Posted by & filed under The Right Way to Travel.

The New York Times recently published a list of “46 Places To Go in 2013.” Destinations on the list include Ningxia, China; The Kimberly, Australia; Hvar, Croatia; and several other places I’ve never heard of.

It’s also substantially different from their 2012 list, which can only lead one to conclude that the latter places were ruined by NYT readers rushing off to visit (and trample) them. 

So I’m not going to recommend where you should go, because I don’t want you racing off and wrecking my favorite travel spots! (I’m joking.) I have no idea where you should go — I don’t know you! So results may vary.

What I AM going to recommend, however, is that since travel is all about exploration, there are (at least) five KINDS of trips that are worth taking. These are all trips you should add to your bucket list before you die even if the destinations vary widely between your choices and mine…

KNOWLEDGE – This is the “go to” reason for traveling — to learn about the world. But “knowledge” can range from merely seeing the landscape of other countries to learning a language, exploring a passion (archaeology, architecture, weaving), acquiring self-knowledge (such as meditation retreats), training for a competition, or just learning more about who you are when you’re not surrounded by friends and family demanding your time.

GASTRONOMY – Oh, we all love to eat. And drink. But some of us also care to learn WHAT we put in our mouths or what vintage a wine from a particular region signifies. These people are often “food writers.” They may go off in search of the best pizza or cannoli or pho or whiskey, or perhaps just use their vocation as an excuse to pig out and get loaded. No matter.

ADVENTURE – Hiking, skiing, river-rafting, climbing, scuba-diving, romping across the beds of Europe. The point is to throw yourself into an activity with abandon — presumably one that’s fun, challenging, and/or entails an element of risk — either as a novice, because it’s not available where you live, or to get single-minded in its pursuit for a week or two.  

LUXURIATING – I don’t think I really need to explain this one. You get pampered. Head to foot. Massaged. Kneaded. Pummeled. Exfoliated. Manicured. Pedicured. You get wrinkly in a hot tub and firmed up with Botox. With luck you never step outside the spa or resort, and return home having no clue what country you visited or what the natives do for a living besides cater to you.

DOING GOOD – Unfortunately, the world can be a pretty messed up place. Poverty. Illness. Political repression. Sexual slavery. People need basics like clean water, medicine, and shelter. And guess what? There are organizations where you can volunteer to help build, educate, provide, and (depending on your skill level) cure. Usually you have to pay to volunteer, and the accommodations are basic, but as they say, “you get something back.” 

There is also the Family Trip, in which you spend all your time with people you’re related to, but this is so far beyond my comprehension that I’m leaving it off my list. Maybe that’s why I’m single.