Start off the new year as you mean to go on! Whether you're looking for a sun-soaked trip or a ski trip with a difference, look no further.
SKI / EXPLORE
If you want a ski trip with a difference, Japan is a great choice. The northern island of Hokkaidō has incredible skiing opportunities with challenging slopes, traditional villages and (hopefully) copious amounts of dry powder snow.
Rusutsu Resort, a large ski resort in Hokkaidō, is a paradise for skiers and snowboarders. The resort offers a variety of facilities where après ski means soaking in an onsen with a Sapporo in hand and a bowl of ramen for dinner.
Generally powder days come with more frequency from early January until the end of February and hit sporadically throughout March. As skiers and snowboarders know all to well snowfall patterns are difficult to predict - it really does come down to luck!
There is more to Hokkaidō than great powder snow. The Sapporo Snow Festival is an extravaganza of snow and ice held annually in Sapporo City, Hokkaidō, in early February. Started 70 years ago, the festival usually attracts thousands of visitors flocking to see the highly detailed snow and ice sculptures.
Before leaving Hokkaidō, do not miss the chance to visit Kushiro Marsh home to the magnificent tancho, Japan's rare and enchanting red-crowned cranes. You may even be lucky enough to witness the graceful cranes putting on a show full of song and dance.
Great time to visit (weather): January to February
RELAX / EXPLORE
Barbados is justifiably famed for its bleached-white, powdery beaches, but there’s so much more to Barbados. Beyond the beaches there are plenty of hidden treasures to discover. You’ll find a country rich in history, a UNESCO World Heritage listed capital, a wild surf, beachfront Bajan barbecues, brightly coloured rum shops and beautiful gardens. Barbados’ welcoming island vibes will make you want to return time and time again.
Combine sun, sea and sand with delicious local Caribbean food, a cuisine as diverse as it is delicious. Oistins Fish Fry is a legendary spot for visitors and locals alike. With fresh fish, jerk chicken and Caribbean beats filling the stage, this is the place to be on a Friday night. We also recommend you get in line for the famous fish sandwich at Cuz’s Fish Shack. It is clear why the locals make a beeline for this seaside snack bar!
With a rich cultural mix of customs and traditions Barbados has a unique culture with strong links to the past. In Bridgetown, a UNESCO world heritage site, immerse yourself in history; enjoy the dockside cafes, shops and thriving markets; and soak in the Bajan atmosphere.
Barbados has no shortage of beautiful attractions from Barclay’s Park to Hunte’s Gardens but one natural wonder, Harrison’s Cave, will lead you deep underground. The winding tunnels and caverns laden with stalagmites and stalactites are one of the island’s most breathtaking natural treasures. Situated in the northern tip of the island, Animal Flower Cave is another cave to delve into. Take in the stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean through the cave openings. Simply breathtaking.
Whether you choose to explore the island or chill on the beach with a rum punch in your hand, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Barbados.
Great time to visit (weather): Barbados is a great destination for year-round sunshine and warm weather. The sunniest and driest part of the year is from December to April.
Sydney to Fraser Island, Australia.
Australia’s east coast offers plenty to get excited about with its picture perfect beaches, lush rainforests, cool cities and abundant native wildlife. A road tripper’s paradise! Your TripMapper itinerary will be the perfect travel companion for your Aussie adventure.
There is no better place to start your adventure than Sydney, Australia’s Harbour City. Exciting, yet easygoing, this glossy waterside cosmopolis has so much to offer. Enjoy the food markets, skyline bars and art galleries; view the iconic Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge from the water; and explore Sydney’s surf beaches and tranquil bays.
After saying goodbye to Sydney pick up your campervan and set off for Port Stephens. You’ll be greeted by pristine waters, stunning sand dunes and freshly caught seafood.
Leaving the laid back lifestyle of Port Stephens behind you, your next stop will be the majestic Dorrigo National Park, part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia, the largest strip of subtropical rainforest on earth.
An hour’s drive from Dorrigo National Park is Coff’s Harbour. From bushwalking and whale watching to the iconic Big Banana this beachside city is full of attractions. A visit to Bryon Bay followed by the chilled out Gold Coast will certainly fill up the next few days of your adventure. The Gold Coast's star attraction is its beaches, including the world-renowned Surfers Paradise. Beyond the beaches there is a booming culinary scene and world class theme parks for the adrenalin seekers!
Brisbane, the sun-soaked capital of Queensland, is next on your TripMapper itinerary. Wine and dine at Howard Smith Wharves, indulge at Eat Street Markets, brighten your style in the city's boutiques and visit the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Don’t miss Brisbane Powerhouse arts hub and the Gallery of Modern Art.
Now make your way to the Sunshine Coast. Start by meandering through the stunning Glass House Mountains, a natural playground loaded with walking trails and breathtaking panoramas, before making your way to Noosa, famed for its thriving food scene. Be sure to dine at one of the top restaurants on Hastings Street in Noosa and visit Eumundi Markets in the lush Noosa hinterland.
The final stop is Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island. This World Heritage listed wilderness is the perfect place to go wild with its thrilling 4WD tracks, tall rainforests, dingoes and humpback whales.
An Aussie adventure awaits. Hit the road!
Great time to visit (weather): December to February
This gem of an island has something for everyone. Trek through lush rainforests, gaze at ancient ruins, dip your toes in the Indian Ocean and wander through rolling tea plantations.
With nearly 1600 km of coastline Sri Lanka has some magnificent stretches of golden sand to enjoy. The ocean itself has just as much to offer with fantastic dive sites and reefs to explore. The waters are also a great place to spot blue, sperm, humpback and Bryde’s whales. Sri Lanka's national parks are just as rich with wildlife with leopards, elephants, water buffaloes and many endemic species calling the Sri Lankan jungle home.
When you’re ready to escape the coast delve into Sri Lanka's rich heritage with a visit to a tea plantation in the rolling hills. From leaf to cup you will get to enjoy a delicious sample surrounded by the unforgettable sweeping views of the countryside. An unmissable Sri Lankan experience.
An exploration of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle is also a must. Stretching between Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura and Dambulla, the Cultural Triangle is a treasure trove of natural, historical and religious sites. This is where you'll find the iconic Sigiriya Rock and the Rangiri Dambulla Cave Temple, the best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka, packed full of colourful treasures.
Few places in the world can offer such a remarkable combination of beaches, cultural heritage, beautiful landscapes and wildlife. This island truly packs a punch.
Great time to visit (weather): December to March to avoid the southwest monsoon.
Editor's note: During COVID-19 there are restrictions on travel. Check the latest guidance before booking and departing and always follow local health guidance.