Where will your travels take you in 2015? Here's what other travel bloggers suggest.
Where will your travel dreams take you in 2015? Perhaps a beautiful beach with fuchsia sunsets? Or maybe rolling hills tinted purple with heather? Will you see exotic animals or ancient pueblos? Will you visit castles, lighthouses, cobblestone highways? Shall you brave urban jungles or real ones?
I asked over 20 travel bloggers - people who live, breath, dream travel all day, all year - for their top picks for 2015. They've shared hopes and dreams on where they want to visit for the first time (or sometimes a 9th time), and where they hope you'll discover as well. I can't think of any group better equipped to give travel advice and I hope their passion becomes your inspiration in the new year!
So what are you waiting for? Why not start planning your trip to.....
In 2015, I’m dreaming of going back to Barbados. My father lived there for 4.5 years as an ex-pat and during his stay, I visited the island eight times. I fell in love with Barbados and it’s welcoming, friendly locals. I spent countless hours walking along the beach, “liming” with new friends over a Banks beer and a plate of flying fish, and exploring the craggy north coast and lush east coast. I dream of going back to this island that I love, for a little time relaxing in the sun, snorkeling with the turtles, and soaking up the local hospitality.
Christina Saull is a travel writer and photographer who chronicles her travels on the award winning travel blog My View from the MiddleSeat.
Istanbul to Beijing and beyond
In the summer of 2015 I plan to follow the footsteps of Marco Polo and make my way from Istanbul to Beijing and beyond. This 6-month solo adventure will be different. Not only because it'll be my longest solo trip to date, but also because I'll visit off-beat destinations such as Iran, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. I can't wait to ride camels, eat kebabs and swim in mountain lakes. 2015, you may become one of my most epic travel years ever!
Manouk Bob is a medical doctor, travel writer and founder of Bunch of Backpackers, a Dutch-English travel blog focusing on independent travel and adventure.
Scotland's Hiking Trails
I'm not really a planner, and haven't got great travel plans in the pipeline for 2015. Instead, I'm going to focus on getting skilled up in the things I really enjoy doing, hopefully picking up some qualifications on the way, and discovering some exciting opportunities for trips at the same time.
I've been building up a hiking logbook over the last couple of years, and will start working towards my Mountain Leader qualification next year. I'll book the course for the spring, then garner quality mountain days over the rest of the year, starting with a coast-to-coast trekking expedition in the BEST COUNTRY in the WORLD. (That's Scotland, by the way, my homeland.)
Scotland isn't all about big wow attractions, although it's not short on the spectacular, it's about those little moments and experiences that add up to make something greater. It's walking on a white sand beach with no-one else for miles; seeing the sunset from the top of a mountain with a name that you can't pronounce; taking the ferry to a windswept island where trees are rare and exotic things; eating fresh seafood on the quayside whilst gulls squabble overhead; chatting to the bus driver and learning the life-history of everyone in town. Its even about the midges (although I really wish it wasn't).
Vicky Inglis blogs at These Vagabond Shoes. In 2015, she plans on spending at least 30 nights sleeping outdoors or under canvas. Follow her adventures with #30NightsOut
In 2015, you should travel to the Scottish Highlands. The landscape is breathtaking and you can easily spend hours photographing the scenery. The Highlands are well known for their mountain ranges and many lochs. The highest mountain in the British Isles, Ben Nevis, is in the Highlands as well as the famous Loch Ness. The Highlands are also known for their rich culture and history, with stories of uprisings and outlawed clan systems. And although there are small towns, the area is now very scarcely populated so a trip up to the Highlands is primarily for nature and history lovers. We took a day trip from Edinburgh and absolutely loved the experience.
Vicky and Buddy from http://www.buddythetravelingmonkey.com/
We highly recommend Chengdu, China for 2015. The highlight of our visit to Chengdu was the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding- a research and breeding facility dedicated to the preservation of endangered giant pandas. Visitors to the panda base have the opportunity to not only observe numerous pandas (who can resist cute baby pandas!) but actually hold a young panda in return for making a donation. The donation is mandatory and quite steep but totally worth it for the once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Although many travelers visit Chengdu just to see the giant pandas, the city has a lot more to offer. It is a great place to view traditional Sichuanese opera, taste the spicy Sichuan cuisine and partake in the teahouse culture. Last year, Chengdu became one of several cities in China that offer 72 hour visa free entry making Chengdu an easy place to fly into on short notice without the need to apply for a visa beforehand.
