New year, new travel adventures. Looking for a unique destination and fresh adventure can be a challenge. You can always take a volunteer vacation which will immerse you in a community and culture completely new to you. Or you could travel to a destination you had preconceptions about only to be amazed by discovering an untapped world of wonder. Here are a few suggestions from travel writers that may pique your interest.
See Ya There! Here Are 10 Places That Travel Influencers Recommend Visiting in 2020
DECEMBER 17, 2019
By Jessica Sager
If you made a New Year’s resolution to travel more in 2020, get packing! From stateside locales to foreign lands that haven’t gotten much tourism yet, we’ve asked the experts where the best places to travel in 2020 are—and some of these options will surprise you. Whether or not you have a passport or wanderlust beyond our own borders, we’ve got a place for you.
Here Are 10 Places That Travel Influencers Recommend Visiting in 2020:
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
The Traveling Newlyweds can’t get enough of Hilton Head Island, S.C., whether for a vacation or a staycation. It’s just a 45-minute drive from Savannah, Ga., and about two hours from Charleston, but has all the trappings of a tropical getaway—white sand beaches, warm temperatures, 12 miles of breathtaking coastline, 50 miles of scenic trails, 250 restaurants and numerous award-winning resorts. There are a ton of family-owned eateries and businesses and a lot of live music and dining by the water. It’s also largely dog-friendly!
Michael Gerber and Lora Pope of Explore With Lora both recommended Pakistan for upcoming adventures thanks to its amazing nature and mountains—and its lack of crowds from other tourists, unlike nearby India and Nepal. You’ll need a visa to go, but Pope says it’s worth it. “Most people think that Pakistan is an extremely dangerous country that you cannot visit, but this couldn’t be further from the truth,” she said. “I spent a month there in August and it completely changed my views on the country. The hospitality in Pakistan is world-class. The locals are genuinely so happy to have you there and will go out of their way to make sure you have an amazing time.”
The Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic is an underrated gem. Dangerous Business travel blogger Amanda Williams notes that while the Faroe Islands aren’t nearly as famous as its neighbors Iceland and Norway, its landscapes rivals both of them—without the crowds. “Getting to the Faroes is easier than many people realize (you can catch direct flights from several European cities),” Williams says, “and the infrastructure is on-par with any other destination in Scandinavia. The islands are easy to get around with a rental car, there’s tons of great hiking and the nature is pretty mind-blowing.”
Want to go Ireland without actually going across the pond? Try Newfoundland, Kate McCulley of Adventurous Kate recommends, noting that the Canadian province boasts similar craggy cliffs, picturesque seaside villages and friendly locals with lilting accents who tell stories and welcome you as one of your own. “But the best part is that Newfoundland feels a thousand times less tourist-ed than Ireland,” she says. “When traveling in Newfoundland, you’ll be welcomed warmly by everyone you meet.”
In terms of specific activities and excursions, McCulley recommends seafood cooked on the beach in Twillingate, a treasure hunt for art installations during the Bonavista Biennale, and, for the adventurous, she says, “You can become an honorary Newfoundlander by getting “screeched in” in a bizarre province-wide ceremony involving alcohol and kissing a codfish.”
Bonus? McCulley adds, “Newfoundland is an Instagram fan’s paradise, from the brightly painted homes of Jelly Bean Row in St. John’s to the unusual geologic makeup of Gros Morne National Park to the fishing village of Trinity that looks plucked from a storybook.”
While all of Thailand is lovely, Veronika Primm of Travel Geekery loves one particular island the most: Koh Phangan. “It’s a tiny paradise island near Koh Samui, which got famous thanks to its regular Full Moon parties,” Primm told us. “The island is so much more than that, though. It’s a unique spiritual base for many, with yoga and mindfulness courses and retreats in abundance. It’s a place where Thai people still outnumber tourists. It’s lush, it’s green and has miles of gorgeous beaches.” One thing to note, Primm says, is that Koh Phangan isn’t accessible by car or plane, so you’ll need a ferry to get there—but it’s well worth the trip!
Becca Siegel and Dan C. Gold of Half Half Travel told us that Myanmar is the hottest destination for 2020—possibly literally also—for its affordability, safety and natural beauty. “Before going there, travelers should know that some parts of Myanmar get very hot, especially the tourism hot spot of Bagan,” the pair told us. “It can feel 100 degrees Fahrenheit most days between 9 and 3 p.m., so all of your sightseeing should be done at sunrise and at sunset. The middle of the day is for chilling out by a pool at your hotel!”
You weren’t expecting that one, were you? Travel vlogger Jessica Hirsch of Cheatdayeats recommends Boise, Idaho, for 2020—especially if you’re a foodie and love carbs.
