Traveller writers name their dream destinations and travel resolutions for 2016

Traveller's regular writers and stalwart columnists, with millions of annual air miles between them, know a thing or two about what's hot and what's not in travel this year. Here are their tips and recommendations about what to see and what to avoid. Introduction by Brian Johnston.

Fanning out the tarot cards of tourism and peering into what this year might hold is a tricky task. Travellers, like zebras on the Serengeti, are easily spooked by the lurking lion's grin of negative news coverage, bomb threats, viruses and natural disasters. Fuel prices and wobbling exchange rates also conspire to alter our travel plans.

What do travel writers know anyway? In 2009, I tipped Syria as an exciting, up-and-coming tourist destination, and look how that turned out. Over the years other suggested hotspots haven't exactly become household names in Australia, such as Guimaraes in Portugal (2012) and Shanxi Province in China (2013). Oh well.

But overall, things haven't panned out too badly when it comes to predictions over the years: Istanbul, Laos, Croatia, Brazil, Marseilles and Botswana are among destinations that have all come good.

On the whole, Traveller's regular writers and stalwart columnists, with millions of annual air miles between them, ought to know a thing or two about what's hot and what's not in travel this year. Week on week they demonstrate that the world is still crammed with marvellous destinations worthy of exploration and enjoyment.

So here we are on the hotplate again, being grilled about what we like in travel, what we'd like to change and – most boldly of all – what destinations might be trending this year. Come with us and find yourself having fun on the beaten track, getting lost beyond it, discovering the latest hipster hangout or revisiting an old classic revitalised.

Enjoy the ride, which we hope you'll find useful and inspirational. And enjoy your travels this year: the world remains a beautiful and friendly place, and the open road as inviting as ever.


Columnist and feature writer


THIS YEAR I WANT TO GO TO a few of the 'Stans – old Silk Road countries such as Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.


THIS YEAR I AM GOING TO Africa. In August my girlfriend and I will spend a month driving around Botswana, Namibia and South Africa in a ute with a tent on the roof. For me it's a dream journey. For her – well, hopefully we don't get eaten by lions.

THIS YEAR I WANT TO REVISIT Japan. I am perpetually in the midst of planning a trip back to Japan. It's a country that I'll never tire of visiting. I go to eat, to drink, to shop, to explore, and to stare. And I'll be doing it all again in April. See

THE ONE THING I'M EXCITED ABOUT TRAVEL IN 2016 IS how the constant rise and evolution of the sharing economy is changing the way people travel, for the better. It's not just accommodation options such as Airbnb either. In 2016 you'll be able to share people's cars, boats, or even a meal at their house.

See: The 15 coolest properties on Airbnb

THE TRAVEL TREND FROM 2015 I DON'T WANT TO SEE AGAIN IN 2016 IS the amount of hand luggage some travellers attempt to get onboard a plane. It's ridiculous. Follow the rules, and everyone will have enough space in the overhead lockers.

See: The absurd ways travellers try to avoid luggage fees

MY BIG TRAVEL TIP FOR 2016 IS to slow down. Resist the temptation to pack as many places into your travels as possible and just get to know one or two destinations. Spend time there. Meet people. Wander aimlessly. Dig deeper. It's the best way to travel.

More by Ben Groundwater


Columnist and feature writer


THIS YEAR I WANT TO GO TO the Altai Republic in Central Asia, where China, Mongolia, Russia and Kazakhstan rub shoulders (the name "altai" means golden mountain, named for the larch trees that turn chromium yellow when autumn's chill fingers claw the mountainsides). An outpost of the Russian empire and one of the wellsprings of Turkic culture, the Altai region offers cloud-piercing mountains that soar to 5400 metres, 7000 lakes, shamans, steppe nomads who still hunt with eagles from horseback and a population that rates throat singing as a popular pastime. Trekking in unmolested mountains, horse safaris and white water rafting in charging, glacier-fed rivers are the main activities for visitors. See

THIS YEAR I AM GOING TO Lake Como in Italy. I'm planning to rent an apartment with my wife with hopefully, intermittent visits from my daughters, and spend a month marinating myself in the glories of summer in a delicious part of Italy. See

