Make 2017 your best year yet with these top travel destinations

Forget New Year’s resolutions involving fitness fads and extreme money saving goals. Why not let the best jazz talent in New Orleans or a luxury Peruvian train enrich your life instead?

If you’re looking for fresh travel ideas, we came up with 6 destinations to kickstart that wanderlust. Whether you globetrott often or are ready to take a first flight out of Australia, start planning now and make 2017 your best year yet!

1. Mérida, Mexico

Donald Trump threw a fair bit of shade at the people of Mexico last year, so we’ve placed vibrant Mérida from the Yucatán peninsula at the top. But not without good reason. We’re expecting to see a full calendar of public events there this year, as it’s the designated American Capital of Culture for 2017, an initiative promoting one city a year in the Americas. Mérida offers something for everyone, whether it’s colonial architecture with Cuban likeness or a bustling foodie scene. Put your walking shoes on to explore the narrow streets and friendly plazas, pork belly taco in hand.

2. Lisbon, Portugal

Want to get off the beaten path in 2017? Journey to the beautifully aged city of Lisbon by the sea. Featuring an array of baroque style and medieval buildings lining cobbled streets, it’s best explored by foot. It’s also a great place for muso’s, with Europeans flocking to the city for its various outdoor music festivals throughout the year like NOS Alive in June. Headline artists for 2017 include Foo Fighters, The Weeknd and Depeche Mode. Will Lisbon be the city you escape to this upcoming Aussie winter?

3. Reykjavík, Iceland

Some destinations were just made for unwinding in. Take the Nordic country of Iceland for instance, which the Global Peace Index dubbed last year as the safest global state. Should we thank those invisible elves in its blue lagoons and ethereal glaciers among Vatnajökull National Park’s mountains? Believe in fairies like the locals or not, Iceland’s wilderness wonderland is magical. Start your adventure at cultural capital city Reykjavík, brushing up on some Viking settlement history along the way. Book flights for February, March, September or October (giving yourself the best chance to see those Northern Lights).

4. New Orleans, US

The music scene is bigger and brighter than ever in New Orleans, capital of Louisiana. See for yourself by going to the New Orleans Jazz Festival in April. Even if you’re not a serious music lover, New Orleans is sure to win you over with its rich melting pot of French, African and American food culture. Plus, there’s plenty of history too, which might call for another read of Huck Finn.

5. Cusco, Peru

Is premium travel your style? Get excited for South America’s first luxury sleeper train coming to Peru in May. Dubbed the “Andean Explorer” by train carrier Belmond, it will give 68 passengers at a time breathtaking views via the summit of La Raya, through to Lake Titicaca and heritage listed city Arequipa. The famous Inca citadel, Machu Pichu is only a short, (separate) train ride away from the city. Give yourself some time to acclimatise while you’re there, as high altitude can take a little getting used to!

6. Seoul, South Korea

Spare room in your 2017 travel itinerary for Seoul’s “Skygarden” set to launch in April, where Avatar meets Bladerunner on an old elevated highway. Think colourful plants and trees sprawling across it to the backdrop of futuristic skyscrapers. Not that you need another reason to visit the metropolis of Asian pop culture in 2017. Who doesn’t want the opportunity to buy unique Korean fashion, visit temples and beautiful gardens unmatched by any other place in the world?

Photo credit: MVRDV

Well that’s a wrap of the top travel destinations to consider visiting in the New Year. But before you leave, don’t forget to pack these 3 essentials...

1. A travel insurance policy perfectly suited to the adventures you’ll have overseas with unlimited medical cover (especially if you’re visiting America where emergency hospital bills could set you back thousands as a tourist). Just make sure you’re not already covered by an existing credit card.

2. Travel money options for overseas ATM withdrawals. For instance, you may want the convenience of cash and card, so consider a prepaid travel card which you can load your Aussie dollars on to, then withdraw funds from an ATM abroad for a small fee (or no fee at all).

3. Your travel-friendly credit card. With low foreign exchange fees and the opportunity to boost rewards points, consider taking this piece of plastic with you on board. Keep in mind, credit cards might have perks but cash advance fees and charges can spoil your budget. That’s why travellers these days draw from a few card options to get the best of both worlds.