According to Eurostat, the average European embarks on just 2 trips per year. Other global citizens probably don’t travel much more often. So it’s not unusual that researchers call frequent travelers those who take 3 or more annual trips (and that’s less than half of the population). With limited time for both leisure and business travel, we’re forced to be quite selective when choosing where to go. So how do we pick the best places to travel in 2024?
All destinations, especially after a restricted pandemic era, crave a piece of tourist pie, but not every trip will make a difference
With all geopolitical conflicts around us, and high inflation nibbling on our earnings, traveling may not be on top of everyone’s mind. Still, the UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization) projects that world tourism is on the road to full recovery of pre-pandemic levels in 2024.
Judging by what global media serves us as must-visit hotspots, we’ll be flocking to the less-explored countries such as Mongolia and Pakistan, embarking on slow-travel-promising European sleeper trains and Yucatán‘s immersive Mayan Train, or perhaps cheering with crowds on the stadiums of the Summer Olympics in Paris, and German hosts of the EURO football tournament.
While the top travel destinations of 2024 are often chosen to showcase off-the-beaten-path and sustainability-focused tourism, and openings of new hotels, resorts, cruises, or national parks, they don’t always answer the pressing question: Where SHOULD we travel in 2024?
All destinations, especially after a restricted pandemic era, crave a piece of tourist pie, but not every trip will make a difference. If you want to find meaningful travel experiences in the upcoming year (meaningful both for guests and hosts), venture to those places where your arrival could be life-changing.
Destinations that have gone through earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and other environmental disasters, are not just hungry for tourism. They need recovery. And they need it much more than destinations that can afford marketing in global media, overcrowded with the best places to go in 2024 like Dubrovnik streets with tourists.
Wanderlust buffet – 254 top places to travel in 2024
Before we jump on our suggestions of where to travel in 2024, let’s take a quick look at travel sites, the buffets of neverending options where even an all-you-can-eat enthusiast would feel overwhelmed. At this time of the year, the market knows we’re in a planning phase, so all travel media jump in to help us make the choice.
Lonely Planet released their top 50 destinations to visit in 2024. The top, mind you! It almost makes you wonder how many destinations did not make the cut, those in the bottom and the middle of the list.
Travel+Leisure editors claimed to have hand-picked (!) the list of the 50 best places to travel in 2024 too. “Thoughtful, curious travelers” may be confused with the editors’ generous hands.
“The urge to travel is ubiquitous and easy to catch, but choosing where to go can be a much more complex task”, experts at Forbes Advisor said. Appreciating the complexity of that task, they also compiled a list of, you guessed it, 50 best places to travel in 2024.
Travel Lemming’s team of expert travelers has curated their annual list of 50 hidden gems and emerging destinations you should visit, advocating for “longer trips and embracing a slower – and more sustainable – pace of travel.” The mysterious challenge is up to you; how to squeeze all those longer trips to 50 unhidden gems in one year (or a lifetime?).
Not every media thinks that all we do is travel. Some showed a valiant effort to save our precious time. National Geographic Traveller has “crossed the world to find the 30 most exciting destinations”. And Condé Nast Traveler editors debated for months, they said, to shortlist their suggestions of the 24 best places to go in 2024.
When you take these bottomless bucket lists, and add the lists of, for instance, 20 travel trends (the biggest ones, of course), you end up with more questions than answers.
Where to really go in 2024?
In recent years, the tourism industry has been deeply affected by a series of events induced or supported by humans (wars, economic and political crises, pandemic), but also those that have naturally erased years of human effort (environmental disasters caused by seismic activity, wildfires, landslides, storms, floods or droughts).
Some of the extreme weather events are surely linked to human activity (climate change), but these disasters, at the moment of happening, are completely out of people’s control. Our choices and interventions can hardly stop the force of nature, making locals utterly helpless.
Those who survive the rage of nature will typically stay and rebuild the resources. But for resurrecting the hope of a better tomorrow, tourists can have an immense influence. That doesn’t mean everyone should choose voluntourism or become the local handyman. But already showing up, using local services, and buying local produce can significantly impact quicker recovery.
Indeed, we can have unforgettable travel experiences while changing lives in 2024!
4 places to visit in 2024
On September 8, 2023, the strongest recorded Morocco earthquake (6.8 magnitude) shook the High Atlas Mountains, killing almost 3,000 people, injuring 5,700, and displacing 500,000. The catastrophic seismic event near the town of Adassil, 70 kilometers southwest of Marrakesh, wiped out poor remote villages, many of which were accessible only by donkey trails. In total, 19,000 homes were destroyed, and 59,000 damaged.
Despite the devastating quake, Morocco still sees tourism as the country’s driving force, aiming to double the visitor numbers by 2030, the year when they co-host the FIFA World Cup.
After all, tourism is a vital contributor to the country’s economy, with 15% of the population working in the sector. The steady flow of tourists during this recovery period is needed more than ever.
