Epic Travel Destinations You Don’t Want to Miss This Year
There are a lot of travel destinations to choose from in the world. How do you even start to decide where to go? When there are tours, do-it-yourself adventures, family trips and cruises out there, tempting you to book, it is hard to narrow it down.
Best Travel Destinations for You
I did a little digging, along with my friend Charlotte Filla, a travel advisor at Frosch Travel, who travels all over the world to find the best trips for her clients. We wanted to figure out what the top trips for families, and girlfriends traveling together would be this year.
Here’s what we found out.
Quark Expeditions Cruise to the Arctic
Who doesn’t want to go see polar bears in their natural habitat? I know I do! Quark Expeditions is the leader in Artic and Antarctic cruises that get you up close and personal with wildlife, but in a safe way for both you and the animals.
It is even possible to traverse the Northwest passage, the channel that connects Europe and Asia. Retrace the steps of Sir John Franklin and his crew, who never made it back from their 1845 adventure, but don’t worry, you will.
Cruise by glaciers, the icebergs of Greenland, and even hike where few have stepped foot before you.
Highlights of the Northwest Passage cruise include a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Ilulissat Icefjord, experience a traditional Inuit and Greenlandic communities, plus get views of wildlife such as whales, walrus and muskoxen. Those who are really lucky will see polar bear on their journey as well.
Sail the Fjords of Norway with Hurtigruten
Sailing from Hamburg, Germany all the way to the North Cape of Norway is pretty much a dream trip for all Fjord lovers. Not sure what a Fjord is? Just ask your Frozen loving kids. Queen Elsa and Princess Anna lived on one, so I’m sure the kids can tell you.
Don’t have kids, don’t worry. According to the dictionary, a fjord is “a long, narrow, deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs, as in Norway and Iceland, typically formed by submergence of a glaciated valley.”
This isn’t your typical tropical, relaxing cruise either. Although you could opt to stay onboard your Hurtigruten cruise, the trip was really made for adventure seekers and nature lovers who want to get out and explore.
There are only two full days at sea on this 15-day journey that takes you up to the Arctic and back. The longest stop will be in the Norwegian city of Bergen, before you begin your hop around the smaller towns and cities, as well as fjords and fishing villages along the western coast of Norway.
You will visit the UNESCO-listed Geirangerfjord, spend time in the Art Nouveau town of Ålesund, wander the streets of Tromsø, the “Paris of the North,” and step foot in the northernmost town in the world—Hammerfest.
Hike mountains, kayak through fjords, meet the locals, eat new (to you) foods, and learn why the Norwegian people love to call these more remote spots home, before you sail back to Hamburg together with your crew.
Best of all, the crew and your guides are always on hand to answer questions. And trust me, you will have questions.
Attend lectures onboard about the places you will be visiting, take advantage of the fully-stocked library with loads of information on your destination, and make sure you learn a few Norwegian words and phrases before you get on land. The crew will be more than happy to help out with those pronunciations.
Take the Kids To Japan with Adventures by Disney
Website: Here • Prices: $10,600+
Japan is just one of those countries that my family is obsessed with and can’t get enough of these days. My youngest is still mad that his brother has been to Asia and he hasn’t been yet. My husband and I want to bring the boys back, but that is a long plane ride, and a lot of planning.
Naturally, Disney has taken the guess work out of everything for us. All parents have to do is show up and their amazing Adventures by Disney guides will make sure you and your kids have the best experience possible.
Not only that, other kids will be on your trip, which can make your kids, especially those reluctant preteens (yes, I have one brewing right now), want to participate just a little bit more.
You will also have more adults on hand to keep an eye on younger kids, like your 6 year old who likes to wander off on his own no matter how much you try to keep an eye on him (guilty!).
But what will you be doing on this tour?
Over the course of 11-days and 10-nights you will get a great overview of the country, visiting Kyoto, Osaka, Takayama, Hakone and Tokyo. You will visit shrines, temples, Zen gardens and markets.
You will also experience samurai swordsmanship, a maiko dance performance and tea ceremonies. On top of that, you and the kids can bike through rice paddies, cruise in a river boat, and wander through a bamboo forest.
Yes, you could do all of this and plan it on our own, but it would be exhausting. Also, not as many people speak English in Japan as you would think, which can be a deterrent for some travelers.
The alphabet is not something you will recognize either, as their writing style is in Kanji, not the Roman alphabet that the English language uses. While some parents can guess at Spanish, French and Italian, if you don’t know Kanji, you will be out of luck at a restaurant (although those plastic props in the window do help).
If you want to enjoy your trip to Japan, have a guide, get a little bit of help with the kids, and relax, go with Adventures by Disney.
Luxury Dude Ranch Trip to The Resort at Paws Up
For those looking to unplug and get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, you can’t ask for much more than The Resort at Paws Up. This luxury resort, situated on 37,000-acres in Montana, 10 miles of which are along the Blackfoot River will keep you and your family more entertained than you ever expected.
In the summer months activities include, fly-fishing, cattle driving, horseback riding, boating, archery, white water rafting, sporting clays shooting and rappelling. Not sure how to do any of that? It’s OK, their team of experts will show you how it is done.
