Travel Destinations for 2018: Where I’m Going

Travel Destinations for 2018: Where I'm Going | The Atlas Heart

Where I might be living, visiting, and going back to – these are my potential travel destinations for 2018!

It’s my favorite time of the year! And no, I’m not talking about the holidays, although to be sure November and December can be some of my favorite months, especially when I’m surrounded by loved ones.

I even used to say that winter was my favorite season, but really I think that’s because I grew up in California and it gave me an excuse to play the Mariah Carey Christmas CD as much as I wanted.

Spoiler alert, fall and spring are now my favorite seasons, because they’re usually perfect for travel without the crowds, and I love that feeling of the changing of seasons, of new beginnings.

But, I digress.

It’s my favorite part of the year because around this time is when I start looking toward the upcoming 12 months, and start thinking about what I want to do, where I want to go, and how I want to spend my time.

San Francisco, California - USA Travel | The Atlas Heart
Even though I’m excited about upcoming travels, I’ve been enjoying home time in California

I always put a disclosure at the beginning of these posts that plans change, they often do, but for the sake of being a habitual planner I enjoy sharing these posts regardless.

And it’s always fun at the end of the year to see which places I got to, which ones I added on spontaneously, and the ones I’ll have to save for another year.

2018 is going to be an interesting year because, although I’ll still be traveling regularly, it’s the year that I’m actively looking for a base to settle down in for awhile.

I’m currently thinking if I could find one base in North America and one in Europe, I would have the best of both worlds. I could just split my time between two continents throughout the year.

Hiking at Gowlland Tod with Hike Victoria

But who knows, maybe I’ll fall in love with a place so much that I’ll know it’s exactly where I want to be, no questions asked. I’m excited to find out which places tug at my heart the most.

And if none of these places do anything for me, then I guess I’ll just keep traveling for now.

Because I have this idea of settling in my mind, I’ve chosen destinations for the year with more thought and weight behind them.

These are places that, for the most part, I’ve researched extensively in terms of visas, living costs, and expat reviews, and that I’m going to with the intention of discovering the local side of the culture as much as possible.

And I have a few other destination ideas thrown in just for the fun of it. As I’ve mentioned before, even though I want to settle in one place, it doesn’t mean that I’ll stop traveling. Far from it.

Girls weekend in Crete, Greece - Europe Travel

Instead, I want to take shorter but regular trips (hence why Europe would be a great base – so cheap and easy to get around!).

I don’t want to live out of a backpack anymore, or be a full time digital nomad. I want to have a life that’s still full of travel, but not only about travel.

So yeah, 2018 is about finding a base of sorts to live, and also about seeing as many friends as I can who live around the world.

These are my potential travel destinations for 2018!


Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada | The Atlas Heart
From my trip to Niagara Falls in 2015 – I’ve been to British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario, but I’ve never been to Quebec!

This one is a definite because I already booked my flight! Quebec will be my first trip of 2018, and I couldn’t be more excited because one of my best girlfriends lives in Montreal. I’m mainly going to see her and to experience true winter in the Great White North.

I’m looking forward to enjoying the snow, sipping hot cocoa (or you know, mulled wine), and reconnecting with one of my best friends.

Montreal is on my list of potential places to live, so I will be exploring neighborhoods, local cafes/restaurants, and asking a lot of questions about local life while I’m there too.

If I have time, I might even squeeze in a quick trip to Quebec City while I’m in the province.


Destinations for 2018, Where I'm Going | The Atlas Heart
I mainly ate a lot of deep dish pizza last time I was in Chicago.

After Quebec, I’ll be flying to Chicago to connect with another best friend. Another city that I’ve thought of living in, I’ve been to Chicago once before for my 26th birthday and I adored the city then.

It will be fun to see the city through my friend’s eyes, since the last time I was there she wasn’t living in the city yet. Also, I’ve never been to Chicago in the winter so I’m sure it will be an experience.

Basically, for my January trips, I’m just going to wear my whole wardrobe on the plane and hope for the best. Eight or so layers should suffice, right?


Crater Lake National Park - Southern Oregon
One of my favorites spots in Oregon – Crater Lake

Another definite trip in 2018, I’ll be heading to Oregon to visit my dad and stepmom for a couple of weeks in February.

I was very happy to find a super cheap $100 round trip flight from Oakland to Eugene, and I can’t wait to catch up with more family and enjoy life out in the country for a bit.

I don’t have the fondest memories of Oregon, but without a doubt, it’s a gorgeous state and it’ll be nice to breathe in that crisp Pacific Northwest air again.


Mexico Travel - 2018 Destinations The Atlas Heart
Hoping to thaw out in Mexico before heading back to Europe.

And finally, after freezing my bum off for most of the start of the year, I’m hoping to get to Mexico to thaw out before heading to Europe.

I’ve NEVER BEEN to Mexico, which is an embarrassing admission to make when people ask me every single time I say I’m from California. Especially when I mention I went to school in San Diego *face palm*.

I want to change this in 2018 and take a proper vacation before changing continents. I took a poll on Snapchat to ask you guys where I should go, and it seems like Cabo may be the place I break my Mexico cherry.

I know, a bit cliche, but it also sounds like the best spot to just relax in an infinity pool, sip on margaritas, and chill on the beach with a good book.

