Going places: Where to go in 2020: Experts offer ideas worthy of your bucket list

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Discovering a village on stilts on Inle Lake, Myanmar during the 2019 Global Scavenger Hunt. Where will they go this year? Participants vying to win the title “Greatest Travelers” don’t know until they get the call to get to the airport. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

by Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Many different experts are offering their suggestions and predictions as to where to travel in 2020. You can get a real sense for yourself at this year’s New York Times Travel Show at Javits Center Jan. 25-26. Here are some ideas:

Lonely Planet Reveals Best Travel Destinations for 2020

Global travel authority Lonely Planet unveiled its top 10 countries, cities, regions and best-value destinations for next year with the release of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2020.
Best in Travel 2020 is Lonely Planet’s 15th annual collection of the world’s hottest destinations and journeys for the year ahead. This edition places particular emphasis on the best sustainable travel experiences for 2020 — ensuring travelers will have a positive impact wherever they choose to go.

Bhutan — the kingdom set to become the first fully organic nation by 2020 — claims the coveted spot as the number-one country to visit in 2020, while England places second and North Macedonia takes third.

Lonely Planet’s number-one region for 2020 is the Central Asian Silk Road, which is now more accessible than ever before, thanks to visa improvements for the majority of the world’s citizens, along with massive transportation and infrastructure investment. Le Marche, Italy comes in second, followed by Tōhoku, Japan.

Number-one city Salzburg, Austria will be pulling out all the stops for the centenary of its world-famous festival of music and drama next year, while Washington, DC, USA is second-ranked, with Cairo, Egypt in third place.

Elsewhere, Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara, Hungary’s Budapest and India’s Madhya Pradesh are Lonely Planet’s top three best-value destinations for 2020.

Each year, Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel lists start with nominations from Lonely Planet’s vast community of staff, writers, bloggers, publishing partners and more. The nominations are then whittled down by our panel of travel experts to just 10 countries, 10 regions, 10 cities and 10 best value destinations. Each is chosen for its topicality, unique experiences and ‘wow’ factor.

For Best in Travel 2020, Lonely Planet’s experts have also selected the best New Openings, New Places to Stay, New Food Experiences, and Sustainable Trips for Families, as well as devoting an entire chapter to the best ways to Travel Well.

www.lonelyplanet.com/best-in-travel features tips and videos on visiting each destination, as well as a chance to win a Silk Road adventure for two. The top 10 cities can also be explored for free with Lonely Planet’s Guides app.

Top 10 Countries: Bhutan, England, North Macedonia, Aruba, eSwatini, Costa Rica, The Netherlands, Liberia, Morocco, Uruguay

Top 10 Regions: Central Asian Silk Road; Le Marche, Italy; Tōhoku, Japan; Maine, USA; Lord Howe Island, Australia; Guizhou Province, china; Cadiz Province, Spain; Northeast Argentina; Kvarner Gulf, Croatia; Brazilian Amazon

Top 10 Cities: Salzburg, Austria; Washington, DC, USA; Cairo, Egypt; Galway, Ireland; Bonn, Germany; La Paz, Bolivia; Kochi, India; Vancouver, Canada; Dubai, UAE; Denver, USA

Top 10 Best Value: East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia; Budapest, Hungary; Madhya Pradesh, India; Buffalo, USA; Azerbaijan; Serbia; Tunisia; Cape Winelands, South Africa; Athens, Greece; Zanzibar, Tanzania

Lonely Planet, a leading travel guidebook publisher, can be found on lonelyplanet.com, mobile, video and in 14 languages, 13 international magazines, armchair and lifestyle books, ebooks and more.

“At Lonely Planet we seek to make a difference in people’s lives by spreading the power of travel. We firmly believe that travel has a significant positive impact on people’s lives and outlooks and is a force of positive change.”

From Australian Surfing to Tech-Free Tonga, Virtuoso Reveals Top 10 ‘Wanderlist’ Experiences for 2020

NEW YORK– Virtuoso®’s selection of inspired experiences – deemed Wanderlist®-worthy thanks to their “trips of a lifetime” status – will have even the most seasoned travelers reaching for their passport. The 2020 Virtuoso Luxe Report, an annual survey of its global luxury travel network’s 20,000 travel advisors around the world, highlights insights and observations for travel in the year ahead. Acclaimed as a trend predictor, the Luxe Report captured advisor recommendations for the ten most unusual and exciting experiences for 2020. Virtuoso’s must-have travel experiences are:

Surf Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach, whether a pro or first-timer. Bondi is just outside the city center and extremely popular with locals and visitors alike. Serious surfers hang out at the southern end of the beach, while novices occupy the northern stretch, where waves are often smaller.

