Travel trends and resolutions are all the go right now, as we start the new year. Where to go? What to do? Where to eat? So many places, so little time…
I’m not much in favour of resolutions, but I do have a wish list of places that I’ve got on my radar for this year so I might as well put it out there and see what the universe delivers. I’ve always been a mostly reactive – rather than proactive – travel writer, going where the assignments that come up take me, rather than planning ahead or seeking out specific destinations.
This approach has served me well, taking me to places I might never have thought of without a work assignment attached to it. Last year was a perfect example, with Pitcairn Island (and the bonus of a stop in the Gambier Islands in French Polynesia – which I’d never heard of) and Finland among my highlights. With friends in Finland, it has certainly always been on my wish-list, but I had not been aware of lovely smaller cities like Turku and Porvoo until planning this trip.
This year, I’ve got a few destinations in mind to aspire to, including some countries that I’ve never been to before.
Top of my list is Japan. Last year a number of friends holidayed there and seeing their photos on Facebook really caught my imagination. More recently, I’ve been watching the British TV series Joanna Lumley’s Japan and that’s cemented my desire to go there. But what time of year? The winter scenes in the north of Japan looked entrancing, but then there’s Spring for the cherry blossoms (although it did look very crowded, which put me off a bit).
The other “new” country on my list is Morocco. Again, friends have been talking about their trip a few years ago – with one about to make a return visit – and it’s piqued a latent interest I’ve always had in getting there.
Then there are the remote Galapagos Islands, with so much wildlife…still a dream destination for me…and closer to home, Myanmar (Burma), now much more open to tourists and less politically charged than it was some years ago.
For years, there have been two events that every year I’ve said “I must go next year!” – and never have. One is the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, held in Indonesia in late October. This year’s will be the 14th for the festival, which was conceived by Janet DeNeefe, co-founder of the not-for-profit foundation Yayasan Mudra Swari Saraswati, as a healing project after the Bali bombing of 2002.
Unfortunately, the Ubud festival dates are likely to clash with another event that’s always on my “must-do-that-next-year” list – Sydney’s annual Sculpture by the Sea in October, which claims to be the world’s largest annual free-to-the-public outdoor sculpture exhibition. The works are exhibited along the Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk. So I might have a choice to make!
With walking in mind, I’ve also long held an ambition to walk the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in my native New Zealand’s central volcanic plateau of the North Island. Often rated the best day walk in New Zealand, it is 19.4km but quite a challenge and takes around eight hours (in the less steep direction). And for all but highly experienced winter hikers, only something to do in summer…so I’ve got plenty of time to train for it!
That’s probably enough wishing and dreaming for now…I know that one of the joys of life is that things don’t always go to plan, and that it’s possible that some (or all) of these destinations will have to wait for another year. But I’m ever the optimist, so I know that whatever the year brings in travel (and in life) it will be interesting, challenging and exciting.
What’s on your travel wish-list for 2017? I’d love to hear…it might give me even more ideas! Meanwhile, in a couple of weeks I’ll be packing my bag for the tropics, with my first trip of the year to Lizard Island, on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.