The top ten must-have travel experiences of 2017

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Anna Melville-James
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All hail 2017, a new year ripe with travel plans to fulfill.

The dog days of winter are a great time to get your wish list on for things to see, do, eat and enjoy.

We pick out the 10 travel must-dos that should be on your list for the next 12 months.

Images: iStock

  • Let someone else carry your luggage

    If you’re still lugging your own bags from home to holiday destination then you’re so 2016. This year is the one that turns into a streamlined travel panther – sleek, elegant and unencumbered – by using a luggage delivery travel app such as AirPortr.

    This natty app will arrange to pick up your bags from home and deliver to them the airport, or vice versa. And if you're flying BA, it can even arrange to check them in for you as well – the next time you’ll see them is on the carousel at your destination. Delivery plus check in starts from from £30 and you can live-track your bags as they go, leaving you with nothing else to do but waft through the journey clutching your passport and a pashmina, like the A-lister you are.

    The truly wannabe jet set can go even further and choose door-to-door delivery of their bags with services such as and

  • Party in Mérida, Mexico

    Trump might want to build a wall, but everyone else can ignore him and head for the Mexican city of Mérida, inaugural American Capital of Culture in 2000, and now again in 2017.

    The capital of Yucatan state is a travel hot spot, ironically because it has become the first Mexican city to sign a charter of cultural rights, to protect its outstanding cultural diversity and heritage. But also because it is officially 475 years young this year - expect plenty of partying as the city goes big on annual events such as carnival in February, Feria Artesanal Tunich in July-August and the Paseo de las Ánimas (passage of the souls) in October.

    There are free cultural events every day, regardless – from pok ta pok, a Mayan ballgame to live salsa. And Progresso’s sandy beaches, lapped by Gulf of Mexico bathwater, are within easy reach to sleep off heavy sightseeing and/or hangovers.

  • Eat Portuguese

    Lisbon is still one of the hottest weekend spots of the moment, with reasonably priced flights taking you to the effortless style of Portugal’s relaxed coastal capital - and this year’s must-eat, Portuguese food - in under three hours.

    Don’t let anyone tell you tacos are where it’s at in 2017, you know it’s all about the salt cod, piquant sausage, rice pudding and legendary Portuguese custard tarts, pasteis de nata.

    Obviously it’s best to combine a good meal with a good city break (try A Taberna da Rua das Flores or Belcanto when you hit Lisbon). But if you just can’t get away for the minute then limber up your tastebuds in advance with a visit to Taberna Do Mercado in Old Spitalfields Market, London home of Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes. Or just pick up a custard tart at Lisboa Patisserie in west London, but make it quick, as its pastries are usually long gone by early afternoon.,

  • Take to the high seas

    If you’re yet to get your yacht on, due to time or budget, then 2017 should prove to be plain sailing. Traditionally, holidays aboard small boats have not been the most budget friendly way to see the world, but a new wave of companies is putting travel on the wave within everyone’s reach.

    Intrepid Travel has added a new collection of affordable small group sailing trips to its programme this year and it’s not just the usual sailing holiday suspects of Turkey, Croatia and Greece on offer. Explore further afield, from India and Cuba to Myanmar - prices start from £345 for a four-day trip from Phuket to Ko Phi Phi in Thailand, while a seve- night Zanzibar Spice Islands Sailing Adventure will set you back just over £1000 and travels through the Zanzibar archipelago, with chances to snorkel along coral reefs to snorkel, explore the Ngezi Rainforest and stop off at fishing villages on the way. Paradise ahoy.

  • Get Chile

    With the first non-stop flights from the UK to Chile launched by British Airways on the 3 January what other reason do you need to get yourself over to this epic ribbon of a country, 4500km long, yet never more than 250km wide at any point.

    OK, the Heathrow-Santiago flight takes a whopping 14hr 40min, but your reward is widescreen glory in Patagonia; scenery hewn by ice and filled with pulsing silence. Pick up a copy of travel classic In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin, this year is its 40th print run, and explore the glacial fjords and temperate rainforest of Chile’s section (the other part of Patagonia being in Argentina) including Torres del Paine national park.

    New attractions include the Andean Condor cable car at the Huilo Huilo bioreserve, which whisks visitors over the rainforest canopy to a previously hidden forest, with views of volcanoes and lakes en route.