Head to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics, taking place July 24 to August 9. Japan continues to trend in 2020, finding itself on two Luxe Report lists for global and emerging destinations. Beyond the Games, travelers will be enamored with Japan’s gorgeous scenery, dynamic cities, culinary delights and cultural heritage.

Witness the Great Migration in Tanzania and Kenya, where millions of zebras, wildebeest and antelope traverse the landscape in search of food and water while attempting to elude predators such as lions and crocodiles.

Live like a local for a month (or more) in Italy, the Luxe Report’s top global destination of 2020. As authenticity is one of the year’s top trends, travelers can immerse themselves in the lifestyle of this beloved country. Rent a villa. Find a favorite espresso or wine bar. Learn the language. Master the cuisine or just savor it.

Support the Bahamas after the devastating impact of Hurricane Dorian, which severely damaged Grand Bahama and Abaco islands in September. Tourism comprises 60 percent of the nation’s economy and revenues from visitors boost recovery efforts. Virtuoso’s nine resorts escaped with little to no damage; they are open and receiving guests.

Fly around the world via private jet, touching down at legendary destinations such as Easter Island, Petra, Jordan and the Taj Mahal. Country-hop in style on a specially outfitted jet while relaxing comfortably in a leather seat, with attentive on-board crew assisting with every need. Bypass commercial airports while avoiding jetlag … what could be better!

Explore the pristine landscape of Antarctica. The continent was voted the top adventure destination in the 2020 Luxe Report, proving that cold-weather spots are hot. As travelers seek out destinations with unspoiled scenic beauty. Travelers can kayak with humpback whales, watch penguins in their natural habitat and even take a dip in the frigid waters.

Sail through the Panama Canal, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This century-old engineering marvel is even more impressive up close on a full transit cruise, where the ship sails though the canal. It takes a day to traverse the 50 miles of locks as the ship makes its way from ocean to ocean.

Enjoy the slow-down trend of the year: rail travel. The majesty of the Canadian Rockies unfolds before passengers with a train journey aboard the incomparable Rocky Mountaineer. Gaze at panoramic surroundings through the glass-dome coaches, savor ¬¬local cuisine, and learn about natural and historic sites along the way through the stories of expert hosts.

Venture to an uninhabited island in Tonga for the ultimate unplugged escape. This Polynesian kingdom is comprised of 140 islands without residents as well as a wonderfully temperate climate and tropical scenery. Guest can soak up on the sun on a private beach, snorkel in crystal-clear waters and explore jungles – all in blissful solitude.

A Virtuoso travel advisor can book these must-have experiences or customize a journey, secure value-added benefits, VIP treatment and exclusive access. To find an advisor, visit www.virtuoso.com/travel-advisors.

World’s Greatest Travelers List of 8 epic Travel Adventures for 2020 (Also Known as ‘The 2020 Travel Bucket List for the Jaded Traveler’)

By Bill Chalmers & Pamela L. Chalmers, GreatEscape Adventures

Los Angeles, USA – Getting a kick taking an adventure used to be easy: visit South Atlantic’s remote St Helena, scuba dive Mexico’s underground river Cenote, hike up Mount Etna. Been there.

Nowadays, travelers looking for the next great adventure rush must: traverse Karakorum Highway, spend a night at Everest Base Camp, or swim with jellyfish in Palau. Done that.

But for those of us who have zip-lined across the Grand Canyon, hiked Tasmania’s Overland Track, and are frankly sick of sand in every orifice after Burning Man. What’s next?

You may be among the World’s Most Interesting People, but for jaded travelers who have supposedly done everything and have nothing left on their Bucket Lists, here’s your what’s next eight over-the-top adventures from The World’s Greatest Travelers.

1. A long way to go to maybe be eaten alive! But, head to Cape Town, South Africa and go cage diving with Great White sharks. Come face-to-face with the world’s meanest badest coldest predator along the shark-abundant shores of South Africa. You will be sunk in a cage and given a poker stick for protection. Chances are, you’ll be okay. You’ll probably even see whales and dolphins too—being the smart mammals, they are always interested in watching stupid human tricks.

