There is no better way to kick off 2019 than with a refresher course in your ABCs. WestJet Magazine has compiled a list of 26 reasons you need to travel this year; from the newest trends, advice to make your journey easier and insight on some of the hottest destinations you will be hearing about in the months ahead. Get ready to start learning.

  is for Asbury Park, New Jersey

(Click the location markers for information on places to go)

Illustration by Marc Nipp

While the popularity of this coastal city has ebbed and flowed like the ocean waves against its popular beach, Asbury Park, N.J., has regained its title as one of the coolest places on the Jersey Shore. With an amazing beach, impressive music scene and diverse arts community, this small city, less than two hours by train from New York City, is worth a visit. —DL

  is for Bimini, Bahamas

Diving at the SS Sapona, photo by Bryan Soderlind

Diving at the SS Sapona, photo by Bryan Soderlind

Floridians have been making weekend getaways to Bimini—a 90-minute ferry ride from Miami—for decades, but only in recent years has the island’s popularity risen, largely thanks to the 2016 opening of its only luxury resort, Hilton at Resorts World Bimini. Visitors are now discovering what Floridians have always known; this Bahamian island is rich in marine life and full of historical puzzles, like the Bimini Road and fabled Fountain of Youth sought by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León in 1513. —DL

  Read more: Why You Should Visit the Island of Bimini in 2019

  is for Canmore, Alberta

The Lamphouse Hotel, photo by Marc James Co.

Canmore, Alta., located about an hour west of Calgary, has long been looked at as nearby Banff’s little sister. But, thanks to a recent wave in developments, Canmore has developed a style all its own. Visitors seek out its Nordic Centre Provincial Park, hiking opportunities and proximity to the ski hills, but also as a destination for bachelor parties, family reunions and group get-togethers. —ECB

Read more: Why You Should Visit Canmore, Alberta, in 2019

  is for Digital Detox

Rainforest in Belize, photo by Cameris/Getty Images

Rainforest in Belize, photo by Cameris/Getty Images

Digital detoxes, ranging from extreme tech-free zones where devices are confiscated, to spots with limited connectivity so handhelds useless, continue to gain popularity. Many travellers are opting for a self-imposed hiatus from their gadgets while on vacation. The team at Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch adventure company in Belize, located just off the Hummingbird Highway, make it easy to resist the urge to stay connected. The property’s Wi-Fi signal is limited to the Jungle Lodge, and is switched off during meals, so you’ll be able to spend the evening reconnecting with family and friends rather than Instagram. —DB

  is for Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Photo by Bruce Aspley/iStock

It has become France’s most-famous structure, the queen of Paris’ skyline, but the Eiffel Tower wasn’t popular with her people when she was first conceived. Built by French engineer Gustave Eiffel, the wrought iron tower was meant to be a temporary structure during the 1889 World’s Fair, but, throughout that summer the public became enchanted. This March marks the 130th anniversary of the structure, which is still one of the most photographed spots in Europe. —DL

Read more: 5 Things to Know About the Eiffel Tower

  is for Food Halls

Photo courtesy La Grande Épicerie de Paris

Sipping and savouring in food halls has been a European pastime for years, and, recently, has experienced something of a revival in North America. Avenida Food Hall & Fresh Market in Calgary, Alta., opened in December 2018, bringing together some of the city’s best chefs  to rub shoulders with artisan butchers, up-at-dawn bakers and many an artful maker. —DB

Read more: 4 Food Halls You Need to Eat at in 2019

  is for Glencoe, Scotland

Photo by Henri Cooney

When you picture the Scottish Highlands, deep valleys, towering mountains and endless lush landscapes probably come to mind. What you’re likely envisioning is Glencoe. This part of Scotland, located about two-and-a-half hours northwest of Glasgow, is one of the area’s most famed glens. The valley has long attracted walkers, climbers and mountain bikers looking to explore the steep ridges, famed mountain ranges and sparkling lochs. —SS

Read more: Glencoe May Be Scotland’s Dreamiest Destination

  is for Haunted Hotel

The Stanley Hotel, photo by P. Portal.Photo/Alamy

Walking through the historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colo., it’s easy to understand how it inspired horror writer Stephen King to pen his 1977 masterpiece, The Shining. This 1909 Colonial Revival building is considered one of the world’s most-haunted hotels. Guests complain of an eerie feeling inside the wood-clad walls of the billiard room, where the star-spangled banner hangs above the fireplace. Take a closer look, and you might see the face of the hotel’s original owner in the top right-hand corner. —DB

Read more: Stay at Colorado’s Haunted Stanley Hotel

  is for Îles de la Madeleine

La Grave, photo by Eve-Danielle Latulippe

La Grave, photo by Eve-Danielle Latulippe

Located a five-hour ferry ride from Souris, P.E.I., Les Îles de la Madeleine is a popular escape for Quebecers, with an increasing number of visitors arriving from the Maritimes, Ontario and the United States. The 74,000 tourists, who mostly come to this archipelago in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence late spring and early fall, are there for the pastoral beauty of its rolling hills and red-sand cliffs, stunning beaches, incredible kiteboarding conditions and unobstructed, nightly views of the stars. —DL

