Where would you like to travel in 2012? For people in the travel industry, it’s often easier to come up with a list of where they wouldn’t like to travel. So many destinations, so little time.
This time of year, travel lists abound, with each, naturally, subjective in its own way. Looking for top luxury spots? Budget destinations? Off-the-beaten-path spots? How about top ethical places in the developing world? There’s a list for you.
Without reading a single one, a destination gambler’s best odds for this year would be to include London and its surroundings, home of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Not far behind should be locales in Mexico and Central America that were part of the Mayan world. That culture, after all, predicts that the world as we know it will transition into its next phase on December 21, 2012.
Many of the current 2012 travel lists do indeed mention one or both of these destinations/regions, namely CNN’s World’s Top Destinations for 2012 (the first four of which also include Chicago and Myanmar and happen to align with my personal list of where I’m likely heading this year) and Frommer’s Best Destinations for 2012.
The Frommer’s list is particularly interesting as it’s geared toward the hard-to-define traveler who simply loves to explore the world and runs the gamut from budget to luxury. Destination choices are all over the map, literally and figuratively, from Canada’s Bay of Fundy to Japan’s Fukuoka, Ghana to Girona, Spain, with Beirut, Curacao, Kansas City and Chongqing, China, rounding out the list.
Uptake’s own Yen Lee harnessed the social media power of Facebook’s friend graph to capture the most buzzed about places, based on more than 200 million comments, status updates, photo descriptions and check-ins. The list published on Huffington Post includes some classic Southeast Asian gems, including Hoi An, Vietnam, and Luang Prabang, Laos, along with Copacabana, Bolivia, and Portland, Oregon, stateside.
Lonely Planet has expanded its audience significantly beyond intrepid backpackers during the past decade, so its annual lists now seem to include more places that make one wonder “why there” as opposed to “where is there.” There remain, however, some great picks. For top U.S. destinations, LP editors recommend the always-enjoyable Chicago, the Four Corners region of the Southwest, California’s Gold Country and, perhaps more surprisingly than the other spots, Cincinnati. Ever hear of Culebra? No? It’s an island 17 miles off the coast of Puerto Rico. The Caribbean tropics can be yours, no passport required.
Luxury lovers who turn first to picks from Travel & Leisure‘s Hottest Destinations of 2012 will find a variety of remote resort destinations from which to choose, including Sri Lanka, Xishuangbanna in China’s Yunnan Province, and Mozambique’s Northern Coast, along with Bentonville, Arkansas. That’s right—Arkansas, which made the list thanks to the Moshe Safdie-designed Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, opened in November.
Budget Travel magazine has a terrific list of value destinations, including Egypt—surely a bargain these days and desperately trying to rebuild its tourism industry; Atlantic Canada, which also appears on a variety of lists; and Taipei, a personal favorite, for its culinary scene and diverse topography. Stateside San Diego and San Antonio are the places to stretch your dollars.
Conscientious and green travelers can thank Ethical Traveler for its newly released list of the Developing Worlds 10 Best Ethical Destinations (press release), based on their accomplishments in the areas of environmental protection, social welfare, and human rights. The winners, in alphabetical order, are: Argentina, The Bahamas, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominica, Latvia, Mauritius, Palau, Serbia and Uruguay.
The editors at The New York Times haven’t yet published their list for 2012, but they recommended 41 places to go in 2011. That probably was inclusive enough to last most people a good few years, or even a decade.
Photo: D.M. Airoldi