With the emerging buds of the magnolia trees and the hopeful crack of the baseball bat ushering in the spring season, many American families are anticipating and planning for their next summer vacation. As a fashion designer with both national and international accounts, I have been fortunate enough to travel the globe for both business and pleasure. I often get asked which global destinations elicited the most favorable reaction. While it is almost impossible to anoint only one location due to the diverse, yet unique, attributes that each trip offered, I have four suggestions for the curious traveler who wishes to identify the perfect 2019 Summer Vacation Destination:
1.) Machu Pichu, Peru
- When you first set eyes upon this “Jewel of the Andes,” you are dumbstruck with awe at how any ancient civilization was able to build such a prosperous, self-sustaining metropolis amidst the clouds. Most tourists to Machu Pichu fly into the nearby hilltop city of Cuzco and head straight to the archaeological gem of South America. However, this would be a mistake. Cuzco is a culturally-rich city that will reward the patient sightseer who spends a few days exploring the bustling markets of the town and the endless alpha stores selling comfy sweaters made from the distant cousin of the ostrich. Remaining in Cuzco for a few days will also allow you to acclimate to the extreme altitude of the region should you wish to ascend to Machu Pichu by foot. If you choose to walk to Machu Pichu, then follow the Inca Trail, which has clear signage along the way. If you would rather travel by train, then embark on the Inca Rail instead. Either way, be sure to bring your camera to the peak of Huayna Picchu, the mountain directly in front of the Incan city’s ruins, for a snapshot or two of a visual scene that you will cherish for the rest of your life.
2.) South Africa
- With the end of apartheid, the tourism industry has really taken off in South Africa with no signs of slowing down. Summer is a wonderful time to visit South Africa, when cooler weather prevails due to its geographical location in the Southern Hemisphere. The first travel inspiration that leaps off the page for a planned journey to the continent of Africa is the opportunity to go on Safari and South Africa certainly doesn’t disappoint in that regard. The rolling plains and savannah of Kruger National Park holds all the familiar animals and species that we, as Americans, can only visit in our metropolitan zoos.Riding on the back of a safari jeep through the park affords the visitor with the unparalleled chance to photograph wild animals in their natural habitat. However, South Africa is not just about safaris and the Lion King: this dynamic country also hosts world-class cities of international renown. My favorite South African city is Cape Town, with its idyllic setting under the careful gaze of Table Mountain. The city has a rich heritage framed by native as well as Dutch and English colonization and development, imbuing its neighborhoods with a diverse tapestry of tastes and customs. Outdoor sports abound in Cape Town as well, with biking trails radiating out of the city. For the wine connoisseur, a day trip to any of the outlying vineyards is a must.
- The Scandinavian country of Iceland has become white-hot with popularity over the last twenty years, flinging off its “sleepy” reputation from a few decades ago. With the popular culture riveted by all-things “Viking,” it is little wonder that Americans are curious about visiting this geographically-isolated nation just off the coastline of Greenland that was settled by Viking explorers over twelve hundred years ago. Most American visitors will first land in the capital city of Reykjavik, a vibrant city bedecked with a myriad pastel colors that ring the city’s buildings and architecture. Reykjavik is an easily accessible city that is a walker’s paradise with several enticing market streets and pedestrian malls. The natural beauty and mystery of the island, however, beckons outside of the city. Gullfos is a breathtaking waterfall located in a lush, green canyon valley just outside Reykjavik. Nearby, visit Thingvellir National Park, the hosting site of Iceland’s parliament from the ninth century A.D. and a fascinating location where two, geologic tectonic plates separated, creating rocky cliffs and fissures that you can traverse. No trip to Iceland would be complete without visiting and hiking one of the island’s active volcanoes, none more famous that Mt. Hekla, which last erupted in 2000.
- Ok, maybe I am being partial here due to my own personal, Greek heritage, but the European country of Greece makes for a richly-rewarding summer vacation destination for the novice or experienced traveler. The cradle of democracy hosts memorable archaeological heritage sites like the Acropolis and Agora in Athens, the capital city of Greece. Other world-famous heritage sites on the Greek mainland include Olympia, the site of the first Olympic games over 2,500 years ago and the mystery and intrigue of Delphi, where the fabled Oracles of the days of Herodotus, Socrates, and Homer were read. The more adventurous visitor can take the Greek ferry from the mainland to the popular Aegean island chain that includes the jet-setting Mykonos and the mystical island of Thira, better known as Santorini. Island-hopping between these islands will fully immerse the traveler in the timeless Greek traditions that made this country at the crossroads of the cradle of civilization.
With most couples, families, and solo travelers already envisioning and mapping out a plan for their next summer vacation idea for 2019, consider a summer trip to Machu Pichu, South Africa, Iceland, or Greece. Whether your travel tastes lean to the historical and cultural or more outdoorsy and activity-based, each of the four, 2019 Summer Vacation destinations will satisfy even the most experienced tourist and provide the transcendent memories of a lifetime.