“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”—author H. Jackson Brown Jr., quoting his mother in P.S. I Love You
This sentiment is more than enough motivation to pack a suitcase (or two!) and head out in search of unforgettable vacation experiences. But with a world of options, where should you travel in 2018?
We posed that question to local-to-us travel expert, Darcy Allen of Travel by Darcy, and she answered with five fab spots. Of course, great travel is about where you go, where you stay, and what you wear—so we suggest a what-to-pack pairing for each destination.
This legendary land offers an enchanted mix of energetic cities and bucolic countryside famous for its 40 shades of green. “The Emerald Isle is a gem, any time of year—and it’s home to notoriously nice locals,” says Darcy. “Cities like Dublin offer an urban escape, but renting a car or hopping on a train is a must to really experience Ireland’s rural delights. With so much to see and do here—from touring a fairytale castle to sipping Guinness in a proper pub—stay at least one week to maximize your fun.”
Where to stay: At the Cahernane House Hotel, a peaceful and private manor house, you’re just a stroll away from the center of in Killarney; it’s also your picture-perfect base for exploring the Ring of Kerry.
What to pack: Our flatters-all Bohemian Bishop-Sleeve Blouse is that perfect pairing of chic and casual—just right for just about any occasion, you’ll love how it effortlessly dresses up skinnies and sandals.
2. South Africa
This year-round hot spot boasts an always-warm climate with mostly sunny days and a vibrant culture to match. “South Africa is a travel ‘wow’,” says Darcy. “Its innumerable offerings include wild-life safaris, cosmopolitan cities like Cape Town, toast-worthy wine country, and outdoor pursuits that run the gamut from traditional fun like hiking, surfing, and sky-diving to unique adventures like dune-boarding, canopy tours, and para-gliding. Since it’s a bit of a haul getting here, plan a vacation that lasts at least 10 days.”
Where to stay: Grab that special someone for a rather romantic safari with Madikwe; after a day spent with rhinos and leopards, retreat to Kopano, its intimate lodge with four suites, each with a pool.
What to pack: Secretly comfy, our Gathered Knit Pants cast a modern, slouchy silhouette that’s a flawless partner to a suitcase full of tops (like our sumptuous Alpaca Bell-Sleeve V-Neck Sweater).
Celebrated for its pink-sand beaches and British aplomb, the 21-square-mile island of Bermuda is a semi-tropical paradise located off the coast of North Carolina. “It’s perfect for a weekend getaway or a week-long retreat,” says Darcy. “Despite its small size, you’ll find plenty of activities to experience in and around the surf and, unlike some Caribbean islands, its food and drink options are safe to enjoy without concern. Bonus: Instead of flying to Bermuda, considering cruising there from Boston or New York.”
Where to stay: At the adults-only Cambridge Beaches Resort & Spa, its pampering accommodations are spread out along a 30-acre peninsula, offering terrific ocean or water views from every room and suite.
What to pack: Feel cool and confident in our Retro Ruched-Overlay One-Piece Swimsuit—with romantic detailing and silky, sun-safe fabric, it’s ready to spend time splashing in the surf or lounging by the pool.
4. New Zealand
Winter in North America is summer in New Zealand—which means you could be savoring warm, sunny days right now. And that’s just the start. “Nearly everywhere you turn, there’s a sight that takes your breath away—a mountain of blue ice at Fox Glacier, emerald-colored lakes at Tongariro National Park, black sand beaches along the West Coast,” says Darcy. “Just as impressive is the country’s range of experiences, from a challenging hike to a taste of world-class wine. Whether you join an organized tour or take a self-drive trip, set aside at least two weeks to experience it all.”
Where to stay: Set between dramatic sea cliffs and Hawke’s Bay wine region, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers is a working farm with a stunning lodge, tranquil spa, and truly thrilling golf course.
What to pack: An everyday essential, our Organic Pima Cotton Godet Knit Dress is sporty enough for play (just add sneakers) and refined enough for everything else (just add sandals or wedges); it’s also an ideal backdrop for a statement piece like the Mickey Lynn Labradorite Long Necklace.
Frankly, it’s always the right time to visit Italy. “A perennial must-visit spot, this European country tempts with delightful diversity, from the snow-covered Alps in the north to the sunny shores of Sicily in the south—along with only-here spots like the rolling hills of Tuscany, the watery streets of Venice, and the breath-taking vistas of the Amalfi Coast,” says Darcy. “If this is your first trip to Italy, make sure to visit cities like Rome, Milan, and Florence while also getting a taste of rural life by renting a villa in the country. If you’ve been to Italy before, considering revisiting favorites and trying new areas.”
Where to stay: Live the very good life at Il San Pietro di Positano, a cliffside oasis with stylish rooms and indulgent offerings like a private beach, private yacht, and sprawling gardens supplying two restaurants.
What to pack: Whatever is planned for the day, our Lightweight Draped-Front Long Topper adds easy elegance to any look—without adding bulk to your suitcase; go for an Italian theme with our comfy Florence Ankle-Strap Espadrille Wedges and day-to-dinner Positano Convertible Shoulder Bag.
About that quote cited earlier: some attribute it to Mark Twain, not Mrs. Brown. Whoever said it, the meaning is clear. Experience the world for yourself, and look back in 20 years with relish not regret.
Darcy Allen is an expert travel agent and owner of Travel by Darcy, based in Epping, NH; Darcy can be reached at 603-418-8698 or email@example.com.
Kristyn Lak Miller is a freelance Garnet Hill writer based in Portsmouth, NH.