At the beginning of 2016, I left my job at a travel magazine to strike out on my own as a freelance travel writer. What I didn’t know at the time is where this leap of faith would take me. This year alone, I’ve gone to all seven continents, visiting some of the most remote stretches of the world along the way. From kayaking with orcas in British Columbia to exploring the fast-paced streets of enigmatic Ho Chi Minh City, I laced up my hiking boots and took my notebook and camera out to document the world.
One continuous feeling I sought in each new country was the ability to feel small. Whether glimpsing a remote mountain peak in an area few have traversed or spending an afternoon at an al fresco café in a busy city while quietly enjoying a latte as the horns and patter of feet fill the air, I reveled in the moments where I receded into the background and the destination I inhabited put on an unbeknownst show before me.
As tensions rise around the world, it may feel easier to stay home than venture out. After all, the unknown can be scary. But by exploring the lands that make up our Earth, we’re connecting with cultures and experiencing traditions different from our own, which, in turn, will make us more enlightened global citizens.
In 2017, I urge you to go. You can go alone, with a partner, or with a friend — all that matters is you go. Here, 15 destinations that will make the trip worth your while.