A passion for travel is a key requirement for working at Lonely Planet, and with that in mind, we polled our staff in offices around the world to see where they are making plans to travel to this year.

Alex Butler, Senior Editor Travel News and Features, Ireland 
Heading to: Croatia 

Alex Butler from Lonely Planet in Obidos with her dad Jay.jpg
Alex Butler with her dad in Obidos Portugal in 2019.

To celebrate my 30th birthday, I’m rounding up my parents and brother who all live in my native Canada and heading to Croatia. After a similar trip to Portugal for my brother’s 30th, we decided to spend another stint in a country that combines historic cities, captivating coastlines and amazing cuisine. 

I’ve been to Croatia before, two years ago, and loved every minute of it, I know it’ll keep the whole family happy with its Roman ruins (for the history-lover), relaxed islands (for the crowd-hater), and wine (that’s for all of us). 

As someone who loves trip planning nearly as much as the trip, deciphering the perfect island-hopping route and the perfect place to eat grilled octopus will keep me entertained (and perpetually excited) about my upcoming trip. 

Alicia Johnson, Digital Editor, USA
Heading to: Trinidad and Tobago

Alicia Johnson of Lonely Planet with friends on vacation.JPG
Alicia Johnson (centre) with friends Carla-Maria Alexander and Eleisha John-Thoumire at Loch Lubnaig in the Scottish Highlands

My friends and I have had an exhaustive year-long discussion about our 2020 travel plans that had us looking at  Marseille, Cuba, Amsterdam and Scotland. But instead of going to any of those wonderful destinations, I’ll be the one doing all the traveling when I visit both of them in their home country of Trinidad and Tobago. The southern Caribbean island is a fantastic spot for food, culture and beaches but I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve been hoodwinked.  

Mike Nelson, Director of Growth, USA
Heading to: Utah, Washington DC and the Smoky Mountains

Mike Nelson from Lonely Planet with his brother Adam on skiing trip in Utah.
Mike Nelson and brother Adam in Park City, Utah.

I am starting the year off hitting ski resorts in Utah with my family and hoping to teach my three kids to ski. It’s going to be great going back to places like Alta, Snowbird, and Park City resorts where I learned to ski at as a child. 

In the spring I am hoping to visit my brother in Washington DC (#2 Best in Travel 2020) and to tie the visit with cherry blossom window.

Then in the summer we are hitting the Smokies for another family trip. It is my father-in-law’s 60th birthday and he is taking his kids, their spouses and extended family for a reunion of sorts to spend time together in the mountains hiking during the day and eating good food in the evenings.

Claire Naylor, Digital Editor, UK
Heading to: Scotland

Claire Naylor on a trip to  Real Alcázar in Seville.
Claire Naylor on a trip to Real Alcázar in Seville.

Criticising the destination wedding trend makes me sound properly miserable, but when your local pals choose far-flung places for their marriage celebrations, it can get tricky. You may need to take a chunk of your annual leave, the travel costs can suck up your entire holiday budget, and if you have kids who aren't invited, then you're indebted to a generous relative or friend to take care of them. Not this time though - our friend's mid-August wedding in Scotland has solidified our long-held plans to travel more in the UK. We're bunging the kids in the car and road-tripping north, stopping in the Lake District, Trossachs National Park and then the Cairngorms. The return journey will take us to the moors in North Yorkshire before a couple of days on the Lincolnshire coast. The best bit, no airports.

Niamh O’Brien & Tom Stainer, Digital Editors, UK 
Heading to: Georgia 

Niamh and Tom from Lonely Planet on holiday in Montenegro
Niamh O'Brien and Tom Stainer kayaking in Montenegro.

We decided on this destination as Georgia is somewhere neither of us has been before and you can get around easily on public transport, as we have previously fallen out over driving on other mini-breaks. We are going to check out the natural wine scene, clubs in caves, and learn more about this country’s fascinating history (Tom loves a good coach tour, but I get sick on buses so I might go for a hike that day!).

Meghan O’Dea, Digital Editor, USA 
Heading to: Co Clare, Ireland

Meghan O'Dea snapped in Craters of the Moon National Park in Arco, Idaho.
Meghan O'Dea snapped in Craters of the Moon National Park in Arco, Idaho.

When I turned 30, I promised myself I’d take a trip for my birthday each year during the decade (and hopefully beyond). This year got turned a little upside down when I found out I was joining the Lonely Planet team just a month before a big trip I’d planned to see my family’s ancestral castle in County Clare. The timing was no longer right, so instead of meeting up with me in Corofin, my parents went on my birthday trip on my behalf. 

Instead of going to Ireland, I’m counting my big road trip east from Portland to Nashville as my 33rd birthday trip – I visited five national parks on the way and had a chance to scatter my grandmother’s ashes in the one state she never visited out of fifty. 

In 2020, I’m hoping to make up the trip to Ireland I missed, finally see Dysert O’Dea, and hike the Burren. I’ve gotten into genealogy along with my mother and know a little bit about my great-great-great grandparents who came over from Kilmihil, but I’d love to check out records over there and see if I can learn more about why they emigrated when they did.

