This is my new favorite question. Before having a job, and obviously, before understanding miles and points, a good year would be a trip to California to see family, a weekend in New York City for the same and maybe accompanying my dad on a business trip (What’s up Tucson, AZ!). Now, the only limiting factor is how much time I can take off work. So, without futher rigamarole, here are my top 7 travel goals for 2014.
1) Japan – Hopefully, SF Republic and I will be able to take a 2 week trip all up and down Japan in late May or early July. Japan is the most delicious country on Earth, in my opinion.
It’s probably the cleanest, too, which makes this really a two-week vacation from smelling the lovely garbage piled high on every street in New York City. The country also has some amazing outdoors options, like the hot springs in Kyushu, ocean diving near Okinawa and bicycle rentals seemingly everywhere in the country. Of course, hiking Mt. Fuji is still one of my dreams. For a different kind of trip, Vice would probably advise a Fukushima sojourn, but I’ll pass on that one. Luckily, the Shinkasen, or bullet trains, run everywhere throughout the country.
I’ll be flying ANA first-class or business-class over and potentially Cathay Pacific through Hong Kong on the way back. Either way, nothing gets me hyped like food and drink on an Asian airline – nothing like champagne and sake to make the flight comfortable! It’s a nice compliment to the complimentary pajamas and slippers they hand out, too.
2) Cooperstown – Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, two 1990s and early 2000s stalwarts from my beloved Atlanta Braves, were just elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. This might be one trip I don’t need to use miles or points for – Cooperstown, a 3 hour drive from New York City, is located on Otsego Lake and nature mixed with AirBnb could be a beautiful 2 days.
3) Santiago, Chile – I’ve been hankering to go to Patagonia for awhile now and Santiago, besides being the modern capital of Chile, is a perfect jumping off point. I also have a friend who will be in Mendoza, Argentina and it’s only a 9,000 Avios flight on LAN to get there. I’m thinking that Christmas and New Year’s will be spent down in South America for a couple reasons. One, it will be a sight warmer down than New York, due to Southern Hemisphere season reversal. Two, New Year’s in New York is unpleasantly crowded. If I could be in Santiago, or better yet, Valparaiso on the beach on New Year’s with old friends, I mean, life wouldn’t be grander.
I’ll be looking forward to staying at the Park Hyatt in Mendoza and the Grand Hyatt in Santiago – both are reputed to be excellent and only 8,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards/Hyatt points a night, since they are both category 2 Hyatt hotels.
4) Puerto Rico – I work with a lot of Boriquas and they aren’t stupid; they vacation where it’s temperate most of the year, the beaches are plentiful and beautiful and the food is tasty. In other words, they go to Puerto Rico, where I don’t even need to bring my passport, since Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory!
Additionally, it’s only a 4 hour flight from New York, meaning an early mornng Friday flight equals el paraiso by noon. Even this fair-skinned author couldn’t turn down a sunny 3-day weekend at, say, the El Conquistador by Waldorf-Astoria. Now, where did I put my free Hilton weekend night certificates??
5) New Orleans – I haven’t been to New Orleans since I was 11 or so and I had a great time with my family. From seeing the Garden District and riding cable cars to eating beignets and seeing the beautiful architecture evident in most of the city’s quarters, New Orleans seemed to be a vibrant pastiche of the best of what culture can achieve.
Now, being a bit older and from reading tales about the city in books and magazines, hearing friend’s reports on Mardi Gras, and seeing Bourdain wax poetic about the food on television, I think the city is ripe for another trip, although probably not with the rest of my family. I’ll leave it at that.
6) Charleston – I cannot brag enough about the gastronomic success that is Charleston – the city has high-quality restaurants bursting out of the peninsula. From nationally acclaimed restaurants like Husk and Hall’s Chophouse to local (and my) favorites like goat.sheep.cow, Bull Street Gourmet & Market, Five Loaves, Hominy Grill, Cru Cafe; it’s utterly and ridiculously delicious.
Even the stripmalls have excellent cuisine – I found Three Little Birds killer shrimp’n’grits scramble while I waited for my sister to get the tires on her car rotated. Throw in happy hours that last until 7 on Fridays and Saturdays (half-price sushi rolls and drinks at O-Ku and $1 oysters and $3 champagne at Pearlz) and a hopping King St. scene with drinking establishments that wouldn’t look out of place in the West Village, but with much lower prices, and you have a hell of a place to spend 3-4 days.
I almost forget – there’s also the beach.
7) Fallingwater – Frank Lloyd Wright built a house over a waterfall. That entence alone is good enough for me and, hopefully, you too!
So why only 7 goals and not, for instance, 10? I’m leaving the last 3 slots open for recommendations, and honestly, if I achieve all 7, that’s another titantic travel year. Plus, Paris and Hawaii aren’t going anywhere.
I’m always willing to listen to a good travel story, so if you have a recommendation, leave a comment below or tweet me at @TheWindowSuite!