The 10 best holidays for 2019: Holidays that match your New Year travel resolutions

Promises, promises. They're easy to make and simple to break, and only the truly determined make their New Year's resolutions last beyond January. Start thinking about them now, though, and you might have a better chance of success – or at least enjoy the attempt. How? By booking a 2019 holiday that best serves your desire for a new you.

Travel is often thought of as an indulgence, but you can harness its power to effect change and create wellbeing, not least by removing yourself from your normal environment and its myriad temptations. Many things associated with mental and physical wellbeing are an integral part of the travel experience, whether you're walking or chilling out, communing with nature or challenging the mind.

Your resolutions could even be about travel itself. You might want to be more eco-conscious, more active or more adventurous. You could learn a new language or resolve to see Timbuktu. Even daft ideas such as running with the bulls in Spain or following the tequila trail in Mexico can have a positive effect. There's no harm (apart from being gored by a bull) in pushing your boundaries or learning something new.

IN 2019 I WANT TO FIND INNER PEACE

WHERE TO GO

Kumano Mountains, Japan

WHAT TO DO

You can learn things about calmness in a country that values tea ceremonies, and where people turn off their mobile phones on trains and clap their hands in Shinto shrines to discreetly attract the attention of the gods. But you'll be especially tranquil if you take up your staff and hike the Kumano Kodo trail through pine forests and tea plantations south of Osaka. It feels remote and rustic, and is dotted with Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines set against cedar trees and waterfalls.

DON'T MISS

Hot spring water bubbles in the Oto River at Kawayu Onsen. It's a great place to soothe your aching legs after hiking. In winter, it becomes a giant open-air river bath where weekend visitors wallow in steamy comfort.

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MAKE IT HAPPEN

Inside Japan's 14-night Pilgrim's Path self-guided tour visits Kumano Kodo, with stays in temple lodgings and ryokans. Flexible departure dates, from $5494 a person. See insidejapantours.com

IN 2019 I WANT TO LEARN SOMETHING NEW

Vienna, Austria - 28 June, 2017: Schonbrunn Palace. The former imperial summer residence is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
 satsep15germanycruise - Danube river cruise with U by Uniworld - Rob McFarland
CREDIT: Shutterstock

Schonbrunn Palace. The former imperial summer residence is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Photo: Shutterstock

WHERE TO GO

Vienna, Austria

WHAT TO DO

You can join foreign-language, art-history or cookery classes while overseas, but can also follow a do-it-yourself regime of enrichment. If you feel your cultural knowledge needs an upgrade then there are few destinations better than Vienna. The city is crammed with art galleries, world-class museums, composers' homes and Modernist architecture. You can even get an education riding the Vienna Ring Tram, with headphone commentary covering the Ringstrasse's mighty ensemble of architectural styles.

DON'T MISS

Consider an insider tour for extra insight. Secret Vienna covers eclectic topics such as cemeteries and military history, while Shades Tours tackles controversial social issues such as homelessness and immigration. Vienna Greeters links you up with local residents for a free walk and talk. See secretvienna.org shades-tours.com and viennagreeters.com

MAKE IT HAPPEN

Stay at the Jean Nouvel-designed, avant-garde Sofitel Vienna Stephansdom for designer minimalism and fine city views. See so-vienna.com and wien.info

IN 2019 I WANT TO BE MORE ECO-FRIENDLY

WHERE TO GO

Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

WHAT TO DO

If you make this laudable resolution you'll have to reconsider many of your travel arrangements and choose companies with sustainable practices and programs for supporting local communities. World Expeditions has a big eco-focus, and in Nepal operates its Leave No Trace and Litter Collection policies as you hike the Himalayas. You leave villages and rhododendron forests behind and ascend into a backdrop of huge snow peaks above the world's deepest gorge. If the stupendous landscapes don't encourage you to save the planet, nothing will.

DON'T MISS

Following the high Kopra Ridge beneath mighty Annapurna and other mountains along an ancient Buddhist pilgrim trail that leads to Khayer Lake. The panorama of reflected peaks in the deep, still waters is incredible.

