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10 Places I’m Dying To Visit In 2022
I look forward to writing this post every year, as it always kicks my wanderlust into high gear. Last year was a little weird, to be honest, but I’m super excited about the list I have for you for where to travel in 2022…some are chill vacation ideas, others adventure, several involve alcohol, and there’s tons of amazing natural beauty,
Travel—especially international travel—is HARD right now, but but I’m here to tell you that it *is* possible. It just requires more planning, flexibility, and a little more risk tolerance than it might have a couple years ago.
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In addition to Mexico, Jamaica, and some domestic U.S. trips in 2021, I snuck in a quick jaunt to northern Portugal in late October. I didn’t book it far out (two weeks, in fact) to avoid restriction changes, and the actual flights and transit were a bit extra nervewracking (would my tests be accepted, would I miss my flight, etc), but MAN it was amazing being back in Europe!
I just had to deal with the idea that if I tested positive for COVID while there, I’d have to stay longer and quarantine. Since I can work remotely, that was an acceptable risk for me, though it might not be for other people. But I just wanted to provide an example of how it can work with a little…work.
Where to travel in 2022
SO WHERE ARE WE GOING THIS YEAR?? I’ve got a lot of ideas, but I’ve definitely tailored my “where to travel 2022” list to the realities of our current situation.
From an international standpoint in particular, I’m focusing on countries that have been more open, providing more options (e.g. tests, not solely vaccination status) and fewer requirements (e.g. little or no mandatory quarantine, tracing, etc.). Basically, I’ve focused on destinations that are trying to make it easier for a greater variety of people to visit.
Because of that, this list is more U.S.- and Europe-centric by default, since most of Asia, Africa, South America, and Australia and New Zealand have been very restricted or fully locked down. It’s also not heavily focused on urban centers, but has a strong lens on more the outdoors, roadtrips, and places where you can avoid crowds (which…let’s face it, is my vibe anyway).
The obvious caveat is that things change CONSTANTLY. I’m using a few different sites (this and this, among others) which seem to be updated fairly regularly and can help give you a sense of who’s open and what they require. But don’t take any of those on face value, you need to do your own research on the countries’ websites and try to confirm with multiple sources. And travel insurance that actually covers you in the event of COVID disruptions can be a lifesaver.
So here are ten places I’d recommend for travel in 2022 to inspire your wanderlust and help you plan.
Set on the sparkling Adriatic but much more under-the-radar than “Insta-famous” neighbor Greece, Albania offers gorgeous beaches, quiet forests, and a fascinating mix of history and architecture. Add to that delicious fresh cuisine and a very friendly population, and you’ve got a winner.
And while the capital, Tirana, is growing quickly and there are several other interesting cities to explore, Albania’s culture is still oriented around quaint rural villages and the natural beauty found in the mountains and countryside as well as the coast. If you’re thinking of planning a trip, this article provides some great inspiration to get your started.
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2. Charleston, South Carolina (USA)
I have a confession. I lived in Atlanta for almost 12 years, and never made it to either Charleston or Savannah. I KNOW. But I’m looking to change that this year. Every person I’ve ever met who’s been to Charleston absolutely raves about it.
From beautiful old (by U.S. standards) architecture and rich U.S. history (both cool and troubling), to a MAJOR foodie and cocktail scene (consider a food tour!), to chill beaches, Charleston has a little something for everyone. Whether high-energy girls’ trip, relaxing solo adventure, or family vacation, it makes a great short weekend (but can absolutely be a longer visit).
You can enjoy Charleston any time of year, but it is crazy hot and muggy in the summer so spring and fall are perfect. It’s also a good winter travel option, with a fairly temperate climate (it’s super popular around the holidays, so plan ahead).
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3. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Mexico has continued to welcome tourists throughout the last couple years, but tourists (myself included) often stick to the Cancun, Riviera Maya, and Tulum areas. While San Miguel de Allende is definitely becoming more popular, it’s still a bit more under-the-radar.
It’s one of the most beautiful and important architectural cities in Mexico, known for brightly-colored buildings, a beautiful neo-Gothic cathedral, and intricate facades. Its temperate weather and proximity to Mexico City are added draws. I saw photos from a friend’s trip a few years ago and knew right away it needed to be on my list!
Wander the city center, take a cooking class, sip mezcal cocktails, or venture a bit further out for a wine tasting at a local vineyard. You can also seek out Santuario de Atotonilco, a World Heritage Site outside of the city from the 18th century that’s known as the “Sistine Chapel of Mexico” due to its breathtaking murals.
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4. North Cascades National Park (USA)
Washington’s North Cascades is a great alternative to Montana’s Glacier National Park…and actually has a LOT more glaciers. In fact, it has over 300 glaciers, which is more than any other U.S. park outside Alaska.
In addition to gorgeous glaciers (and glacier-fed lakes), the park has tons of scenic drives, hiking options, backpacking routes, and steep mountain peaks (if that’s your thing). It also has an abundance of wildlife (wolverines, gray wolves, black bears, eagles, and more).
Though located only 3 hours west of bustling Seattle, you’ll feel like you have North Cascades all to yourself…visitors say it’s probably one of the most under-rated national parks, and it has a fraction of the crowds that Yosemite, Tetons, and others do.
Like many of the mountainous or northern parks, winter and early spring can be snow-packed and limit hiking and camping, but the park has quite a bit of lower-elevation space to play in as well as amazing views right off the road at places along Diablo Lake and the North Cascades Highway.
