Travel writing is a profession that seems almost too good to be true. The job description is unlike any other: those who have honed the craft spend most of their days abroad, exploring, uncovering, and writing about far-flung destinations and experiences that make even the most frequent fliers seem like travel rookies.
Given that travel writers visit more countries in a year than many could hope to in a lifetime, we tapped a few of our favorites with one question: Of all the places you've visited in the world, what's the one destination you'd return to again and again? Their responses were surprisingly varied. A Caribbean expert admits she was completely transfixed by the neon glow of Tokyo and an editor at National Geographic Poland reveals his go-to vacation spot is far from Europe.
Craving an adventure? If you only take one bucket list vacation in 2018, travel writers say this should be it.
Michal Cessanis, Author and Deputy Editor at National Geographic Poland
Polish travel editor Michal Cessanis spends most of his days abroad—the deputy editor at National Geographic estimates he takes about 30 to 40 journeys a year. "Not all are always long, sometimes they are weekend trips or for a few days," he admits. Based in Warsaw, Cessanis is in the ideal location to explore Europe, although he says his favorite travel destination is far from home.
"I always come back to China—I've been there 18 times," he admits. Cessanis was so enamored with the Chinese landscape and culture that he penned a travel guide, Made in China. "Every time I'm in China, I get rid of more stereotypes about this country and its inhabitants," he says. "China also has great cuisine [and] amazing architecture. Nowhere in the world are so many new buildings, metro lines, highways. Every time I discover there are more fascinating and beautiful places."
Dobrina Zhekova, Freelance Travel Writer
Freelance travel writer Dobrina Zhekova is used to life on the fly. The Washington, D.C., native travels about once a month for work, exploring destinations like Tahiti and Ireland for leading publications like InStyle, Elle, and Travel + Leisure.
When we contacted Zhekova to share her top travel destination, she admits it's the city she's currently exploring: Lisbon, Portugal. "I've been returning to this city over and over again for the past 15 years. It's not your average European capital—people are friendly, no one is in a rush or stressed out, and even though the city has become very popular in the past couple of years, life still goes on in a very authentic Portuguese way," she says.
If you're planning a trip to Lisbon, allow time to wander the cobbled streets and get lost. "[There are] so many breathtaking views over the city and the ocean hiding in some small cobblestone street just waiting to be discovered," she says. "And don't get me started on the food—the freshest and most delicious seafood I've ever had."
Rana Good, Freelance Travel Writer
Trying to pin down Rana Good is near impossible. In the last two months, she's soaked up the sun in Zurich, hotel-hopped in Kiev, and wandered the rice fields in Bali. That's just a typical schedule for the freelance travel writer, who explores the globe for publications like Travel + Leisure and AFAR magazine.
Given her extensive itinerary, it's no surprise her favorite travel destination is an under-the-radar gem. "I absolutely loved traveling to Mongolia and haven't stopped talking about it since," she tells MyDomaine. "You can have both a serene and active vacation there. You can hike, ride horses (Mongolian culture is completely intertwined with horses), swim in pristine lakes, ride motorcycles, etc., or you can just chill and be in awe of nature."
Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon, Caribbean Travel Expert
Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon is totally at home in the Caribbean. "I'm in the islands an average of three times a month," she says. "I consider the Centurion Lounge at Miami International Airport my second home!" Although the Caribbean is her passion, she's fascinated by Tokyo.
"In terms of culture and the general personality of the people, I don't think you can get much further from the Caribbean than Japan," she admits. "Perhaps it's that contrast that I find so appealing—and why the Japanese love Jamaica (where I lived for many years) so much."
Greaves-Gabbadon first visited Japan for a birthday trip a few years ago and couldn't believe the cultural differences. "For me, almost everything about the country is different from what I'm used to. And that—and those tricked out toilets!—make it a must for me!"
Erin Van Der Meer, Freelance Travel Writer
Australia-born New York–based travel writer Erin Van Der Meer likes to take it slow when traveling. "I refuse to be rushed when I travel," she says. "Being flexible allows you the time to take up suggestions from locals and fellow travelers, secrets you'd never know otherwise." She typically spends a couple of months away each year, which includes a few three-to-six week trips with a "luxuriously loose itinerary."
Her go-to travel destination? Mexico. "I'm always thrilled by the combination of old and new, of high and low. You can spend an afternoon wandering ancient ruins, such as mind-blowing pre-Colombian archaeological site Teotihuacan, and be back on the achingly cool streets of Mexico City in time for dinner at Pujol, one of the world's top restaurants," she says.
Beyond the incredible street food, world-class resorts, and pristine beaches, Mexico stands out because of its people. "The genuine warmth radiating from everyone you meet is palpable," she says, pointing out that it's considered highly offensive to be angry or impatient in Mexican culture. "The people that make the place [and] that, above all, is what keeps me going back."
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