MAKE IT HAPPEN

World Expeditions' 16-day Ultimate Annapurna Dhaulagiri tour costs from $3040, with numerous departure dates in 2019. See worldexpeditions.com

IN 2019 I WANT TO GET FIT

sunnov11cover New Year New You ; text by Brian Johnston
SUPPLIED Victoria.Hobbs@banyantree.comBanyan Tree Phuket, Thailand

Banyan Tree Phuket, Thailand Photo: Supplied

WHERE TO GO

Phuket, Thailand

WHAT TO DO

If you want to join the growing trend towards more active holidays there are innumerable ways to flex the muscles and avoid the cream cakes. A beach destination might seem counterintuitive – don't most people just flop and shop? – but Phuket gets you going with wakeboarding, scuba diving, sea kayaking and kitesurfing. Play golf at one of Asia's best courses at Laguna Golf Phuket. Stay at Banyan Tree Phuket Resort, which has tennis courts, daily aqua-aerobics sessions, an entire fitness pavilion, yoga and stretching classes, and a three-kilometre beach for that early-morning jog. Plus staff to hand you a cold towel and face spritzer afterwards.

DON'T MISS

Khao Phra Thaeo National Park is small but preserves untouched rainforest housing boars, barking deer, langurs and monkeys. Challenge yourself on the longest trail, a sweaty four-hour return hike to Bang Pae Waterfall.

MAKE IT HAPPEN

Banyan Tree Phuket Resort has rooms from $670 a night. See banyantree.com

IN 2019 I WANT TO GIVE BACK

WHERE TO GO

Amazon, Peru

WHAT TO DO

If you're after a more meaningful travel experience that helps improve your world, then you're not alone. Volunteer and community-based tourism is on the increase and allows you to get involved in everything from teaching English in India to digging wells in Africa. Leading environmental charity Earth Watch has a multitude of programs in which volunteers work with scientists in the field on research and education. Instead of the standard Amazon river cruise, take one that helps protect the rainforest and conserve endangered river dolphins while also providing strategies that help river communities.

DON'T MISS

You might be working, but you'll have ample opportunity to appreciate the Amazon environment along the Yarapa River, which is alive with caimans, tapirs, macaws, giant river otters and manatees. In fact, you'd better not miss anything – you might be involved in counting animal numbers.

MAKE IT HAPPEN

Earth Watch's 11-day Amazon Riverboat Exploration tour costs from $3250, with three departures in 2019. See earthwatch.org

IN 2019 I WANT TO BE MORE ADVENTUROUS

Three giraffe on Kilimanjaro mount background in National park of Kenya, Africa
 SatOct20cover - First Time - Catherine Marshall
Credit: Shutterstock

Giraffes with Mt Kilimanjaro in the background in National park of Kenya. Photo: Shutterstock

WHERE TO GO

Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

WHAT TO DO

Is 2019 the time to push yourself beyond the usual tourist spots, from which you always seem to return with unwanted things like a beer gut and souvenir snowdome? Then get spelunking in Slovenia, white-water rafting in Peru or camping in the Northern Territory. You'll get special boasting rights if you reach the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, one of the big icons of mountain trekking and Africa's highest peak. G Adventures will help get you to the summit providing you're healthy, have a moderate fitness level and do some pre-departure preparation.

DON'T MISS

There are four pathways to the summit but, if you can, do the Machame route, which is tough but surely the most scenic, winding up through forest and across moorland before skirting under the ice fields of Mount Kilmanjaro's southern slopes.

MAKE IT HAPPEN

G Adventures' seven, eight- or 10-day Mount Kilimanjaro Trek packages cost from $3289, with numerous departure dates in 2019. See gadventures.com.au

IN 2019 I WANT TO FEEL REJUVENATED

WHERE TO GO

Lake Lucerne, Switzerland

WHAT TO DO

In the late 18th century, Romantic writers recognised the mood-boosting effects of snowy peaks and flower-studded meadows. Afterwards, the ailing British aristocracy were packed off to alpine resorts, where they were revived with fresh air and hearty hiking. It still works today, especially around Lake Lucerne, whose scenery is so splendid you'll get well just staring at it. Tackle the 35-kilometre Swiss Path around the lake's southern end, or ascend Mount Pilatus for soul-singing views. A leap into the lake will get your skin tingling, a dip in the mineral baths at Rigi Kaltbad warms you up.

DON'T MISS

The recently opened Burgenstock Resort is a world away from the sanatoria of yesteryear, and offers everything from weight management programs to healthy cooking lessons and cryotherapy. It has one of Switzerland's most expansive wellness centres. See buergenstock.ch

MAKE IT HAPPEN

Burgenstock Resort has rooms from $430 per night. See luzern.com

IN 2019 I WANT TO REWARD MYSELF

satnov3welness wellness bali ; text by Keith Austin
SUPPLIED
pictured: Alila Seminyak

Alila Seminyak. Photo: Supplied

WHERE TO GO

Seminyak, Bali

WHAT TO DO

Had a tough year and just want to escape? Bali still ticks many indulgence boxes without jetlag or huge bills, and has many ways to treat yourself, from shopping sprees to temple sunsets. Alila Seminyak hotel sets you up nicely right on the beach and has five swimming pools, an excellent restaurant, a buzzing beach bar for getting sociable, and a fine spa for chill-out time with a Balinese massage. If you bring friends along, book the private party pool and shake out the old year's blues.

