks past: International Village, Duke’s Lane, the Waikiki strip.

It was a memorable adventure because I was free. Free to wander, lie on the beach, check out the shops at the Ala Moana Center and watch Dallas with the ladies back at the Y. That trip was the beginning of many incredible solo adventures to come.

photoClaudia Laroye

Adventure means different things to different people. Adventure can be jumping out of an airplane and sky-diving, but it can also be camping in the backcountry or taking that first solo trip to Honolulu.

Though you may not be ready for hard adventure yet (or ever—I’m not planning on jumping out of a plane anytime soon), adventure is in the eye of the beholder. It’s about going beyond your comfort zone and embracing the spirit of adventure, as much as the actual adventure itself. And you’re in good company.

photoClaudia Laroye

The rise in female solo and adventure trips is a major travel trend that has taken off recently. The Conference Board of Canada and Allianz Global Assistance Canada published statistics showing that in the winter season 2018/2019, just over eight per cent of respondents intending to travel were women travelling on their own. That’s nearly double the number from eight years ago.

It’s not just the new crop of Generation Z travellers. It’s moms, wives and women over the age of 50.  Women are embracing adventurous solo travel as never before as an extension of freedom, and in the spirit of internal and external exploration.

Anything that takes you out of your comfort zone can be an adventure, and that’s where the fun lies. But preparation is key to ensuring a safe and memorable adventure. This applies to all solo travellers, but travelling while female comes with its own set of challenges. Proper planning has ensured that my solo adventures have remained free of major pitfalls and disasters. These practical tips may help you do the same.


Tips for Solo Women Adventure Travellers

photoClaudia Laroye

Know the Risks

Being familiar with the risks of an adventure activity or destination is important. Activities like skiing and zip lining have inherent risks, but we sign waivers declaring that we’re going to do them anyway.

There’s a thrill in trying an activity for the first time or overcoming a fear of heights, tight spaces or other phobias. Once you’ve conquered one fear, you may be emboldened by a new confidence to continue on that path.

As far as destinations go, be informed. Certain countries and cities may contain more risks than others, and that risk can change over time. Check the Government of Canada’s websites for up-to-date health information and travel advisories when assessing your destination choices.


Plan Ahead

Book your accommodations in advance so you know where you’ll be sleeping each night. Plan your transportation and walking routes as much as possible so you know where you’re going and when you’ll get there. Try to arrive before dark, particularly in a new and unfamiliar destination.


Travel Light

I’m a big fan of travelling light and only use carry-on luggage. Backpacks are great depending on trip style and duration.  The less you carry, the more you can manage on your own and keep a free hand. Wear clothing with concealed pockets and consider using a money belt or neck pouch. Stash copies of passports in your suitcase and keep your luggage locked.


Travel Smart

I’m positive that my spidey senses increased when I became a mother, and I use that vigilance when travelling to ensure my own well-being. Stay on higher floors in hotels, wear minimal jewelry and take extra precautions at night. Being aware of your surroundings is important. Listen to your gut.



It’s easier than ever to keep in contact with loved ones and friends. Even if you want to stay off-grid, check in every once in a while. Register with the Canadian consulate so they can reach you in case of emergency. Connect with other women travellers and the local women’s community to share travel advice, or cabs, meals and even hotel rooms.

photoClaudia Laroye

Ride a camel in the desert? Check. Climb a 60-metre ice tower? Check. Kayak through a mangrove forest? Check. My taste for adventure has only increased as I’ve gotten older. I want to try new things, and I don’t care what people think anymore (a happy side benefit of aging?).

I hope you’ll embrace your own spirit of adventure and plan a solo adventure soon.



PS. Do you want to live a more adventurous life?

Claudia is an Ambassador of the ‘Live the Adventure’ Club Gear Box.

Every four months, we send over 4,000 explorers across North America a subscription box filled with exciting, new and seasonal gear.

photoClaudia Laroye

Join the ‘Live the Adventure’ Club today!

