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Ladies and gentleman, wanderlusters and unicorns, good-time-lovers n’ Dock & Bay ballers -- we’re kicking off 2019 with a mega-mission: to take the long, dreary month of January and make it great again. And what better way is there to do that than deep-filling our first blog post with 12 travelspiration ideas to carry you through the year?
Your vacation days have been replenished by your employer, your seasonal feelings of “urgh” are set to pique, you want to blow the epic thrill ride that was last year out of the water (yeah, suck it, 2018), and you desperately want/need/crave something to look forward to because a) the holiday season was once again an emotional and physical endurance test, and b) the excitement of an upcoming epiphany trip is, like, the third best thing about vacay-ing.
And, boy-o-boy, have we got some sunshine-filled good news for ya: January is by far the cheapest (and thus most epic) month of the year for booking flights. At least, that’s what Skyscannersays (which is pretty much the most awesome travel app in existence if you’re on a cheap-flight hunt).
So, to those who found this article by pure happenstance, those champions that urgently typed “best places for an epic vacay this year” into Google, and everyone else that ended up here because something inexplicable made you click - listen to that something. It was a subconscious nudge. And we’re going to feed it by proverbially whispering in your ear a list of 12 epic places to go in 2019, and we’re going to do it month by month.
Why? The northern lights, dude.
Credit: Off The Map
The Northern Lights are pretty much the most magical and elusive sight - ever (unless you’ve seen an actual unicorn). Of course, like with whale watching, you can’t guarantee you’re going to see anything… unless you go to Finland... in January... and hire a sort of glass-roofed-hotel-sled-mobile-thingy. That said, it’s not just about seeing the midnight sky turn green and dance. Finnish Lapland also has 200,000 reindeer, 6 national parks, so much snow, and everything you’d hope from an Arctic playground - aka dog sledding, snowmobiling, ice fishing, and Santa’s retired reindeer pulling sleighs.
February: Rio De Janeiro
Why? It’s carnival time.
There are parties. There are raves. There are festivals. And then there is the Carnival in Rio, which is - literally - like nothing else that’s ever made your jaw hit the floor. The beats, the baubles, the Bijou, beautiful people, teeny-tiny bikinis, and billions of happy faces living their best lives, Brazilian-style. The energy that explodes from this city - from the sexy beaches and electrifying nightlife - goes proper potty for carnival week. Also, it’s kind of the perfect place to take your carnival towel. Just saying.
Why? The unexpected wow-factor.
The problem with Portugal is, well, its too close to Spain. That’s why you always pop it into your “possible” pile, before saying, “what we’ll do is, we’ll go to Spain first and then we’ll cross the border,” only to go a little too hard on the tapas and booze in Barcelona and then not be able to move. It’s totally understandable but, trust us, you need to sleep off that food-coma and then get to Lisbon because, hot-diggity, this place has the wow-factor. Epic beaches? Check. Epic forts on these epic beaches? Check. Bright yellow trams? Check. Those delicious Portuguese sandwiches? Check. The happiest buildings you’ve ever seen? Check. The Douro Valley? Check. It doesn’t matter if you’re booking a soloscape or going on your annual buddymoon, this city is Western Europe’s best-kept secret. And you don’t even need an itinerary to have the best. time. ever.
Why? Flights just got cheap.
We’re talking about Hawaii here, yeah? Hawaii. That part of planet earth that pretty much invented the whole concept of organic marketing. To sum it up for you though, a trip here means you’ll get to walk on one of those super-surreal-looking black sand beaches that come pre-decorated with sea turtles, have your breath snatched while snorkeling across the reef at Tunnels Beach, explore the other lush islands poking out of the water (#Kauaiisthebomb), and finally chow down on that poke bowl you keep hearing about. Oh and, ‘cos it’s April, you’ll get totally spoiled by the dry season. Woo woo.
May: Galapagos Islands
Why? ‘Cos Darwin said it was cool.
If you always hoped you’d be alive when the time-machine was invented, we’ve got good news. Sort of. What we mean is: it hasn’t been invented yet, but the Galapagos Islands are the next best thing - especially if you’re the animal lover in your group. There are primordial tortoises, sea lions, a bunch of manta rays, sea turtles, blue-footed boobies, and a creature that’s been baptised as the "lava lizard", which sounds one-part awesome and one-part terrifying. But treasure trove of endemic animals aside, it’s also a totally badass spot to go swimming-slash-snorkelling.
Why? The Midnight Sun-Run.
