1. CHECK THE SEVENTH CONTINENT OFF MY WISH LIST
Of the world’s billion annual tourists, less than .004 percent will set foot on the White Continent of Antarctica. Become a member of this very cool club on a 14-day adventure with Lindblad Expeditions aboard the 102-passenger National Geographic Orion or 148-passenger Explorer. An exclusive partnership with National Geographic brings noted photographers, naturalists, and scientists on board each voyage.
2. GET HEALTHIER
Yes, it’s on your list every year, but this time you mean it. Kick-start the New Year at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts. The 126-room all inclusive resort has packed its January schedule with everything from Wallyball and Zumba classes to fencing lessons and indoor cycling with musical themes. From $2,990 per person, per three-night package (sharing accommodations); Virtuoso guests receive a room upgrade, if available, and a $50 Health & Healing credit. The Jumpstart to a Healthier Life five-day intensive program focuses on all aspects of wellness – including nutrition, stress management, even navigating life transitions – in a supportive group environment.
3. MAKE NEW FRIENDS
Traveling solo is the ultimate “me” time, offering you the chance to satisfy whims, stretch limits, and learn something new. Yet solo travelers don’t have to go it alone. Small-group escorted journeys, such as those offered by Travcoa, allow individual explorers to heed the call of adventure and head off the beaten path, all while meeting fellow travelers who share common interests. (Another benefit: built-in dinner companions with whom to try the local cuisine.) The tour provider often waives single supplements, as on a 17-day journey across South India and Sri Lanka that includes boating through the lush Kerala backwaters and watching firewalkers at a puja ceremony in Kandy.
4. EXPAND MY CHILDREN’S WORLDVIEW
In our increasingly interconnected world, raising children to be global citizens can be crucial not only to their future success, but that of the world, as well. Travel, by its very nature, fosters compassion along with an incomparable knowledge and understanding of foreign cultures, as well as the ability to adapt in unfamiliar situations, providing children with an unmatched advantage in school, the workplace, and the international community. Now, more than ever, is the time to talk with your advisor about mapping out a multiyear plan for the best way to spend your children’s school holidays and summer vacations before they leave home. A great place to start: the Peruvian Amazon, where International Expeditions has built water-treatment plants for villagers, supports rainforest schools, and funds a garden project in which local children harvest vegetables while learning about conservation. Travelers of all ages can take part in these efforts while spending three nights cruising the Amazon River, along with one night in a rain-forest lodge to experience life amid the jungle canopy.
5. SPEND MORE TIME WITH MY FAMILY
According to the U.S. Travel Association, more than 40 percent of Americans left vacation days on the table in 2014. Adventures by Disney makes it easy to put an end to this phenomenon with fourday long-weekend getaways in iconic U.S. locales such as Nashville. Tour RCA Studio B, catch a gig at the famous Bluebird Cafe, and go backstage at the Grand Ole Opry.
6. LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE
Speaking the local lingo – even a few basic phrases – opens you to new perspectives, improves your understanding, and lets you fully appreciate a foreign destination and its culture.
7. SLEEP UNDER THE STARS
Few experiences connect us with nature like a night under the stars at sea. The lapping waves lull you to sleep, blanketed in the spangled skies above. SeaDream Yacht Club lets guests sleep on deck, offering turndown service with a duvet and choice of pillows for its outdoor Balinese Dream Beds. Get starry eyed during an eight-day Caribbean cruise round-trip from Bridgetown, Barbados, on the 110-passenger SeaDream II; ask for the oversize forward bed.
8. DIGITILY DETOX
FaceTime calls and constant e-mails do not a vacation make. The 155-room Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo encourages its guests to unplug, if only for a day, and turn over their cell phones for 24 hours (safely locked away, of course). The resort, in turn, provides a booklet with 24 things to do that don’t require digital technology; salsa dance classes and a sunset catamaran cruise top our list.
9. UPDATE MY LUGGAGE
While world travel can be tough on luggage, today’s hard-side suitcases are up to the challenge.
10. CRUISE WITH A MASTER CHEF
Oceania Cruises brings celebrity chef Jacques Pépin aboard the 1,250-passenger Riviera next summer for a ten-day voyage between Lisbon and Rome. Guests can share in an 80th birthday celebration for Pépin, who will offer cooking demonstrations in Riviera’s Bon Appétit Culinary Center, book signings, and special signature menus throughout the ship, including the first restaurant to bear his name at sea (or land, for that matter).
11. DIVE THE GREAT BARRIER REEF
Stretching some 1,400 miles off northeastern Australia, comprising an area larger than Arizona, and hosting a community of more than 11,000 species, the NESCO designated Great Barrier Reef is truly one of the world’s greatest wonders, as well as one of its most delicate ecosystems. For nearly 10,000 years, coral colonies have joined together here to form the planet’s largest such reef system, yet the ocean’s acidification,along with rising temperatures and other factors, is threatening its future. Devoted to saving fragile marine environments such as the Great Barrier Reef, Jean-Michel Cousteau has partnered with Islands in the Sun to create vacations that reveal his favorite South Pacific dive sites while spotlighting the ocean’s importance to our planet. Four nights in Cairns allow you to explore up to three different reef sites, as well as visit both the Daintree Rainforest and Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park for bush food and didgeridoo demonstrations. A percentage of sales will be donated to Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society.
12. MAKE MY OWN WINE
At the 25-room Hotel Villa del Quar in Verona, Italy, guests can adopt a row of grapes in its surrounding vineyards and assist in pruning, harvesting, or pressing, as well as learn the proper way to store and serve their future yield – 294 custom labeled bottles, the equivalent of a barrel of the estate’s rich seven-varietal blend. This seven-day program for two also features a tasting dinner at Arquade restaurant and a hands on cooking class where you’ll learn to prepare dishes that complement your vino.
13. TAKE BETTER TRAVEL PICS
Invest in products will help you shoot frame-worthy photos in a snap.
14. SOAR OVER THE MASAI MARA
A sunrise hot-air balloon ride adds an ethereal quality to Kenya’s Masai Mara. The vast, glimmering plains below teem with wildlife, all in total silence save the sound of the balloon’s blaze. Micato Safaris offers the experience on a 15-day East Africa journey that has guests meeting with the local Masai people and breaking bread at the home of Micato’s founders.
15. SPEED THROUGH THE AIRPORT
Low-risk travelers can leave their shoes on and long security lines behind at select U.S. airports with TSA PreCheck, an expedited airport screening process for preapproved participants. Details are at www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck. You may be eligible for TSA PreCheck through your frequent flyer program; have your travel advisor check with your airline. Those travelers taking part in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry program can bypass long customs lines as well, by using automated kiosks at select airports for reentry to the U.S. after international flights. The program also provides expedited entry benefits in other countries. For more information, visit www.cbp.gov.