The Travel Sisters are two sisters sharing our travels along with simple strategies to earn free travel using frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points.
I think that in 2015 people should come check out Guatemala if they haven't already. Everyone has heard about this gem of Central America, and in the back of their mind they know it would be an amazing place to visit. But as a travel blogger and long term nomad who has seen much of the world, I can definitely say that Guatemala will always be one of my favorite places on Earth.
Guatemala has something for everyone, but maybe the ones that will love its the most are nature enthusiasts. Numerous volcanoes, dense jungles, beautiful lakes and rivers, pretty coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Monkeys, sloths, tropical birds and more. And if that great list of attractions doesn't do it for you, maybe you'll love the ancient Mayan ruins and pyramids. But if you're like me, you love the whole package. I adore Guatemala so much that I am launching a Kickstarter to raise funds to be able to create documentary style webisodes of Guatemala.
Justin Carmack is a travel blogger, divemaster and over-all lover of freedom and adventure on the road. In 2010 he sold all his things and left home, traded his possessions for dreams. He writes about his adventures on the road at True Nomads.
Hudson Valley, United States
History, architecture, natural beauty and a cutting edge food and wine scene, make the Hudson Valley one of America's must see destinations. National Geographic Traveler named it a top destination for 2013; Now, I've deemed it a top destination for 2015!
Stretching 150 miles from Manhattan to the state capital in Albany, the Hudson River Valley has inspired artists, naturists, and some of the movers and shakers of America for centuries; the Vanderbilts, Roosevelts, and Washington Irving were residents. Don't miss the historic homes, vineyards, and organic farms found throughout the valley. A great place to spend a weekend or longer, the Hudson Valley is truly one of America's most beautiful attractions.
Penny Sadler writes about unique destinations in a narrative style. She can often be found stomping around vineyards or in a piazza in Italy. AdventuresOfACarryOn.com
Mount Everest, Nepal
On my way up I asked to every traveler I met: “How did you feel when you saw it for the first time?” More than one answered me: “I cried of joy”. Another guy told me: “That was the moment I knew God existed”
I've seen the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, the Colosseum, the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, the medieval castles of Europe, the border of North and South Korea, Giant Buddha in Japan, sailed on the canals of Venice, climbed the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan to recharge energy and hundreds of other places in the world. I can assure that none of them has caused me much astonishment, excitement and bewilderment as it was the first time I saw Everest, the Mother of the Universe.
There is not a thing that it can compare with its beauty.
Alejandro Nuñez is a blogger from Mi Viaje por el Mundo - A Mexican writing about travel for Mexicans. www.miviajeporelmundo.com
Who can argue with Italy as a destination? Travel to its green heart, Umbria, the only landlocked of Italy’s regions, it touches Marche, Tuscany and Lazio. It has a charm of its own and as many picturesque villages as any other Italian region. Orvieto, one of our favourite towns, is only 1.5 hours from Rome and Florence and has one of the most spectacular Duomo you’ll ever see. Discover the regional foods, specialities such as Coglioni di Mulo, Rocciata and Torta al Testo. Its rolling hills are beautiful in the summer heat but a trip during the winter months is also quite pleasant. You can avoid the crowds, line ups, scorching heat and even get a deal on accommodations.
Together for nearly a quarter of a century, Tim & Nat of A Cook Not Mad love to get to know people through their food and culture and try to inspire others to do the same. Recent winners of a Canadian Weblog Award in the travel category, they are currently house sitting in Umbria.
If you are on the lookout for an unexpected spot with great beaches, wildlife safaris, gorgeous countryside and interesting culture, consider heading to Sri Lanka in 2015. I recently spent a month there and was pleasantly surprised by how much there was to see and do.