See: George Clooney's home village on Lake Como

THIS YEAR I WANT TO REVISIT Banda Neira. A sleepy, castaway island in a remote part of the Indonesian Archipelago and the original home of nutmeg. A colonial outpost of the Portuguese and the Dutch, there's a bulldog of a fortress and a handful of Dutch colonial buildings along the waterfront, dusty shops that specialise in pearls and leftover antiques from the Dutch East India days and just across the channel, a volcano that occasionally awakes to spurt fire and brimstone. Under Dutch rule Banda Neira acquired a heart-rending history, told in the saddest dance you'll ever see. See

See: How long can Banda Neira stay off the tourist radar?

THE ONE THING I'M EXCITED ABOUT TRAVEL IN 2016 is the home dining phenomenon. Websites such as Cookening, Traveling Spoon, Eat With Locals and Feastly make it possible to have a home-cooked meal in places where the real gastro stars are dishing up meals in family kitchens rather than in restaurants and hotels. See;;;

THE TRAVEL TREND I DON'T WANT TO SEE AGAIN IN 2016 IS resort fees. This is a fee you pay to cover such amenities as gym use, internet, daily newspaper and the pool. It's not voluntary – even if you aren't using those amenities – it might not be revealed until you show up at the check-in desk and it's gone viral in the US.

More by Michael Gebicki


Columnist and feature writer

KILOMETRES TRAVELLED IN 2015 20,000 (a quiet year!)

THIS YEAR I WANT TO GO on a creative retreat. But which one to choose? Casa Ana in the Sierra Nevadas of southern Spain, La Muse in France, Varuna in the Blue Mountains, NSW, or just a private booking somewhere atmospheric and inspiring? My MacBook and I might even just colonise a hammock under a palm tree in Fiji. But in 2016, I will stop for a week or so, and do some creative writing just for me. See;;

THIS YEAR I AM GOING TO Rome. It's my spirit city. There's always something being renovated or restored in the ancient capital, but I want to see the Trevi Fountain all glammed up thanks to a restoration funded by Fendi. I want to see the bits of the Colosseum that have been refreshed and make my own mind up whether that is a good or bad thing. It's also a holy jubilee year with lots of celebration and catholic pomp afoot. And I love a bit of pomp. See

See: 20 great reasons to visit Rome

THIS YEAR I WANT TO REVISIT Paris. Because I can never get enough of her and because she needs us. See

See: 32 reasons you should still visit Paris

THE ONE THING I'M EXCITED ABOUT TRAVEL IN 2016 IS quick getaways in Australia. Falling Australian dollar or not, we live in a glorious, diversely beautiful country. From a Saturday day trip to a corner of your city you've never visited before, to the big outback odyssey, make 2016 the year to do more local travel.

THE TRAVEL TREND I DON'T WANT TO SEE AGAIN IN 2016 IS western hospitality ideas transplanted holus bolus into an exotic setting. (I'm looking at you, Bali.) Of course, popular destinations deserve their own great dining and drinking venues. But if they're identical to offerings on Melbourne's Chapel Street Windsor, or in Sydney's Surry Hills, something's awry. A little cultural connection goes a long way.

More by Julietta Jameson


Features writer


THIS YEAR I WANT TO GO TO Sri Lanka. It's more than a decade since I visited the tear-shaped island, a month before the devastating 2014 tsunami. I want to explore the historic fort town of Galle, shop for exquisite saris and striking jewellery crafted by local designers and enjoy G&Ts on the wide enclosed verandah of the Galle Fort Hotel. See;

See: The hidden jewels of Sri Lanka

THIS YEAR I AM GOING TO Nihiwatu, a resort on Sumba Island, one of Indonesia's least explored islands. I'm a Bali tragic and visit at least a few times a year, so I'm looking forward to going beyond the well-worn tourist trail. I want to explore the rugged landscape on horseback, meet the locals from traditional villages and see Nihiwatu's legendary surf break which allows just 10 surfers at a time. See

THIS YEAR I WANT TO REVISIT Halcyon House, Cabarita Beach, NSW. I was a fan of the Tweed Coast long before the Bickle sisters (of Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, nightclub and restaurant fame) sprinkled their magic over the former '60s beachfront motel. Now this lovely stretch of coast has a chic boutique hotel worthy of this pristine coastline with its crisp blue and white decor, Amalfi Coast guesthouse feel and in-house restaurant, Paper Daisy. See