Guests can fly into Missoula, Montana and take the complimentary shuttle 35 minutes to the property. Accommodations include luxury homes and glamping tents, but you won’t be roughing it if you decide to stay in a tent. Each and every accommodation is decked out with the best pillows, comforters and beds, so mom and dad get the rest they deserve.
And yes, there are ensuite bathrooms, even in the tents.
Find Your Wild Side with Thomson Tanzania Safari
Going on safari in Tanzania is a must for any animal lover. Thomson Safaris offers several different packages, including their Perfect Family Safari. This 10 days, 9 nights trip brings together wildlife scouting, soccer matches, Maasai storytellers and unforgettable landscapes that will build memories your kids won’t soon forget.
You can experience animal river crossings and the Great Migration of wildebeest and zebras in Serengeti National Park, as well as see baby animals, but it all depends on the time of year you visit.
When should you go on a Thomson Safari?
- Summer is the dry season, when you will see predators and general wildlife near the few remaining water sources in the park. You also have the chance to witness the Great Migration river crossings.
- December is less crowded, and the green season, when the landscape is in bloom and many travelers tack on a few extra days at the beaches in Zanzibar.
- February and March is calving season. This is when those adorable baby elephants and lion cubs show up. So, pretty much any time of year you want to visit is a good time.
And this being Thomson, you know you will have the top guides and stay in the best accommodations, including Gibb’s Farm—Travel + Leisure’s #1 African Safari Lodge.
Relax on the Beach at Amanpuri
Amanpuri is Aman’s flagship property that has everything you and your family could want to truly relax when you visit Phuket, Thailand. The Holistic Wellness Center has practitioners of several healing arts on hand to take care of your every need, including physiotherapists, chiropractors, nutritionists, Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners and Ayurvedic physicians.
The updated spa facilities are also ready to pamper you for a few hours while your children play at the Eco-Discovery Club.
Pavilions and villas give families the space they need and the luxury they deserve, many with a private pool. Most rooms overlook the Andaman Sea, while staying nestled into the hillside. Each is decorated to reflect the royal style of Siam, with peaked roofs, fresh flowers, natural wood throughout the rooms and lots of open spaces for a fresh breeze throughout the day.
Get In Shape in Tuscany with DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co.
Bike enthusiasts will love this tour that allows you to unpack once and bike out from the same villa to explore something new every day. Each night you will return to a masseuse who can rub out your tired legs, and a private chef who will prepare a meal for you and your fellow travelers.
This tour of Tuscany is only for adults, as you will be doing your fair share of wine tasting. You will also be diving into Renaissance art, meeting the locals, checking out old battlefields, castles and church cloisters.
Naturally you will have to do a little truffle hunting, and drink some more wine as well.
No trip to Italy is complete unless you eat and drink your fair share. Don’t worry though, you will work it all off while you bike. No need to worry about any extra pounds.
Tuscany Chef on Wheels Bike Tour: Enjoy the best of Tuscany’s culinary scene with this six-day trip that invites guests to cook with celebrity chef Seamus Mullen and cycle with him through Tuscany’s breathtaking countryside.
Have a Wild Good time at Playa Cativo Lodge in Costa Rica
Who doesn’t love a beach vacation? I know I do, especially in winter and one that will take me to Costa Rica.
Playa Cativo Lodge is nestled in the rainforest on the Osa Peninsula, and only accessible by boat. This eco lodge is perfect for families looking for a private escape, with the calm waters of the Golfo Dulce, the only tropical fjord in the Americas, to keep your babies safe.
Rooms offer spectacular views of the rainforest and ocean beyond, but it is the activities you will want to take advantage of. While there are several self-guided hikes and paddle boarding to take advantage of, you can also book guided tours and activities to really dive into the rainforest.
Book a hike through Piedras Blancas National Park, kayak up the Rio Esquinas mangroves, take a nocturnal forest hike, enjoy a Bio-Luminescence Tour, and even go dolphin and whale watching. Golfo Dulce also offers abundant snorkeling opportunities.
If you want to just enjoy a bit of time relaxing on the beach, that’s OK. You may still get a glimpse of the locals. Howler monkeys, spider monkeys, the white-nose capuchin, coatis, toucans and Scarlet Macaws all call the area home.
However, if you don’t want to worry about the neighbors stopping over for a visit, they do have a lovely spa offering massages, facials, yoga, scrubs and energy work.
Take the Rocky Mountaineer to Jasper National Park
One of my favorite travel destinations, no matter the time of year has to be Jasper National Park. Add in a luxury train ride on the Rocky Mountaineer and it’s a win win for all onboard.
Even better, drive the Icefields Parkway from Jasper to Banff for an epic girls’ getaway with Rocky Mountaineer, and you will have a trip you will never forget.
Why do I love this part of Alberta, Canada so much? Well, first of all, they have some pretty amazing mountains. Second, the wildlife just can’t be beat. There are mountain sheep, elk, deer, and supposedly beers, although I have yet to see one. Everyone else has, so I guess it must be true.
If you love to hike, kayak, canoe, walk, eat great food, enjoy local beer, and meet travelers from all over the world, a train trip up to Jasper National Park is definitely for you.
Photos via Quark Expeditions/Hugo Perrin, Adventures by Disney, Thomson Safari, The Resort at Paws Up, DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co., Amanpuri, Playa Cativo Lodge