Archives for category: Best of
Lisbon, Portugal, 2016

If a decade of travel has taught me anything, it’s that change is the only guarantee we can really count on. Destinations evolve, technology advances, motivations to move or root down rise and settle like the tide. And after ten years, the evolution of how and why I travel has also shifted (to note: I’ve loosened my grip—a lot—on trying to control everything), and I imagine it will continue to do so in the future. As someone who has had enough means and opportunity to traverse the globe for both work and play, below are ten lessons I’ve learned from a decade in travel, with a heavy dollop of nostalgia, ahead of 2020:

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Sometimes, it’s less about where you’re going than who you’re with. Unless you really got to pee, then it’s all about that bathroom. Melina, Shannon, this one’s for you—Merry Christmas and cheers to 2020!

Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California

By the time we groaned across the border into San Diego, a welcome stretch of U.S. highway open in front of us like a first spring bloom, it was 5 p.m. At 9 a.m. one hot summer Sunday in Tijuana, our 4Runner pulled into a line leading up to U.S. border control that snaked around street corners and across bridges. And then we stopped, completely. We were optimistic, naive rather—maybe we’ll have time to squeeze in brunch before some of us continued north, we thought. After eight hours, interminable stops and starts, time wore us down, but not enough to wipe away weekend memories created just days before. While we waited, and waited, we dipped into this fresh well of memories from a long weekend in Baja California—the eponymous state and peninsula that slices through the Pacific and Gulf of California—to sustain us.


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Ligaya Malones floating in pool at The Saguaro Hotel in Palm Springs, California
Staycation vibes in Palm Springs, California (photo: Alina Mendoza)

When it comes to vacation planning, there is nothing like the attractive power of a best places to visit list. You know the ones: lists like New York Times’ annual 52 Places to Go, Travel+Leisure’s 50 Best Places to Travel, Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel List and the like. For readers, these lists offers a curated snapshot into the trendiest destinations and a learning opportunity to discover the towns, cities and countries worth traveling for. They can be valuable travel planning tools, even for a travel writer like me, who finds herself in a new destination every month (see: Nashville in January, the Central Coast in April, North Carolina in May.) I enjoy skimming through best-of travel lists; I’ve always discovered several new-to-me destinations every year one of these lists publishes. I’ve also been curious about the process of putting together one of these lists, and more broadly, how does a lesser-known destination jump from obscurity to destination darling? Let’s take a look.

How Does a Destination Make a Best of Travel List?

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