Archives for category: Travel
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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Fletcher Cove in Solana Beach, California
Solana Beach, California

Maybe you’ve noticed, but I think it’s safe to say that the concept of wellness and its expanded definition in modern times (as a verb, and more broadly and perhaps more recently, a social construct) has gone mainstream, beyond spa services and retreats. We now live in an age where wellness, also known as self-care, can mean everything from yoga, to the latest plant-derived face mask, meditation to dedicated no-tech time. Though wellness isn’t anything new—the commercialization of it is. According to one citing, the Global Wellness Institute traces wellness back to ancient civilizations, where traditions and rituals were just… part of life.

For all that today’s wellness opportunities offers, my version of wellness tends to fall into quiet, intimate moments; mostly surrounded by nature and my favorite humans. And I think that’s the point; to sift through the barrage of options and find what works for you. And in San Diego’s northern regions (and my home base), for example, there are numerous opportunities to define what wellness might mean for you. That said, call me a typical Millennial if you want, but I am one of those people drawn to seamless, approachable experiences like the ones I’ve highlighted below. Bonus points for personalization. I’ll plan to update my picks as I discover them, but for now, these are my go-to wellness activities in North County, San Diego.

My Wellness Picks in North County, San Diego

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Waiheke Island, Aotearoa (New Zealand)
Waiheke Island, Aotearoa (New Zealand)

Weekend Reads is a weekly-ish series of new and old articles I’ve enjoyed reading around the web about travel, food, and wellness. For more brain snacks, read past Weekend Reads posts.

Raise your hand if you’ve recently traveled to Iceland, Lisbon, or Barcelona. What did you think? If you thought you could use a little more elbow room, you are… definitely not alone. According to travel experts, travel today is more affordable, more accessible. So much so that the travel industry coined a new term: Overtourism. And that’s been on my mind since I’ve dropped in on some of the coolest cities in the world over the years.

Auckland, New Zealand
Auckland, New Zealand

I grew up in Kauai, Hawaii––it’s gorgeous, of course. It’s also a place that relies almost exclusively on tourism. In 2017, a local tourism official told The Garden Island, “With the demise of the sugar industry many years ago, tourism has grown into the top economic driver for the island of Kauai.” I don’t live in Kauai anymore, but anecdotally, friends and family members who still live in the Aloha State tell me traffic, trails, and beaches gets worse every year. Part of that is due to a year over year increase in visitors to Hawaii, according to a report released in January.

That said, as I reflect on the impact I’ve knowingly and unknowingly had during my travels, I am increasingly interested in how destinations will manage the influx of visitors so that, ideally, tourists (like me, and you) have the opportunity to enjoy all of the reasons that motivate us to experience something new and different––without burdening the local way of life.

For example, this Conde Nast Traveler article rounds up the top 15 destinations grappling with overtourism (including Amsterdam and Boracay, in the Philippines.) It also offers suggestions for being a more mindful traveler, like visiting during shoulder season. Similarly, one writer for New Zealand-based newspaper Stuff highlights a handful of under-the-radar spots to consider, including Indonesian islands that aren’t Bali.

For example, this Conde Nast Traveler article rounds up the top 15 destinations grappling with overtourism (including Amsterdam and Boracay, in the Philippines.) It also offers suggestions for being a more mindful traveler, like visiting during shoulder season. Similarly, one writer for New Zealand-based newspaper Stuff highlights a handful of under-the-radar spots to consider, including Indonesian islands that aren’t Bali.

Photogenic destinations like Bali are all over Instagram, and it’s this kind of social media attention that’s been drawing visitors, and catching these places off-guard. Instagram is a powerful marketing tool, though for some, it’s worked too well. Take this National Geographic article about how social media is changing travel. “People engage with Instagram 10 times more than with Facebook, which is why an estimated 48.8 percent of brands in the United States are on Instagram,” the article reports.

In response, Bali and other heavily trafficked cities like Barcelona are experimenting with tourist taxes to manage overtourism’s effects, and according to a Quartzy article, slow the role of certain––meaning lower spending––visitors. For example, Quartzy explains, “Bali—which has seen a huge uptick in visitors since it starred in Elizabeth Gilbert’s 2006 travel memoir Eat Pray Love—is one of the destinations mulling a tax. The roughly $10 fee will be used to preserve the environment and Balinese culture, which has been overrun with yoga retreats and acai bowl cafes.”

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