House Hunting in … Italy

Author Article

Andrea Wyner for The New York Times

By Alison Gregor

This three-bedroom home is just outside San Vito dei Normanni, a rural town in the southeastern Italian region of Apulia, about 15 miles west of the coastal city of Brindisi and the shores of the Adriatic Sea.

Completed in 2017, the 2,691-square-foot home includes a contemporary one-story villa with two bedrooms and a cluster of traditional structures with conical roofs known as trullimade from Apulian dry stone.

Set on nearly four acres, the property has landscaped gardens, fruit trees, an olive grove and a swimming pool.

The five attached trulli have been refurbished and include a single bedroom, dressing room, living room with open kitchen, and bathroom. The trulli complex is linked by a glass hallway to the contemporary portion of the stone-and-concrete home, also painted white, which has barrel-vaulted ceilings made from a volcanic stone called tuff. The living area has an open kitchen with a four-burner induction cooker and professional oven, among other appliances. The two bedrooms in the contemporary structure each have an en suite bath.

All of the main rooms in the home open to a patio area with a barbecue, anchored by a 50-by-16-foot rectangular pool. The contemporary wing is topped by a roughly 1,000-square-foot roof deck.

The property functions as a single-family home, but could also be rented to tourists, as many renovated trulli complexes in the Apulia region are.

A large kitchen in the home’s contemporary wing has a dining table and barrel-vaulted ceilings made from a volcanic stone called tuff.CreditAndrea Wyner for The New York Times


A large kitchen in the home’s contemporary wing has a dining table and barrel-vaulted ceilings made from a volcanic stone called tuff.CreditAndrea Wyner for The New York Times

“This project was born from a completely renovated period village of trulli, to create a luxury residential and tourist facility equipped with every comfort,” said Francesco Cavallo, a founding partner of PROF.IM. Real Estate Agency, which has the listing.

Specific to Apulia and dating back several centuries, trulli are built from stone, without mortar. They were originally used as temporary field shelters or dwellings for agricultural laborers that could be disassembled easily. This home’s trulliwhich date to the early 19th century, were rebuilt with an eye to retaining their historic authenticity, Mr. Cavallo said. One of the structures had partly collapsed and had to be rebuilt by local artisans, known as trullistos,who specialize in the regional architectural style, he said.

The furniture, which is included in the asking price, was handmade by a local cabinetmaker in keeping with the home’s design.

The pool terrace has an outdoor shower, a large barbecue and a wood-fired pizza oven. Several dozen lemon, orange and other fruit trees have been added to the property’s centuries-old olive grove. There is also a large English-style garden, an irrigation system, parking for four cars, a security system and an automatic vehicle gate at the entrance.

The town of San Vito dei Normanni, with a population of about 20,000, dates to the Middle Ages and is notable for its religious architecture. San Michele Salentino, a small community with shops, is about a mile from the property, Mr. Cavallo said, and Ostuni, known by tourists as the White City because of its whitewashed old town, is 10 miles north. The beaches of Alto Salento and the Torre Guaceto Nature Reserve are about 20 minutes away. Brindisi’s international airport is about 25 minutes by car, while Bari, a city of more than 300,000 with an international airport and a cruise port terminal, is just over an hour up the coast.

In the past decade, Apulia, a scenic region encompassing Italy’s “boot heel” and bordering the Adriatic and Ionian seas, has become a destination for those seeking second or vacation homes, said Huw Beaugié, the founder of the Thinking Traveler, a company specializing in Mediterranean villa rentals.


The conical structures, or trulli, have a dining area adjacent to a small kitchen.CreditAndrea Wyner for The New York Times


A lounge area is set beneath a small window and arched stone ceilings.CreditAndrea Wyner for The New York Times

“It’s part of a general increase in desirability of a simpler, more sustainable lifestyle,” he said. “Apulia appeals to a desire to return to basics.”

A 2018 report by Gate-away.com, an Italian property portal for overseas buyers, ranked Apulia second among Italian regions (after Tuscany) for the volume of inquiries from potential investors, said Simone Rossi, the company’s managing director.