See: Traveller's review of Halcyon House

THE ONE THING I'M EXCITED ABOUT TRAVEL IN 2016 IS the move by luxury hotel brands into expedition ships and private jet tours. Alila, Aman, Four Seasons and the Datai have all launched their first cruises and private jets, bringing the hotel experience to sea and air. See;;;

See: Touring the world's iconic sites by private jet

THE TRAVEL TREND I DON'T WANT TO SEE AGAIN IN 2016 IS travellers documenting their trip, moment by excruciating moment, on social media. I love following others journeys on Instagram and Facebook, but our inability to live in the moment is disheartening. We've become obsessed with seeking approval for the experience, rather than enjoying the experience itself. We'd rather interact with a screen than with the local people and cultures we've come to see. I'm afraid it's a losing battle.

See: Why travellers need to ditch social media

MY BIG TRAVEL TIP FOR 2016 IS to use to research the quickest, most direct way to get somewhere. lists all scheduled flights on a particular date (direct ones listed first), as well as bus, train and ferry timetables. I was introduced to this website earlier this year and use it constantly.

More by Sheriden Rhodes


Features writer


THIS YEAR I WANT TO GO TO West Africa. It has been top of my list for ages, and I might have made it there last year were it not for the Ebola epidemic. Some of my dream destinations remain off-limits – after the recent hotel attack in Mali, I won't be heading there any time soon – but that still leaves me plenty to explore. Gabon has beaches, gorillas, and a depth of biological diversity that can only exist in a country where 85 per cent of the land is tropical forest. Then there is Gambia, with its rich tribal traditions, and Ghana, with its vibrant culture and poignant history – and that's just the Gs!

THIS YEAR I AM GOING TO Indonesia. Given that it is one of our closest neighbours, surprisingly few Australians ever venture beyond Bali. Across its more than 17,000 islands, Indonesia has plenty of destinations to choose from, including eight World Heritage sites: among them, the Sumatran rainforest and the world's largest Buddhist temple, Borobudur. I'm particularly looking forward to exploring the tribal cultures of Sulawesi and the stellar diving in Raja Ampat.

See: Better than Bali: The Indonesian islands tourists don't know about

THIS YEAR I WANT TO REVISIT Japan. Thousand-year-old cedar trees in Kirishima-Yaku National Park. Hiking between Edo-era towns in the Kiso Valley. Modern architecture in Fukuoka. My Japanese must-see list gets longer with each return visit. From rugged Hokkaido to subtropical Kyushu, from cherry blossom springs to snow-covered winters, each island and each season has its own charms.

See: Visit Tokyo's biggest attraction while you still can

THE ONE THING I'M EXCITED ABOUT TRAVEL IN 2016 is the way museums are reinventing themselves to draw bigger audiences: everything from events such as the Long Night of the Museums (the late-night festival launched in Berlin, which has spread to more than 100 cities around the world), to clever use of technology. At MONA in Hobart, visitors are given iPhones laden with content, which they can also access when back at home; at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Gallery One is a showcase for the blending of art and technology. See;;

See: Nine of the world's weirdest museums

THE TRAVEL TREND I DON'T WANT TO SEE AGAIN IN 2016 IS feedback forms! I'm tired of everyone from airlines to hotels to tour companies soliciting my feedback. If I have something to tell you – be it good or bad – I will. Stop cluttering my inbox.

MY BIG TRAVEL TIP FOR 2016 IS that off-season travel will become the new normal. With international tourist arrivals now at well over 1 billion people a year, queues at the world's most popular sights just keep getting longer. Travellers will increasingly avoid peak season, taking trips at a time when they can enjoy their destination without the crowds.

