Where to go next? We’ve got our own ideas but since nearly 70 per cent of you told us in a recent travel survey you plan on booking an out-of-country-trip next year, many of these places are being highlighted based on the destinations you’re considering. Of course, we have our own well-travelled opinions, and we’ve also asked a couple of experts to weigh in on the list.
And the list is diverse. Speaking of experts, according to the luxury travel adviser network Virtuoso (www.virtuoso.com), for example, Australia, Mexico, Japan and Chile all made both your Top 10 now and hot-list-next picks. Another star? Turks & Caicos ranked No. 3 in growth of bookings at through Virtuoso this year.
We’re liking the idea of Greece this year, for the history – Acropolis, anyone? – the islands, and the well-honed hospitality, for less. Of course, we here at Zoomer believe in the deeper meaning of travel and, being that time of year, we’ve picked a few places that promise to fortify your body, feed your mind and fuel your spirit.
Need more inspiration to just go? Here’s our list, in no particular order, and while you’re at it, don’t forget to check out Zooming, our new travel club just for you. We’ve got some exciting trips and itineraries for next year, and even into 2020, all curated with bonuses and extras that only Zoomer Travel Club travellers can experience – and we’d love for you to come along. What are you waiting for? Get packing!
1. Canada: Because there’s no place like home
And because The Peg may be cold, but also a hot bed of cool … We’re thinking Winnipeg for the emerging food scene, the historic Forks neighbourhood and the Museum of Human Rights. Plus, Lonely Planet has also named Manitoba for one of its top picks for travel in 2019. We knew we were on to something. True north, indeed. www.theforks.com
“For Canadians who face a weak dollar and fewer flight options than our neighbours to the south–the destinations on traditional must-see travel lists can feel far out of reach,” said Susan Catto, Travelzoo’s Resident Travel Expert. Canadians don’t have to go to Iceland to chase the Northern Lights; they’re visible 300 days a year above the skies of northern Manitoba. At least four major hotels will open in Winnipeg in 2019, and all those extra rooms could bring down prices in Manitoba’s capital. travelzoo.com/ca
2. The Danube: Because we haven’t seen it all, after all.
Yes, yes, we know it’s the most popular river in Europe, but now, we’re traversing it through the Eastern Bloc from Budapest to Bucharest for a fresh perspective. AMA Waterways’ Gems of Southeast Europe covers Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Romania and Serbia. www.amawaterways.ca
3. Greece: Because of a lifelong wish to see the sights.
We’re liking the idea of Greece this year, for the history – Acropolis, anyone? – the islands, and the well-honed hospitality, for less. And because 55 per cent of you told us it’s all about your lifelong wish to see the sights (Europe, naturally, tops your list). Oh, and did we mention Greece is the destination we’ve chosen for Zooming: The Travel Club’s 11th anniversary celebration trip with Go Ahead Tours? We take off for Greece in October 2019, and for more, go to www.everythingzoomer.com/travelclub.
4. Hawaii: Because these islands in the Pacific still hold a mystery or two – besides, where can just about anybody look perfectly poised in a grass skirt?
If drone footage of the recent eruptions from Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano did only so much to whet your appetite, a “volcano safari” via helicopter over the state’s southernmost Big Island may satisfy. And if you’re more a film rather than a lava buff, taking a helicopter tour of Kauai – Hawaii’s northernmost and oldest island – will include a bit of déjà vu as you fly over majestic Manawaiopuna Falls, made famous in the opening scene of Jurassic Park. Then get your chill on in Maui, and book a stay at the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel. www.kbhmaui.com
5. India: Because it’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime times to really go luxury.
Journey through the rich cultural heritage of Rajasthan, where maharajahs built lavish palaces towering over desert cities. Along with the Taj Mahal at sunrise, one of your stops should be the storied Gem Palace in the pink city of Jaipur. Six generations after the Kasliwal family were appointed the court jewellers in 1700 by the Maharaja of Jaipur, the family is still intimately involved in the creation of heirloom jewelry at its flagship Gem Palace, opened in 1852.
