When a new year starts, I usually have a good idea of what trips to take in the first quarter. 2016 was different, since I got preoccupied with moving to Paris. Now that I’m settled in, I’ve put together a list of spring trips that make me want to hit the road again.
Whether you are looking for a luxury getaway, an up-and-coming city to explore, or “meaningful travel” ideas, read on.
A few months back I did an interview with travel expert John Golicz and asked for his thoughts on emerging urban destinations. One of the first trends he mentioned was the rise of “second tier cities.”
These smaller cities in the USA, including former industrial towns, are “starting to evolve around cuisine or things that go along with cuisine, such as drinks or alcohol.” John’s hot spots are Louisville, Kentucky (where the historic Bourbon Trail begins) and Cleveland, Ohio with trendy restaurants popping up around its newly redeveloped downtown. “A great foodie place to go,” he says.
Nothing says “spring is here” like a good drive. Imagine yourself cruising on a sunny day, windows down, favorite tunes on the radio. Where would you go on a full tank of gas?
I would travel California’s Pacific Coast Highway. Designated an All American Road, PCH is one of the country’s most scenic and celebrated routes. It winds around cliffs, passes through beach towns, and lets you enjoy panoramic ocean views. When done, I’d drive back to see everything again.
If your ideal spring trips involve luxury and relaxation, then European river cruises may be for you. Sailing allows you to explore destinations and their culture at a leisurely pace – be it capital cities, riverside towns, or wine regions – while providing the comfort of a boutique hotel.
You can hop on and off the boat, or stay on board and enjoy regionally-inspired food alongside fellow passengers. And unlike grand ocean excursions, river cruises generally have a capacity of 200 people and therefore offer more privacy and quiet time.
After a great experience at a travel writing retreat last year, I am encouraged to do another one. Spring, with the energy and sense of renewal it brings, seems the right time to invest in self-development. Whether your goals are personal or professional, on-the-road workshops can give you an extra boost.
What if you could wake up in a European city, drink coffee with a freshly-baked pastry, and then attend small-group sessions with like-minded individuals? Imagine walking the old town at sunset in e.g. Valencia or Ljubljana, chatting with your new friends or enjoying alone-time in a café? Beats a regular classroom anytime.
Another type of “purposeful” trips to take is volunteer work, including cultural exchange programs. I recently hosted a panel discussion with industry experts titled Meaningful Travel: What, Why, How. The guests mentioned that such trips are on the rise among Millennials, families, and solo female travelers, and the trend will continue in 2016.
Listening to the panelists share their stories (e.g. teaching English in Japan and visiting fair trade artisans in India) reminded me of volunteering in Ecuador back in 2013 and how much I enjoyed getting to know the community. It also inspired me to find another program this spring.
What spring trips are on your list? Let me know in the comments below.