Where to Travel in 2019? My 25 top places to visit + my own travel plans for the year
I’ve discovered a trick about travelling. The trick is to stay ahead of the curve. Some of my best trips have been to places before the rest of the world has cottoned on… And now I’ve learned who the really genius travellers are, the kind of traveller that I idolise and dream of being like: the traveller who keeps their ear to the ground and seeks out the most incredible places, before they’re plastered all over every Instagram feed and every single internet bucket list. The first-mover advantages are incredible: fewer people and crowds, a less expensive trip, a more authentic experience, a better opportunity to meet locals and understand their culture, a true sense of adventure, and that smug feeling a year later when everyone’s dying for your tips as one of the pioneers to visit a certain country.
I had that exact same smug feeling about Puglia back when no-one in the UK had ever heard of it (I went there way back in 2011 on my Erasmus Year); about Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia & Serbia in 2017; about the Norwegian fjords and the now-infamous Trolltunga in 2017; about Cuba, China and Laos way back in 2007-8 (Gap Year) and more recently the Philippines in 2018. All of these places are now high up on so many must-visit lists, but at the time were not that popular. So that is my tip! All of this requires research, a finger on the pulse of the travel world. And by that, I don’t mean Instagram influencers posing in Santorini – they’re not exactly pioneering new destinations (although I’ve nothing against Santorini myself – it’s beautiful and famous for good reason!).
So here are the 25 places I consider ideal to visit in 2019, before they become too popular. To compile this list I’ve looked at my own wishlist of places to visit and my favourite spots, I’ve sussed out where some of my favourite travel bloggers are raving about, I’ve consulted books such as the Lonely Planet’s annual ‘Best in Travel’ and generally spent a few too many hours daydreaming about travel. Standard.
Closer to home…
In the UK:
- Hebrides islands, north-west Scotland
- Jurassic coast, south-west England
- Pembrokeshire coast, Wales
- (Low-season) Devon and Cornwall, south-west England
- Lofoten Islands, Norway
- Aeolian Islands, north-east of Sicily, Italy
- Favignana, an island west of Sicily, Italy
- Gotland, a Swedish island in the Baltic sea
- The Western Balkans, especially Albania & Bosnia
- Transylvania, Romania
- Lake Bohinj & Lake Bled, Slovenia
Middle East & Asia:
- Georgia (the country squeezed between Russia and Turkey, not the US state)
- Beirut, Lebanon
- Lake Baikal, Russia
- The Himalayas, Nepal
- The Philippines
Africa and the Americas:
- Ethiopia & Djibouti
- Costa Rica
- Patagonia, Chile & Argentina
While I would love to visit all of these places, I’m not a full-time traveller and I do have to work for a living, so there is no way I can squeeze those 25 places into 25 days’ annual leave! So I have my own travel goals and plans up my sleeve…
My own travel plans for 2019
Firstly a week’s skiing in Murren, Switzerland, where I’ll be attempting the full trio of Inferno ski races: the nordic, slalom and downhill races. I skied the downhill race in 2017 and you can read my report of it here. Next up are weekends around the English countryside in Hampshire and Cornwall. In March I’ll be running a half-marathon in Jerusalem, Israel (my first proper visit to the Middle East) with my friend Jess and after that I’m going to New Zealand and Australia in April-May, with my sister Olivia and housemate Katie, for my first proper visit to Australasia! We’ll be driving from North Island to South Island, and then I’ll head over to Melbourne and travel up to Sydney, visiting friends along the way! For a long time I’ve thought about spending a sabbatical of several months driving around New Zealand. But I recently had a change of heart and decided that if I take that approach to all my further-flung dream trips, then I’ll be aged 50 before I get round to any of them. So I’ve taken the plunge and will have a whole 3.5 weeks away, thanks to the amazing way that Easter falls so close to the early May UK bank holiday in 2019. Google it – you can get 24 days’ travel for just 13 days’ annual leave, or 18 days for 9!
After that I’ll be off to the Lake District in England and Ben Nevis in north-west Scotland to hopefully complete the 3 Peaks, adding to my trip to Snowdon back in 2015.
