I turned 30 this year, and I am slowly starting to lose track of my years! When was 2012? 2016? What year was that? When you're in your early 20's, everything is new and exciting--and let's be honest, you don't have that many years to track! So as I get older and the years begin to accumulate, it's not uncommon to hear the years being referenced as countries! "Oh, 2014? You mean the year of Spain?" and "Oh yeah, 2016--the summer we spent in Turkey?"
So with the start of a new year, I am here at my computer wondering how the year of 2018 will be remembered. What new adventures will I talk about at the end of the year? The prospects leave me hopeful and exhilarated.
And as I reflect on 2017, a lot more happened than just my travels--my little brother and sister are growing up: one is living his dream as a professional ballet dancer in NYC and the other made a big leap with her first full-time career. One best friend opened her own boutique store in New York and the other best friend just had a baby only days before Christmas! So it has been an exciting year for my friends and family! And for my little family, we plan on continuing the tradition of traveling to new and exciting places each year!
So what might be on my list for 2018? Only time will tell! But here is a list of adventures for your list in 2018, either to places I want to travel, or places I've been and recommend for the year ahead! Happy travels!
Where to Travel in 2018: Morocco
I mention Morocco a lot when discussing my travels to people in passing. But in truth, our visit was relatively short compared to some of the other places we've traveled. But the country made such an impression on me that it has always called me back.
It's hard to explain to others who don't quite understand the appeal. I felt culture shock and even fear the minute we took that first cab ride from the port after arriving from Spain because we had arrived in a country that was so different from our own. But our apprehension quickly changed to excitement and enthusiasm once we were acclimated to Morocco's unique charm.
It is also considered one of the safest destinations in North Africa, despite the travel warnings issued regarding pickpockets and scams. As always, use common sense to avoid being the victim of a crime anywhere. But know that violent crimes are relatively low in Morocco and travel is as safe as any tourist destination these days.
With the appeal of unique architecture, amazing food, sunsets above the call of the local mosque, shopping handmade goods in kasbahs and souks, and the wild landscape of the Sahara Desert, Morocco calls to the adventure traveler. Even though I've been to Morocco, it remains on my list as a destination to (re)visit in the future! Who knows, maybe in 2018!
Where to Travel in 2018: Costa Rica
If Costa Rica hasn't made it to your travel list yet, now is the time! This little country packs quite a travel punch in a short amount of time. And as the world begins to discover this gem of a country, it's only going to get more expensive, not less!
There's a lot to chose from, but our five day tour focused on the Arenal region in central Costa Rica. The stunning waterfalls, hot springs, volcano hikes, zip lines, canopy bridges, horseback riding and white-water rafting tours are just some of the incredible adventures to chose from, all within 50 miles of each other! You don't need to go far to experience it all. Lodging and food is cheap, and all within the backdrop of a lush, tropical rainforest? Yes please!
Another bonus: Costa Rica wants to be the first carbon-neutral country in the 21st century, AND a completely zoo-free nation with only natural habitats for its captive animals? Now that's a country we can support!
Lastly, we didn't make it to the beach in Costa Rica, but I've read Costa Rican beaches are also second-to-none with certain areas that are entirely secluded. Because who wants to share a tropical beach paradise?
Where to Travel in 2018: Portugal
Travel bloggers have been raving about Portugal for years. Can we even still consider it undiscovered? The charm and charisma of Lisbon and the jaw-dropping cliffs of the Algarve Coast have been "undiscovered" for years.
So what's stopping you from visiting this European treasure? Are you indifferent to the unique, handmade tiles that cover the streets and buildings everywhere in Portugal? Are you just no into seeing romantic castles and storybook architecture just 20 minutes outside of Lisbon? Maybe stunning beaches backdropped by glistening cliffs along the Algarve are just not your thing? Or maybe you're not into incredible seafood, comfort food, and any other types of culinary masterpieces found in this country?
Then maybe Portugal is just not for you. That's ok--I know plenty of people who would love it this year. ;)
Where to Travel in 2018: Jordan
Another questionable destination on my list for safety, let me put your fears at rest. While the region of the Middle East is considered unstable in certain areas, Jordan remains a relatively safe haven for many travelers seeking out the ancient trails of biblical figures and ancient world wonders.
If you're looking for an unforgettable trip, look into visiting the trail between Amman and the Red Sea. You'll be able to visit the famous facade of the Treasury at Petra, the valleys of the Wadi Rum, and desert landscapes comparable to the American Midwest, but a world away from the familiar. This destination is surely for those looking for an adventure outside the ordinary!
Where to Travel in 2018: Vietnam
As we drove along the stretch of highway from Hoi-An to Danang, Vietnam, we declared: tourism is here. Mega-resorts upon mega-resorts are going up along Vietnam's tropical coastline. In another decade, after all this development, places in Vietnam may look unrecognizable from the past few years.
While entirely beneficial to the residents of Vietnam who are taking advantage of the economic opportunity tourism brings, I'm glad we made it to Vietnam before this mass tourism takes over and commercializes a country which already has plenty to offer without fabricated vacation packages!
The US dollar still goes a long way in Vietnam, and investors are spending a lot of money to increase the quality in hotels and restaurants. This means a cheap but luxurious vacation by most Western travelers' standards. While you are welcome to take advantage of this opportunity, make sure you do your research and support reputable business and small owners that give fair wages to their employees and the cities they live. When you travel, you become an ambassador for your country. We met some of the friendliest and most humble people on our trip through Vietnam, and wish only the best for this new and thriving industry for the people there!