If you’ve been a disciple of this blog for more than six weeks (or since November 23rd 2018 to be precise), you’ll remember that number 21 on our far-from-finalised bucket list is heading to the Norwegian city of Tromsø in June for the Midnight Sun Run. It is worth mentioning this is a marathon, but it’s like the coolest marathon ever (no offence London, New York or Berlin). And to back up that bold claim, here’s why: it involves heading 400km inside the Arctic Circle to get your evening jog on before crossing the finishing line at midnight… when the sun is still up. Norway? You mean, Yesway.
July: The Dodecanese
Why? Two words: The Bucketlust
If you haven’t heard of The Bucketlust yet, you’re Instagram-life is about to be totally revolutionised. They’ve basically proved not all vacations are born equal. What they do is, they organise a flotilla of yachts, fill them with hundreds of like-minded adventurers, and then set off on a voyage of discovery, but from a whole new perspective -- and this summer they’re heading to the Doh-de-kuh-nee-sa islands of Greece. But it won’t be the Greece you imagine because it’ll be less looking at rocky terraces lined with blinding-white villas and flag-blue shutters and more a week of island hopping and circle-raft parties.
Why? Whale-watching got good.
According to a rumour we heard while shopping in the grocery store, people didn’t realise Madagascar was a real place until Ben Stiller, Chris Rock and Ross from F.R.I.E.N.D.S. made a film about it. But that’s neither here nor there. The reason you need to make sure you’re on this huuuuge East African island come August is because this is the perfect time to spot humpback whales off the coast of Île Sainte-Marie. We’re talking about mahooosive pods swimming past on their way to Antongil Bay to make love and calve. And then when you’re done with that, there the endemic species of plants and animals to make your mind melt. And, yes, that means you’ll finally get to snap a selfie beneath a Baobab tree.
Why? The safari you’ve been dreaming of.
When you think of Rwanda, you probs think of a) the Maasai Mara proving NBA players are wannabe jumpers and b) the Serengeti. But it’s also the coolest place for a safari because you don’t need to get up at 4.30am and sit in the back of a safari-branded-wagon before circling around the usual big-game sighting spots. Nope. Get to the Akagera National Park and you’ll get the remote wilderness and self-drive safari experience you’ve been subconsciously craving. Simply borrow a six-person tent, buy a few crates of local beer, build your own bonfire in the protected camping area, and wait for the big-five to come to you. Including lions. And then, when you fancy walking off ye olde beer and barbecued grub, you can go gorilla trekking and stare into the eyes of a silverback. Cool, huh?
Why? It’s what summer was made for.
Aaaah, Vancouver - you tonic for tired eyes, you. It’s such an epic spot. And it comes alive in the summer, when the greyish skies and heavy rains have finally succumbed to a long stretch of sunshine. Okay, so you may want to pack a few light jumpers and a cheeky pair of long johns as the temperatures never get much higher than 75-ish, but that doesn’t stop the locals living their best life. They’ll be catching rays at Kitsilano Bay, enjoying the free outdoor movies put on, cycling the seawall at Stanley Park, zip-lining at Grouse Mountain, and hopping across to Granville Island for a bite to eat at the food market. Oh and they also do a mean ramen. Some might even say its the tastiest this side of Tokyo.
Why? It’s like moving to another planet.
We’re pretty sure no one had ever heard of Patagonia until the legend that is Yvon Chouinard named his activewear clothing brand after this place. And we totes get why he did it. It’s a hiker’s paradise. There are emerald lakes sitting at the bottom of azure glaciers, and all the wildlife to make you go wow, like pumas and penguins and whales. So grab your favourite hiking boots and do what everyone wants to do (but barely anyone actually does) by exploring this rugged, awe-inspiring terrain on your soles -- especially the Torres del Paine National Park and the base of Laguna Capri.
December: Anywhere with Christmas Markets
Why? Because they’re the best.
Strasbourg, which has been doing a Christmas market since 1507. The Viennese Christmas Market, which spreads the festive spirit dancing all the way through the city. The Grand Christmas Market in Montreal, the one in Prague, and Florence, and Krakow, Frankfurt, Copenhagen and Berlin. It doesn’t really matter which one you head to for a weekend of hot-wine, tabletop-dancing and local cakes, so long as you get to enjoy at least one. Otherwise, does December even exist? And there we have it -- our bucket list for 2019, nicely broken down into a month by month guide to please all the OCD-wanderlusters out there.
So, what are you waiting for? Revel in the fact it’s cheap-flight-January and get booking the places you’ve always dreamed of exploring.
Thanks for reading. For more travelspiration and far-flung adventure ideas, follow us on Instagram and Facebook and, you know, don’t forget to grab yourself the most awesome towel ever made… and some shorts… and a hair wrap... and probably a poncho too. After all, everyone looks good in stripes.