Read more: Why Canada’s Îles de la Madeleine Should be on Your Bucket List

  is for Jokes

Photo courtesy Toronto’s Second City Training Centre

Travel can be stressful, so having a good sense of humour helps. Comedy and improv clubs are a great way to add laughter to your vacation, and will also offer insight into the place you are visiting. —DL

Read more: Top Cities to Visit if You Love Comedy

  is for Keepsakes

Photo by Blackzheep/Getty Images

Photo by Blackzheep/Getty Images

Your phone’s camera is great for snapping pics, but it’s difficult to show off those cherished travel memories when they’re on your camera roll or stored in your cloud. Posterjack turns your photos into wall art with a variety of print sizes and types, including metal, acrylic or wood, worthy of any hip art institution. Chatbooks allows you to create a modern album, with customized captions, while Super Snaps turns your digital shots into old-school Polaroid prints. —VL

  is for Lachine Canal

Lachine Canal in Montreal Photo by Jocelyne Maucotel

Photo by Jocelyne Maucotel

Recently rejuvenated, this ribbon of once-polluted water runs from Parc René-Lévesque to the Port of Montreal. The nearly 200-year-old Lachine Canal is edged by biking and walking paths and is just a short walk from the Atwater Market. Rent a pedal or electric boat, kayak or canoe from H2O Adventures and take a ride on the gentle stretch of water between two of the canal’s locks. Parks Canada recently installed seven oTENTik glamping units near Montreal’s iconic Silo No. 5 at the east end of the canal, which offer stunning views of the city at night. —DL  

  is for Music

Photo courtesy Sofar Sounds Calgary

Sofar Sounds is for people who appreciate live music—without distractions. Located in more than 400 cities around the world, from New York City and Toronto to London (both England and Ontario). The frequency of shows and type of venues—performances take place anywhere from living rooms to factories—differ in each city, but what unites them is an appreciation of live music. —DL

Read more: This Group Organizes Secret Live Music Shows Around the World

  is for New York City WorldPride

New York City WorldPride

Photo by Sean Drakes/Alamy

It was 50 years ago this June that New York City’s Stonewall Inn was cemented as an icon of LGBTQ+ history in the United States. After repeated raids on the Stonewall Inn—one of the city’s few gay bars at the time—by the New York City Police Department, a riot broke out that would lead to widespread activism within the community for equal rights. To mark the anniversary, New York City is hosting this year’s WorldPride. The event is expected to attract more than three million visitors throughout June and will include a film festival, human rights conference and the annual Pride March on June 30. —DL

  is for Oakland, California

Photo by Soraya Matos

Long overshadowed by San Francisco, Oakland has entered the limelight in recent years thanks to its innovative arts scene, diverse food offerings and easily accessible outdoor spaces. Explore the streets of this city on the eastern side of San Francisco Bay, and you’ll discover a can-do enthusiasm that thrives on collaboration, evident from the community mural projects, a monthly downtown art walk, and artists’ studios and learning spaces such as The Crucible. And, restaurateurs, leaving San Francisco in search of lower rents, have opened taste-bud titillating restaurants and pop-up eateries—the Oakland Museum of California hosts weekly food trucks on Friday nights—offering everything from Ethiopian to Vietnamese fare. Meanwhile, Oakland is part of the East Bay Regional Park District, an extensive multi-use park and trail system and the largest regional park system in the U.S. The city is home to 11 parks that offer plenty of recreational opportunities, as does Lake Merritt, a tidal lagoon and wildlife refuge located just east of downtown. —DL

Read more: Oakland, California, is Bursting With Cultural Innovation

  is for Pangea Pod Hotel

Photo courtesy Pangea Pod Hotel/SilentSama Architectural Photography

Photo courtesy Pangea Pod Hotel/SilentSama Architectural Photography

With its effortlessly stylish vibe and small-scale sleep compartments, the Pangea Pod Hotel is the first of its kind in Canada, delivering an affordable stay in the heart of British Columbia’s Whistler Village. Sleeping pods, stacked two-high and organized into suites of six to 18 (including a women-only section) are all accessed with nifty digital wristband keys and give guests personal space. The communal areas include a surprisingly upscale bar-lounge-café and roof-top deck—perfect places to hang with like-minded snow seekers. —ABC

  is for Quaint and Quiet

Photo by Joseph Casey

Falling asleep in church is usually frowned upon—until now. In England, travellers can slumber in 18th-century box pews or even beneath medieval wall paintings in churches no longer used for worship. Started in 2015, champing (the combination of “church” and “camping”) is a unique way to experience the English countryside. There are currently 21 churches to choose from, and the hallowed season runs from Easter to the end of September. —WC

  is for Road Trip

The Pacific Coast Highway, photo by MONK/Relaximages

The Pacific Coast Highway, photo by MONK/Relaximages

California’s Highway 1—a.k.a. the Pacific Coast Highway—runs about 1,050 kilometres from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Its incredible Pacific views and place in popular culture has made it the site of epic road trips since the 1920s. Nearly a kilometre of the highway was destroyed after a landslide in May 2017, making access to towns, like Big Sur, difficult or, in some cases, impossible. Last July, after 14 months of work, the highway fully reopened and the area is welcoming visitors back. —SS