The UK

Scotland, UK - Travel Destinations 2018 | The Atlas Heart

The UK will probably be my first stop in Europe, I’m thinking I’ll probably be arriving around March. My main purpose for my visit is to see another one of my close friends, who’s studying abroad in Edinburgh right now.

Also, one of my closest British friends who I traveled around SE Asia with in 2013 is living in London now, so I will most definitely make the trek down there to see her for a catch up.

Another place that I’m always slightly embarrassed to admit I haven’t been, this will be my first time to the UK!

I’ll be spending a good portion of it in Scotland to hopefully trace some of my family history and spend time with my friend in Edinburgh, but I’ll probably spend a week or two in England as well.


Lisbon, Portugal, Europe Travel Destinations 2018 | The Atlas Heart
Portugal is one of the places I’m most excited to see in 2018!

I plan to be based in Portugal for about three months in 2018 to really get a feel for the country, Portuguese culture, and to tackle learning the language. Portugal is one of the countries I’m most excited to test out in terms of a base, because I’ve heard such amazing things about it from other expats.

I’ll probably spend most of my time in Lisbon, but I also want to take a couple of road trips around the country, go up to Porto, and down to the Algarve region (Lagos looks stunning).  I’ll probably spend my 28th birthday in Portugal, and I couldn’t be more excited.


Marseille, Provence, France - Europe Travel Destinations 2018 | The Atlas Heart

Another country I’ve thought of settling down in, I plan to head back to France in 2018 to check out a few more regions and cities. I still have only ever been to Paris and Nice, and I have a feeling that I’ll enjoy other parts of the country even more.

So far, I’m thinking I’ll start in Biarritz/Bayonne, and maybe visit Toulouse, Aix-en-Provence, and Marseille. I also wouldn’t mind seeing Nantes if I have the time, since one of my French friends is from there and he had great things to say about the city.

The Netherlands

Amsterdam, Netherlands - Europe Travel Destinations 2018 | The Atlas Heart

The Netherlands is a new addition to my potential ‘countries to live in’ list. Honestly, I’m not sure if I could hang with the weather, which I’ve heard is very similar to England, but there’s so much I love about Dutch culture, I wanted to give it a go anyway.

The Netherlands is one of the most progressive countries in terms of gender equality, which is a a big win in my book. They’re also, for the most part, very forward-thinking when it comes to health care, welfare, work-life balance, and their knowledge about politics and the outside world.

It also doesn’t hurt that most Dutch men I’ve met are gorgeous, intelligent, tall, and speak 3-4 languages. On second thought, maybe the weather won’t be such a hindrance after all.

I’m thinking of basing myself in Utrecht for maybe a month or so, and making smaller trips to other parts of the country, including Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

Other Potential Destinations

These are a bit more uncertain, but still places I would love to get to this year if I have the time.


Estonia - Europe Travel Destinations 2018 | The Atlas Heart

Two of my friends are currently living in Estonia until May, and I would love to visit them before they leave. Estonia is one of those countries that I don’t know a whole lot about, but one that I’ve always wanted to visit because I’ve heard it’s beautiful.

If I could do a quick week-long trip, maybe while I’m living in Portugal, that would be ideal.


Croatia - Europe Travel Destinations 2018 | The Atlas Heart

This one is a bigger stretch, but I put it on this list anyway because I would still love to see Croatia sooner rather than later. I almost based myself in Croatia last year instead of Greece, and although I’m very glad I chose Greece, I was still bummed that I missed out on seeing Croatia.

Again, if I could put together a quick 1-2 week trip, maybe toward the end of summer or start of fall (after the crazy tourist season), it might happen.


Chefchaouen, Morocco - Africa Travel Destinations 2018 | The Atlas Heart

I’ve never been to Africa, and since I’ll be living in Portugal for a few months, it only seems right that I should visit a north African country while I’m in the area. It’s only a quick and cheap flight down to Marrakesh.

I would love to make it into a week or so trip and see Fes, Casablanca, and Chefchaouen if time permits.


Barcelona, Spain - Europe Travel Destinations 2018 | The Atlas Heart

In the same vein as Morocco, Spain is so close to Portugal I feel like it would be silly to not make a quick trip to the country while I’m in Lisbon. Believe it or not, Spain is another country I’ve never been to, even though I studied abroad in Italy for a summer in college.

I would love to explore some parts of the Spanish coast and definitely Barcelona. We’ll see how much time and funds I have, but I’d be happy with even just a weekend of partying and checking out the main attractions in Barcelona. We’ll see!

Four Goals for 2018

And a few goals for 2018 – this is what I would like to focus on this year:

  • Become conversationally fluent in another language
  • Start writing my first book
  • Volunteer in more places. Ideally I would love to do short-term volunteer experiences in every country I go to, but for the quicker trips that probably won’t be possible. I want to volunteer in at least the countries that I’ll be in for a month or more this year – whether that’s with animals, literacy programs, or women’s rights organizations.
  • Be more present. I got really burnt out by the end of my travels in 2017, and I stopped appreciating where I was, who I was with, and the beautiful things I was seeing. This year, I want to travel slower, get into a regular habit of meditation, and find that daily dose of beauty through being present.

Tell me – have you been to any of these destinations? Any recommendations for what I should see? Do you have any exciting travel destinations planned for 2018?


Travel Destinations for 2018: Where I'm Going | The Atlas Heart

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Mimi McFadden
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