Where to go in 2017?

In Israel's Negev Desert, November 2016. Photo by Jane Wooldridge.

In Israel’s Negev Desert, November 2016. Photo by Jane Wooldridge.

Each December / January, travel magazines put our their lists of the year’s best, hottest, most undiscovered (but food-worthy) places to go. I’ve personally written a few of these, so I know that the lists are derived from a variety of inputs, including travel agent bookings, destinations that have recently added flights or facilities, and a general avoidance of world trouble spots.

In this year unlike any other, the trouble spots have yet to be determined. Europe is still suffering from last year’s attacks — not that that would stop me from traveling to France, England, or any place else on the continent, especially while the dollar is strong. But with our foreign policy still unclear, places that we once considered friendly may not be in the coming year.

My view for 2017? Go the places you’ve most longed to go, but leave time and money for unexpected invitations and unforeseen airfare sales.

The first took me on a return last fall to Israel, a place I love more and more each time I visit. Surprisingly good food, spectacular views, and an everyday life where the friendly interactions between Christians, Jews and Muslims give me hope — all are part of my Israel experience.


This year: Uruguay, thanks to interest from travel-savvy friends. We’ll have a few days in Montevideo before moving on to the wine country of Carmelo and historic Colonia. (No Punta del Este for us; hey, I live in Miami!)

And then it’s on to Africa. On our way to a safari (purchased at a charity auction at a budget price), we’ll stop off in Dubai (thanks to a great airfare sale on Emirates in early January) and then to Uganda for gorilla trekking. (While Rwanda usually gets top billing, there technically are more gorillas in Uganda, provided the gorillas have paid attention at the border crossing.)

Courtesy of Bwindi National Park, Uganda

Courtesy of Bwindi National Park, Uganda

On my wish list: Asia — I’m thinking of the Pitcairns — and a polar bear quest in the Arctic.

In my world view, travel is life.

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Tired of 2017 already? Here’s a trip to chase away the demons

bali4seasonsRegardless of your political stance, you may be feeling a bit like Jon Stewart at his recent Stephen Colbert show appearance:  Tired and bedeviled by the pace of 2017.

The island of Bali — one of my personal favorite places, once you get off the tourist track — may have the antidote. On the eve of the Hindu New Year, villages island-wide parade through the streets hoisting giant effigies of mythical monsters. The New Year’s Eve pageantry — this year, March 27 — is meant to draw out the demons. The next day, the island goes silent in an attempt to trick the evil spirits into thinking the place is moribund so they’ll go away.

This bit of news arrived in my in-box this morning courtesy of a press release from a

five-star Balinese resort. I’ve been in Bali during other festivals — including a glorious midnight march up a cliff in moonlight, followed by a mock battle to chase away hostilities. But I’ve never been to Nyepi, as the new year is called. Maybe this should be the year.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Bali Four Seasons Resort at Jimbaran Bay