More by Ute Junker


Columnist and feature writer


THIS YEAR I WANT TO GO TO the Torres Strait, Queensland. I hear it has a fantastically creative spirit and those crystalline waters are calling me. I loved my visit to the Tiwi Islands last year, can't wait to get back up into the deep tropics. Also on the wish list are Zanzibar, Bangladesh and central Asia. Oh, and I really am going fly fishing. See;;

See: Australia's second-largest island still unknown to tourists

THIS YEAR I AM GOING TO Egypt to sit at my mother-in-law's table to eat molokhiya (a delicious, weirdly gelatinous soup) and to ride horses around the Pyramids. Again. Currently not a key destination for most, I admit, but Egypt will be back. See

THIS YEAR I WANT TO REVISIT India. I love its crazy energy, its style and its complete randomness. I have explored the north, including Kashmir, but would love to visit Leh or go totally out there: Gujarat sounds mighty interesting for its fabulous textiles. Mind you, the same could be said of my great love, Morocco. See;

See: India for beginners: What you need to know

THE ONE THING I'M EXCITED ABOUT TRAVEL IN 2016 IS the opening of the Louvre on Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat Island. Imagine; a whole island given over to museums, including a Louvre and a Guggenheim! The Louvre, which is costing $90 million, is only four years late (so far). See

MY BIG TRAVEL TIP FOR 2016 is hire motorhome relocation deals. A handful of rental companies offer insanely cheap rates (as little as $1 a day) to drive their vans back to high-demand locations, albeit on a tight time schedule. Bargain!

More by Belinda Jackson


Cruise columnist and feature writer


THIS YEAR I WANT TO GO TO Corsica, in a yacht. Why? To sail at my own pace around the island's dramatic coastline, explore traditional fishing villages and chic French towns, and moor in picturesque ports where you can step ashore and straight into a waterfront restaurant. And the Arctic, preferably in a luxury expedition ship, to experience the Midnight Sun, see polar bears, kayak among icebergs and meet Inuit people. See

THIS YEAR I AM GOING TO the Kimberley coast, Western Australia. It's been described as one of the world's great wilderness areas, with spectacular gorges and waterfalls, ancient Aboriginal rock art and a starkly beautiful landscape. Antarctica – the avid cruiser's adventure of a lifetime. See

See: The perfect time to visit the Kimberley

THIS YEAR I WANT TO REVISIT Banda Neira, one of eastern Indonesia's Spice Islands. Its tropical-island atmosphere, Dutch-colonial history and remoteness are as appealing as its superb diving and snorkelling. And it must be one of the few places in the world where people of all faiths live in harmony.

THE ONE THING I'M EXCITED ABOUT TRAVEL IN 2016 IS the development of variety in cruising. There are ships, destinations and itineraries to suit everyone from the luxury resort-lover to the keenest adventurer. It's no longer all about "floating RSLs" but if that appeals, you can find them too.

See: Australian cruising season 2015: Everything you need to know

THE TRAVEL TREND I DON'T WANT TO SEE AGAIN IN 2016 IS over-hyped marketing blurbs on websites and brochures that inevitably lead to disappointment. Be very aware when you come across words and phrases such as "authentic", "luxury", "truly unique", "six star", "cocktail reception" and "all-inclusive".

MY BIG TRAVEL TIP FOR 2016 IS in the cruise world, book as far in advance as you can to benefit from earlybird deals that can include flights, cabin upgrades, fixed prices (in the face of the falling Aussie dollar), onboard drinks packages and gratuities.

More by Sally Macmillan


Cruise and features writer


THIS YEAR I WANT TO GO TO Morocco. I imagine Morocco to be the flutter of pigeon's wings against blue-tiled minarets, the flashing gold-capped smiles of old men in hooded djellaba robes, the bubbling of tureens of lentils and the aroma of crushed mint in tea. It's a country with a rich culture and history and sweeping landscapes, from ocean-pounded coastlines to snow-capped Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert. Sounds just like my kind of destination.