The area’s traditional properties, which typically sit on the Adriatic coast or in inland fields shaded by olive groves, are “very much in demand among investors who renovate them and bring them to their ancient splendor,” Mr. Rossi said. “In many cases, they turn them into B&Bs.”

Properties that attract vacation-home buyers have increased in price over the past decade, although it is difficult to say exactly how much, Mr. Beaugié said. “It’s still possible to pick up pieces of land with a few tumbledown stones for a few tens of thousand euros,” he said, while a large feudal farmstead, or masseria, “will cost a few million to buy and restore to a good standard.”

Apulia has become a destination for celebrities in recent years, with lavish weddings and parties, said Marta Calligaro, a property researcher with the brokerage Homes and Villas Abroad. “The global recession just over a decade ago saw prices fall,” Ms. Calligaro said. “But the past two to three years have seen renewed growth, with the market for second homes being its driving force.”

A bedroom in the contemporary structure overlooks the patio area and a 50-by-16-foot swimming pool.CreditAndrea Wyner for The New York Times



A bedroom in the contemporary structure overlooks the patio area and a 50-by-16-foot swimming pool.CreditAndrea Wyner for The New York Times

The average price of a home in Apulia is about 1,300 euros a square meter ($136 a square foot), with the city of Bari being the most expensive area and Taranto the most affordable, although prices can vary widely, Mr. Rossi said.

A country house or seaside villa might cost about 150,000 to 300,000 euros ($170,000 to $340,000), and a masseria could run from 400,000 euros ($450,000) into the millions of euros, Ms. Calligaro said.

Many buyers plan to rent out their properties when they are not in residence, Mr. Cavallo said. Rental prices range from about 1,500 to 2,000 euros a week ($1,700 to $2,260) to 4,000 or 5,000 euros a week ($4,500 or $5,700), he said.

A decade ago, Northern Italians were the first to seek deals on vacation homes in Apulia, back when a trullo in need of work could be had for as little as 20,000 euros ($22,600), Mr. Beaugié said. But now more buyers are foreign, from Britain, the United States and Australia, as well as Germany, France and other European countries, brokers said.

The ongoing Brexit turmoil and the most recent American presidential election may be responsible for driving the “huge growth in the interest of both Brits and Americans,” Mr. Rossi said.

There are no restrictions on American or Canadian buyers in Italy, although citizens of some countries face obstacles, making it easier to buy through a company, Ms. Calligaro said.

Buyers may hire a real estate agency to assist them, typically for a fee of 3 percent of the sale price, Mr. Rossi said.

The closing of home sales is handled by a notary, for a fee of 2,000 to 3,000 euros ($2,260 to $3,400) paid by the buyer, Ms. Calligaro said.

The home is in the Apulian countryside, near the town of San Vito dei Normanni, which has about 20,000 residents.CreditAndrea Wyner for The New York Times



The home is in the Apulian countryside, near the town of San Vito dei Normanni, which has about 20,000 residents.CreditAndrea Wyner for The New York Times

A personal lawyer can provide legal advice throughout the process, for a fee of about 1 to 2 percent of the sale price, she said.

In all, buyers should budget 10 to 20 percent of the sale price for closing costs, Mr. Rossi said, including a 9 percent tax on the assessed value of the home if it is being used as a part-time or vacation home. Those buying a home as a primary residence pay only 2 percent, he said.

Italian; euro (1 euro = $1.13)

The annual property tax on this home is about 1,450 euros ($1,640).

Francesco Cavallo, PROF.IM. Real Estate Agency, 011-39-08-3199-1613; immobiliareprofim.com

For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here. Follow us on Twitter: @nytrealestate.


An earlier version of this article misstated Apulia’s classification in Italy. It is a region, not a province.

Where Are People Traveling in 2019?

Author Article

According to new data being released by one top global travel agency, 96% of Americans say they want to travel in 2019.

The overwhelming majority–76%–are planning at least two or more leisure trips this year. But the real surprise is that 36% say they will take solo trips. And where are our favorite domestic destinations?

The Travel Leaders Group listed Hawaii as number one followed by Alaska and California.