  • Bank on a new London hotel opening

    Formerly the Midland Bank HQ in the City of London, the new Ned Hotel looks set to be the hotel opening in the capital for 2017. Austerity, shmausterity - Partners Soho House and Sydell Group have gone all out to turn this vast 1920s neo-classical landmark designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens into the capital’s most luxurious hotel ready for guests in April.

    Designed in the style of a 1930s ocean liner, the decor incorporates period features including bank clerks' counters, green marble columns and safety deposit boxes.

    There are nine restaurants to choose from, including a Cecconis, plus a Cowshed spa and rooftop pool overlooking St Paul’s. But the real valuables are kept in the vault; now a bar serving top-notch, jewel-coloured cocktails behind the 20-tonne bank vault door that inspired the set of the James Bond movie Goldfinger.

  • Try a New NYC borough at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

    Stay in Manhattan? Not likely. NYC’s travel hot spots are the outer boroughs this year and Brooklyn is the number one choice.

    The opening of new boutique pad 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge in February gives you the perfect excuse to see the city from another angle. And that means bagging yourself the best view of Manhattan’s skyline across the East River, and the eponymous bridge itself – through the windows of stylish rooms full of reclaimed woods and industrial steel or from the rooftop bar and plunge pool.

    Outside the hotel you’ll also get the chance to enjoy lesser-visited New York fun including Dumbo, Brooklyn’s rejuvenated and buzzing waterfront, Brooklyn heights and the riverfront park on a bicycle. If you want to go further afield the hotel offers complimentary rides in their own fleet of electric Tesla cars.

  • Find yourself an island

    If last year the big getaway go-to was finding yourself a private island, preferably one with white sand and azure seas, this year it’s about not being so obvious.

    Exploring the lesser-known islets around Europe is the way to up your holiday kudos for 2017 – heading to a hidden rock that everyone else has missed so you can avoid crowds, backpackers and anyone who thinks Ibiza is the height of island life.

    Try Brac in Croatia for beaches, Pantelleria in Italy home to the Specchio di Venere (“Mirror of Venus”, pictured), a heart-shaped lake in a volcanic crater and Sifnos a Greek island in the Cyclades that still looks like a Homeric fantasy.

    Other good bets include windswept Texel in The Netherlands, Porquerolles in France, feudal Sark in the Channel Islands and San Miguel in Portugal. If everyone you tell about your holiday has no idea where you’re actually going, then know you’re on the right track.


  • Step up your city breaks

    Yes, Paris is romantic, Barcelona is lively and Tallinn is…somewhere you keep meaning to go but somehow never get round to. But if you want the Next Big City Break on your list this year then think Wroclaw (pronounced vrots-waff) in Poland, full of contemporary energy and Gothic architecture, or Girona in Spain for rich Catalan culture and Modernist architecture (and the epic Michelin-star restaurant El Celler de Can Roca), just an hour from the Costa Brava.

    Or if you’re really determined to avoid the crowds, Debrecen (pictured), Hungary’s second-largest city, is now connected to seven countries by Europe’s budget airline network. Located on the edge of Hungary’s puszta (eastern plains), this is the gateway to a romantic Magyar land once roamed by Hungarian cowboys and home to the Hortobágy National Park - all mysteriously under the tourist radar for years.

  • Have a hosted experience with Air BnB

    Not content with encouraging the world and their dog to rent out their spare bedrooms, Air BnB is rolling out a new model of hosts that also provide experiences, insider tours and learning experiences along with accommodation for guests. You’ll never have to act like a tourist again, now that you can book an instant “friend” in your chosen destination, who will provide some authentic local fun to get your holiday party started.

    Experiences range from from truffle hunting and learning to surf to going backstage at an aquarium with an oceanologist or learning to cook authentic Italian pasta and sauce. It’s not a new idea – local hosting has become a popular way to travel over the past few years – but the sheer scale of the US behemoth means that this model is about to take a leap into the super-league.

    Experiences are currently available in 12 cities – including Paris, Florence, Cape Town, London and Miami, with 50 more destinations to be added this year.

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Anna Melville-James

Travel writer Anna Melville-James has been trotting the globe for 15 years in search of great stories. She sifts the sands for, tracking down travel news, trends and destinations for the site to inspire holidays and daydreams. When she’s at home in London, Anna enjoys watching David Attenborough documentaries and counting her extensive collection of free sewing kits and miniature toiletries.