Therefore, Morocco is one of the best places to go abroad in 2024. Head there to meet its friendly people and learn about the country’s rich culture. Stay in riads transformed into boutique hotels, stroll through vibrant medinas, haggle in lively markets, and feast on local delicacies. Between the sands of the Sahara Desert and thousands of beach kilometers, lies a country ready to embrace both you and the relief you bring.
Visit the Atlas Mountains on a private day trip! Avoid the crowds, and see the natural beauty through the eyes of the locals.
Southeastern Turkey has experienced an even stronger earthquake (7.8 on the Richter scale) on February 6, 2023. The devastating seismic event struck near Gaziantep, the area already struggling with the humanitarian challenges of hosting thousands of refugees fleeing Syria‘s turmoil. Around 50,000 people lost their lives, and thousands of buildings toppled like houses of cards.
While the earthquakes damaged the 2,000-year-old Diyarbakir Fortress, there are 20 other UNESCO-protected World Heritage Sites worth visiting in Turkey.
Tourism is a part of the healing process after the catastrophe, and in a country that employs two million people in this industry, supporting local businesses is the best way to directly help the recovery in this difficult period. With the Turkish lira at its all-time low, you’ll be even getting more while spending your tourist dollars.
Turkish historical sites, stunning landscapes, and beautiful beaches are always worth visiting, but they should be among the top places to travel in 2024. After all, Turkey is a large country, and you can support its economy even by visiting Istanbul, Antalya, or Mediterranean resorts that are miles away from the directly affected provinces.
In a world of growing natural disasters, civil incidents, and travel calamities, traveling with insurance is a must. Check out the specialized products VisitorsCoverage offers to travelers!
3. Hawaii, USA
In 2023, the United States experienced a record number of weather and climate disaster events. Amidst storms, floods, a tropical cyclone, and heatwaves, the Hawaii firestorm had one of the most catastrophic tolls.
On August 8, a wildfire engulfed the western part of Maui island, notably the historic town of Lahaina, pushing people to find safety in the ocean. The wind-driven fires took away 115 lives, destroyed 2,207 buildings, and caused 5.5 billion dollars in damages.
Tourism is Hawaii’s financial lifeline, but if you go there, visit the unaffected areas, and still approach everyone with respect and mindfulness. Remember that the waters you want to snorkel in are where people lost their lives, and those who survived need to rebuild their reality from ashes. While tourist dollars can help the financial recovery of locals, they cannot heal all wounds. So turn off the privilege-driven attitude, and ask how you can help before you hula your way through.
Searching for the most economical way to get to Hawaii? Find the cheapest flight tickets here!
4. Acapulco, Mexico
On October 25, 2023, hurricane Otis crashed into Mexico, five miles south of Acapulco. A tropical storm quickly transformed into a category 5 hurricane, the strongest one to ever land on Mexico’s Pacific coastline. The 300 km/h winds killed at least 50 people, with more proclaimed missing. The worst inflicted were the yacht crews and boat workers, important members of the tourism community.
As Acapulco’s economy is largely built on tourism, the destruction of infrastructure was immense. Otis damaged almost 80% of hotels in this beach resort town. Waist-high flooding, landslides, and even the damage to the surrounding tropical forest were just some aftermaths of this environmental nightmare in Guerrero, one of the poorest Mexico states.
It will take time for the wounded Acapulco to get back on its feet, but optimistically at the end of 2024, you’ll be able to watch the famous cliff divers and listen to beachside serenades in a new Acapulco. In the meantime, you can support Guerrero’s tourism in the mountain town of Taxco or the surfer’s paradise of Troncones.
When deciding to travel to Mexico, always take the current situation into account, as government advisories may discourage non-essential travel in Guerrero.
Best places to travel in 2024 – Conclusion
In a world that changes as quickly as its climate, tragedies are becoming more frequent, and tourism has become a privilege.
We can choose our adventures, but we can also choose our impact
Choosing where to travel in 2024 is more than a vacation decision, certainly a lot more than just closing your eyes and blindly picking an item from the endless travel menus served by mainstream media.
Indeed, we can choose our adventures, but we can also choose our impact.
Tourists can be the partners of narratives, they can contribute to the healing process after tragedies, by providing financial aid but also restoring the motivation and optimism in shattered communities.
Journeys have evolved from mere sightseeing a long ago. When life seems to stop to have meaning, travelers can be catalysts for change. Do your own part in 2024!
What do you think about the best places to travel in 2024?
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Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you click on them and make a purchase, Pipeaway may make a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting our work! The images in this article have been sourced through Unsplash. In the order of appearance, their authors are as follows: Marrakesh handicraft (cover image) - A D Marrakesh - Laura C Istanbul - Ibrahim guetar Hawaii - Faith Lehman Acapulco - Daniel Apodaca Man in Morocco desert (pin image) - Mohamed Nohassi