From safaris focused on elephants or leopards, to stunning train rides through the mountains, this country is quickly becoming a popular travel destination following years of civil war. Surfing, scuba, hiking, safaris, UNESCO sites and everything you wanted to know about tea, Sri Lanka has it all. Stay in all-inclusive resorts, 100-year-old colonial estates converted into hotels or bare bones hostels and guest houses on the beach. Food highlights include hoppers in the morning, a variety of rotti for lunch and curries for dinner.
While I didn’t really know what to expect when I arrived, I was really blown away with the variety of things to see and do. I don’t know why this wasn’t on my radar before I traveled there for a conference, but I would highly recommend you add this destination to your list and beat the crowds.
Travis Ball is a photographer who work has appeared in numerous publications online and off. He blogs at FlashpackerHQ.com.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
How about some Mayan ruins, picturesque beaches, great people and lots of fun? Then welcome to Mexico! Skip Cancun and go straight to Playa del Carmen and get the sense of summer all year round! The city is growing and growing so make sure to get there before it gets too big! Even if you are not the beach person – as myself you can get your mind off doing other great things such as visiting the Mayan ruins in Tulum and Cobá.
Make sure to go diving in the cenotes which are unique and only found on Yucatán. Or go explore the ocean with marvellous reefs, schools of fish and the occasional turtle showing up. In summer you can encounter whale sharks and during winter time bull sharks will be around at certain spots. Another great thing to do is burst your comfort zone by bungee jumping over the Caribbean Ocean. Not only the view is stunning, but the sensation of dipping your hand in the sea after jumping off the tower is rewarding.
Viktoria’s mission on her blog Chronic Wanderlust is to inspire people to travel to remote areas and skip the tourist path and still make the most out of your trip.
Santa Fe, United States
Want a touch of the old world in the new? Visit Santa Fe, New Mexico, the oldest capital city in the United States. At 7,000 feet, it’s also the highest. Nicknamed The City Different, it’s a city rich in history and culture. Three very distinct cultures meet in this city dating to 1610. The current-day Pueblo people and their ancestors date back millennia. Some of those of Spanish descent trace their roots here back over 400 years. The late-comers are the Anglos who arrived after the opening of the Santa Fe Trail in 1821. For a small city (under 100K) there’s a surprisingly rich cultural scene including art, music and dance.
At the dawn of the 20th century the city became a Mecca for artists drawn by the haunting landscape and crystal clear light. They still come. The city boasts over 200 galleries. The diverse genres in a range of mediums include contemporary, American Indian, western and Spanish colonial. There’s also a world-class music ‘scene year ‘round. Summers bring the renowned Santa Fe Opera, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and the New Mexico Jazz Festival. Love the great outdoors? There’s skiing, snowshoeing, rafting, hiking and even hot air ballooning. The food scene is hopping. Many chefs have jumped on the farm-to-table bandwagon. Don’t miss the stunning high desert landscape. Take a day-trip to Abiquiu, made famous by Georgia O’Keeffe, or visit ancient cliff dwellings. No matter what your interests, Santa Fe has something for you.
Billie Frank is a freelance travel writer and co-founder of the blog Santa Fe Travelers. She is also the Santa Fe Local Expert for USA Today Travel Media’s 10best.com.
All Over Europe
2015 is going to be a transition year for the Roaming Renegades. We made the decision in 2014 that we want to travel long term and 2015 is the year in which we set the foundations for our escape in 2016! We want to show people that it is possible. We will rent out our house, move back home and save up! But 2014 has taught us a lot about budget travel and how much is possible on a small budget. So we will be visiting Ireland next year, experiencing St. Patrick’s day and taking the train north to see the Giant’s Causeway! Then over to Bratislava to continue our Eastern European adventures on from this year, we have found the whole region to be amazingly cheap and beautiful, then we will take the short journey across to Austria and Vienna, allowing us to see a relatively expensive place without breaking the bank! We also would like to travel to Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia & Herzegovina as we have heard great things over the past year. We will also be taking regular trips climbing and mountaineering. We have realized we need to prioritize our dreams over working away years of our lives for someone else and we plan to live life without limits in 2015 and onwards!