6. Switzerland: Because hiking is the new yoga: for the sophisticated network of trails that are suited for all fitness levels.
Check out the country’s hiking huts, where you can, yes, hike hut-to-hut and find fully stocked rest stops with an all-ages hostel vibe where you can have a sleep-over, too. But, don’t forget to come down from the mountain. Switzerland’s point on the map allows it a most unique advantage: you travel to one country, in a few days, you feel as if you’ve visited some of the best parts of France, Italy and Germany, too. Wine, chocolate, cheese – all enjoyed with stunning scenery, you’ll think you’ve stumbled on to a movie set. Is there more to life than that? Well, maybe standing in the shadow of the Matterhorn (above), but that’s another adventure story. We say yodel-eh-hee-hoo. www.myswitzerland.com Or try: Exploring the Alpine Countries with Collette: www.collette.com/56
7. The United Kingdom: Because Queen Victoria would be 200 in 2019. And, really, who doesn’t love a queen?
Our pick is the Isle of Wight, where Queen Victoria spent the last years of her life. (Other habitués of the Isle include the actor Jeremy Irons and poet laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson.)
Embark on Victoria’s Island Trail and be transported back to a time when the Queen travelled these same paths. Don’t miss a taking-of-air stop at The Needles, a row of chalk-white peaks poking skyward out of the cold, crashing waters of Alum Bay. Carisbrooke Castle may have been the royal prison of Charles I during the civil war of the mid-1600s – and ominous and imposing it still is – but it was also, in the last century, the home of Princess Beatrice, the Queen’s daughter, who chose to stay on the island close to her mother’s heart. Beatrice was also Governor of the Isle as of 1896 and, before moving in to Carisbrooke in 1912, she lived with her mother at Osborne House. At Osborne, tour the grounds and gardens, along with taking a very up close and personal look at a veritable treasure trove of art and artifacts – from paintings to sculptures to weapons – that Victoria’s beloved Albert avidly collected from all over the world was mind-blowing enough.
And there’s still an air of romance about it all.
As the Queen herself once wrote about Osborne House, “It is impossible to imagine a prettier spot.” —VV www.visitisleofwight.co.uk
8. South Australia: Because adventure travel should include food and wine, too.
In South Australia, you can swim with the seal lions in the Eyre Peninsula, go walkabout on the Murray River Walk and into the Outback, spot kangaroos and hug koalas. You can also eat oysters straight from the sea to your plate, sip robust Barossa Valley reds, walk among the vines in the Adelaide Hills (above) and hang out in the country’s new capital of cool, Adelaide. And not far from this touchpoint is a quirky ode to wine. In the McLaren Vale, about 40 minutes drive south of the city, you’ll find d’Arenberg winery. Aside from the Osborn family’s more than 100 years of winemaking, it’s also home to the d’Arenberg Cube, an architectural gem that’s like a five-storey unsolved Rubik’s Cube. Start the puzzle from the ground up in the hippy-dippy Alternate Realities museum. By the time you reach the top, the fantasy gives way to the very real and much-lauded restaurant with gorgeous views of the Vale, the Willunga Hills and the St. Vincent Gulf. Be on the lookout for the winery’s ultimate winemaker, Chester Osborn. You can’t miss him. With shoulder-length greyish-blond curls, this dandy’s as likely to be dressed as the Mad Hatter or Willy Wonka as he is to be sipping his latest vintage. southaustralia.com
9. France: Because everyone should even have a day in Provence a la Peter Mayle.
From the Dordogne to the Gigondas to Chateau Neuf de Pape, the wine flows in this part of France like water – and we like that. Take in Roman ruins at Vaison-la-Romaine, watch the river flow at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue (above), and visit the Pope’s Palace at Avignon.
If you’re looking for inspiration before you go, pull back and take in all of the sights and flavours of Provence with the late Peter Mayle, the celebrated British author known for A Year in Provence, through his final ode to his adopted home, My Twenty-Five Years in Provence: Reflections on Then and Now. ca.france.fr/en/