And for solo travelers, Florida was number one.

But overseas, there’s a surprise because it’s not Paris.

Number one is the Caribbean, which is due in no small part to the growth of cruising.

And for solo travelers, Eastern Europe has now made the list.

How An INFJ Travels

Author Article

an INFJ makes travel plans
Lately, I’ve been obsessed with Myers-Briggs personality types (as many of my close friends and coworkers can tell you!). The MBTI, a personality inventory based on the work of C. G. Jung, is not a perfect system, and of course, a test will never be able to completely define who you are. Nevertheless, it’s been an immensely helpful tool in understanding myself better.I’m an INFJ, the rarest of the 16 personality types. This sensitive and emotional introverted personality makes up only 1-2 percent of the population and is described by 16 Personalities as “quiet and mystical, yet very inspiring and tireless idealists.” Those who know me well would dispute the “quiet” part, but for the most part, reading descriptions of the INFJ was scarily accurate. It felt like someone was reaching into my brain and explaining my thoughts, mindset, and struggles more eloquently than I have ever been able to do.

(What’s your personality type? We recommend this free personality assessment.)

INFJs are known as both dreamers and doers, the ones who think big and also follow through on their dreams and goals. For me, that big goal is traveling to 100 countries before age 100 and helping other young professionals travel better and cheaper through my blog MeWantTravel. Based on my personal experience and my research about INFJs, here’s a glimpse into how this personality type travels.

How an INFJ Travels

1. Despite being “extroverted” introverts, we will still need alone time.

For the introvert, alone time is absolutely necessary. If you’re traveling with extroverts, they may not understand why you need to disappear into your room and recharge after a busy day of sightseeing, but I’m here to tell you that it’s perfectly okay to ask for that time. After you recharge, you’ll essentially be a better you. So tell your extroverted friends that they will like you more for it!

2. Deep, meaningful conversations are key.

INFJs crave meaning in all that they do, and relationships are no exception. Conversations of substance — not just small talk — are very important to us, and we may find that speaking to locals is both eye-opening and crucial to truly experiencing a new place. For me, the more I travel, the more I realize that people everywhere are the same at their core. Though we may look different and speak different languages, we all have fears, dreams, and people we deeply cherish. We can choose to find common ground and stand together, or we can choose to be divided and separated by our differences. As INFJs, we will always be in favor of — and push for — the first option.

3. We may want to write about our travels.

INFJs are highly creative, especially when it comes to working with words. And when we travel, we often want to somehow creatively capture what we’re experiencing, whether it’s through the written word, art, or something else. This helps us reflect on our experiences, and as INFJs, we love optimizing, learning, and personal growth. In terms of journals, I personally love ones that are small and easy to carry around in your backpack or purse, so I can jot down notes or ideas as they strike me. And who knows, when you write down those personal recollections or draw that stunning view, it may just be the beginning of your memoir.

4. Whenever possible, we aim for the “local” experience.

This may mean dining at local hidden gems and skipping some of the “must see” tourist traps. It may also mean staying in Airbnbs or hostels as opposed to hotels because it gives us an opportunity to learn about the culture by staying with a local, and it gives us a guaranteed chance to meet other folks. A paradox of the INFJ is that we’re genuinely interested in (and fascinated by) other people — so much that we’re mistaken for extroverts. But we truly are introverts who need that precious downtime. Having a private room in a hostel or Airbnb home is the perfect way to get the best of both worlds.

5. Being “judgers,” planning is a must.

As a “judging” personality, we INFJs like to know what we’re doing in advance and where we’re sleeping, and we may or may not have a pre-researched list of all the places we want to go, eat, and explore (okay, we probably will have that list!). There’s little that stresses out an INFJ more than having to make rapid-fire decisions on the fly. Meanwhile, “perceiving” personalities, like the INFP or ISTP, feel more comfortable going with the flow and being spontaneous. For them, it might even be fun to roll into a new city with no solid plans and discover what they’ll do and where they’ll stay as it strikes them.

Want more INFJ articles? Subscribe to our INFJ-only newsletter here.