Nic and Paul, the ‘Roaming Renegades’: we are travellers, adventurers and explorers and our blog chronicles our escape from the 9-5 and round the world trip.
2015 will be an awesome year to visit the Krabi area in southern Thailand. I'm biased, of course, as I live here now, but it's still an awesome destination worth a weekend at minimum.
Why 2015? The area is reaching a perfect balance of convenience and options right as tourists are looking for something that isn't Phuket (full of touts, blech), Pattaya (sex capital central) or Bangkok (hello schemers!). Krabi never needed 'cleaning up' after the military coup came to power, and in 3 months here I've seen one tent of theirs in Krabi town proper. Even during the high season (through the end of March), four- and five-star rooms are yours for less than $60 a night. In short, it's the beach without the sleaze.
What to see? Krabi is the jumping off point for dozens of gorgeous islands and beaches. Opt to stay in a rural, authentic bungalow for less than $20 / night, or find your way to a nearby island where the generators shut off at 11pm - now that's a level of peace and quiet! The seemingly far-off cliffs make great selfies, while Railay has world-class rock climbing (and a phallic shrine dedicated to man's favorite organ). Head to the Tiger Cave Temple and prove your fitness - climb the 1,237 steps to the top for a serene viewpoint of the city. Party along Ao Nang beach, where the nightlife includes plenty of live music, and even a fire poi show at the local reggae bar.
Chris Backe is the traveler and writer behind One Weird Globe, a travel blog dedicated to the weirder side of the world.
Koh Wai, Thailand
Yes yes I know, Thailand isn’t exactly a new destination for most, but I bet you haven’t been to Koh Wai! Just off Koh Chang (located in the Ko Chang archipelago in the Gulf of Thailand) you will find a fairly undiscovered island which is more reminiscent of the Thailand you wish you had discovered before the masses did. Think basic beach huts for $3 a night, only a few people around after the day trippers leave, and one of the best places in the gulf to see the luminous plankton (thanks to the fact that come 11pm all - and I mean all, so bring a torch! - the lights on the island get turned off!) The days are great for all the usual things like snorkeling, fishing, exploring & sunbathing, and the crystal blue waters, gorgeously soft sand and peace & quiet truly make this place feel like paradise found!
Now, this isn’t an island for those looking for a luxurious holiday (although there is a more robust place to stay a little further around the coast), but if you are looking for Thailand in its most beautiful untouched form, Koh Wai is where it’s at!
Paula from Paula Through the Looking Glass is a 30 something Londoner on the move and soon to be expat.
I’m dreaming of the Maldives in 2015 but it’s not the idea of a beautiful island paradise that attracts me – it’s what’s under the water! I’ve seen scuba diving images of mantas, whale sharks, and a variety of sharks along with the promise of epic visibility to view them in all their glory. With over one thousand islands the perfect trip would include a visit to at least three. There has been a recent surge of budget accommodation making the Maldives more accessible than ever before so I’d combine a week’s stay in a local guesthouse along with a few nights in a couple of resorts to make the most of my trip. My ultimate bucket list experience is an over the water bungalow with instant access to the famous coral reef and the underwater wonderland below!
Alexandra Jimenez, editor of Travel Fashion Girl, the ultimate women’s travel resource for packing, fashion, and beauty.
The Restaurants of Asia
As part of the Holidays, I treat myself to staying up late, which is a luxury I am unable to afford on a daily basis. These solitary waking hours are usually spent reading books or watching movies that inspire me. Those inspirations are always travel and food related. I happened upon a foreign film named, “Three Stars”; a film about top restaurants in the world striving to attain or maintain their three star rating from the venerable Michelin Guide. The story brings the viewer through many beautiful areas of Europe for the most part (some very familiar, others I still need to visit); but it also touches upon Asia, and how the foods in Asia have re-averted their attention away from their staunch metrics on how to evaluate their “star giving”. Asia is where the envelope is being pushed in the food world, and because our website “Dish Our Town” is cuisine centric; we as a family of three are starting our Round the World Trip in Southeast Asia. We hope to be as inspired, as the top chefs are, by this region.
