Four Trips You Should Take in 2019
This was originally published last year, but unlike Lonely Planet I can’t be bothered doing one of these lists every year. Plus, if you do lists like this every year they become less about the “best places to visit” than “places to visit that we haven’t added to one of these lists in a few years”. But really, I’m just a bit lazy — it’s Christmas so it’s all good!
Don’t you hate being told what to do and where to go by travel bloggers who have no idea what your interests are? It looks like you’ve stumbled on the wrong post, because that’s exactly what I’m about to do. You’ve probably noticed lots of lists like this lately – everyone from Lonely Planet to some no-name blogger (that’s me) has an opinion on where you should travel in 2018. There are some things you should watch out for when reading these lists though; the most important being how many times has this blogger / publication written a list like this? Lonely Planet writes them every year (and endless variations — best countries, regions, beaches etc) and they don’t like to repeat themselves. Is Djibouti really the fourth best country to visit in 2018 or have they been doing these lists for so long that they ran out of countries to mention?
The other thing to look out for is why they are including certain countries. Often it’s because a major sporting event or a certain festival is happening, which is perhaps the worst time to visit a place (unless you’re really interested in said event). Accommodation is more expensive and fills up quicker and getting around the country can be more difficult.
This is the first time I’ve written a list like this, so you can be sure that the four places I mention below are the cream of the crop. I also won’t be imploring you to visit Russia during the football world cup or Pyeongchang for the Winter Olympics. Does this make my list the best “Trips you should take in 2018” post on the internet? Probably not (OK, definitely not), but I hope you read it anyway!
When to go: Peak season is mid June – mid September. May or October will be your best bets for good weather and cheaper prices.
The vast array of islands, and the various cultures that live on them, means a trip to Indonesia can be whatever you want it to be. You could head to Lake Toba and hear Christian songs ringing out of churches while you feast on magic mushrooms. You could party until sunrise on Gili T, or spend a romantic holiday in a quaint resort nestled amongst rice fields in Bali. Or maybe you’re into diving (or snorkelling) and want to explore some of the world’s top-rated underwater worlds in Komodo National Park. You can climb volcanoes, explore ancient temples, see some of the world’s rarest wildlife and relax on pristine white sand beaches. Whatever you do, make sure to venture away from Bali – it’s a nice island and all but there are so many more places I’d recommend above it. A rough two week itinerary would see you start in Jakarta, then to Jogjakarta to explore the ancient temples, see the sunrise at Mount Bromo then head to Bali, the Gili Islands and Flores (the gateway to Komodo National Park).
FURTHER READING: Check out all my posts on Indonesia!
When to visit: May – September, when Peru is at its coolest and driest. We were there in September and it the weather was perfect.
Just like any quality leg spin bowler, variation is the key to a truly special travel destination. Peru has a huge array of landscapes, from the Amazon Rainforest to the desert coastline. You can also see snow-capped mountains, shrinking glaciers and bright blue lakes in Huascaran National Park, as well as some of the world’s most impressive ancient ruins in the Sacred Valley. Machu Picchu is the obvious draw card, and you’d be making a huge mistake if you missed it, but there are heaps of other places to see.
You really need a month (at least) to get a good taste of all that Peru has to offer, but if you only have two weeks you can still see a fair bit. You could fly into Lima, quickly head up to Huaraz and hike to Laguna 69 / take a tour to Pastoruri Glacier, then bus back to Lima and make your way down the coast. Stop off in Paracas for a boat tour to wildlife-packed islands and then continue down to Huacachina for some of the most awe-inspiring desert dunes you’re ever likely to see. From there you can travel inland to Arequipa, the gateway to Colca Canyon (one of the world’s deepest canyons) and then down to Cusco for the Sacred Valley including Machu Picchu (and then fly home from Cusco). It’d be a pretty exhausting trip but the sheer variety of things you’ll see and experience will make it well worth it.
FURTHER READING: Planning a trip to Peru? Check out my archives for heaps of posts
When to visit: We went to Morocco in December and the weather was perfect (a little cold in the desert though). Summer will be hot and probably busier (although there doesn’t seem to be one “high season” in Morocco).
