Where to go? Where not to go? That is the question for travelers in 2019.
The year-end dust has settled: We have seen all the “best places, must see’s and top destinations” for 2019 lists, talked with a few fellow travel writers and so-called travel experts, and compiled our facts.
There is good news and bad news for travelers in 2019. The good news is that despite media ramblings to the contrary, the world is actually a really safe place to travel; in fact, it is a 94% conflict-free zone. The bad news is that there are more travelers than ever before (over 1.4 billion) going to all those great destinations. Over-tourism remains the inconvenient elephant in the room—we are all loving the planet to death.
Serious travelers want authentic, exciting and participatory adventures—so it does not matter where it is, and thus our options are endless.
First, the bad news: a few destinations you might want to voluntarily avoid aside from the middle seat on a long-haul trans-continental flight, here are our 2019 Travelers no–GO List.
Like misbehaved school kids, getting put on a No-Go-List (Billy Chalmers you are a planetarium No-Go)…these nation-state outcasts fall on the bad side of the terrorism/failed state nexus, filled with: conflict entrepreneurs, malnutrition, cholera, human smuggling, the re-emergence of slavery, corrupt regimes, and the growing ranks of a “gun class” wreaking havoc on already divisive, fragmented and desperate places. Our Hobbesian hellholes include:
The large geographic war zones of: Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen. The smoldering growing lawlessness of: South Sudan, Libya, Congo, Central African Republic, Somalia and Cameroon. And the increasingly depressing zones of Myanmar’s Rakhine State and Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk areas. Personally, I’d stay away from Saudi Arabia—you could lose your head; and have I mentioned that Caracas, Venezuela is the toughest town I have ever visited!
Now, knowing where not to go is only six percent of the equation, from the other 94% of the world here is our annual Go-List. Certainly “hidden gems” do exist, and second and third tier destinations, that are for the most part, off the well-beaten tourist track, are worth a visit. As contrarian travelers, I would choose: the Dalmatian Coast instead of Cinque Terre, Malta instead of Southern Spain, Apulia instead of Tuscany, Cork instead of Dublin, Viet Nam instead of Thailand, Sri Lanka instead of India, and Porto instead of Lisbon.
Bucket lists vary, but here would be my 2019 Go-List:
Corsica – An intriguing mountainous French-inhabited Mediterranean island full of charm, great food and adventure—from rugged peaks to salacious beaches. Rent a car and just drive from one colorful market to the next, from one historic citadel to the next, from one magnificent beach to the next. In this outdoor lover’s playground, the next one is always good.
Luang Prabang, Laos – An amazing little colonial town bursting with energy, history and adventure to be had: golden Buddhist temples, French-colonial architecture, hiking trails, elephant sanctuaries, Mekong River cruises.
The Global Scavenger Hunt – It has been called the Burning Man of travel adventure and is becoming for travelers-in-the-know, a cult-like institution celebrating their 15th edition in 2019. It’s like taking A Blind Date with the World, a real-life around the world Amazing Race-like competition; and it offers philanthropic opportunities. Where’s the bad? The 2019 edition of the annual three-week travel adventure event is scheduled for April 12-May 4, 2019. (GlobalScavengerHunt.com)
Valletta, Malta – I have been bullish on Malta since a 2004 Go-List. An exciting mix of Sicily, Cyprus, Marseilles and Tunis, this historic city on this amazing island is an exotic departure from the traditional popular Mediterranean hot spots. With only about 350,000 citizens, this little big port city makes for an enticing place to visit. Maybe the new Paris of the 20s, Bali of the 70’s, or new Prague circa 1990? Just saying…maybe 2019 is the year!
Ladakh – Forget busy Nepal and independent-traveler limiting Bhutan, the Kashmir-Jammu Himalayan region of Ladakh is the place to visit from June to September. See the Tibetan Buddhist culture of Leh, the monasteries that dot the area’s lakes and high-altitude deserts and traverse some of the world’s highest and most thrilling road passes. Whether you tent, trek and truck, the remoteness of the entire area—lakes, valley and mountains are stunning. Meditate and enjoy the chang (beer)—I did!
Also high on our list for 2019 are nearby: Karakorum, Mongolia, Uzbekistan’s ancient Silk Road cities of Bukhara and Samarkand, and Tbilisi, Georgia too. Hints? Maybe, maybe not!
Solar Eclipse – Become a certified Eclipse Chaser and on 2 July 2019 head to South America for a total eclipse. With weather permitting, from Santiago, Chile, to Mendoza, Cordoba and Buenos Aires, Argentina, you will have a great view—but don’t look to closely!
Honorable Mentions on our 2019 Go List include: ever intriguing Jordan; the Maldives—which deserves a visit while it is still above water; and Bolivia from Lake Titicaca to Salar de Uyuni.
Go to one, go to all…I will be on the magical mystery adventure The Global Scavenger Hunt this spring for 23-days.
You?…Where are you traveling to in 2019?