2. Bike from sea-to-sea across a country. No, not across Canada (9,525+ km), but the more manageable country of Nicaragua that is only 568 km (352 miles) from the Pacific Ocean’s San Juan del Sur to Pearl Lagoon on the Atlantic Ocean side. The amazing 13-day mountain bike expedition will take you to volcanoes, colonial towns, national parks, rainforests and lakes, as you share the road with trucks, cows, horses, pigs, and chickens. Do it now before the Chinese slice the nation in two ala Panama!

3. For the culinary daredevil in you, while you are in the geographic neighborhood, take in the wild-west of food: a pop-up jungle-to-table extravaganza in the Bolivian Amazon basin along the Beni River. Once every few years, local “back to nature” chefs converge to prepare exotic semi-illegal outside the villages dishes like: crocodile fillets in a coca leaf broth, grilled giant tapir meat served with a cocktail of fermented kecho fruit and cacao beans with a spicy chili pepper twist, paiche (a really big fish—a carp really) served with figs and spicy-sweet beetle larvae. They might also conjure up a purplish fungue—that may or may not have hallucinogenic effects, along with steamed giant river turtles. Caiman sushi anyone?

4. I took this serendipity challenge last year and ended up in Madagascar—pre-plague outbreak. Take the 24-Hours to Anywhere Challenge: It is our belief that with today’s growth of regional air carriers that you can be anywhere in the world in 24-hours. So, pick a destination furthest away geographically from you and attempt to get there in 24-hours. On a bet, I recently went from the San Francisco Bay Area to Antananarivo, Madagascar—17,599 kilometers away! SFO to IST (12:55 hours), then IST-ADD (5:30 hours), followed by a flight between Ethiopia (ADD) and Madagascar (TNR) (4:50 hours). I got to Madagascar in 23 hours and 41 minutes—but I did do it on the night we changed clocks! Tip: Bring a really good multi-media playlist.

5. We humans have gazed in wonder at the night skies before words hit paper; and you don’t have to be an astrophysicist to wonder what’s up. Night-sky travel (aka astrotourism) are great adventures to take. We suggest two spellbinding panoramas to be found: 1) Head to the Canary Islands international observatory at Roque de los Muchachos on La Palma for some sensational light pollution-free heavenly viewing. Or 2) for some really deep dark-sky space stargazing at a gold-certified Dark Sky Reserve, head to NamibRand Nature Reserve in Namibia where you can sleep out under the cloudless skies of Africa for a look at infinity…or at least some amazing celestial sights.

6. With age comes experience, and over the years we have suggested how to get higher highs: a lost weekend at an infamous Vegas dive bar, visiting a Bolivian pop-up cocaine bar, a Laotian opium den and how best to enjoy Peruvian ayahuasca. For this year’s vibe adventure, forget BC Bud, Emerald Triangle Kush and Colorado Wedding Cake, take a Jamaican Ganja tour. Turned up bright, the tour will take you and other like-minded and bud-tended friends to Rastafariland, with highlights including: Nine Mile, the boyhood home and final resting place of reggae superstar Bob Marley; Ocho Rios to relax and hike in nature; along with several plantations…aka ganja farms. Pick up is around noon, munchies and rum included, but hotel drop off time is vague.

7. Give peace a chance: start travel podcasting and make some faux press credentials, then head to Damascus and interview the loneliest man in the world: Syria’s Minister of Tourism. From 8 million tourists and 40% growth in 2011, to the nasty civil and chemical war, mostly, behind us, Syria is open for business again. You can visit one or two restaurants still open and err, ruins. Their catch phrase: “Syria … come see for yourself“. We know the UN Weapons Inspectors did. A few travel-related glitches though: all legal border crossings are closed, no FAA-approved commercial flights into or out of Damascus, those beach-side cabanas along the Mediterranean beaches are now refugee tents, and crime might be down, but war crimes are up. Sure, it is dark tourism at its finest, but so too is visiting Venice and Barcelona these days. We double-dare you!

