Whether it’s from frequent business travel or just a steady accumulation, once we finally earn those coveted airline miles we need for a plane ticket, it’s time to choose where to go. Here are some of my favorite places that are ideal for that free flight.
I first visited Sweden a few years ago and loved the experience, so I was pretty sure I’d enjoy my first trip to Stockholm. Much more than simply enjoy it though, I quickly fell in love with this colorful Scandinavian city and wished I had more time to explore. Although it was the middle of winter, the temperatures were cold but not extreme, allowing me plenty of opportunity to get out and see the best of the city. The museums all impressed me more than most others I’ve visited, and there’s nothing better than wandering around the Old Town, Gamla Stan, at night. Visitors to Stockholm should take a scenic boat cruise, visit the ABBA Museum, tour the City Hall (trust me) and eat a few meals in Gamla Stan. One of the world’s best hotels, Ett Hem, also calls Stockholm home, perfect for luxury travelers.
The South Pacific had been on my own personal travel bucket list for as long as I can remember. Those crystal-clear waters and verdant green mountains called to me in the same way as the fictional Bali Hai called out in “South Pacific.” I braced myself for disappointment, to have my dreams dashed but that never happened. No, if anything Tahiti surpassed even my own lofty expectations. But Tahiti is Tahiti for a reason, and I realized that almost immediately upon arriving into Papeete. Over the course of a week my appreciation of how just idyllic and perfect the islands are grew, and the experiences I enjoyed there really were a dream come true. Visitors should go to enjoy a cruise around the islands, spend the night (or 7) in an overwater bungalow on Bora Bora and take the time to look past the beach chairs and learn more about real Polynesian culture.
Belfast, Northern Ireland
I enjoyed my time in Northern Ireland more than I thought I would and a lot of that is thanks to the fascinating city of Belfast. Twenty years ago, Belfast was as far away from being a tourist destination as any place could be, but today it’s enjoying a revival as more and more visitors discover what makes it truly special. The Titanic experience is fascinating and an entire day could be spent exploring the museum on the site of where the doomed ship was originally built. But there’s a lot more to the city than the Titanic, and taking a walk through Belfast’s many neighborhoods is a fun way to learn more about the city. Visitors should take a Black Cab Tour to learn about the history of The Troubles, visit the Titanic Museum and try some of the new restaurants that keep popping up featuring some of the best food anywhere in the British Isles.
I’m embarrassed to say that although Philadelphia is pretty close to where I live, it had been many years since I last played tourist there. I recently corrected that mistake and I’m glad I did because I discovered a beautifully vibrant city that I think everyone should visit. Choosing a well-located hotel like The Logan as home base, there’s a lot to see and do in the city from its legendary history to more modern attractions. Visitors should take a tour of the colonial-era Old City, but then spend some time exploring Philly’s museums and modern attractions. Also round out your visit with a stop at Reading Terminal Market for a crash course into classic Philadelphia comfort food.
I love Australia, a lot. So much that more than once I’ve seriously looked into relocating to the Land Down Under. Until I can figure out the immigration rules I’ll just have to manage with visits to this remarkable continent, including one of my favorite states – Queensland. Queensland is what I usually call Australia in a nutshell. The state has everything a visitor could want from the dusty outback and rural ranches to stunning coastlines and even rainforests. There are also some fun cities and towns to visit including Brisbane, Cairns and Port Douglas. Visitors should go to Queensland to swim along the Great Barrier Reef, enjoy some fun in the sun on the Gold Coast, trek into the Daintree Rainforest and be amazed by the stunning surprises around every bend in the road.
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