If you enjoy wandering the streets of exotic ancient cities then a trip to Morocco should be at the top of your 2018 travel wish list. These old towns (known locally as medinas) burst with colour, commerce and great food. They are often hectic places to explore on foot but the architecture, history and unique way of life shine through, making for some lasting travel memories. Morocco isn’t just about towns and cities though. The Sahara Desert is a (long) bus ride away, and the Atlas Mountains feature many impressive landscapes (and some cool villages).
A two week itinerary would start in Tangier (if taking the ferry over from Spain) or Fez (if flying in on a budget European airline). Fez is the more interesting entry point of the two – it features thousands of lanes and “streets” (which aren’t wide enough for cars) in the old town alone, as well as some great markets and historic buildings. Then head to Chefchaouen, an ancient town covered in blue paint and surrounded by the barren Rif Mountains. You can then make your way straight to the desert, or travel the short distance to Tangier and take an overnight train to Marrakech. From there you can go on a day trip to the seaside medina of Essaouira and then book a three day tour to the Sahara Desert, which will take you through the Atlas Mountains, past ancient villages and rug warehouses to the orange dunes of Erg Chebbi. Fly home from Marrakech, not before trying some delicious local food at various markets and restaurants in the medina.
FURTHER READING: Find out more about these awesome places in my Morocco archives
New Zealand (especially the South Island)
When to visit: Whenever. Summer is probably best because the days are long (it doesn’t get dark until after 9.30 pm). Spring is a good time to visit, especially if you’re after the mountain views, as there is still lots of snow around. Mountain areas like Queenstown and Wanaka obviously look great in winter but the days are short and the roads can be icy. Autumn is also a good time to visit due to the colourful leaves and settled weather.
I may be a little biased with this last one, as I’m from (and live in) New Zealand, but the South Island really is one of the best places in the world to travel. I’ve been exploring it in depth for the last year or so and have found so many great places to visit. From the pristine waters of the Marlborough Sounds to the snow-capped mountains of the interior (and so many places in between), the South Island is the ultimate “viewpoint destination”. What does that mean exactly? Well, there are countless viewpoints looking out over some incredible scenery. Often you don’t even have to walk far to see them. Having said that, hiking really is something you should enjoy if you’re thinking of visiting this part of New Zealand. There are several multi-day treks, but you can see some beautiful landscapes if you’re willing to walk for a couple of hours. Then you have the towns and cities – the best of which can be found in Otago (Dunedin, Oamaru, Arrowtown).
If you have two weeks to explore the South Island I’d recommend renting a car or campervan and hitting the road as soon as you land in Christchurch (the usual point of arrival). Head up to Kaikoura to see the whales and the surreal coastal scenery on the short hike from Keane Point to South Bay. From there travel up to Picton and do some hiking before driving through the Marlborough Sounds on some of New Zealand’s most scenic roads. Continue around to Golden Bay (specifically Totaranui) to see some of the country’s best beaches and then make your way down to the West Coast where you’ll see glaciers and mountains. Drive all the way down to Haast and then inland to Wanaka and Queenstown (via several waterfalls).
From Queenstown it’s an easy (and very scenic) drive to Mount Cook — you could do this as a day trip or spend a night or two in the area. Take the side-trip to Milford Sound (a New Zealand highlight for a lot of people) and then make your way to Dunedin via the Catlins, a coastal paradise of scenic viewpoints, amazing beaches and waterfalls hidden away in the forest. Dunedin is the prettiest city in New Zealand – there are upwards of 20 excellent beaches in and around the city and the architecture and street art in the centre of the city is second to none. From there journey north, stopping off at the Moeraki Boulders and Oamaru, the best preserved Victorian town in New Zealand. From Oamaru you’re only a few hours from Christchurch. Again, this is a pretty exhausting itinerary, but if you travel in summer you’ll have over 15 hours of daylight so you’ll have plenty of time to rest while still exploring as much as you can.
FURTHER READING: I have a whole website dedicated to New Zealand’s South Island!
Where are you hoping to travel to in 2018? Do any of my recommendations make your list? Let me know in the comments below!
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