Where to go in 2018

a definitive guide to the most important destinations of 2018

At the start of every year, headlines like “where to go in 2018” or “best in travel 2018” start popping up. But let’s be real, it’s a little overwhelming with everyone telling you where you should go. Have no fear though, I’ve scrubbed through all the major lists to come up with the definitive list of where you’re supposed to go.

Not that this is super scientific, but in case you’re wondering about methodology (lol), the data was collected from 10 travel publications. The lists were a mix of editors curation, reader’s picks, and travel data predictions. All of the lists were compiled to see which locations popped up the most as the agreed upon as must-visits this year in the travel community. And here’s what I found:

[ JUMP TO | top countries | top states | top cities ]

publications-graphic countries-graphic states-graphic cities-graphic

AND THE NUMBER 1 DESTINATION OF 2018 IS...

drumroll please...

png-image-6cd6bf6da4c4-1

Australia! Australia popped up on 9 out of 10 lists, and was even mentioned by the New York Times twice. While everyone seemed to agree that 2018 is a great year to travel Down Under, there wasn’t really a consensus on where in Australia to visit. Places mentioned include: Brisbane, The Great Barrier Reef, Tasmania, Canberra, Sydney, Mornington Peninsula, Nagambie Lakes, Top End, and Perth. I guess your best bet is to take a long trip and hit up multiple areas.

Why 2018? For a variety of reasons. Sydney has renovated the famous Opera House, and Tasmania is experiencing a “culinary renaissance.” Mornington Peninsula and Nagambie Lakes have made their names as the perfect retreats from Melbourne with new hotels and dining opening up. Aboriginal communities in Top End are opening up for tourists to learn about the rich cultural history.

WHERE TO GO TO UP YOUR INSTAGRAM AESTHETIC

Kafka, a hole-in-wall coffee shop in Perth
Bondi Icebergs, where pools meet the sea
The Stables, aesthetic clothes & aesthetic coffee to hang with the hipsters in Sydney
Carlton Gardens, a healthy dose of curated nature in Melbourne, aka The Garden City

Runners up in most visit-worthy countries this year include Mexico (appeared on 9 lists), South Korea (appeared on 8 lists), Canada and China (each appeared on 7 lists). Both Argentina and Chile got a few mentions, particularly for Patagonia. And the interest in Scandinavia is branching out beyond the main cities to Nordic islands. Morocco is still having its moment, no doubt bolstered by the slew of Instagram talent that flooded our feeds with perfectly composed shots of their riad’s courtyards. And Malta continues to become a more popular destination as one of this year’s European Capitals of Culture.

png-image-faf7b2756129-1

Mexico has always been a popular destination for Americans, seeing as it’s right there. But Mexico is putting itself on the map this year with Mexico City becoming the first World Design Capital in the continent. Let’s hope that travelers can help start to reshape perceptions of our southern neighbor.

png-image-29b9dbe082be-1

South Korea is going to be popular very soon for a very obvious reason. The Winter Olympics. Several lists and guides have been popping up to detail things to do in Pyeong Chang for anyone that’ll be in town.

png-image-1c0d3d2e9e73-1

Canada had a big year last year as it celebrated its 150th anniversary. But free trips to Banff aside, the 2018 lists prove that our neighbor to the north has a lot more to offer beyond the obvious destinations. Like Prince Edward Island. Or Haida Gwaii. Or Labrador. Plus, let’s be real, the internet has a crush on Justin Trudeau.

png-image-4000641b153f-1

China has always served the role of being that exotic destination. But while Southeast Asia seems to continue to be the hip place to visit, China is quickly modernizing and opening up to the global stage. The real strength lies in the diversity of experiences it offers. From the giant pandas of Sichuan to the rainbow mountains of Zhanye Dana National Park (take that, rainbow bagels!) to the rapidly modernizing metropolis of Shenzhen (blessed by the aesthetic gods to have the world’s first Muji hotel), the biggest hero is the extensive high speed railway that makes all these places more accessible.

THE MOST POPULAR STATES OF 2018 ARE...

  • Louisiana, because, you know, New Orleans. More on that later.
  • California, because ironically, after a year of being closed off, more people know about and want to go to Big Sur. Can’t say I blame them though, the California coast is photogenic af.
  • Washington / Oregon, because that #PNW aesthetic will never cease to be aesthetic…
  • Texas, because it’s San Antonio’s moment to shine.

Countries and states are...big. I never quite understood why a list could say you should visit Atlanta. Oh, and check out Russia. So if you’re looking to have a little more defined of an area to explore, let’s just skip on to the top cities of 2018.

AND THE NUMBER ONE CITY OF 2018 IS...

png-image-69d5f970b6b8-1

New Orleans! Told you I’d get back to this! New Orleans is turning 300 this year, and that’s a pretty big deal, according to the 6 publications that gave it a shout out. Sure, San Antonio is also turning 300 this year, but it just doesn’t have that same distinct cultural draw that can push it onto the international stage like NOLA does. Last year saw a lot of hurricanes that devastated parts of the US and a lot of the Caribbean. But the hurricane that will stay in our cultural lexicon for decades to come is still Hurricane Katrina. This year, it will have been 13 years, and we’ll be able to see how the people of New Orleans have been able to rebuild their city. Rather than try to forget what happened, they own their history and take pride in their resilience to weave into their rich fabric of cultural identity. And that’s a spirit the whole world can learn from.

WHERE TO GO TO UP YOUR INSTAGRAM AESTHETIC

Petite Amelie, the quaint morning you're looking for
Cane & Table, an aesthetic stop for happy hour
Keife & Co, the local wine shop where you pretend to be a local
Delachaise, the closest thing you'll get to Paris in the states
Ace Hotel, just like literally every location, you'll fall in love with the interiors

Honorable mentions include: Big Sur (appeared on 5 lists), San Antonio (4 lists), Mexico City (3 lists), Seattle (3 lists) and PyeongChang (3 lists).

SO...TL;DR:

  • If you want to splurge on a long adventure, head to Australia and explore beyond the main cities to everything else it has to offer. Check out this guide for trendy spots in Melbourne and this one for the art scene in Tasmania.
  • If you only have a few days to spare and want to be mindful of budget, plan a trip to New Orleans. After all, it’s probably the closest thing you can get to feeling like you’re abroad without leaving the country. Check out this guide to get a sense of the city, this one for eats (because, let’s be real, it’s half the reason you’re going).
  • If you're going to the Olympics, make a trip out of it with this guide and follow this writer on Medium for the must-know details to keep up with the Games.
  • If you’re feeling a road trip, you still can't go wrong driving up the California coast. Maybe keep going until you hit Seattle, or even better, Vancouver. And then decide if you want to come back or just stay in Canada for a little bit…
  • If you prefer a warmer vacation, go down to Mexico and appreciate the aesthetic renaissance of Mexico City. Check out this guide for a designer approved curated list of places to check out, and this one to plan your trip

Now go forth, my aesthetic wanderers. And report back with #wanderaesthetically. Have insider tips for any of these places? Drop a line here.