This past weekend travel lovers descended on Downtown Los Angeles for two days of world exploring without leaving the convention center. The Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show attracted hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of attendees, the show was bustling and energy levels were high. I totally can understand it–I get excited when I’m planning my next trip too!
Both Saturday and Sunday offered a full schedule of speakers, and each gave compelling and useful travel advice based on their own expertise. I enjoyed learning how to better take advantage of my travel points from Brian Kelly of The Points Guy, and of course, learning about travel trends from Pauline Frommer. Other notable speakers were Rick Steves, Samantha Brown and good friends Juliana Broste, Sarah Dandashy and Angel Castellanos.
I was very honored to be asked to lead a session of my own and I was eager to share the top destinations to visit now. Over the past 10 years, I’ve been able to experience many so many incredible, life-changing places all over our world, many of which I’d love to return too. But recounting my favorite experiences wouldn’t be helpful since I find that to be so subjective. My impression of a city would be affected if it were rainy, if I was tired, if my travel companion was cranky, if we were hangry, if we didn’t have a guide… and none of those situations are the fault of the destination! So instead, I took a step back and looked analytically at the 69 countries and hundreds of cities that have impacted me and determined where I think the average traveler should visit SOON.
Certain places are enduring and there’s less of a rush to see them right now. But some may be drastically changed in the next few years and discussed ten locations and types of trips that I think are important to take within the next year or two.
Here I’ll give you a few highlights of where I recommend and why. Note: this presentation was given at the LOS ANGELES Travel & Adventure show so it is focused on the LA based traveler.
- Eco Friendly Safari
Why? Your dollars can go to wildlife conservation, land preservation and community development in safari destinations.
How? You need to do your research to find camps, lodges and tour operators that are sustainable, responsible and give back to the community.
Suggestion: Check out “Africa’s Finest” listing here.
Why? The definition of “life changing” and it is safer now than it has been in recent years. The State Department has it at a Leve 2 and it is recommened to “exercise caution.”
How? Go with a trusted tour operator.
Suggestion: I went with Abercrombie & Kent and not only are they very luxurious, they employ over 300 local Egyptians so their ground operations are on point! They will keep you safe and their guides are excellent.
Watch this video to see why I loved the local guides and traveling with Abercrombie & Kent.
Why? With the largest population in the world, China has and will have an ever increasing global impact. Also, with better travel infrastructure, it is now easier to see places outside of the well known, touristy spots.
How? Fly to Shanghai for the modern side of China. Get adjusted to the time change, then hop on a 30 minute bullet train to Suzhou for a transporting experience back in time. Suzhou was the capital of culture thousands of years ago and this well preserved, canal city is the ancient China that you imagine.
Check out what Suzhou really looks like in this video!
Why? With the 2020 Summer Olympics on the horizon, there’s a palpable energy in the country that is about to put itself on display.
How? Fly to Tokyo then take a high speed train to see the countryside. I’d suggest going South to the Setouchi region if you want to taste great food (soba, sake & kobe beef), sleep in ancient farmhouses and experience old Japan by visiting their well preserved historical towns like Kurashiki. There’s also so many water adventures, beaches and bike paths!
Why? It is still on the kuna, the local Croatian currency, but this is expected to change by 2020. With rolling hills, incredible islands, historical cities and breathtaking coastline, this truly is some of the best of Europe on a budget!
How? I’d recommend looking into Istria, the region that borders Italy if you like food and wine. If you are interested in the beaches and coastal cities, small ship cruises and even charters are a wonderful way to experience Croatia.
Suggestion: I also thoroughly recommend a bike tour as the landscape is stunning by bike!
Watch my bike tour experience in Croatia with VBT.
- Mediterranean Cruise
Why? You can see some of Europe’s most famous locations on a budget! It’s great for multi-generational travel too–from children to grandparents!
How? Look into the itineraries and be mindful of the distance between ports. If you want to maximize your time on land, opt for itineraries that have shorter travel distances.
Suggestion: If you want some exceptional cruise lines in the Med, check out: MSC Cruises, Viking Ocean, Crystal Cruises and Silversea.
I recently sailed on the Viking Star and had a fantastic time! You can see the ship and our ports here.
- Machu Picchu
Why? This world wonder is NOT overrated. It is beyond belief to see it in person, and up until recently, there were very little restrictions. Now, new regulations actually allow in 2000 more visitors per day so this iconic location might change…
How? Fly into Cusco and enjoy this vibrant city and its history as you get used to the altitude. Get up EARLY to take the first bus up to the site. You won’t regret exploring without the hordes of tourists and your photos will be better too!
Suggestion: Hike up the peak across from Machu Picchu, Huayna Picchu for a unique vantage point on the city.
See how we explored Machu Picchu & our Shaman experience here.
Why? It is a quick flight for us LA folks and it is a world away!
Plus, in light of the recent earthquakes, Mexico City is depending on tourism income to help rebuild the city. Spend your travel dollars to impact change! And your money will go far since now there are deep discounts at many high end hotels.
How? Check out Mexico City and a plan a trip outside of the very hot summer season. Need a beach getaway? Check out Zihuatanejo or Sayulita for laidback, bohemian vibes and more authenticity than some of Mexico’s more famous beach towns. Zihua even has a direct airport!
You can take a peek at Zihua in this local guide video that I made!
- The Immersion Trip
Why? This one is the easiest to put off as it is less about checking off an itinerary and more about finding a local community and staying put. The goal of this trip is to LIVE in a place, versus just seeing it.
How? Use Airbnb or a similar home rental site to book a home for at least a week. Go to local markets to pick up food to cook, establish a routine based on where the locals go and talk to people!
Suggestion: Hawaii is a great option for an immersion trip. As a US state it offers so many little comforts like same currency, cell phone service and Uber. Also, it is one of my favorite tropical destinations in the world, and for the West Coast, it is not too far!
- The Road Trip
Why? It is too easy not to take this trip! Weekends are perfect for a quick getaway–even a day trip!
For those based in LA, we have way too many amazing options not to take advantage.
How? In LA, you can go to beach towns along the coast, camp in the desert, ski in the mountains and hike in hills, all within a couple hours or less. If you don’t feel like driving, check out Amtrak to see nearby stops and enjoy a car-free escape.
Another idea is to rent a JUCY Campervan and drive to any scenic destination you’d like! We took ours to Big Sur, California. See the Big Sur Road Trip experience here.
Where do you want to go now? I’d love to hear where has caught your eye. Leave comments below.