“With a focus on potatoes, they have a restaurant dedicated to friends and a large focus on sustainability and farm-to-table. There’ a major emphasis on where your food comes from and they’re majority passionate about food waste,” Hirsch says. “This concept also applies to their beverage scene with mile markers to inform visitors on how far the brewery is located from where you’re enjoying a drink. There are many beautiful parks and outdoor activities to work off thee food to make it a very active trip as well. Also, for a fresh air and for views of the beautiful state, we recommend the Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic for a full hot-air balloon ride.”
Emily Mandagie of The Mandagies agrees, adding, “Downtown Boise also has incredible locally sourced restaurants, breweries, and even its own wine country (Snake River Valley AVA). One of our favorite restaurants is Diablo & Sons Saloon, which is a tastefully wild-west themed bar with clever drinks and delicious tacos.”
Because the Olympics are coming to Tokyo in 2020, so will travelers. Cat Lin of For Two Plz tells us, “The Japan Tourism Board, along with smaller regional- and city-level tourism boards, are incentivizing travelers to visit before and after the Olympic periods with cheap travel deals. Those who’ve had Japan on their bucket list, 2020 is a good year to make that dream trip happen. From a cost-saving perspective, don’t restrict yourself to just the Tokyo area. There is more to see, do, and explore when you expand your radar to nearby cities like Hakone and Nikki.”
Amanda O’Brien of The Boutique Adventurer recommends Kanazawa in particular, which is about a 2.5 hour bullet train ride from Tokyo. “Kanazawa has all you want from areas like Kyoto without all the tourists, from samurai houses to geisha villages to dressing up in a kimono to stunning modern museum dedicated to DT Suzuki, who brought Zen Buddhism to the world,” she says. “It is also home to Japan’s third most beautiful garden, Kenrokuen, and the production of gold leaf.” Kanazawa is also just a 30 minute train ride from the Kaga thermal spa region and its Nadatera Temple and incredible art.
The Kii Peninsula is also a great spot, Retha Charette of The Roaming Nanny says. “It’s off the beaten path and holds all the ancient beauty one can think of about Japan—home to the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage the Kii Mountains stretch out towards the horizon ending at the ocean,” she told us. “Temples dot the mountainsides with plenty of ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) to stay in!”
Slovenia has a little something for everyone—and you can brag to all your BFFs that you found it first. Foodies should hurry to explore the many culinary gems found across the 24 distinct gastronomic regions, and there is a lot to do in Slovenia all year long.
Jonathan Look, Jr., of Life Part 2 tells us, “Bordered by Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, Slovenia stands on its own, but is influenced by all of these rich cultures. Alpine landscapes, charming cities and hospitable people are in abundance. The food and wine, which is largely unknown outside the region, is truly world-class. There is even a small coastline with beaches and scrumptious seafood.”
Travelers will love the Festival of Kurentovanje, one of the oldest celebrations of Carnival in Europe. Featuring parades of costumed monsters and characters, Kurentovanje is recognized on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list. In the summer, visitors can enjoy 14 wine regions, including the world’s oldest active grapevine (over 450 years old!) in Maribor.
Lake Bled is great for scenic paddle-boating in fall. In winter, Slovenia is decked out for the Christmas season. Postojna Cave transforms into a winter wonderland, adorned with festive decorations and more than 2,100 colorful lights for its annual Christmas experience, a live performance featuring 16 biblical nativity scenes reenacted by more than 150 performers along the cave’s one-of-a-kind railway system. Additionally, avid skiers will delight at the fabulous slopes of the Julian Alps, particularly the eighteen different slopes at Kranjska Gora, a frequent host of international slalom competitions.
Grab a coat and hit up Alaska! So many influencers sang the praises of the state: Louise Sattler loves Girdwood for its charming shops and cafes—and spectacular views of the Northern Lights.
Visitors can also enjoy Glacier Bay National Park to see the 200-year-old sheets of ice breaking away from the faces of glaciers before they melt away. Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve can only be reached by plane or boat, with many air connections from Juneau, Skagway or Haines via commuter air taxi service. Visitors can take the Glacier Bay Day Boat Tour for views of snow-capped mountains, tidewater glaciers, whales, sea lions, rare birds, coastal bears, eagles and more—plus close-up views of the Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers that cruise ships can’t match. Visitors can also enjoy kayaking, whale watching and authentic Alaskan experiences at the local Tribal House with hand-carved Totem Poles—each one telling a “story.” Glacier Bay Lodge is the only commercial overnight accommodation in the park, Glacier Bay Lodge offers 48 rustic rooms nestled among Sitka spruce trees on the shores of Bartlett Cove, with the National Park Visitors Center on the second floor lobby, or Bartlett Cove Campground, which features bear-resistant food caches, firewood and a warming hut.
Julie Leventhal recommends the Tordrillo Mountain Lodge, Alaska’s first via ferrata climbing route with endless activities from helicopter-accessed fat tire mountain biking to world-class salmon fishing.