6. Use your “chameleon” abilities to your advantage.

INFJs are chameleons who can adapt to pretty much any social situation, because we’re tuned into social norms and expectations, and we read others well. This can be draining, however, because it means you’re constantly assessing and reassessing the room. This radar is part of who we INFJs are, and it’s not something we can easily turn off. But one thing I’ve learned the hard way is not to sacrifice social harmony at the expense of myself!

INFJ, take care of yourself; know that even though people may misunderstand you, this doesn’t make your feelings or thoughts invalid. Continue to be the INFJ boss that you are and take pride in your uniqueness — and then go out there and experience all those exotic places you’ve been dreaming about!

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

“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.


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.)


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!

5 Scandinavian Life Philosophies That Can Make You Happier

Author Article Here
By Ashley Hamer

By most metrics, Scandinavia is one of the happiest places on Earth. The annual World Happiness Report routinely rates the Nordic countries of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland among the top 10 happiest nations, which experts credit to their strong social support, both among neighbors and through government programs. In that way, perhaps learning a few Scandinavian traditions can give us all a lesson on how to be there for our fellow humans. Here are five life philosophies from Nordic countries that might make you a little happier in your own life.


The Danish concept of hygge translates to something like “coziness of the soul.” It’s the feeling you get when you’re snuggled up under a blanket with a loved one drinking cocoa by the fire. As a life philosophy, it’s all about allowing yourself guilt-free indulgences, especially when the world is dark and dreary.

“Hygge could be families and friends getting together for a meal, with the lighting dimmed, or it could be time spent on your own reading a good book,” Susanne Nilsson, a lecturer at Morley College in the UK, told the BBC in 2015. “It works best when there’s not too large an empty space around the person or people.”


Lagom is a Swedish word that roughly translates to “just right,” or “optimal.” You’ve likely heard the quote “everything in moderation, including moderation”? That’s what lagom is all about. Whether that’s how much sugar to add to a batch of cookies or how much of your life you devote to your work, this philosophy urges a healthy balance that doesn’t swing too far in any direction.

According to Lola Akinmade-Åkerström, author of “Lagom: The Swedish Secret to Living Well,” lagom “pushes us to find our own individual levels of contentment, inner peace, and most natural operating state. What makes it a very Swedish (or Nordic) [philosophy] is just how often lagom pulls us from individual focus to group focus.”


If the other philosophies on this list are about taking time to enjoy life, sisu is kind of the opposite: It’s about persisting through challenges until you reach the end. “Sisu is a unique Finnish concept,” Finlandia University writes on its website. “It is a Finnish term that can be roughly translated into English as strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity.”

It’s not about courage in the moment, but the kind of courage that has to last over time — after inspiration has sputtered out and the real challenge has shown itself. No wonder it’s also the name of a towering Arctic mountain — a mountain first ascended by a Finnish mountaineer.


Fika is just another word for coffee break — it was named by reversing the syllables in “kaffe,” the Swedish word for coffee. But it’s much more than a coffee break. It’s about retreating from the stresses of the day by bonding with the people around you, something you’d ideally do several times a day. In reality, however, the Swedish tradition of fika seems to be dwindling as younger people work longer hours and take less time for breaks. That doesn’t make this lesson any less valuable, however. Breaks are good! We could all use more of them.


The word “lykke” is simple enough: It’s simply the Danish word for “happiness.” But in those World Happiness Report rankings we mentioned, Denmark routinely ranks at the very top, so there’s a lesson to be learned in the Danish version of happiness. In his book “The Little Book of Lykke,” Meik Wiking divides this approach to happiness into six categories: togetherness, money, health, freedom, trust, and kindness.

To add more togetherness to your life, for example, try making family dinner a bigger to-do by lighting a few candles and playing relaxing music. To get a bigger happiness bang for your buck, pay for something now that you can enjoy several months from now — that way, the sting of the payment will be long gone from your memory when it’s time to enjoy the experience.

The World’s Best Hostels For Solo Travelers

See Author Article Here

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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!!