What type of traveler are you? Do you love to roam through a new place with little more than a compass and a backpack or do you prefer the five-star treatment with all the hotel luxuries? As self-professed wanderlust junkies, we feel the urge to do them all. Our inner gypsy wants to walk a spiritual path in India, while our noble selves crave the royal treatment at an exclusive spa in the mountains.
The point is that whatever vacation style you prefer, from the sightseer to the seafarer, there's a trip to suit your tourist needs, and there's no better time to start planning your next adventure than right now. With the launch of a new year, it's time to get creative with your vacation plans and think outside the typical travel checkbox for something different. Ahead be inspired by 10 of the best vacation ideas we're booking this year. Adventure is out there.
While it seems incredibly daunting at first, traveling solo is definitely something everyone should do at least once in their lifetime. There's a real sense of freedom when you only have yourself to rely on and your internal compass isn't guided by anyone else along the way. Enjoy your time stress-free, without the headache of squabbles over where to eat or what to do and see. The only person you need to ask is you. Your itinerary is in your hands entirely, and it's bliss. Not only that, but you're also open to meeting more people, mingling with the locals, and maybe even finding The One.
If you have any apprehensions about seeing the world alone, here are a few friendly places to consider first.
Take a Mini Road Trip
There's nothing quite as liberating as hitting up the trusty tarmac on the outskirts of your hometown to take a Thelma & Louise–style adventure into the unknown. While the classic American road trip is something we've all got on our travel bucket lists, those excursions often require more time and a bigger budget, both of which we often have a finite resource. The beauty of a mini escape is that there's minimal planning required (since it's typically just a day trip or a one-night stay), and you can do it on the cheap too.
All you need is a delicious picnic (including a car full of snacks for the drive), a GPS app, and a great playlist, of course. Where you go is up to you, but there really is no limit to the options, and you don't even need a passport—just an open mind and a tank full of gas.
Book a Wellness Retreat
If you're feeling overwhelmed at work and need a relaxing vacay, hit up a wellness retreat and reset your inner peace meter—these health havens are worth all your miles and PTO. This type of trip can be taken for a night, a weekend, or over the course of a week, depending on your budget and paid leave. If you live near Arizona, we highly recommend Mii Amo, nestled in the spiritual foothills of Sedona, Arizona. Regain focus and calm with spa treatments, energy work, crystal therapies, and yoga workshops.
This is the kind of trip we want to take weekly.
Be a Tourist in Your Hometown
Who said you even needed to leave your city to enjoy a fun-filled vacation? Plan a weekend for yourself in the same way you would if a guest were in town. Look up all the fun tourist hot spots, hikes, celebrity attractions, iconic architecture, museums, and natural wonders, and then plan your weekend. Don't let visitors see and know more about your city than you do. Take advantage of the beauty around you and revel in the local attractions. Bonus: You don't even have to book a room for the night.
Journey Via Hot-Air Balloon
If there's one experience that belongs on every romantic's bucket list, it's seeing a beautiful location via hot-air balloon. Waking up before dawn isn't a simple task, even for a morning person, but MyDomaine lifestyle editor Sophie Miura fought the urge to return to her warm bed and now counts her hot-air ballooning experience over Rose Valley in Cappadocia, Turkey, as one of the most breathtaking experiences she's ever had.
"Each morning, up to 300 multicolored balloons lift into the silent sky to see the first rays of light illuminate the valley," she wrote. Even if you choose not to be in the balloon itself, the visual from the ground is just as extraordinary. And Turkey isn't the only place you can experience this epic visual—they take place all over the world, and there's likely an experience to be had in your own backyard. Float above the earth to see your city in a whole new way.
Plan a Hiking Trip
If your idea of adventure is getting physical, make like Olivia Newton-John and don your best athleisure for a hiking trip into the great unknown. If you're just starting out, hit up the Redwood Forest or Joshua Tree, but if you're a serious hiker, plan your trek and explore some of the finest mountain scenery in the United States on the John Muir Trail. Spanning 211 miles, it isn't for the faint of heart, but the visual rewards every step of the way will imprint memories that are sure to last a lifetime.
Go on a Culinary Adventure
Are you a foodie at heart? Then a culinary vacation will be right up your alley. Channel world-renowned chef Anthony Bourdain and plan your itinerary around the local cheese-makers, wineries, and farm-to-table restaurants that pride themselves on cooking cuisine reflective of the region. You could even go off the grid like Andrew Zimmern and taste some of the bizarre offerings—just be sure to do your research first. If you're in California, we recommend kick-starting your foodie adventure with the Napa Valley, renowned for its locally grown food, award-winning wines, and farm-to-fork restaurants, with a scenic road trip thrown in.
Make a Spiritual Pilgrimage
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to visit the sacred River Ganges in India, the holy peak of Mount Kailash in Tibet, or the worshiped sites of Jerusalem? If you seek a deeper meaning on your travels, then it's time to take a pilgrimage to some of the world's most iconic spiritual locations. Embark on a journey to the myriad of historic religious sites, from mosques to temples, and discover the ancient stories behind the culture and architecture of these beautiful, symbolic relics. There's enlightenment at the end of this adventure and a renewed perspective that will carry you through on your journey called life.
Escape to the Wilderness
Whether you're a pro skier or you enjoy curling up next to a crackling fire while sipping on something deliciously warm, planning a getaway to a cabin is one vacation idea you'll want to explore. Grab a group of friends or your S.O. and rent a cabin in the woods for a weekend away from it all. Take in the sights of nature during the day, then relax at night over good food, drinks, and games. It's the perfect retreat. Book a stay lakeside in California or deep in Pennsylvania Dutch Country for a reprieve from the grind of daily life.
Relax on the Beach
Take some time for yourself in a small beach town to relax and unwind. You can book a stay at an opulent beach resort or find a tiny oceanside shack to rent for a weekend. There's nothing quite as restorative as time spent lying in the sun (with proper skin protection, of course) listening to the crashing ocean waves as they lull you into full relaxation mode. It doesn't matter if you sip Mai Tais or smoothies, whatever you do, unplug and recharge. Trade in your emails for a good book, and let bathing suits and bohemian clothing replace your workwear.
If you live on the West Coast, head to a small town like Carmel, California, or La Jolla in San Diego. If you live on the East Coast, see what the Hamptons or Sanibel Island off of Florida have to offer.
What are your best vacations ideas? Share the destinations you're dreaming of in the comments below.
This post was originally published on January 10, 2017, and has since been updated.