My day job masquerading as a knowledgeable travel hack has taught me that a lot of you will be booking holidays this month, or at least musing the notion while flicking through glossy aspirational travel mags about exotic locations most of us can barely spell. With this wanderlust in mind, here are my hotly tipped destinations you should think about hitting the clouds for in 2014:
1. Yes, you CAN-ada (groan) – Canada is topping basically every hotlist for 2014, in the Irish press at least, and rightly so. 2014 sees Aer Lingus debut their direct Dub-Toronto route and also sees a route from the capital to St John’s in Newfoundland with Westjet. I’ve been to cosmopolitan Toronto before and would definitely go back but for 2014 I’d love to tick a few more Canadian places off the travel hitlist, notably Montreal, St John’s and Vancouver. Ok anywhere Canadian and I’m in.
Book: Canadian Affair’s current sale means you can fly from Dublin to Montreal or Toronto and make super-savings on your trip. This spring sale snips euros off a dolly mix of holiday options, including city breaks, fly-drives, Celebrity Cruises and plain old flights. For example, a 3-night Toronto city break from just €555 per person. Go to www.canadianaffair.ie to book.
2. Cop a load of Croatia – Have you ever seen a travel pic of Croatia that wasn’t so drop dead gorgeous you suspect the handiwork of Photoshop? I haven’t. From the azure waters (travel writer cliché klaxon) to the old walled city of Dubrovnik to the secluded beaches, Croatia is a pretty tempting holiday destination any year. Add to that I’ve heard it’s dirt cheap and it wins my vote for European summer break. Excitingly, Aer Lingus has kickstarted a brandspankingnew route to Pula so even if you’ve been to the usual Croatian tourist hotspots, you can sample something new in the Istrian Riviera.
Book: ClickAndGo has 7 nights in the Istrian Riviera from €419 per person. Price includes 7 nights at the 3 star Miramar Hotel in Rabac, flights with Aer Lingus departing Dublin 19th or 26th April and all taxes & charges. Go to www.clickandgo.com to book.
3. Iceland– Ok, I’m not sure if Iceland really is a hot spot for 2014 but I really, really want to go (send me, someone, send me!) so I’m sure at least one of you does too. What’s so enticing about Iceland? Well, geysers and volcanoes aside, the locals are regularly voted happiest in the world and it seems so cool and unlike anywhere else I instantly want to see it for myself. Plus: BJORK.
Book: Travel Department have plenty of tours and trips to Iceland including Norway and Wonders of Iceland from €1199 for 6 nights. Or you can just do Iceland for 3 nights from €649 for departures in April. Go to www.traveldepartment.ie and search for ‘Iceland’.
4. If you’re going to San Francisco…Flowers in your hair may be optional in the San Fran of 2014 but the former hippie centre is red hot for 2014 for Irish USA-obsessives. Aer Lingus will be flying direct to the hip city from April. Think cycling across the Golden Gate Bridge, Haight Ashbury, that big long street in Bullitt, and all sorts of Californian awesomeness. If I could pick just one place to visit in 2014, San Fran you are The One. (I also want to visit Washington DC, Seattle, NYC again, New Orleans, Texas, the list goes on.. there is not enough room on the internet for me to talk about how much I want to visit America).
5. Viet-fucking-nam!* – (*sorry – Lt. Dan made me do it) Vietnam has never really captured my imagination – until now. Over the festive period I saw a friend’s photos online of his Vietnamese adventures and I couldn’t get enough of the place. From the hustle and bustle of millions of cyclists coming at you in Hanoi to the quiet, exotic beauty of the south – Vietnam feels like one-of-a-kind. If you’re bored of Thai delights but want to see more of Asia, my money’s on Vietnam.
Book: I came across two interesting offers for Vietnam recently, depending on what your travel needs are. Contiki, who offer (crazy) group holidays for 18-35s, have a whirlwind tour of Vietnam’s highlights from just €999 (tour only). If you don’t fancy the group travel experience or you’re on the wrong side of 18-35, GoHop has it sorted. For €2,430pp you get accommodation, meals, taxes and entrance fees. Flights aren’t included but you do get to experience Hanoi, beautiful Hoa Lua, an overnight cruise on Halong Bay and Mekong Bay and much more – all with the added luxury factor. See www.gohop.ie for more.
FINALLY…I can’t leave good ol’ Ireland out, can I? I will basically go anywhere in Ireland but for 2014 I’m making it my mission to visit Kilkenny, a city I’ve shamefully never been to. The boutique Pembroke Hotel has cool packages from €75pp which add in little extras like discounts in local boutiques, yummy cocktails and even yummier chocolates. Go www.pembrokekilkenny.com for the latest deals.
Follow me on Instagram for the latest travel photos @TheOtherLisaMarie