Luke Armstrong | Sep 6, 2017
Somehow it's that time of year again when we all wonder where the heck the year went, and, of course, begin making travel plans for next year.
So get out your globes travelers — it's time to research vacation destinations for 2017! Here's a list of some of the hottest destinations that travelers in the know are planning on visiting in 2017.
In recent years, most of us have heard of Greece in negative terms. Headlines like this one from the Guardian abound, "Greece's economic crisis goes on, like an odyssey without end," don't exactly make a person want to flock to Greece.
So, when a pack of my siblings visited Greece last year, they were more than a little surprised to find some of the most joyous people on the planet.
"I was so surprised," said my brother Jacob, recounting the experience, "everyone was so happy and so welcoming — when they heard we were from America, they would give us hugs and offer us tequila."
Greeks have seen it all — literally. They've seen the rise and fall of empires, yet kept their language and culture intact. Their easy going demeanor makes for warm company on a visit.
A visit to Greece is a visit to the birth of Western Civilization. That should be enough for history buffs. For everyone else, there are picturesque medieval villages, cobblestone streets, white sand Mediterranean beaches, affordable prices, and welcoming people.
A while back, I spent two months in Colombia, and it did not feel remotely like enough time to explore. Travel author John Early feels the same. He has been just about everywhere, has the freedom to go anywhere, and he's traveling back to Colombia in 2017.
He spent three weeks in Colombia this year, and that trip was so remarkable that he simply needs to return.
"3 weeks wasn't enough!” he says. "My top destinations to recommend would be the undiscovered surf and less traveled Pacific/Caribbean coast of Colombia."
For lodging ideas, two hostels in Colombia made John’s list for Top 7 Coolest Hostels in the World.
There is only one city in the world that has three of the world's top 30 best restaurants, and it's not Paris, but chaotic Lima, Peru. Peruvians love their food. From exotic local dishes like guinea pig (No!!! Oh, but so tasty ...), to a galore of international and fusion cuisine, Peru is a world renowned foodie destination that many foodies are simply unaware of.
Matt Stabile, the traveler and brain power behind the world's most popular travel blog The Expeditioner keeps telling me to go to Sri Lanka (I think he feels threatened by me and is trying to get rid of me).
"Sri Lanka is an amazing destination to visit right now," says Matt. "After years of civil war, the country has emerged as a favorite among travelers. For an island so relatively small, the country has so much to offer. From the ancient ruins of civilizations past in the cultural triangle of the Central Highlands, to the beautiful beaches and once-in-a-lifetime game encounters in the national parks of the South, there really is something for every type of traveler here."
Matt is more or less a demigod in the travel blogging world, so it's hard to go wrong following his advice.
For travelers with a desire to explore Latin America who are worried about safety, Chile is a safe bet. It is arguably the safest country in South America and has loads of culture and a varied geography to boot.
With the legendary Patagonia glaciers in the south, the storied Atacama Desert in the north, and thousands of vineyards in between, its 3,000 kilometers of wine country is artistically driven, politically stable, geographically staggering, and culturally intriguing.
Don't miss the picturesque port city of Valparaiso and be sure to read some poems by Chile's internationally famed love poet Pablo Neruda. And if you're traveling with your significant other — why not find a good spot on the beach, pour yourself some Chilean wine, catch a breathtaking sunset, read some of Neruda's romantic poetry, count the stars, and just see what happens ...
Of all the countries I have visited and long to return to, Cuba takes the cake. Cuba is by far one of the most strangely intriguing countries on the planet. The only place you can compare Cuba to is Cuba. A remnant from another time, with 1950's cars still owning the streets, it is simply like no other place on the planet (and who knows how long it will stay like this).
But wait, "Can Americans travel to Cuba?" While there are still a number of restrictions barring Americans from traveling to Cuba, it has never been easier to go than right now — and who knows how long this will last.
While traveling as a tourist is still restricted, the Obama administration has loosened sanctions and allows travel to Cuba as long as you complete a form declaring the visit an educational journey — and what trip to a new country isn't an "educational journey?"
And that's just one of 12 provisions that can give you a legal status to fly to Cuba. For a complete listing of requirements visit the US State Department's Cuba entry requirements page.
We've all heard Cambodia's tourism gem Angkor Wat, but few have heard of, and even fewer have visited Myanmar's ancient city of Bagan, home to 2,229 intact temples and pagodas built between the 9th and 13th century.
With power recently transferred from a military junta to a civilian government, the doors to tourism in Myanmar have opened for the first time in our lifetimes.
Tourism is still at its infancy in Myanmar and seems poised for a boom. But you can still be an early arrival and say you visited Myanmar before it was the cool thing to do.
Finland became an independent state on December 6, 1917, which means in 2017 it celebrates its centennial. The theme of Finland’s centenary celebration year is ‘Together,' and there will be celebrations of every kind throughout the year. If you are looking for a festive time fueled by a positive theme in Europe’s "jokester" country, consider taking a holiday in Finland.
Americans especially will be able to relate to the Finnish humor — ribbing people with sitcom one-liners is their way of saying, "I like you."
For a complete listing of centennial events, visit Finland centennial website.
But Finland isn't the only country celebrating a birthday in 2017, is it, Canada? In 2017 Canada will celebrate 150 years of confederation and, like Finland, will be gearing up for a year-long celebration.
Canadians may be polite and mild mannered, but these are a people who know how to throw parties — looking at you, St. Johns, Newfoundland!
Canada is gearing up for celebrations across the country as well as using its 150th birthday to showcase their country to the rest of the world. There has never been a better time to visit our neighbors to the north.
For a complete listing of events and programming, visit Canada's official birthday party website.
The last nine items on this list are what some of my travel compadres and I cooked up as our picks for the best destinations to check out in 2017. I hope some of these ideas serve you. But I also hope as you enter the new year you reflect inward and focus on that place you have always wanted to visit but have never found the time, money, or freedom to.
If this year has taught me anything, it is that our lives are fleeting — if we do not take time today to work towards our goals and dreams, they will slip away from us.
Travel is about renewal. It is about growth. It's humbling to realize how vast and connected our world is. It's scary sometimes to be a single person in this vast world colonized by this strange human species. But it's a world of wonders worth knowing as intimately as we can.
So I encourage you in 2017 to finally find a way to take that trip you've always dreamed of. Go to that country or place that you have been longing to. Just as anyone can make an excuse for why it's not possible to go, anyone can also throw those excuses out last year's window, chart a course, and reach further than previously imagined.
Thanks to Seven Corners for keeping me safe and insured this year, and thank you dear reader for spending time reading our blog. Have a lovely 2017!
Luke Maguire Armstrong is the author of "The Nomad's Nomad." He has spent the last decade traveling, writing and designing, and funding philanthropic programs around the world.
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