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5. Istanbul, Turkey (and wherever else you can get to)
I am deeply in love with Turkey—the amazing food, history and culture, diverse experiences, people, and more. And since Turkey has been relatively open in recent months, now is the perfect time to explore the wonders of Istanbul without insane tourist crowds.
Marvel at the soaring domes and history of the Blue Mosque and the Mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent, soak in the layers of religions in Hagia Sofia, and choose the perfect souvenir in a street market. Wander the steep, narrow streets of Beyoğlu, then hop a ferry to cruise along the gorgeous deep blue waters of the Bosphorus.
Eat literally everything in sight (in fact, consider a walking food tour), find your favorite rooftop, and cap off the day with a vibrant sunset and panoramic view of the city.
Whether you have just one day or a full week, Istanbul is a bucket list destination. It’s also a great jumping-off point for other areas of the country (all flights go through Istanbul), so makes a nice anchor on either end of an itinerary.
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6. Sailing Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast
I’ve visited northern and middle Croatia a couple times and absolutely loved it, and I’ve been dying to explore the southern half of the country ever since. Of course you don’t *have* to sail (especially if you get seasick), but it really is an amazing way to live your best life in southern Croatia.
The more than 1,000 miles of coastline are filled with stunning calm turquoise water, dipping in and out of tranquil bays and dotted with close to 1,000 tiny islands. When you dock and head inland, you have fascinating history, plenty of hiking and wildlife, and absolutely delicious food and wine.
The iconic capital of Dubrovnik is a must-see, and many visitors also hit Hvar and Split. But the joys of this type of trip are finding magical places that feel entirely your own, which you would never have seen without a boat.
Consider April, May, or October for a sailing trip to avoid the insanity of peak June-September tourist season. If you’re visiting during peak season, book your boat waaaayyy in advance.
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7. Florida Keys road trip
Are you jonesin’ for a Caribbean island vibe but don’t feel like dusting your passport off? Then a Keys roadtrip might be just the answer! The 113-mile Overseas Highway connecting the Florida Keys island chain is one of the all-time iconic road trips in the U.S…and while that doesn’t sound like very far, you can easily have a packed 7-day island hopping itinerary.
Your itinerary can be *your* perfect blend of adventure and chill. Take a glass-bottom boat tour in a coral reef state park, try your hand at paddleboarding, get up close with wildlife, kayak, snorkel, or sail. Maybe spend a couple nights at a nice resort, soak up some sun, and sip rum cocktails. And no matter what, bask in the famous Keys sunsets.
This road trip is great any time of year, but my first choice would be late winter or spring to try hitting the most pleasant weather with lighter crowds. Hurricane season (typically June-September) can be dicey, plus the weather is usually hotter, more humid, with less breeze.
And I did get there this year—read about my Keys roadtrip!
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8. Northern Portugal
Portugal has quickly become one of my favorite countries, and I think the north occasionally gets overlooked in favor of Lisbon and the sunny southern Algarve coast. But after spending time in Porto and the Douro Valley wine region recently, I’m here to tell you that northern Portugal needs to be on your list ASAPronto!
The north is chock-full of UNESCO World Heritage sites, boasts Portugal’s only national park (Peneda-Gerês), and features the stunning terraced hills of the Douro Valley’s wineries. Those wineries are an absolute must-visit (even if you think you don’t like port). Spend a couple nights at a 300-year-old winery, hike among the vines, and sip wine on a boat as it drifts down the Douro.
Porto is absolutely charming, with crazy steep, narrow streets, vivid and intricate blue tiles (azulejos), beautiful architecture, sweeping river views, and the famous port lodges. Add to that historical Guimarães, Braga, and more, and you could spend weeks exploring this region.
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One of Europe’s least-visited countries, Moldova is a land-locked country that was once part of the Soviet Union, Moldova promises one of those more “real”, less perfect cultural exploration experiences that is harder to find these days in Europe.
The country is still in the earlier stages of developing its tourism economy, focused on its long history in winemaking. Because it’s not on the euro, it’s also super affordable, putting “luxury” experiences well within reach.
But wine is really the huge draw here. Moldova has the most agricultural land (percentage-wise) dedicated to vineyards than anywhere else in the world. And now their most lavish wineries are starting to add hotel and spa experiences, from sleeping in a giant wine barrel to grape-based spa treatments.
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10. Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail and more (USA)
This felt a bit self-serving at first (I live in Louisville), but sometimes you overlook what’s right in your backyard. Bourbon is the United States’ signature spirit, and the Bluegrass State is the place to experience it (95% of bourbon is from Kentucky).
Spend a few days doing tours and tastings along the official Bourbon Trail (distilleries throughout the state, but especially clustered in Louisville, Lexington, and Bardstown). Even if you’re not a huge whiskey fan, you get to learn so much about the history and the process. Some distilleries also offer mixology classes, really cool cocktail bars, and more.
Beyond bourbon, you can fill in your itinerary with great food, local breweries, horse racing history at Churchill Downs and Keeneland, the fascinating Mammoth Cave National Park, and the beautiful Red River Gorge. And that’s honestly just scratching the surface.
So hopefully this gives you some inspiration for where to travel in 2022, both close to home and some international dream trip ideas…I’d love to hear from you on what’s on YOUR list for the coming year!
Some practical travel tips to go with your inspiration:
- 11 Of My Best Travel Tips for ANY Trip
- Travel FAQ: Things You Might Not Know About Your Credit Card
- A Travel Bucket List for Your 30’s
- 10 Things to Do Before Every Trip
- My Ultimate Airplane Reads: The Best Romance and Urban Fantasy Series
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