It won’t surprise readers to know that at Travel + Leisure, our editorial team has one thing in common: we love to travel. Whether we’re writing, editing, researching, interviewing experts, photographing, shooting video, or posting on Instagram or TikTok, we’re passionate about creating travel content in any form — but it’s when we get out into the world to see it for ourselves that we are the most inspired.
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This year was a special travel year for us, just like it was for so many of you. Some of us were able to finally see long-planned family trips come to fruition, while others were able to return to favorite European destinations for the first time since the pandemic. Some lived out their safari dreams while others found new favorite spots close to home.
The end of the year is a great time to stop and reflect, and before we launch ourselves into planning our next trips (and helping you plan yours), we wanted to share our best travel moments of 2022.
We’re looking forward to an even bigger year of adventure in 2023, and we hope our favorite trips of the year will inspire your favorite trips to come.
Waterslides and Pigs in the Bahamas
My son Bobby is at the age (7!) where a waterslide-filled vacation is his jam. Enter Atlantis Bahamas, a time-tested kids paradise that surprisingly has a lot of fun stuff on hand for adults, too. We stayed at the Cove, the most exclusive wing of the resort — then spent our days zipping along in the Rapids River, taking the plunge on the iconic Mayan Temple slide, and lounging in a private seaside cabana. — Jacqui Gifford, Editor in Chief
A Tour of California: Encinitas, Big Sur, and Napa Valley
I’ve lived in California for a few years now, but whenever I venture out of Los Angeles to explore my home state, I’m still in awe. My favorite trip this year allowed me to have three completely different California experiences curated by the teams behind three exceptional new hotels, Alila’s first U.S. outposts. Down in Encinitas, a beach city in San Diego County, I stayed at Alila Marea, e-biked to explore the cool downtown restaurant scene, and took the best surf lesson of my life with Fulcrum Surf. In Big Sur, almost 400 miles north, I hung out in my forest-view hammock at Alila Ventana Big Sur, hiked, stargazed from Japanese hot baths, and drove a classic car up Highway 1. And even further north at Alila Napa Valley, I woke up to vineyard views, explored the quaint town of St. Helena (including Oprah’s favorite bakery), tasted incredible wines, and had a hot stone massage I still dream of months later. It was the perfect reminder of how lucky I am to call this special state home, and while everyone asks which stop was my favorite, I always recommend they try out all three and decide for themselves. — Nina Ruggiero, Digital Editorial Director
Road Tripping Through the South of France
When I received the invitation to my best friend’s destination wedding in Provence, the first thing I did was Google the best fromageries in the area — priorities, am I right? Turns out, this was a futile endeavor because the cheese just about everywhere was divine, as was the wine. And the baguettes. And the charcuterie. And, well, you get the idea. Aside from weeping in a beautiful vineyard while watching my friends tie the knot, my husband and I spent two weeks road tripping around Lyon, then the Luberon region, and finally capping things off with a swim in the emerald waters at Calanques de Cassis. We savored every bite, every sip of wine, at Michelin-starred restaurants like Paul Bocuse and the elegant Ducasse-owned La Bastide de Moustiers, as well as hole-in-the-wall boulangeries and patisseries that tempted us in with the wafting scents of bread, butter, and sugar. We weaved in and out of idyllic, frozen-in-time towns like Gordes (a hilltop stunner that proved to be the perfect home base for exploring France’s famous lavender fields), Rouissillion (painted in dramatic shades of red and orange), Moustiers-Sainte-Marie (plucked from a storybook, placed between two rocky slopes, and home to the aforementioned Ducasse eatery), Lourmarin (with its maze of narrow streets, colorful houses, and cafes), and many, many more. A real highlight, though, was spending the day at Coquillade Provence Resort & Spa, the best resort in France — and one of the best in the world — according to Travel + Leisure’s 2022 World’s Best Awards. We lounged by the pool, blissed out at the spa, had one of the best meals of our lives at the on-site restaurant, and even took a guided bike trip through vineyards and towns that, of course, ended with a stunning spread of — what else — cheese. — Alisha Prakash, Associate Editorial Director
A Christmas and New Year’s Cruise