The rest of 2019 is all very hazy, but includes thoughts about a potential triathlon in Jersey and another week of digital detox in south-west France. I’d also love to go sailing around the Aeolian islands in Italy, go to Ibiza once and for all, and visit another European Christmas market come winter…
My travel goals for 2019
- Travel outside of London every month – normally I challenge myself to a different country each month, but this year I’m trying to see a bit more of the UK and recognising that that counts as travelling too
- Travel outside of Europe – this is a must for me, as it gives perspective and makes sure I escape my comfort zone and discover new places
- Visit 3 new countries – this goal has previously been 5 countries, but it’s getting harder and harder to fit in lots of new countries when I’ve exhausted all the countries within a stone’s throw!
- The Middle East – one of my ‘Travel Wishlist before 30’ goals, a region I’ve never really visited, as I don’t think Turkey and Egypt quite count…? I’ll be going to Israel as my first taster of the region, and I know I’ll have to explore further to see all the different sides.
- Italy – my happy place, and my favourite country in the world. Deserving of an annual pilgrimage in my view
- Christmas markets in Vienna or Strasbourg – after loving the festive feel in Munich in December, I want more!
- Summit Ben Nevis & Scafell Pike – to complete the 3 Peaks and get my mountain-hiking fix of incredible views and a healthy amount of challenge
- Hide away on a small island – call it island mentality, but there’s something special about the journey you make to reach an island that gives it a magical air of escapism and remoteness from everyday life
- Sailing – ideally somewhere sunny, but the Solent and Isle of Wight in the UK will do also!
- Skiing – another annual goal, thankfully I’m going next weekend
- Bungee jump – from my ‘Travel Wishlist before 30’ goals. I loved the skydive I did so am really excited for this!
- Blog at least once a month – as a minimum
- Digital detox – to keep my brain sane and my mind at peace within the distractions and endless scrolling of the internet
- Offset my carbon footprint – already completed, through a donation to the Woodland Foundation
- Walk a long stretch of a trail (like the Camino de Santiago) – putting my new walking boots to good use and giving me my fix of hard-earned panoramic views
- Use my languages – an annual promise to myself to hold on to the skills I’ve spent so many years learning. Either through travelling abroad or just with friends in London
In 2019 I’m embracing my resolution not to be so hard on myself, and I’m setting myself relatively achievable travel goals in comparison to previous years, for example targeting only 3 new countries instead of 5. Later this year I’ll turn 30 and I’d like to do so feeling accomplished with my various lists: these 2019 travels goals, my ‘30 before 30′, and my ‘Travel Wishlist before 30‘. So I don’t want to start the year with a long list of impossible or unachievable goals, as I’ve got enough of those in other lists. So here’s to travels in 2019!
Hi Virginia, thanks for recommending the Hebrides as a must-see destination (I’m from the Isle of Lewis, so slightly biased!) I spent half of my YA in Strasbourg, so I would highly recommend it for the Christmas markets- not as touristy as people may think, but still lovely and festive. I’m looking forward (presumptuously!) to a post about NZ- my best friend moved there two years ago and I’m planning a visit this year. I’ve started an intensive German course before a skiing trip to Austria later on this year- not quite inferno standard, but getting there!
I can certainly recommend Bhutan and Burma Virginia, we visited them back-to-back some 15 years ago which I suppose is staying slightly ahead of the curve. Not sure about Burma at the moment though, the recent turmoil has put me off a bit – I hope they can resolve their differences and recover.
Wow what a list! Some incredible places there which all sound well worth visiting. Your travel plans for 2019 sound fairly extensive too, what a lot of trips you’ve got organised. An exciting year ahead I reckon. I envy your NZ trip as it’s our favourite country by far and we’ve spent many months travelling around it. Here’s to your epic 2019 travels.
Sounds like you have a travel-packed year ahead! I’d love to visit New Zealand one day, but it’s somewhere I’m saving until I can get a decent chunk of time off work (I can only take two weeks max. at a time). I can’t speak for Vienna’s Christmas markets (though the city itself is beautiful), but Strasbourg is definitely deserving of its title in France as ‘Capitale de Noël’. I visited while I was on my year abroad in Alsace, and there were ten or so markets scattered across the city. Bar a trip to France to see my sister who’ll be out there soon for the second half of her year abroad, I haven’t got much planned for 2019. Hopefully I’ll hit the trails over the summer – after hiking the West Highland Way last year, I’d love to visit the Cairngorms.
Like your unusual choice and plans so much 🙂 B. t. W the pictures are great