As 2017 comes to a close, 2018 stretches out ahead of us, with 365 days of potential and possibility. My suggestion? Fill in some of those days with unforgettable vacations. Whether it’s a far-flung escape with friends, a close-to-home weekend getaway with someone special, or a memory-making adventure just about anywhere with your kids or grandkids, a well-planned, personalized vacation is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
In 2018, imagine finding a favorite new wine in South Africa—or New Zealand . . . being as active, or as chill, as you desire in Hawaii . . . strolling along Bermuda’s famous pink sand beaches . . .
These are just a few of the (many) experiences waiting for you in the (many) destinations around the world. Rather than feeling overwhelmed, defaulting to your same-old travel haunts, or crossing your fingers that the information you find on-line is accurate, entrust your planning to Travel by Darcy.
I’ve spent my life traveling the world, and my passion is matching people with their ideal vacations. Here, I help narrow down your where-to-go list to just those places that are prime for a first visit, or revisit, in 2018. Of course, this list represents just a taste of what’s out there; once I get to know your travel style and budget, I can recommend a destination that’s just-right for you.
The Emerald Isle is a gem of a destination, any time of year, especially if you’re looking to experience a blend of boisterous cities and bucolic countryside. A self-drive adventure is one of the best, most personal ways to explore the country (but between us, expect to take several wrong turns along the way, as road signs in Ireland are notoriously confusing . . . consider getting lost part of the adventure!). With so much to see and do here—from touring a fairytale castle to sipping Guinness in a proper pub—plan on a minimum duration of 10 days to maximize the fun, and plan on expert guidance from me to make sure you don’t miss a thing!
A travel “wow”, South Africa is one of those everything’s-here destinations. Famous for its sunny days, vibrant culture, and always-warm climate, this year-round hot spot is a must for birding and big-game enthusiasts, city slickers, oenophiles, and adrenaline junkies (and those who are a bit of each) with offerings like wild-life safaris, cosmopolitan cities like Cape Town, toast-worthy wine country, and outdoor pursuits that run the gamut from traditional (hiking, surfing, and sky-diving) to unique (dune-boarding, canopy tours, and para-gliding). Since it’s a bit of a haul getting here, consider a 10-day stay to be the minimum; depending on your travel style, I can match you with a travel group or I can completely customize your trip.
A perennial favorite, this European country tempts with delightful diversity, from the snow-covered Alps in the north to the sunny shores of Sicily in the south—along with only-here spots like the rolling hills of Tuscany, the watery streets of Venice, and the breath-taking vistas of the Amalfi Coast. If this is your first trip to Italy, make sure to visit cities like Rome, Milan, and Florence while also getting a taste of rural life by renting a villa in the country; if you’ve been to Italy before, considering revisiting favorites and trying new areas (I have insight on some places you may not yet know about). Note: Now is the time to book a trip to Italy for summer 2018, so start planning today.
A mere 600 miles off the coast of North Carolina, the 21-square-mile island of Bermuda is a semi-tropical paradise with British flair and famously pink-sand beaches—it’s a perfect destination for a weekend getaway or a week-long retreat. Despite its small size, you’ll find a plethora of boutique hotels, full-service resorts, and luxury condo properties on the island (though all-inclusive accommodations are not an option)—trust me to recommend one that meets all your needs. There are also plenty of activities to experience in and around the surf and, unlike some Caribbean islands, its food and drink options are safe to enjoy without concern. For those seeking a Zika-Free tropical escape, Bermuda should be at the top of your list. Bonus: Instead of flying to Bermuda, considering cruising there from Boston or New York—of course, I can tell you how.
Just about everywhere you turn here, there’s a sight that takes your breath away—a mountain of blue ice at Fox Glacier, emerald-colored lakes at Tongariro National Park, black sand beaches along the West Coast. Just as impressive? The country’s range of experiences, from outdoor adventures like thermal mud baths and hiking to getting a literal taste of its world-class wine country. New Zealand’s summer is North America’s winter, and their peak travel season is December through March; the crowds may have descended, but the weather is so perfect, you won’t mind. Whether you join an organized tour or take a self-drive trip (and I can help you decide which is best for you!), make sure you set aside at least two weeks to experience New Zealand.
A beautiful beach that seems to stretch on to infinity. A lush jungle lit by dappled sunlight. A golf course with unfairly distracting Pacific views. A once-in-a-lifetime meal in Oahu. Welcome to Hawaii. This year-round, tropical destination is comprised of eight major islands, and each one offers its own personality (from vibrant to almost sleepy) along with a unique selection of accommodations (from boutique hotels and full-service resorts to self-catering condos). Together, we’ll narrow down the options and match you with your ideal Hawaiian escape—whichever island or islands you choose, expect to relax and recharge with all sorts of natural pursuits, from snorkeling above a school of rainbow-colored fish to hiking lush tropical rain forests to stargazing with your feet nestled in the still-warm sand. For those seeking a Zika-Free tropical escape, Hawaii should be at the top of your list.
This Eastern Caribbean island is a top pick for 2018 for the same reason it made my 2017 list: it’s simply perfect for families, friends, and couples. St. Lucia offers plenty of activities in the mountains (rainforests, waterfalls, and the dramatically tapered Pitons which define the island) and the beach (sleeping fishing villages, world-class diving sites, and volcanic beaches); it also has a wide range of resort and condo options. In other words, once I get to know what you want from a Caribbean island vacation, I can most likely make all your wishes come true on St. Lucia.
Many travelers think cruising means taking a ride on a massive ship that’s more of a floating city. There’s something to be said for size and diversity, but I encourage you to consider a different type of cruising: a river cruise along the waterways of Europe. You’ll absolutely love the intimate boat size, slow pace, and interactions with locals. Especially hot right now are cruises along the Danube with Viking River Cruises and the new “U” by Uniworld, known for adventure for social-minded 21-45 year old travelers—but trust me when I tell you that there are cruises out there that are just right for couples, families, friends, everyone, and I can match you with the cruise line, ship, and itinerary that’s best for you. Some cruises book up to a year in advance, so if you’re thinking of taking the plunge this year, get in touch with me soon.
Whether you’re looking for adventure or R&R (or a bit of both!) in the year ahead, let me match you with your just-right vacation. I look forward to hearing from you!
P.S. You’re not a travel agent, so stop acting like one. Trying to plan a perfect trip with the information you find on-line is risky at best. Get in touch with me, and enjoy the absolute pleasure of having a travel professional ask the right questions and match you with your ideal experiences—as an added bonus, I’ll help you save time and money. Together, we’ll plan one once-in-a-lifetime trip after another.