THIS YEAR I AM GOING TO Crested Butte in the US. I like to kick off the new year with northern-hemisphere skiing, and this modest little Colorado ski resort has gorgeous, swooping intermediate runs and (for adrenaline) some of the best in-bounds extreme terrain in the world. Unlike many Rockies ski areas, it also has wide-open panoramas of peaks. As for the slightly bohemian town, it dates from Victorian silver-mining days and has great eateries and bars for apres-ski downtime. See

See: Crested Butte: The last great American ski town

THIS YEAR I WANT TO REVISIT Switzerland. I grew up there, so I'm biased, but I still reckon this is the world's most beautiful country, where bell-clanked cows stand in flowery meadows below alpine peaks. The vistas of blue lakes and mountains are enough to make a Romantic poet delirious. Destinations such as Zurich and Basel offer a great small-city smorgasbord of culture, museums, dining and shopping, all without big-city drawbacks. Needless to say, I'll be gorging on chocolate, cheese and rosti, the so-much-better Swiss equivalent of hash browns. See

See: The beautiful home of the world's most dangerous sport

THE ONE THING I'M EXCITED ABOUT TRAVEL IN 2016 IS that despite 40 years on the road, I'll still come across great new discoveries that knock my socks off.

THE TRAVEL TREND I DON'T WANT TO SEE AGAIN IN 2016 IS mobile phone usage on planes. Plus men in Lycra pedalling bicycles down every byway, the sprinkling of salads with quinoa, trendy young men sprouting beards and discussing coffee beans in shabby neighbourhoods, nonsense about finding "authentic" experiences, and designer hamburgers at ridiculous prices.

More by Brian Johnston

Bernese Alps in Switzerland.

Bernese Alps in Switzerland. Photo: Alamy


Features writer


THIS YEAR I WANT TO GO TO Siberia's Lake Baikal – specifically in March. From January to May the massive lake is frozen over and for a short time each year (usually March), the ice begins to crack. It happens because of fluctuating temperatures, wind gusts, and the amount of sun and frost at this time. Translucent gleaming ice hulks are formed and the lake is transformed into this jagged turquoise phenomenon. See

THIS YEAR I AM GOING TO Yekaterinburg, Russia's fourth largest city. I have relatives there and I don't know much about them. We're going to jump on board the Trans-Siberian in Moscow and head over to meet them for the first time. My brothers tell me they have their own old-school banya…

THIS YEAR I WANT TO REVISIT GUATEMALA. In 2010 I spent three months traversing the globe and out of all the countries I visited, Guatemala really stood out. The people were incredibly hospitable and the cities a perpetual buzz of activity. There's plenty to see – Mayan ruins everywhere and a landscape (think crystal clear lakes, soaring volcanoes and luscious jungles) that mesmerises. See

See: 10 countries you (probably) haven't visited, but should

THE THING I WISH THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY WOULD FIX IN 2016 IS can someone please make boarding passes the same size as passports already?

See: Why you should never post a photo of your boarding pass online

THE ONE THING I'M EXCITED ABOUT TRAVEL IN 2016 IS that more people are getting into active travel – and as a result there are more tours catering to people like myself. There's a place and time to sit around sipping margaritas, but I like to combine exploring and exercising. I'm off on a two-week cycling tour of Myanmar in a couple of weeks actually.

THE TRAVEL TREND I DON'T WANT TO SEE AGAIN IN 2016 IS counting your steps, calculating the number of stairs you've climbed and tracking your heart rate. Unless you need to be keeping track for medical reasons, why bother? Isn't just walking around soaking it all up enough?

MY BIG TRAVEL TIP FOR 2016 is wake up early! Sure you might be jet lagged/tired/not a morning person, but it's a magical time of the day. I time my runs with sunrise and get to see cities all around the world in a different light. Attractions are quiet early in the day too and the soft light is great for photos.

MY BIG TRAVEL PREDICTION FOR 2016 is that things are going to get even more personalised. We're seeing hotel reviews, video content, Instagram shots, all go live in real time. Companies are realising just how powerful social media is and going all out to impress. If your favourite track is playing when you check into your room, almond milk is ordered in for your coffee, or your waiter knows you like to wait 25 minutes between your main and dessert, don't be surprised.

More by Tatyana Leonov

Lake Baikal.

Lake Baikal. Photo: Getty Images



Even the most luxe hotels can relieve you of an arm and leg but can't provide you with a rack on which to hang your towel, or a shower stall that doesn't leak. And please, no more sinks moved to the entranceway, so that water splashes across the floor and wets your socks just as you're about to go out. And don't even get me started on overly complicated lighting and television systems…



Extortionate global roaming charges for Aussie travellers. Compared with what Europeans pay for data downloads when they travel within Europe we're being massively ripped off.