DON'T MISS

You can organise various cultural and other excursions through the hotel concierge, but most fun is the Coasting to Cool trip in a VW Kombi that visits the west coast, stopping along the way at three of Bali's famous beach clubs for cocktails.

MAKE IT HAPPEN

Alila Seminyak Bali has rooms from $407 per night. See alilahotels.com

IN 2019 I WANT TO TAKE MY FIRST CRUISE

WHERE TO GO

The Mediterranean

WHAT TO DO

Girding up your sea loins to finally give cruising a go? If you're a bit uncertain whether you'll enjoy cruising, choose a ship that isn't too big nor small, neither budget nor luxury, very stylish yet unassuming. Viking Cruises will ease you in; all its ocean ships are virtually identical. Sail the Mediterranean, because ports are close together, so you'll get a lot of time on shore enjoying some of Europe's oldest and most culturally rich cities. An Adriatic cruise takes in Venice, Dubrovnik, Corfu, ancient Olympia and Athens.

DON'T MISS

The sail into Kotor in Montenegro along a 30-kilometre sunken valley that resembles a fiord, only warm and sunny. Ships dock close to the fortified, World Heritage old town, which is filled with petite palaces, churches and marble-paved squares.

MAKE IT HAPPEN

Viking Cruises' eight-day Venice, the Adriatic and Greece itinerary costs from $4795 with departures on April 6 and June 27, 2019. See vikingcruises.com.au

IN 2019 I WANT TO GET HEALTHY

WHERE TO GO

Rishikesh, India

WHAT TO DO

The world capital of yoga sits in the Himalayan foothills on the young Ganges River, which makes it healthy and holy. Numerous ashrams feature yoga schools and, though you can attend day classes, a minimum two-week retreat is advised, during which the ban on alcohol and TV alone might be beneficial. If you're new to yoga the gentle, classical yoga classes at Yoga Niketan Ashram are a good start. The more experienced can try renowned yoga centre Parmarth Niketan Ashram. See yoganiketanashram.org and parmarth.com

DON'T MISS

If austere accommodation in ashrams sounds a bit much, take heart. Ananda in the Himalayas just outside Rishikesh is one of Asia's most lauded luxury hotels, where you can get healthy without slumming it. The spa resort has experts in Ayurveda, yoga, fitness, wellness, nutrition and weight and stress management.

MAKE IT HAPPEN

Ananda in the Himalayas has room packages that include introductory wellness programs from $1043 per night. See anandaspa.com

FIVE MORE TRAVEL RESOLUTIONS FOR 2019

I WANT TO TRAVEL BEYOND THE COMFORT ZONE

The world seems like a well-touristed place, but how many of us have been to Georgia, Armenia, Mongolia, Paraguay, Senegal or any number of other interesting places? Maybe 2019 is the year to break out. If you want to experience a reality that starkly contrasts what you see on TV, then visit Iran. You'll find not just some of the world's most hospitable people but a rich culture showcased in the great archaeological site at Persepolis and in beautiful cities such as Esfahan, Shiraz and Yazd. See itto.org

I WANT TO GO SOLO

Solo travellers have long been poorly served and overcharged, but that's changing, and more businesses are offering solo hotel rooms, cruise cabins and tours. Wendy Wu Tours offers itineraries in China, Japan, Vietnam and India designed specifically for solo travellers, such as a 12-day Highlights of Japan tour with three 2019 departures. Look out too for occasional deals where the usual single supplement is waived or reduced. If you're sociable, consider a cruise, where it's easy to fall in with like-minded people, and dining arrangements favour group seating. See wendywutours.com.au

I WANT A DIGITAL DETOX

More and more people are wanting to escape the constant white noise and 24/7 cycle of the digital world. Plenty of resorts are obliging by locking up guests' phones or cutting off internet access. There are many islands, outback locations and remote places where you can escape the buzz. But if you want a top-class, fully-rounded travel destination, consider China. You won't escape office emails, but social-media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, You Tube and Instagram are banned. So is Google. Time to turn your attention to 5000 years of history and culture. See cnto.org.au