8. Take A Blind Date with the World – really! – by joining the 2020 edition of The Global Scavenger Hunt. This real-life Amazing Race-like event is for savvy globetrotters who want to test their travel IQ in a competitive setting where they will circumnavigate the globe in 23-days visiting ten countries as a participant in the annual travel adventure competition that crowns The World’s Greatest Travelers. Not for anal Type-A planners though, because you won’t know which country you are going to until you actually get to the airport! It’s the ultimate magical mystery tour. Their 2020 event takes place between April 17 and May 9, 2020. Applications now being accepted. We dare you…

The title of The World’s Greatest Travelers and free trip around the world to defend their titles in the 2021 event await the travelers worthy enough to win the 16th edition of the world travel championship. The date for the 23-day 2020 Global Scavenger Hunt is April 17-May 9, 2020. Event participation is open but limited; the $25,000 per team entry fee includes all international airfare, First Class hotels, 40% of meals, and special event travel gear. All travelers are interviewed for suitability and single travelers are welcome to apply. For additional information visit GlobalScavengerHunt.com, or contact GreatEscape Adventures Inc. at 310-281-7809.

(See full coverage of the 2019 Global Scavenger Hunt at goingplacesfarandnear.com)

Where To Go In 2020: US Tour Operators Reveal Top Travel Trends For 2020

The United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) released results of its annual travel trend and forecast survey of the association’s active tour operator members naming Italy the most popular destination for travelers in 2020.

The top five “hot” destinations for next year also included France, which ranked second; followed by Spain, Greece and the United Kingdom (tied for third); Ireland and Japan (tied for fourth), Germany tying South Africa for fifth.

USTOA tour operator members also identified their top five off-the-beaten path or emerging destinations that they see gaining popularity in 2020: Egypt, Croatia and Colombia tied for first. “Egypt topping the list is the epitome of a destination comeback story,” added Terry Dale, President and CEO of USTOA. “It reinforces a strong return in popularity and demand among travelers, after several challenging years.” Making the list for the first time, Slovenia was named second, followed by Thailand, Vietnam, and Morocco and Ethiopia (tied for fifth).

On the domestic front, USTOA members forecast California as the most popular U.S. destination for clients in 2020. New York came in second, with Florida and Nevada tied for third, followed by Arizona, and Alaska and Hawaii (tied for fifth).

Arts and culture was cited by survey participants as the top travel category driving sales in 2019, wildlife and nature followed in a close second. Local immersion, small groups/small ships and uncharted destinations were named by Active Members as the top three travel trends projected to grow the most over the next five years.

Members were also asked to name the destinations/sites that travelers should see now, with some sense of urgency before overcrowding, climate change or other factors impact the experience.

Antarctica was named first, followed by Machu Picchu in Peru, and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and Venice, Italy (tied for third).

When asked about potential threats to traveler confidence in the year ahead, the presidential election year topped the list. Recession was named the second global risk that could impact potential growth in 2020, followed by global financial instability in third.

For more information on USTOA, visit www.ustoa.com, call 212-599-6599, or email information@ustoa.com.

Representing nearly $19 billion in revenue, the member companies of U.S. Tour Operators Association provide tours, packages and custom arrangements that allow 9.8 million travelers annually access, insider knowledge, peace-of-mind, value and freedom to enjoy destinations and experiences across the entire globe. Each member company has met the travel industry’s highest standards, including participation in the USTOA’s Travelers Assistance Program, which protects consumer payments up to $1 million if the company goes out of business.

New York Times Travel Show to Showcase Latest Global Travel Trends, Jan 24-26

The 2020 New York Times Travel Show–now in its 17th year–will open with a Trade Day exclusively for over 11,000 travel industry professionals and media on Friday, January 24; Saturday, January 25 and Sunday, January 26 will be open to an expected 23,000 consumer travelers, as well as to travel professionals and media. The three-day showcase will feature global cuisine tastings, cultural performances, travel book signings, one-on-one conversations with travel experts and special discounts and offers for consumers of all ages from over 750 exhibitors.

The New York Times Travel Show is the largest and longest-running trade and consumer travel show in North America, featuring the Travel Industry Conference, Consumer Seminars, Meet The Experts Pavilion and an interactive Exhibition including more than 750 exhibitors representing travel to all seven continents, positioned within 16 pavilions (including Adventure, Africa, Asia, Australia/South Pacific, Canada, Caribbean, Cruise, Europe, Family, Global, Latin America, L.G.B.T.Q., Mexico, River Cruise, Travel Products, and U.S.A. Pavilions). In addition to discounts and special offers, the show provides educational seminars and live entertainment for families, individuals and couples and seniors. Join the conversation and follow @NYTTravelShow for the latest Travel Show news. More information at https://nyttravelshow.com.
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© 2020 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com, www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin, and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

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