Brenda, Bailey and Andrew Tolentino make up the Dish Our Town Team. A family of three residing in New York City continually getting inspired by the world, the people in it, and their cuisine. Dish Our Town endeavors to share their passions and inspire others to do the same.
Cape Town, South Africa
Every year, Cape Town, South Africa makes someone’s list for a top travel destination. There’s good reason, Cape Town is an amazing city and should be on everyone’s travel bucket list! Cape Town has it all: the mountains, the sea, and plenty of culture. Originally a re-supply settlement for sailors rounding the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Town has developed into Africa’s finest city – modern, vibrant, and stunningly beautiful. It’s become a melting pot of cultures (native African, Dutch and Indian) and an oasis of economic opportunity in a region that has struggled.
Visitors can fill their days exploring Cape Town’s attractions, and spend their nights drinking local wine and eating worldly cuisine. Top on every visitor’s list is the Table Mountain Cableway, which whisks visitors over 2,500 vertical feet in a matter of minutes for aerial views of the city. For those who prefer to stay grounded, the V&A Waterfront is Africa’s most visited attraction and offers museums, dining and a chance to people watch.
Lance & Laura Longwell are two busy professionals who work to support their travel habit and write about their experiences on Travel Addicts. Since 2008, they have been showing people how to maximize their limited vacation time to see the world.
In 2015, head to the Caucasus. Georgia and Armenia are still off that beaten path for most people, but the countries are rapidly changing. Georgia especially has made a large investment in their tourist infrastructure, with visa-free entry and newly paved highways. In both countries, though, get out of the main cities and explore the mountains and countryside, where the scenery is spectacular and the traditions of this strange corner of the world live on. Armenia boasts its spectacular monasteries and glorious blue Lake Sevan, while Georgia has its delicious cuisine, wine-making tradition, and scenery ranging from Batumi’s beaches to Kazbegi’s mountains to the desert around David Gareja. And let’s not neglect the capitals: Yerevan has a vibrant café scene and long leafy streets, while Tbilisi is the perfect mix of funky and baroque. These two countries are tiny but there is so much to explore—now’s the time. The sooner you go, the sooner you can go back!
Katrinka Nadworny is a photographer, writer, and travel blogger currently living in Istanbul, Turkey. She blogs at KatrinkaAbroad.com and you can find her on Instagram or Twitter @KatrinkaSasha.
Nozawa Onsen, Japan
Nozawa Onsen is a hot spring and ski resort village near Nagano in Japan. Nozawa Onsen is considered to be the oldest ski resort in Japan, and is where Hanns Schneider introduced his Arlberg skiing techniques in 1930, which was to change the face of skiing. Nozawa Onsen was home to the biathlon events of the 1998 Nagano Olympics, so it has some serious street cred.The name Nozawa Onsen comes from the fact that the village is built on hot springs, so all over the village there are hot onsens that are the typical way to bathe here for everyone.
The villagers run the slopes and ensure that it is a very friendly and comfortable environment. The ski area is actually one of the largest in Japan and there is guaranteed snow, with an average depth of 3.5 meters of mostly powder. Powder hounds are loving Nozawa. There are many traditional cafes both on and off the slopes. What we found here is that the villagers are very welcoming people which creates a really good atmosphere.
The Dojosin Fire Festival, one of the 3 main fire festivals in Japan, is held in Nozawa Onsen on the 15th January each year. This is highly popular and requires booking well in advance to get to see this amazing site. An excellent side trip is to see the snow monkeys at Jigokudani, which is very close to Nozawa Onsen.
Paula and Gordon of Contented Traveller love to ski but also really love a traditional cultural village, not to mention a very hot onsen.
My goals for 2015, for both my life and my business, are all about making my dreams my reality. That’s why I am going to Portugal. This is a new dream, but now a strong one. Portugal was hardly on my radar for years. But once piqued, my interest in it flared to life. And since another part of my 2015 dream is to connect—or reconnect—with more wonderful people on their own turf and to share a bit of their lives, I will be visiting an old college friend in Cascais, on the Estoril coast just north of Lisbon. We have not seen each other in about 40 years!