It was almost a year ago now, but I still daydream about ringing in the start of 2022 in Rome. Rather than spend the holidays at home, my wife and I hopped aboard the Viking Venus in Athens and spent Christmas in the middle of the Mediterranean. The ship was decked out with gingerbread houses and trimmed trees; we’d visit towns like Naples and Taormina, where the squares were lit with decorations and the shops were selling wonderful holiday treats. Our itinerary ended in Rome, where the crowds were, compared to the summertime, thin, and it was easy to score a table just about anywhere we wanted. Come to think of it, I can’t believe we’re not doing it again this year. — Paul Brady, Articles Editor
Sacred Valley, Peru
This year, I spent four nights in Peru’s Sacred Valley — in the town of Ollantaytambo at Las Qolqas, a glamping resort that opened in spring 2021. The resort is small and cozy, set amid towering rocks, with a lovely rose garden, 16 tents, a dome-shaped, open-air pavilion, and a dining area where I consumed more ceviche and Pisco sours than anyone should in a four-day period. Ollantaytambo is the closest town from which you can take a train to Machu Picchu, which I did with a wonderful guide from Kuska Expeditions. (In December 2022, the rail was temporarily suspended, leaving visitors stranded at various locations along the route. Because the protests are ongoing, a result of President Castillo’s recent impeachment, the U.S. State Department is currently discouraging travel to Peru.) While hiking Wayna Picchu, the mountain directly behind Machu Picchu, was exceptional, my favorite part of the trip was walking around Ollantaytambo with my guide, a member of the Indigenous Quechua nation, which has Incan-built and extremely well-preserved stone walls and waterways that the Urubamba River flows through. — Maya Kachroo-Levine, Luxury and Experiences Editor
Highlights of Western Morocco
This fall I attended a travel industry event in Marrakesh and decided to make a week of it. Royal Air Maroc’s nonstop flights from New York fly into Casablanca, so I rested off my jetlag for an afternoon by the pool at the Four Seasons there; the next morning I drove into Marrakesh, where I stayed at the beautiful new Oberoi property just outside the city center. After several days of souks and walking tours (and an epic bike ride through the Agafay Desert) I headed to the Atlantic coast, where I ambled around Taghazout, a picturesque fishing village and popular surf spot — there’s a Fairmont resort just south of town. This region is also a center of argan oil production, so I visited the just-opened Argan Museum at Targant to learn more about the craft and pick up some products from the women-run collective. On my way back to Casablanca, I stopped for a night in Essaouira, ending my trip with some Morroccan wine by the rooftop pool at the beautiful Heure Bleue Palais. — Hannah Walhout, Senior Editor
Safari in Kenya’s Maasai Mara
I don’t think anyone forgets their first safari, but having the experience at a place like Mahali Mzuri makes it even more memorable than it already is. The name means “beautiful place” in Swahili, but at this Virgin Limited Edition safari camp, the beauty extends far beyond the landscape. The expert guides and staff create an environment that truly feels like a home away from home. We spent the days exploring the Maasai Mara on game drives with our guide (and now friend) Jackson, spotting elephants from the pool, and chatting with other guests at the help-yourself bar. I’ll remember it not only as my favorite trip of 2022, but perhaps as one of my favorite trips ever. — Samantha Lauriello, Social Media Editor
Hiking and Brewery Hopping in Vermont
This July, I spent a long weekend exploring Vermont’s Mad River Valley with a dear friend from college. It was spontaneous, (mostly) screen-free, and simple. We hiked Mount Abe — one of the state’s highest peaks — jumped in the river each day to cool off, and visited some of the state’s best breweries, like Bent Hill and Lawson’s Finest Liquids. It reminded me that trips don’t have to be elaborate to be meaningful. — Liz Cantrell, Associate Editor
Skiing in Banff, Canada
Every year I plan a ski trip for the last week in February, and this year I went to Banff to ski the “Big 3” — Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise, and Mount Norquay — all accessible via one (relatively affordable) ski pass. The skiing isn’t just good, it’s fantastic. Panoramic views of the Canadian Rockies from the top are a thrilling reminder you’re inside one of the world’s most famous national parks, and the coldest, clearest of nights bring a chance to spot the Northern Lights. The town of Banff can feel a bit touristy if you don’t know where to look, but lean on local gems such as the St. James Gate for a pint and Ramen Arashi Banff to warm up after a long day. — Jamie Aranoff, Associate Digital Editor
This year, my sister and I went on the ultimate girls trip: a Mediterranean cruise with Virgin Voyages. We visited St. Tropez, Portofino, and Ibiza to name just a few stops, and we tacked on a few extra days in Barcelona before the cruise started. It was such a fun summer getaway, and the adults-only, laid-back Virgin Voyages vibe was really perfect for a worry-free girls getaway. — Elizabeth Rhodes, Special Projects Editor
