10 Amazing Places You Must Experience in 2022 and Beyond
December 2021 | By Alexa Wheeler | 0 minute read
Live life to the fullest – it’s a motto that rings true now more than ever before. For some people, that may equate to traveling to as many countries as they can in their lifetime. To others, it may mean scratching off their bucket list destinations only. No matter which you relate to, here’s a list of exceptional places you must experience in your lifetime with personal accounts from travel professionals on what makes these destinations so special.
A destination of destinations, East Africa is home to several countries worth visiting, particularly Kenya and Tanzania. Whether looking to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, go on an African safari, or explore African culture, East Africa is the perfect destination for travelers craving to step beyond their comfort zone and explore.
“Two of my favorite destinations are Kenya and Tanzania. The expanse of the savannahs and plains, whose primary inhabitants are not humans, but animals, is a miracle of nature. I will never forget the munching sound of hippos at night lulling me to sleep in my luxurious tented camp ‘hotel.’”
Perhaps the most iconic draw to France is the Eiffel Tower as travel professional, Heather, stated in simplicity. Even if you stray away from touristy spots, the Eiffel Tower can be appreciated from afar. And, even the cynics among us must admit, there’s something magical about its twinkling lights at dusk that will make you fall for the “city of love.” As travel professional, Missi stated, “There is no city quite like Paris. It is the ultimate destination for a romantic getaway to stroll the streets, relax in a cafe, and take in its breathtaking beauty.”
But only 4.5 hours southeast of Paris and under two hours southwest of Geneva lies a beacon in its own right – Lyon.
“During early December, Lyon hosts the Festival of Lights or “Fête des Lumières,” a really unique and special experience. For about two days, the buildings, mountains, etc. in Lyon are covered in light shows with accompanying music – a truly spectacular and great start to the holiday season.”
Glacier National Park, U.S.A.
It’s no secret that national park popularity has skyrocketed in recent months, but if you’re looking to visit a national park unlike any other, Glacier National Park will have you feeling like you’re in an entirely different country.
“Driving Going-to-the-Sun Road from West Glacier up to Logan Pass is an experience like no other. Not only is it full of adventure and endless hiking options, but the drive is absolutely gorgeous with breathtaking views of snow-capped mountain peaks and wide valleys, stunning waterfalls and lakes, and pristine glaciers. While we were there, the pass unexpectedly opened on our last day, so we took the drive up. We ended up hiking a portion of the (still snowy) path to Hidden Lake Overlook in water shoes because we were unprepared after whitewater rafting. We may not have made it to the end of the hike, but we had a blast and several laughs (and slips) along the way. Plus, we saw bighorn sheep!”
India may not be top of mind for most travelers but, simply put, it should be. From architectural wonders and diverse landscapes to exceptional cuisine and hospitality like you’ve never experienced, India is known to leave a mark on the hearts of all who visit.
“It’s hard to pick one city in India as it is an entire country experience. India is often a much overlooked travel destination and, yet, it should not be! What makes India so near to my heart is the humanity and peacefulness of the people. Their entire spiritual essence demands acceptance of all people, no matter their religion, race, or station in life. The beauty and diversity of the land is breathtaking – majestic, regal and, in the south, so lush and fertile. There is no one I have ever met (including travel professional naysayers whom I urged to go) who has not come back changed and changed in the most wonderful sense.”
Although it may seem like the no brainer of must-visit destinations, Italy’s draw extends far beyond its
iconic big cities and Tuscan vineyards. Of the more popular destinations, one that is smaller and sometimes
overlooked, yet worth the visit, is Pompeii. Outside of the obvious trip to the archeological site, the area is full
of captivating experiences.
“We climbed Mt. Vesuvius and stopped for pizza at a local restaurant on the mountain where the tomatoes were grown out of the rich nutrient soil from the eruption years ago. It made for the best tasting sauce!”
However, one of the more unexpected Italian jewels is Monte Cassino and its World War II cemeteries.
“I have driven up Monte Cassino about three times in my life, and we will try to go back again next summer. The drive is harrowing, but the abbey is classic Roman beautiful. It has a 1,500-year history as the origin of the Benedictine order, but it is actually built on a temple of Apollo. It was a key position on the Gustav line hosting countless battles on its slopes. The building was completely destroyed in the war and many noncombatants died there. We have relatives in the area; I know one who died in the battle down in Cassino as well as someone who rebuilt the building after it was destroyed. The most moving moment you will have is reading the cemetery markers behind it. Many have inscriptions remembering specific deeds and personalities of each of the soldiers buried below. I still remember that moment from 35 years ago.”
Lake Louise, Canada
Another stunning North American destination that’s straight from a fairytale is Lake Louise in Banff National Park. Whether you visit in the summer to enjoy the water sports and hike or in the winter to ice skate and ski, the pristine blue hues of the lake water and the captivating mountainous terrain will leave you breathless.
Franca, a Canadian travel professional, recommends hiking up to Table Mountain to see the elk and soaking in the nearby hot springs.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Sometimes overlooked by other Caribbean destinations, the Dominican Republic is more than just a beach destination. Although famous for its white sand beaches and fun nightlife and dancing, Punta Cana is also known for its outdoor adventures, architecture, vibrant culture and, as travel professional, Carla, mentioned, outstanding catamaran excursions for scuba diving and snorkeling.
“The Dominican Republic, my home country, has everything to offer from beautiful sandy beaches to amazing food. Another place I'd recommend in the DR is Bahía de las Águilas in the province of Pedernales – uncharted territory but so worth the drive.”
As the world’s largest metropolis, Tokyo might seem overwhelming at first glance, but if you look beyond the skyscrapers, city lights and fast pace, you’ll find the local culture, and the locals themselves, to be one of a kind. As amazing as visiting the famous landmarks can be, sometimes simply taking part in a destination’s everyday way of life is just as, if not more, rewarding.
“I used to live in Tokyo and commuted from my house to work on the JR train line. On my way to work, I'd stop at one of the mom-and-pop kiosks on the station platform to pick up a bento box lunch every day. On my way home from work, I'd change trains and platforms and always had about 15 minutes between connections. I'd step up to a standing-only ramen noodle counter, order the one soup they served, and then slurp it down quickly with the other people at the counter before racing off to catch my connecting train. I loved the ritual, and getting to know the local community as much as possible makes all the difference in the world.”
Walt Disney World, U.S.A.
Known as “The Happiest Place on Earth,” Walt Disney World is most often seen as a vacation destination for families with children. But, if Mickey Mouse knows how to do one thing perfectly, it’s pulling out the kid at heart in all of us. From the Walt Disney World Food & Wine Festival to the Walt Disney World Marathon to simply riding the rides for some good old-fashioned fun, there’s always a reason to take a trip to this magical kingdom, no matter your age.
“Right now, Walt Disney World is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and I was lucky enough to experience it. The parks are full of unique experiences, decorations and merchandise to celebrate "The World's Most Magical Celebration," and it's definitely one to not be missed!”
Any Cruise Ship
Destinations in their own right, cruise ships are more than hotels on water to take you from place to place – they are a complete unparalleled experience. And, the best part about cruise ships is that you can choose the cruise line that best fits you and what you’re wanting out of your vacation. Luxury and seclusion? Got it! Fun for the entire family? Look no further!
“I consider cruise ships to be a top must-visit destination. Today's cruises ships are often the destination themselves because they’re built to be floating cities. Many cruise ships offer world class entertainment, gyms, first-class dining and shopping experiences, plus exotic ports of call all wrapped up into one!”