Here's what I think I know of Cascais: intense and whimsical color, sunshine and palm trees, traditional Portuguese seafood soup to devour, today-fresh fish to bargain for in the market, beaches to get sunburned on, oceanside cliffs to amble, a citadel/castle to feel history in, narrow lanes and back alleys to explore, hand-embroidered nightgowns to help you take the dream home with you. And a stately blue-and-white lighthouse a block from where I will stay. Who knows what other delights I will discover in Cascais, Portugal, all while revitalizing a cherished old friendship?
Donna Meyer is a dreamer, a traveler and a blogger who lives in her own “paradise found” in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; she shares her travels and her dreams at www.nomadwomen.com
Definitely Cambodia! For one because it is changing fast but there are still so many untouched places that are waiting to be explored. This country charmed me and it’s hard to explain why, but the smiles I received and the kindness of people to strangers won’t leave you unchanged. The landscape is different from other South-East Asian countries and it’s easier to get away from tourists, so it’s still a perfect place for your next getaway! And I obviously can’t say enough about the amazing fish amok and other local delicacies.
Jennifer Doré Dallas, of www.moimessouliers.org, is a foodie and and savvy paparazzi French-Canadian travel blogger eating the world one bit at a time!
When planning a big Asian holiday, many people forget to add South Korea to their itinerary. This is a big mistake! Korea is one of the most impressive countries in the world, having gone from a war-torn country in the 1950’s to today being one of the largest economies in the world.
No trip to Korea is complete without touring the beautiful palaces and shops in the capital city of Seoul, but be sure to venture outside of the big city and see all that Korea has to offer. The exceptional public transportation system makes getting around very easy. You can get anywhere in the country by bus, train or KTX (Korea’s bullet train). Also, all of Korea’s major cities have easy to navigate subways and taxis are really inexpensive.
The best thing about Korea is that it has something for everyone… If you are a foodie, there’s a huge selection of mouthwatering Korean and international dishes that are sure to please your taste buds. If you love working up a sweat, there are no shortage of hiking trails, walking paths and public exercise equipment. If you’re a history nut, there are countless palaces, temples and museums that will keep you occupied for ages.
Meagan of LifeOutsideOfTexas.com is a Korea based expat blogger and photographer on a mission to see as much of the world as possible.
Finally.... Where do Ryan and Vanessa recommend you travel in 2015? MONS!
A 2015 European Capital of Culture, Mons, Belgium, should be on everyone's travel list. There have been incredible updates and renovations all over the city to get it ready for visitors and there is a year long program of cultural activities planned.
Mons really represents the best of Belgium. It is stunningly beautiful and, if you like the charming, romantic architecture of Bruges or Ghent, you will love Mons. The city's Grand Place is remarkably relaxed, lined with cafes and pubs, and anchored with the stunning Hotel de Ville. This was the scene of mass jubilation nearly 100 years ago when the Canadian army liberated the city at the end of World War I - and then promptly fell asleep in the middle of the square as the citizens celebrated all around the slumbering troops.
There's another side of Mons beyond the charm, architecture, and history. The city has an artsy, student-y feel and it reminds me a little bit of Liege and Brussels too. For such an old city, it has a really young vibe and the Capital of Culture celebrations reflect that. Some of the special events planned for 2015 include a unique exhibit on Vincent Van Gogh at the Mons Museum of Fine Art, a celebration of literature including a 10 kilometer "street poem", and an exhibition on the innovators, scientists, and idealists of the city at the Les Anciens Abattoirs.
Belgium might be a small country but there is so much to see and discover. And with all due respect to the tourist hot spots of Brussels and Bruges, I think Mons is the place to be in 2015. We visited at the end of 2014 to see all the preparations in full swing and there was such an incredible energy in the air. I hope you love it as much as we did!
Now it's time for YOU to weigh in!
Where will you be traveling in 2015?
What are your must-see recommendations?
Anything overrated that should be avoided?
Tell us your thoughts!
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