If your New Year’s resolution is to travel more, you’re in luck as the experts have spoken. From the New York Times to Lonely Planet, the travel industry’s big wigs have offered their informed recommendations on where you should go this year. And it couldn’t have come at a better time as we all start to map out our travel plans for the year and, for many of us,  plot our escape from the intense grip that winter has on us.

The New York Times annual 52 Places to Visit dropped a few weeks ago. The at times divisive list of the top destinations, in their opinion, to travel during the upcoming twelve months. Although notoriously biased (11 of 2018’s picks are in the US), it’s an undeniable indicator of travel trends. Last year, the Departful team found ourselves, inadvertently, at a few destinations that made the 2017 list including Puerto Escondido, the Maldives, Istria, Placencia, Stockholm, Athens and, um, Canada.

Making the 2018 list are several destinations that we love so much we’ve already covered in the past on Departful and a few other destinations that are on our travel radar. Though the inclusion of some great yet heavily tourist-trodden spots like Prague, Fiji, Sevilla and Iceland beg the question whether they need be mentioned at all.

On the other hand, the New York Times gives some love to some lesser-visited locales worthy of a shoutout but with so many incredible destinations around the world, some of the choices are a bit questionable – the most outrageous in my opinion being Disney Springs.

Here’s our top picks from the New York Times’ roundup as well as a few that we think should’ve made the cut.

New York Times Where to Travel in 2018 – Our Picks:

Luang Prabang

Last on the New York Times’ list, Luang Prabang is noted for its natural beauty, deep history, and relative absence of tourists. Our 72 hour guide to Luang Prabang highlights the best of both worlds, from impressive temples and bustling markets to waterfalls and river cruises.

Frankfurt Local's Guide

Germany’s Western States

Though kind of a general area, the area of Western Germany has a lot to offer visitors who may be focusing instead of heavy hitters like Berlin and Munich. The Rhineland is home to the highest density of castles in the world while Frankfurt, long considered a banker town with little to offer tourists, is a diamond in the rough for those willing to give it a chance.

Guanacaste Costa Rica Top Hotels and Resorts


While the New York Times specifically highlighted Costa Rica’s ultra-exclusive Papagayo Peninsula (which is home to the newly re-spruced Four Seasons Papagayo), there are a plethora of enticing spots within the Guanacaste province such as Tamarindo, Las Mareas, and Playa Conchal that offer excellent accommodations in stunning nature and all well linked via Liberia’s International Airport.


Hot of the heels of a Caribbean tour, this is a region that is a no brainer to mention, particularly given the devastation of the recent hurricanes. The island nations of the Caribbean are gorgeous, dynamic, and, above all else, resilient. We’re looking forward to our return to Bonaire, Grenada, Aruba and Curacao.

Colombia Travel Guide


Photographer and Departful contributor James MacDonald travelled deep in the New York Times’ number two destination, and his photo essay on Colombia’s spectacular nature is mesmerizing and inspiring.

Bourbon Street music - Jamie MacDonald

New Orleans

The number one spot to travel to in 2018 according to the New York Times is a favourite among the Departful team. Another stunning piece by James MacDonald is a deep dive on the traditions, cultures, and, perhaps, vampires in his piece Colour and Contrast on Mississippi River.


Even though we threw some shade at the New York Times for including this well-trodden tourist destination (it’s virtually impossible to load a travel blog without a write-up on the Ring Road) we still love Iceland, evidenced by our many articles – including our favourite: a guide to traveling the country by camper van.

Tallinn Craft Beer Weekend Prostly


The Baltic countries were well represented in this year’s list, with both Estonia and Lithuania included. We’ve featured the Estonian capital of Tallinn on two of our platforms, and both are drinking related reflective on the cool spots popping up on the scene and the cold winters driving people to their local pub.


Included on the list for its growing luxury travel offerings, Bhutan, a once enigmatic country, is increasingly open to tourism. The Himalayan Kingdom is steeped in religious traditions and offers an unspoilt natural paradise.

Top End Australia

Australia’s Northern territory is a land least explored, but its other worldly landscapes, indigenous history and eco wilderness lodge offerings, it’s unlikely to stay off the beaten path for long. We’re all for getting lost in this expanse of nature in 2018.


This city in northwestern Morocco gets mention due to the upcoming opening of a high-speed rail line and the coastal resort of Tamuda Bay, though it’s on our radar for its current transformation from a slightly rough around the edges locale to a rejuvenated city of culture, arts and food.


Peru will continue to be a tourist favourite in 2018, led by the overwhelming interest in Machu Picchu. However, new limitations on the number of visitors to the historic site has diverted interest to other equally impressive areas of the country, including Kuélap, a walled city dating back to the 5th century.


After the atrocities of its genocide in the mid 90s, Rwanda set out to redefine itself in the international lens. Known as Africa’s tech hub, Kigali is a safe and highly livable capital that hasn’t forgotten its past while embracing its future. It’s on our travel 2018 list as a destination as well as a base for visiting the country’s national parks and gorilla habitats.

Other Travel Destinations to Visit in 2018


It only seems fitting as I’m writing this from Mexico – Guanajuato, actually, which unbeknownst to me made it on Lonely Planet’s Top 10 cities list for 2018. We’ve covered Mexico a lot recently – from the vibrant towns of Oaxaca and San Cristobal de las Casas to beachside locales. As someone who works and travels, Mexico offers the best lifestyle for Digital Nomads.

South Africa Road Trip - Cape Town Botanical Gardens

South Africa

With over two dozen national parks, a good road network and a diversity of landscapes, 2018 is the perfect time for a South Africa road trip. Start in Johannesburg, a city that’s in a constant state of reinvention spurred by a young and entrepreneurial population and make your way west along the coast for a truly unforgettable experience.


Perhaps a little late to the game on this one, Japan continues to allude us year after year. There’s just so much to see and do from exploring the hundreds of distinct districts in Tokyo to escaping into the relatively rural countryside (not to mention the islands – one of which made it on the New York Times’ list), it feels like it necessitates a considerable amount of time that, until now, we haven’t been able to dedicate.

New Zealand

Along a similar vein as Japan, New Zealand is a destination where you need sufficient time to do it justice. Despite the geothermal town of Rotorua included on the list, I’m thinking bigger with a road trip spanning both the north and south islands.

Northern Ireland

A few years ago when planning a road trip through Ireland, I faced a particularly difficult decision: drive though the south and hit the infamous Ring of Kerry or set out in the more rugged and less inhabited north. The former won out and the latter was put on the back-burner until now. Beginning in the vibrant Belfast, we’ll be cruising the coastal roads through Donegal and Giant’s Causeway.


For years the Slovenian capital existed under the radar, yet slowly and steadily began moving into the spotlight. In 2018 Ljubljana is making its way onto the bucket lists of travelers, looking for old world charm mixed with modern trends like inventive cuisine and craft beer (for which there is a ton!).

That’s our round-up of top places of where to travel in 2018. Are you planning a trip to any of these destinations or do you have some place else on your radar?

Where to Travel in 2018 photos courtesy of James MacDonald, JP Bervoets, Lauren Barth, Madeline Burch, Šarūnas AndriušaitisChris LawtonRKTKN, Christopher BurnsRobert BrandsGreg ArmentJannik SkornaChris ChanDavid MaciejewskiTrevor ColeLorenzo Magnis, and Jiuguang Wang.