If 2017 was all about gorgeous landscapes, bucket list trips, the world’s best beaches and traveling closer to home, 2018 is all about thinking outside the box for a great escape. The world is officially rethinking luxury travel, with people looking to explore the world now more than ever. Leave your presumptions about certain parts of the world at home and get your passports ready–these are the 18 top places to travel in 2018.
Why to go: Tucked neatly into a sliver of lake-riddled landscape in southeastern Africa, the lush vistas of Malawi make for a truly exceptional travel experience. Further off the beaten path than the now well-traveled South Africa or Morocco, Black Tomato co-founder Tom Marchant describes the private, less touristy atmosphere of Malawi as “akin to being let in on one of the continent’s best-kept secrets.” He adds, “There’s just something so spellbinding about Malawi. In a world where change is inevitable, it remains remarkably untouched. Underlined by an infectious warmth, Malawi never fails to astound; it’s unlike any other African nation.”
What to do: If you find yourself struggling to choose between snorkeling among the glittering marine life of Lake Malawi (it’s home to one of the continent’s few freshwater aquatic parks), the draw of a true safari experience among the abundant antelope, hippos, and zebras of Liwonde National Park(we like the Mvuu Camp lodges, nestled right inside of the park), or viewing the historical treasures in the Museum of Malawi in Blantyre, worry not; the compact nature of the country makes traveling between these must-see locales a breeze. “Malawi’s allure comes from its juxtaposition of simplicity with diversity: the stark terrain of the Great Rift Valley runs into the sun-dappled waters of Lake Malawi and mists swirl over the Zomba Plateau,” Marchant explains. “Here, you can hike through grasslands one day, stroll along pristine beaches another and roam with herds of elephants the next.”
Pro tip: Malawi experiences its highest heat and heaviest rainfall from November to April. For cooler, drier (but still beach-friendly) weather, plan your stay to hit the sweet spot between May and October, when the hemisphere is in the middle of its winter.