If you’re plotting your 2017 travels, our top influencers are here to share the picks for the new year. (Photo: Alamy)
As 2016 winds to a close and 2017 glimmers on the horizon, you’re faced with a whole new year full of vacation days and paid time off. How and where you use those glorious weeks of travel is up to you. To help you sift through the globe and seek destinations that satisfy your inner explorer we’ve tapped some of Marriott TRAVELER’S top travel influencers to discover where they loved traveling in 2016 and where they recommend you travel in the coming year.
Megan and Mike Jerrard:
Megan and Mike Jerrard were solo travelers that met and fell in love. Now, they blog about their romantic adventures together at MappingMegan.com. In 2016, Megan and Mike embarked on a romance themed itinerary with Star Alliance and Marriott TRAVELER, traveling to 9 cities over 35 days, including Venice, Singapore, and Panama City.
Top Travel Pick for 2016: Singapore. Singapore is a spectacular city, and we loved it for its sharp and constant contrasts of old and new. Temples and mosques sit in the shadows of skyscrapers, luxury condos back onto the jungle, and wild monkeys roam nature parks and reserves.
Singapore is a melting pot of Asian culture and history, with plenty of modern attractions on offer for urban explorers, as well. It’s clean, it’s green (it’s a city built into a sub tropical jungle after all!), and the weather is fabulous all year round (albeit quite humid). Between city exploration and nature and wildlife experiences, there’s no end to the adventure, and there’s literally something for every-one to do.
Where to Travel in 2017: Antarctica! One of the last untouched destinations on earth, the continent is absolutely pristine. Cruises leave Ushuaia in Argentina, and you will experience spectacular glacial lagoons, dramatic icebergs, and incredible wildlife like breaching whales, penguin colonies, and deep-diving seals.
Make sure you book a cruise which includes land based excursions. International regulations limit the number of people allowed on land at any one time, so large cruise ships with 500 passengers generally offer a “look but do not touch” experience. Booking with a cruise company who limits their passengers to around the 110 mark (we’re going with Chimu Adventures in February 2017) means the opportunity to step out off the boat for hikes through ice fields, kayaking adventures, and camping overnight on the most remote continent in the world!
Taryn Southern is the hilariously inquisitive host of the web talk show “Do Not Disturb,” filmed in a Moxy hotel room. The trending YouTuber and self-proclaimed “Internetainer” who interviews fellow social media stars slumber party-style, says her line of questioning comes from doing her research and seeing what she can get away with. In 2016, Marriott TRAVELER had the chance to interview Southern about her web show, travel buddies, and what she loves in a hotel.
Top Travel Pick for 2016: My favorite travel destination in 2016 had to be Lapland, Finland. Even if you’re not a winter person, the adventures to be had are endless. I skied behind Reindeer, visited Santa at the North Pole, checked out the Northern Lights at an ice hotel, and did sleigh racing behind huskies —and there was still plenty more to do and see before I left. I can’t wait to go back.
Where to Travel in 2017: I think Cuba makes an interesting destination in 2017, as travel regulations have recently loosened and I always find it particularly interesting to travel to places before they’ve become commercialized. If Cuba isn’t an option, I recommend Tokyo. There’s so much to see and do — from the cat cafes in Shinjuku and tiny bars of Golden Gai to the Tsukiji fish market and arcade wonderlands of Akihabara. Tokyo is a wacky adventure with something for everyone.
Mark Wiens is a full-time travel eater based in Bangkok, Thailand. Curious what the job entails? Check out his latest food blogs on Migrationology and watch his food videos on YouTube. Wiens was selected to experience the globe’s best offerings on an around the world trip with Star Alliance and Marriott TRAVELER, visiting nine cities in 39 days, and sharing his top foodie picks for cities like Barcelona, Istanbul and Hong Kong.
Top Travel Pick for 2016: My favorite destination I visited in 2016 was Istanbul, Turkey. What I love so much about Istanbul is that it’s an energetic city abounding in natural beauty, history, culture, delicious food and genuine people. The mix of food and how eating is such a huge part of Turkish culture is what I most enjoyed most about being in Istanbul.
Where to Travel in 2017: Indonesia is a country I would recommend to visit in 2017. From beaches and islands to volcanoes and jungles, plus an abundance of incredibly flavorful food and friendly people, Indonesia is an exciting country to visit with so many options.
Sonia Gil is an entrepreneur and travel vlogger who cofounded the digital language learning program, Fluenz, where she leads the creation of all learning content. She also co-created the video series, Sonia’s Travels. Sonia’s work for Marriott TRAVELER led her to create videos across the United States, from Chicago and New Orleans to Orlando.
Top Travel Pick for 2016: To my surprise, Zurich, Switzerland. Am I allowed to say I loved everything about it?! I guess I wasn’t expecting to love it as much. I went in the summer and I truly enjoyed myself. The city was easy to navigate, the food was delicious, people were incredibly friendly, it is gorgeous, I biked everywhere, I hiked, I bathed in a lake, I sunbathed in a park, I walked and walked and walked. I did the classic museums and cathedrals, I got lost, I found my way. I was a tourist and I loved it.
Where to Travel in 2017: For a mix of urban, grit, beauty, mysticism, and just a happening place to go: Mexico City. You won’t come back rested; you will come back with a whirlwind of emotions, colors, tastes, art, drinks, you name it. To have a chill, summer, Euro vibe, I recommend Menorca. You’ll find incredible bike paths, hikes, and hidden coves with the most transparent water to bathe in. It’s Euro, no frills panache, no doubt. It is stunning but don’t go in August!
Sawyer Hartman gained notoriety — and an adoring audience of 1.7 million YouTube subscribers — when he challenged himself himself to find and tell a new story each day as part of a quest to post a daily video until his 27th birthday. In 2016, Marriott TRAVELER chatted with Hartman after Marriott Rewards helped send him Portland to explore the picturesque Oregon city.
Top Travel Pick for 2016: Out of everywhere I’ve been in 2016, Indonesia was by far the most memorable. The beautiful landscapes and diverse culture are only the tip of the iceberg. It’s the people of Indonesia that made it so extraordinary.
Where to Travel in 2017: I’m just going back to Bali <3