Long Weekend in Lake Placid
My husband and I craved a quick, low-key, early-summer getaway with this criteria: it had to be within driving distance and somewhere neither of us had been before. We settled on Lake Placid, where we spent a fantastic few days away. We bobsledded and mountain-coastered at the Lake Placid Legacy Sites, ate and drank well at Big Slide Brewery and Salt of the Earth Bistro, and did plenty of waterside relaxing at the picture-perfect Mirror Lake Inn. We were both feeling burned out before the trip, but the town’s fresh air and friendly vibes left us fully recharged. — Skye Senterfeit, Deputy Photo Editor
Living in a new part of our home state inspired my partner and I to explore the region of South Central Texas and Hill Country. We did a string of staycations in San Antonio, Austin, and Hill Country throughout the year, and none of them were a disappointment. We explored our new home city of San Antonio by staying at Hotel Emma and the Thompson San Antonio Riverwalk, dined at Supper and Cured, and spent the perfect day at Loma de Vida Spa at La Cantera Resort. A weekend trip to Johnson City in Texas Hill Country had us learning about Texas Wines, experiencing wilderness at Walden Retreats, and sipping delicious cocktails at Nice N Easy bar. Then we revisited an old favorite, Austin. The booming capital city is ever-changing, and at the Carpenter Hotel, we found just the right mix of old and new Austin. — Marah Tyler, Visuals Editor
Los Cabos, Mexico
This summer I stayed at the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal, and it was one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever taken. The staff is the friendliest group of people imaginable. I was able to do an agave tasting with the bar director and learned more about the appellations of tequila than I thought possible. The rooms with attached private plunge pools were incredible, too. — Maggie Delgadillo, Supervising Video Producer
An Italian Summer
I took my first trip to Europe since before the pandemic in June, to Italy. I started in Milan, which, for an architecture and design enthusiast, was a joy. There are the famous buildings, of course, like La Scala, Villa Necchi, and the Duomo, but my favorite afternoon was spent wandering around residential neighborhoods like Porta Venezia and Brera, which are full of beautiful 17th- and 18th-century palazzi. From Milan, I drove to Lake Como (which takes less than two hours) and checked into the new Passalacqua hotel in Moltrasio. Owner and CEO Valentina De Santis did an incredible job restoring this 17th-century villa, which has hosted everyone from composer Vincenzo Bellini (he wrote the opera La Sonnambula here in 1831) to Winston Churchill. Lake Como, by the way, is just as stunning in person as it is in pictures — it felt almost unreal. — John Wogan, Special Projects Editor
Safari in Botswana
This Botswana trip was an epic family vacation three years in the making. We visited multiple andBeyond properties — including my favorite, the Sandibe Okavango Lodge, with its luxurious lobby-lounge area designed in the shape of a pangolin, a reminder of the company’s efforts to save the species from extinction. On game drives we saw leopards, lions, elephants, and zebras, but the knowledgeable guides with their expert tracking skills were easily the highlight. — Samantha Falewée, Associate Editor
Weeklong Adventure in Belize
Belize is having a moment, and it was by far my favorite trip of 2022. A destination known for its biodiversity, I was lucky enough to experience two distinctly different environments in one go. Our first stop was Alaia Belize — a classic Caribbean getaway on Ambergris Caye, the country’s largest island. After a few days of swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing, we hopped on a prop plane and made our way to Ka’ana Resort, a hidden gem in the tropical jungle of Western Belize. Here, we spent the days zip lining, cave tubing, exploring ancient ruins, and eating fresh Mayan cuisine sourced from the on-property garden. From land to sea, the natural beauty of Belize is undeniable. — Annie Archer, Assistant Social Editor
Positano Girls Trip
On a recent trip to Italy this past September, my friend and I decided to soak in the Amalfi Coast sun with a spritz in each hand. Staying at the incredible Hotel Poseidon, we had an unbeatable view of all of Positano, the beach, and the spectacular sunrises every morning from our balcony. The days at the hotel were spent lounging by the pool, enjoying an aperitivo or two under the blooming terrace, and eating our fill of lemon risotto. Taking a limoncello-making class together at Valenti and filling the rest of our days shopping and enjoying la dolce vita made this the perfect girls getaway. — Alessandra Amodio, Associate Photo Editor
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