Just in case the Mayans are wrong and the world doesn't actually end this month, have you started making your 2013 vacation plans yet? While some people are still sticking closer to home thanks to the economy (save, save, save), others are getting more adventurous and wandering further off the grid than ever before. For all our explorers looking for a new frontier to conquer, take note of these destinations because they're already heating up. Get there before the crowds and inflation when the secret really gets out.
Any pictures you've seen of this green (not icy) paradise are breathtaking. There are so many things to lure you here from gorgeous geysers to magical hot springs, moon-like landscapes and adventures galore. Only a five hour flight from Chicago and even shorter from NY or Boston, it's the easier to reach Alaska/Antarctica with equally impressive glacier climbing, 4x4 excursions and waterfall treks. As an interesting branding spin, Iceland is actually taking suggestions to rename the country since they it sounds off-putting. Some ideas have been Catch-A-Cloud Land, OMGWTFland, Sportacusland and even AwesomelandUnicornMichaelJackson. To see more or submit your own, visit http://www.inspiredbyiceland.com/.
No longer a hidden gem, Turkey has been enthralling visitors the past few years with its appeal of straddling two continents. Easy to get to from either Europe or Asia, more and more flights deals are popping up from the US. UN World Travel Organization named it as the sixth most popular vacation spot in 2011 and that's only going to increase. From sexy beach resorts like Turbuku, the "Turkish St Tropez," to classic heritage sites in Mardin and Midyad, and the ever cosmopolitan Istanbul and Antalya, there's something for everyone.
Between the 2016 Olympics and the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Brazil is preparing for a massive influx of visitors in the next few years. South America's economic powerhouse is making serious upgrades to its infrastructure and accommodations and there's no better time to see the effects in action before the country is overrun with crazed sports fanatics. Among the most popular spots are the Amazon Rainforest, beaches in Rio and the Pantanal wetlands.
According to Lonely Planet, Sri Lanka is set to be the hottest travel destination of 2013, post 26-year civil war ending in 2009 and recovery from the devastating tsunami in 2004. Almost fully restored, they say this Southeast Asia hotspot is one of the best-value trips. The number of 4 and 5 star hotels is going to double by 2016 making trips to their six UNESCO World Heritage sites, safaris and national parks a luxurious and exotic escape.
Croatia's beautiful coast is fringed with fishing villages, medieval towns, hilltop castles, Roman ruins, and ancient walled cities. Dubbed "new Riviera", Dubrovnik precariously guards the blue Adriatic with cobblestone streets and a charming Old Town that draws a striking balance between old and new.