Read more: Why You Should Visit Big Sur, California, in 2019

  is for Solo Travel

Illustration by Marc Nipp

Illustration by Marc Nipp

When it comes to travelling alone, it’s pretty easy to see the perks: going solo means there you can do exactly what you want, when you want. But, with the high cost of hotel rooms and single supplement fees, travelling alone isn’t always the most economical option. Luckily the industry is catching on, and many hotels and resorts are offering more options to solo travelers. —SS

Read more: Why 2019 is One of the Best Years to Travel Solo

  is for Television Shows

Highclere Castle, a.k.a. Downton Abbey

Highclere Castle, a.k.a. Downton Abbey

You probably binge-watch your favourite series when you are flying, so why note visit the place where they were made on your next vacation. Various companies and tourism boards have tours—guided and self-guided, to locations were shows like Downton Abbey, Supergirl and Broad City were filmed. —VL

Read more: TV Tours to Take in England, Scotland, Ireland, Toronto, Vancouver and New York City

  is for Unusual Desert Attractions

Salvation Mountain, photo by Richard Wong/Alamy

Salvation Mountain, photo by Richard Wong/Alamy

Greater Palm Springs, Calif., and the surrounding area, is a luxurious retreat for sun seekers, but beneath that glossy veneer lurks a world of weirdness. These oddball attractions offer a glimpse into the eccentricities of desert culture—from Salvation Mountain, a 50-foot mound of adobe, straw and multiple layers of paint, to Dinny and Mr. Rex, two giant model dinosaurs. —ECB

Read more: Unusual Desert Attractions Around Palm Springs

  is for Victoria, the Queen

A statue of Queen Victoria in front of Kensington Palace, photo courtesy Historic Royal Palaces/VisitBritain

A statue of Queen Victoria in front of Kensington Palace, photo courtesy Historic Royal Palaces/VisitBritain

Nicknamed the “grandmother of Europe,” Queen Victoria’s descendants include a German emperor, a Russian empress, and, of course, an English king. In 2019, the United Kingdom will commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of princes William and Harry’s great-great-great-great grandmother. The second-longest reigning monarch in British history, her legacy continues to thrive and there are some great sites in Scotland and England to visit to mark this special anniversary. —WC

Read more: Where to Mark the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of Queen Victoria in 2019

  is for West Kootenays, B.C.

West Kootenays in British Columbia

Photo by Overflightstock Ltd/Alamy

Tucked away in the southeast corner of British Columbia, and surrounded by the peaks of the Columbia Mountains, the West Kootenays’ isolation is part of its appeal. The region attracts explorers who want to paddle its waterways, hike its alpine meadows in the summer and snowshoe the same trails in winter. In the charming towns of Nelson and Rossland, adrenalin takes a backseat to craft beers, haute cuisine and boutique hotels, lending a touch of civility to this largely untouched wedge of wilderness. —LK

Read more: Why British Columbia’s West Kootenays Should Be On Your Radar in 2019

  is for Xcaret and Cozumel, Mexico

Volunteers recreate a sacred canoe journey to Cozumel, Mexico, photo by Erik Ruiz

Volunteers recreate a sacred canoe journey to Cozumel, Mexico, photo by Erik Ruiz

At least once in their lifetime, the Maya were expected to journey to the nearby island of Cozumel, Mexico, to make offerings to Ixchel, the goddess of fertility and medicine. The pilgrimages ended after the Spanish Conquest in the mid-1500s but are now recreated, with volunteer teams of 10, who have trained for a minimum of six months, making the 19-kilometre voyage from Xcaret Park, near Playa del Carmen, to Chankanaab Park on Cozumel each spring. —DL

Read more: Experience a Sacred Mayan Journey in Mexico’s Mayan Riviera

  is for Yurts

A prospector tent at Fronterra, photo by Mat Coker

A prospector tent at Fronterra, photo by Mat Coker

Perfect for travellers who want to experience the joys of camping (starry skies, fireside stories and lazy days) without the schlepping or hardships of traditional camping, glamping is amassing a cult-like following. Resorts offering alternative accommodations in the form of yurts, tree houses, tents, Airstreams, cabins and domes are popping up in, and around, some of North America and Europe’s biggest cities—at price points that cater to all travellers. —SS

Read more: The Best Places to Go Glamping in 2019

  is for 00:01

Photo courtesy Slip

It can be difficult to fall asleep on a red-eye flight, but it is possible. Invest in a pair of earplugs, a neck pillow and the all-important eye-mask—like The Slipsilk Sleep Mask made from breathable, mulberry silk ($58, Roll-on some Sleep Well and Snore No More essential oils from Saje Natural Wellness ($26.95 and $19.95, then load up with podcasts and easy-listening music. You can also try meditation apps such as Headspace and Calm, which both have guided meditations sequences. —DB


[This story appears in the January 2019 issue of WestJet Magazine]