2017 will certainly go down as being a year focused on off the beaten path destinations, new experiences, and great food. In addition, with a shrinking connectivity index and more transportation options than ever, the world is an ever smaller place. Traveling far and wide to fully encompass the scope of this diverse planet is a must.
The travelers of today are more travel savvy, have done more research, and may be harder to please than those of the past. No longer are the majority of people willing to simply be catered to with “continental” type activities and hotels that could be located anywhere.
2017 brings diversity. The aging baby boomers are looking to check a few items off their bucket list, while Millennials are looking for the ultimate adventure that far outweighs experience over purchases. More and more families are traveling the world, offering children a truly global education.
Here are some of great travel destination options to suit modern day explorers of all ages.
One of the most stunning countries on the planet, Colombia has won a hard-fought victory over the woes of the past. Decades of war and violence meant that once only journalists and hard core travelers enjoyed the privilege of her stamp in their passport. No more. Sustained stability has brought in an influx of travelers from around the world eager to enjoy the friendly hospitality, rich cultural cities such as Cartagena, and lush countryside teeming with pre-Incan tombs. There has never been a better time to visit this highly sought-after travel destination.
Yes, Canada. While not often considered particularly exotic, Canada has much to offer as a travel destination. The second largest country in the world, Canada serves up everything from turquoise mountain lakes to arctic tundra. With a truly foreign influence from the French in Quebec to the large Asian population in Vancouver, this country is set to celebrate its 150th anniversary in style this year. The weak dollar makes it a great bargain so perhaps taking the short flight on a private jet may even be in order! Get set to enjoy exciting fusion food and surprisingly underrated wine.
Now for the truly exotic. Escape to a time from history in Ethiopia. New airline links will make it easier than ever to step back in time to trek the Simien Mountains and view wildlife that exists nowhere else on earth. Walk along precarious footpaths to discover ancient churches built of rock, or boat across serene Lake Tana. This unique country features its own calendar and so you will even get 13 months to experience all of the wonder including rustic landscapes, world-renowned coffee, and spongy injera bread coupled with their fragrant cuisine.
No travel destination list for the year would be complete without including Cuba. Although intrepid travelers have been finding ways to make their way there for years, for the first time in decades US airlines are now making the journey. Many will still find a pre-arranged tour the easiest option, but it is also doable on your own for those a bit more willing to step outside their comfort zone. Be prepared, tourist infrastructure is sadly lacking, but the vibrant culture, Caribbean sunshine, and Latin flavor will erase any feelings of unease. One of the world’s most sheltered but authentic societies, it can take a bit to get in with the locals but it is so very worth the trip.
5. South Africa
South Africa needs to be on everyone’s bucket list. South Africa is all about combinations. This amazing country covers the south of the continent with shorelines embracing the Atlantic and Indian oceans meeting at the Cape of Good Hope. The extremely varied terrain and landscape embrace mountains and beaches, arid deserts and marshy estuaries. The Cape Malay cuisine is a unique blend all its own taking into account the curries of the Far East and the influences of the Dutch settlers. And, of course, no information on the country is complete without mentioning the extraordinary wines of Stellenbosch and the extraordinary wildlife at Krueger Park. A truly remarkable place.
Change has been a long time coming to the country formerly known as Burma. No one is claiming all of the past problems have gone away, but big changes in this super secretive country have brought in the travelers in droves. Challenges still exist. Few ATMS dot the countryside so bring in plenty of new US dollars. The internet is no longer censored, but it is SLOW, so don’t think you’ll be downloading all of your pictures of Yangoon while in country. Hotels are expensive and the trains seriously bumpy but the food is exceptional and as cheap as it comes. Simple is best. Follow the sound of the chanting monks and experience serene bliss.
Known as the “Norway of the Middle East”, Oman has long been the jewel of the region. A visit to Oman allows you to experience Arabia without the overwhelming wealth and modern high rises of the new Middle East. The low slung cities, pristine fjords, and stunning coastline retain much of their original charm. The Bedouin influence is still apparent and for those wishing to get a feel for this culture beyond the shopping malls to its historic soul will welcome the warm hospitality. Muscat, the port capital, features the contrast of an enormous mosque bordering the winding, and nearly claustrophobic, corridors of the ancient souk. When you are done with city life, head out into the desert to discover what was considered the lost city of Ubar which has only quite recently been “found”, an archaeology fans highlight.
The world can be a vast space, but modern travel and technology make it ever easier to explore more off the beaten path destinations than ever.
Whether you are a senior, a millennial just beginning to explore the world, or a family looking for a more complete educational experience for the kids, the world has never been more accessible. Make 2017 the year of exploration and experience one (or all!) of these travel destination options for yourself.