As winter really sets in in the Northern Hemisphere, my thoughts start turning towards all the places I’d like to travel in the upcoming year. But choosing the perfect place to get my year started can be difficult: it’s a big world out there! Whether you’re looking for a beach-front location to get a good tan or someplace where you can shred some amazing powder, there are plenty of options to explore. To narrow down the list, here are five of the top trips that will really get your 2017 started with a bang:
# For the Skier: Japan
When you think of the best skiing in the world, chances are, you’re thinking of the Alps. But rather than take an expensive trip to a posh resort where you’re rubbing elbows with other skiers in every turn, head for Japan instead. Hokkaido ski resort has some of the best snow in the world, and you’ll find terrain for every level of skier. Plus, there’s plenty of après ski like you would find at any other resort, so you definitely don’t have to worry about missing out on any part of the experience—except you won’t get the experience of waiting in those long lift lines!
# For the Sports Enthusiast: Korea
If you’re interested in sports, you can’t beat Pyeong Chang in early 2017. The reason for this is, the city is hosting a number of international sporting events in the run-up to the 2018 Olympics and Paralympics. These events will still be world-class events, but the ticket prices will be much more affordable than Olympics ticket prices. During the month of January, things will kick off with the International Federation of Skiing (FIS)’s Far East Cup, and a ton of other events in various sports will be held through February, March, and April. Best of all, you can frequently find inexpensive flights to Seoul from various US cities, so you can save some money for travel later in 2017!
# For the Culture Hound: Cuba
This balmy island, with its soulful music, tropical colors, and incredible salsa dancers, is the perfect place to spend some time forgetting about your dreary, cold home city. It’s just opening up its borders to US travelers, so now is the best time to go! Technically, you can’t travel there on just a standard vacation as a US citizen, but don’t let that stop you: there are tons of peer-to-peer travel companies, photography groups, and other legal ways to travel there. Plus, if you go with a group, you won’t have to sort out all the details on your own and might have the opportunity to do some activities you might not otherwise be able to do. And there are more and more airlines offering flights to the island, so jump on one of them!
# For the Beach-Lover: Thailand
You can’t go wrong with Thailand no matter what the season is, but during the winter months, you’ll find that its typically drier than it is during other times of the year. And even during the coldest of our winters, Thailand’s beaches stay nice and warm. Thai people are incredibly friendly and welcoming, the cost of living is low, you’re guaranteed to have an interesting cultural experience if that’s what you’re looking for, and the food is to die for. Plus, you could take a cooking class while you’re down there and learn to make an authentic Thai curry—nothing will warm you up better back home than a tasty, spicy meal!
# For the History Buff: Peru
If you’re looking for someplace warm but historical to spend the winter, Peru is a great place to explore. Although Machu Picchu is busy year-round, it’s definitely not as busy in the winter as it is during the summer, but unlike many other places that shut down during the winter, things are still definitely happening. Still, given that it’s the off-season, a lot of times you can find deals on flights, accommodation, and tour guides that you might not otherwise find. And in the cities, you’ll be able to really immerse yourself in the local culture without having ten thousand people trying to take pictures in front of you. It’s definitely a winning trip.
If you’re still looking for New Years Resolutions, let’s make this upcoming year a great year for travel! Do you already have your travel plans sorted out for early 2017? Share your ideas in the comments section!