Lonely Planet Picks Its Best In Travel 2013

By  January 09, 2013

Lonely PlanetPhoto Credit: GETTY IMAGES/LONELY PLANET IMAGES

LONELY PLANET’S BEST IN TRAVEL 2013 is finally out! The travel guide’s talented team of expert excursionists have finally settled on the top 10 countries, top 10 cities and top 10 regions you NEED to go this year. But did they all agree on the winners? Or was there some roshambo going on? Lonely Planet Editor Robert Reid let’s us into the inner circle.

Q:

What criteria do you look for when collecting contenders?

A:

Best in Travel is something that’s fun to compile, but serious work too. There are a lot of debates and discussions of what destinations and activities warrant special attention in any given year. So most importantly you look for something that’s new, or part of a trend. You can’t just put something at #1 because it sounds good — and we really work to make sure each one in the book is justified.

Q:

How long have you been compiling this Fit list? Did you find that a lot of people want to stay active during their getaways?

A:

This is the first Fit list. Every year for Best in Travel we balance a couple familiar themes, such as Best-Value Destinations, along with new ones that reflect changing trends. I think being active on the road has always been part of travel. People from ‘car country’ will end up, at the very least, walking more — be it in New York City or Disney World. The notion of traveling specifically FOR being active is growing, too. It’s a fun list, covering all sorts of fitness on the road.

Q:

Do your destinations cater toward those who are seriously fit or could anyone enjoy the places on your list?

A:

It really has something for just about everyone. And that was by design. I mean, not everyone is going to take on all of the Appalachian Trail, although anyone might take on SOME of it. The last one, the mud/water treatments in Biarritz, France — that’s serious luxury. While following the Tour de France nearby is only for those who are in serious shape. That ‘wildfitness’ resort in Kenya is sort of a catch-all. Luxurious, comfort, and really pushing yourself, too. I wouldn’t mind doing that.

Q:

Is there a region of the world that’s rife with opportunities to stay active?

A:

To say just one would suggest others are less so. And, honestly, you only have to choose to be active wherever you go. Obviously there are places near national parks, or oceans, or hiking trails, where the outlets seem endless and so convenient they can’t be resisted. If someone who’s not particularly active goes to the Alps or Rocky Mountains, they’re more likely to do a strenuous hike or two than if they go to Atlanta on a business trip. But, that said, there are superb bike tours of Atlanta that cover many historic neighborhoods including Martin Luther King’s birth site. I mean, if you can do it in Atlanta, you can do it anywhere. Just look at the list of cities with bike-share — that’s not going away. That’s increasingly becoming a valuable way of SEEING a city. The exercise is just gravy.

Q:

Can you name a destination that could make more than one of your “Best in Travel” lists?

A:

San Francisco will be big in 2013. It’s a place where you can find good-value – there is decent public transportation, plenty of biking/walking trails, hotels are much cheaper than in New York. There’s a vintage arcade museum, the Musee Mechanique, which is literally a time-travel trip to a century old arcade. And it’s right on the San Andres Fault, susceptible to earthquakes. That covers several lists right there: City, Value, Time Travel, Staying Fit, Unlucky. And that’s just offhand

Q:

In your opinion, how important is it to stay active during vacation?

A:

Well, less than important it’s an added asset of travel. No matter where you go, nearly everyone is more active on the road than back home. I’d say it’s more important to take that back home, and be more active back home — and to take the curiosity that builds in new places to see your home in a new way, too.

Q:

Can you recommend any places here in the US?

A:

I think I need to make a Top 50 list, with an activity for each state. You can find it anywhere you go. North Dakota? How about the Maah Daah Hey Trail between the two units of the badlands in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. DC? It has one of the nation’s biggest bike-share systems. Minnesota? Canoe trip through the Boundary Waters. It’s endless. I keep pretty active in New York City. You just have to choose it.

Robert Reid is the US Travel Editor for Lonely Planet and sole occupant of the Lonely Planet New York City office. A guidebook author veteran, Robert regularly discusses travel stories and trends for national media including the Today Show, CNN, Fox, MSNBC and the Weather Channel. In addition to writing two dozen Lonely Planet guidebooks (e.g. New York City, Eastern Europe, Central America, Southeast Asia), he has written for publications including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, ESPN, CNN and World Hum. Robert also creates the 76-Second Travel Show homemade travel series that takes an alternative look at various travel topics using simple travel-friendly equipment such as FlipVideo cams and crayons.