Every three-star in the rest of the world offers it: do we really have to keep having this conversation? I'm going to add two more: countries who don't spell out their visa costs properly online (Qatar, I'm looking at you) and the outrageous one-way fees on hire cars.



Those tiny multiple plus signs you see after a quoted price and which represent unspecified additional taxes and service fees are akin to false advertising. Just be up front and tell us what we need to pay. No one needs financial surprises when travelling.



Low-cost airlines need to step up their customer service. Passengers shouldn't be treated as second-rate citizens because they're flying on a budget carrier. Airlines should move swiftly to communicate with customers when flights are rescheduled or cancelled.



I'd love to see some serious upgrading of the airport experience. Dining options are already improving, but I long to see more airports following the lead of trendsetters such as Changi and letting travellers de-stress with swimming pools, gardens, and massage centres. At the very least, add more power points, so we can charge our devices quickly and efficiently.




Cuba is the latest hotspot, Colombia has overcome years of conflict and drug wars to become not just a viable travel destination but a highly attractive one, Peru's capital Lima has a new buzz, and expedition cruising to the Galapagos is booming. Lonely Planet tips Uruguay in its latest "Best in Travel" list. Plus all eyes will be on Brazil when Rio throws the world's ultimate sports shindig this August.



Australia will follow the lead of many other countries around the world and ditch departure and arrival cards. This might just be wishful thinking, but still, fingers crossed.



More and more Australians will take a wellness holiday. In a bid to live longer and healthier lives, baby boomers, and increasing numbers of men, are jumping aboard the wellness bandwagon, one of the fastest growing areas of travel. Travellers want more than a stay in a hotel room; they want holistic experiences that enable them to recharge, rethink their life and reconnect with those that are important to them.



The Aussie dollar was de-barked in 2015 but it's going to remain at the present rate against the euro. If you're tempted to have a European fling lock in an airfare now; ticket prices have not yet started to feel the demand squeeze that will cause them to rise.



Africa will stage a comeback. In 2015, with one piece of bad news after another rolling out of Africa – from Ebola to terrorism to the death of Cecil the lion – travellers decided to head elsewhere. Tempted by bargain basement prices, however, a few intrepid adventurers are heading back. And as they spread the word that Africa's delights are as irresistible as ever – from striking scenery to rich cultures to friendly people to the world's most exciting wildlife experiences – Africa is going to heat up again.



Qatar will take off as the third Middle Eastern stopover en route to Europe, in competition with Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Direct flights currently operate Melbourne-Doha, and a Sydney-Doha service begins in March.




Travellers increasingly ignore Islamic countries on the mistaken assumption that they're hotbeds of west-hating radicals. I've had nothing but good experiences and great hospitality in Islamic countries, which are rich in architecture, ancient history, ethnic diversity and lip-smacking cuisines. A recent visit to Iran was a highlight of my travelling life.



The one thing that concerns me most about travel in 2016 is the decimation of the ancient wonders of the Middle East by a group of psychopaths. We are watching the ruin of entire histories. I hope the governments of other countries in the region take note and protect what remains.



The effect we have on the environment. Whether it's emissions from aircraft, ships and cars, or using plastic bags and water bottles, we all need to be more aware of the consequences and be prepared to pay more to offset our carbon footprint.



OK, it is not up there with terrorism and epidemics, but I am dreading the day when drones become the travel accessory of choice. Selfie sticks were annoying enough; the thought of being surrounded by travellers starring in their own private movies while a flying drone wheels overhead, capturing every moment, makes me shudder.



Like any other traveller the events of Paris, and the threat of terrorism to countries including Singapore, Malaysia and Belgium last year, is disturbing. As travellers, terrorism is something we have no control of. It can happen in Bali; it can happen in New York; it can happen on our doorstep. We cannot live in fear and let it control our lives, but none of us can travel as freely as we once did.



Not being able to fit everything in! It's tempting to spend a lot of energy worrying about terrorism or freak accidents or kids who kick the back of your seat, but really, those things are mostly either highly unlikely or a minor annoyance. Travel is amazing. Get out there and enjoy it.