I WANT TO CONNECT WITH NATURE

Your resolution shouldn't be hard to realise. Great nature destinations include Costa Rica, Brazil, Canada, Sri Lanka and southern and eastern Africa. Consider a tour with Peregrine Adventures, which has a focus on small groups and encourages responsible travel, including the protection of animal rights and carbon offsets. Tours visit classic nature destinations such as Borneo, the Galapagos Islands and Botswana, but the most awesome experience might be an unnerving but very moving close-up encounter with critically endangered gorillas in the misty bamboo forests of Rwanda's mountains. See peregrineadventures.com

I WANT TO PUSH MY BOUNDARIES

Depending on where your threshold lies, you could tackle anything from bungy-jumping in New Zealand to eating chickens' feet in China or attending the opera in Vienna, which might be a challenge for some. Intrepid Travel offers a number of tours that are physically challenging but not beyond the capabilities of ordinary people, with activities such as kayaking in Vietnam, rafting in Bali and surfing in Costa Rica. A seven-day Morocco holiday includes hiking, mountain biking and horse-riding on the coast and in the High Atlas Mountains. See intrepidtravel.com

HANG THE RESOLUTIONS: LET'S INDULGE

PARTY ON

Put Berlin on your list. The hippest city in Europe buzzes with nightlife and has one of the world's best techno and dance scenes. There are throbbing nightclubs to suit all tastes (plus a few you might not realise exist) and a lively cabaret scene. Beer gardens and funky alternative districts make for great hangouts. See visitberlin.de

BLOW THE BUDGET

It could be your year to hit Scandinavia, the three capitals of which (Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo) are among the world's most expensive cities for travel. Still, you get lovely harbour-fronting old towns, a good dose of Nordic design and Scandi chic, innovative cuisines and handsome people. See explorescandinavia.org

DRINK UP

Portland in Oregon is the place you want to be, given it has 60-odd breweries within the city limits, serving up sample flights of beer – and good regional food as well, if you don't want to fall over too soon. Recently craft cider has also become a thing. The Oregon Brewers Festival in July attracts 70,000 merry drinkers. See travelportland.com

GET FESTIVE

You haven't let it all hang loose until you've been to the annual Burning Man Festival in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, US. The infamous celebration of self-expression, experimental art, dance parties and bonfires has an anything-goes philosophy. It runs August 25 to September 2 in 2019. See burningman.org

TUCK IN

For an ultimate splurge, head to the Krug Room at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, where chefs behind glass prepare a multi-course meal paired with Krug, one of the world's most prestigious champagnes. A mere $1160 gets you 10 courses that includes the likes of venison tartare, scallops, abalone and wagyu beef. See mandarinoriental.com

FIVE TRAVEL RESOLUTIONS WE BROKE IN 2018

REMAINING ZEN IN HOTELS

Oops, didn't work out. It's awful to grumble about luxury hotels, but honestly, we all do. What's with the current fashion for toilets behind see-through glass? Why are pillows so fat you have to sleep semi-recumbent, like Marie Antoinette? As for uber-complicated TV remote controls, who hasn't hurled one out a window?

PACKING LESS

We promise to pack less, and we actually do, yet somehow still end up lugging around unused clothes. Note to self: you aren't going to use your gym wear and, thanks to global warming, don't need a duffel coat and scarf in the European summer any more. And maybe leave out the emergency medical kit next time, it's getting mouldy.

EATING LESS

Well, this resolution lasts from the time we leave our ship's cabin to our arrival at the breakfast buffet three minutes later. It lasts a whole 10 minutes of dithering over a restaurant menu, and then we order three courses anyway. It lasts a nanosecond when tempted by German sausages, Thai curries and more chunks of Gruyere cheese. Sorry.

AVOIDING THE MINI-BAR

It squats in the corner like one of the seven deadly sins. It's ridiculously overpriced – who pays $8 for a thimbleful of Evian water? It contains nothing nutritious, and numerous ingredients that will eventually kill you. But hey, who doesn't enjoy a meal of whiskey and Mars bars with a side of Kettle chips?

NO MORE BOASTING

Big fail. Big. Huge. Hugest fail ever. We all try to be modest human beings, but give us social media and we announce things we'd never bore people with face to face, such as the details of our decaf soy vanilla mocha coffee, or how we're on holiday while you aren't. Or what we've resolved to do in 2019. Just remember, it's now on the record.

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