I would love nothing more than the upcoming new year to be filled with travel — and hopefully, to many places of natural beauty. Since I live in New York City, it can be particularly difficult sometimes to feel in touch with the outdoors in the midst of this concrete jungle. So if you, like me, want to pinch together some pennies and find some dream
places to travel in 2018, I'm here for you.
Getting yourself out into nature every once in a while is so important for your well-being, and the thing we city-dwellers in particular must face is this: Apparently, people who live in and around nature are generally much happier. Research shows that nature not only makes us feel happier, but
our brains are actually wired to be outside, instead of, you know, jam-packed in a subway car or on the concrete sidewalks breathing in pollutants.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm a city gal at heart. But part of my heart undeniably longs every day for Mother Nature, so I make sure to get out of the Big Apple whenever possible to pay a visit to the great outdoors. It enhances my well-being, shifts my perspective, and yes, it definitely makes me a happier every time I do it.
If you're in the mood for exploring come the new year, get yourself a coin jar and start saving up now for a trip into the wild, wild world — or at least for a train upstate.
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The Green Mountain State is a destination for people who love them some mountains, either in the snow on cross-country skis, running a trail, or on a backpacking trip through the 272-mile footpath of
The Long Trail.
Consider taking a trip to Lake Champlain if you're into kayaking or water sports. Find some cabins to stay at outside of town with your friends, or even grab a bunk at the local
Burlington Hostel for a super affordable option.
Also, if you're staying near Burlington, which is Vermont's largest city, you've got a fun and artsy nightlife to look forward to, as well.
A valley located between the
Teton Mountain Range and the Gros Ventre Range, Jackson Hole is a seriously breath-taking destination for nature-lovers.
I can tell you from experience, if you ever find yourself staying at the
SpringHill Suites by Marriott Jackson Hole, for example, you'll find this picturesque beauty above when you walk outside the hotel.
In Jackson Hole, you can enjoy so many different outdoor activities, like skiing, hiking, climbing, biking, snow-shoeing, and
snowmobiling, just to name a few. Plus, you'll be surrounded by federally reserved land where elk and bison roam free. 03
Doubtful Sound, New Zealand
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Don't doubt it based on the name alone y'all, because this place looks unbelievably beautiful. Located in Fiordland State Park, Doubtful Sound
is a fiord, which is a narrow, long, deep inlet of sea between very high cliffs. Apparently, this one is not the easiest place on earth to get to, but a girl can dream, right?
kayak trip in Doubtful Sound, you might come across some awesome wildlife such as bottle nose dolphins or fur seals — oh, and some gorgeous waterfalls, too. 04
The Badlands, South Dakota
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The Badlands in South Dakota seem almost mythical to me. The destination is known for its cool terrain of rocky formations and canyons, but don't ignore the grasslands and prairies, where you can see bison herds and bighorn sheep.
animals like the saber-tooth cat and rhinos used to roam here. Can you imagine hiking and camping in a place with that kind of history?! 05
Denali National Park, Alaska
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I have some friends who truly live, love, and breathe that outdoor lifestyle, and plan every getaway around places that invite them to camp, hike, bike, or climb. I'm told that a favorite destination among such nature-lovers can be found in Alaska.
Denali National Park is a popular and breathtaking destination if you're looking to head over that way, and yes, along with incredible trail and off-trail hiking, there's some awesome wildlife to be seen, too (think grizzly bears). 06
The Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica
Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images The Monteverde Cloud Forest is a biological reserve, and I can say from experience, it's pretty spectacular, most especially if you're a fan of interesting plants. There are more than 400 different species of birds, 2,500 plant species, and more mammals, bugs, and reptiles than you could possibly imagine.
Generally speaking, a cloud forest is basically characterized by (more or less) 100 percent, year-round humidity, which creates a cloud cover that encourages forest growth.
If you're feeling touristy, you can always hop on a zipline and dive through some clouds to see the entire thing from above.
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A top travel plan on my list is definitely taking a guided trip to the foothills of India, and I've had my dreaming eye on an expedition with
Mercury Himalyan Explorations.
On one of its treks, you can see four of the five highest peaks in the entire world: Mt. Everest, Kanchenjunga, Lhotse and Makalu.
Glacier National Park, Montana
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Glacier National Park is part of
The Crown of the Continent and according to Wildnerness.org, it's "one of only two intact ecosystems remaining in the lower 48 states where grizzlies, elk, moose and wolves still thrive." This is where the headwaters of North America begin, sending streams into both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
And yes, sadly, Glacier National Park is being affected by climate change. But hey, that's all the more reason to travel there ASAP before global warming wreaks its havoc.
Acadia National Park, Maine
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This eastern seaboard beauty is a 47,000-acre
"recreation area" on the Atlantic coast. Picture a massive, beautiful, nature-filled playground. You can hike, swim, look for birds, or even get yourself an artist residency. I've been to this one, too, and let me tell you, it's worth a trip.
Now go see the world, travelers!