Evan Godt, Director of Content Operations, Digital, USA
Heading to: wherever the dart lands on the map

Evan Godt and his wife Kristin on vacation.
Evan Godt and his wife Kristin are open to adventures in 2020

Okay, my wife and I don't literally throw a dart at a map, but the last few years our big trip destinations have been decided by the roulette wheel of online flight deals, and it's worked out great! Flying long-distance out of Nashville where we live, has gotten easier in recent years (hello, new direct route to London!) but there's still fewer options here than on the coasts if you're looking to fly internationally without breaking the bank or dealing with multiple layovers. There are so many places we would love to visit that we now just subscribe to flight and hotel deal newsletters. On any given day our next vacation could land in our inbox. Have no idea yet where I'm going in 2020, but by this time tomorrow, it could all be booked!

Jennifer Carey, Director of Content Creators, Digital, UK
Heading to: Spain  

Jen Carey on a trip to York.
Jen Carey is planning a return trip to San Sebastian

I went to San Sebastian in Spain for a couple of days on a whim last year and realised I want to live there immediately. I’m going in March 2020 for a week: it’s off season, so cheap as chips. Potentially will rain constantly but I’ll most likely be in bars shovelling pintxos into my face and will not care at all. We’ll probably hire a car and visit nearby Bilbao and other towns in the region. The food is amazing, the town is gorgeous, the people are lovely and it’s dead cheap...what’s not to love. Also I bought my mum and stepdad a trip to Greece next year and that means my travel budget needs to heavily skew towards bargains :)

Jack Palfrey, Digital Editor, UK
Heading to: Pakistan

Jack Palfry on the trek to Everest Base Camp.
Jack Palfrey on the trek to Everest Base Camp in 2017.

I’d love to take on the K2 base camp trek in 2020 in Pakistan. I did the Everest base camp hike in 2017 - one of my first proper long distance hiking experiences - and loved everything about it: spending time in the mountains; the simple routine of eat, walk, sleep, repeat; the tiny Sherpa communities; no cars, no noise, wonderful. K2 is certainly a step up in terms of difficulty and discomfort (I despise camping), but I think the fact that this trek receives a fraction of the walkers as Everest makes it feel like more of an achievement and something quite special to accomplish. 

Afterwards I’d love to check out some of the major sights of Pakistan, which feels ripe for exploring as the security situation in the country - slowly - starts to improve. Whether I can save the money to pay for flights, guides, permits etc though, is perhaps an even greater challenge than the hike.

AnneMarie McCarthy, Senior Editor Content Strategy, Ireland
Heading to: New Orleans 

AnneMarie McCarthy.jpg
AnneMarie McCarthy heading to New Orleans and Miami in February.

Going to tick off a lifelong dream in 2020 and go to New Orleans during Mardi Gras time at the end of February.  New Orleans has always held a fascination for me - the music, history and food are all huge draws by themselves - and the chance to experience the hedonistic parades first hand while escaping Ireland’s February weather was too irresistible. I’m going for a week which leaves plenty of time to balance the festivities while exploring what else the city has to offer.

Matt Phillips, Digital Editor, UK
Heading to: Lanzarote, Mallorca and maybe Hawaii

Matt Phillips of Lonely Planet on a bike.
Matt Phillips is planning a sporting 2020.

In 2019 I leapt into the world of triathlon and competed at Ironman Copenhagen in August. It was the best sporting day of my sport-filled life and I was brought to tears by my efforts. Inspired by cracking the ten-hour barrier (much to my surprise) and being within sight of qualification for the world championships in Kona, I have decided to dedicate 2020 to try and get me there.

So my travels this year are revolving around training and competing. In late February I’ll fly to Lanzarote for a week of hard training, before doing the same in Mallorca in early May. Come July I’ll be in northern Spain competing at Ironman Vittoria-Gasteiz. If all goes well, then it will be a trip to Hawaii in October for the big show. Some travels for R&R are also in the works, including Copenhagen in late August.

Kirsten Rawlings, Associate Product Director, Ireland
Heading to: multiple places in Europe

Kirsten Rawlings on a visit to Quebec.
Kirsten Rawlings is heading to Serbia to catch Nick Cave in concert.

I’m planning to visit lots of places in Europe, to make the most of my recent move to Ireland from Australia. So far I have booked with friends to go to Belgrade in June, to see Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds play somewhere other than Australia, and we’ll then take a train to Montenegro.
I’m also planning a coastal hiking trip in Portugal in January, and am tossing up Vienna, Warsaw, Georgia and Moldova with some other friends.

Laura Brown, Director of Strategy, USA
Heading to: Texas and Colorado 

Laura Brown Hiking Glacier National Park jpeg.jpeg
Laura Brown hiking Glacier National Park in 2019.

Seeing all the American National Parks is my bucket list, and I try to cross off three-four a year (sometimes three - four in a single week!)  In 2020 I’m planning a trip to Big Bend National Park in Texas, and the four parks in Colorado: Rocky Mountain, Mesa Verde, Great Sand Dunes and Black Canyon. 

Megan Breen, Human Resources, Australia
Heading to: multiple Australian destinations

MeganBreen on holiday in Italy.JPG
Megan Breen in Positano in 2019.

Having done a big European trip in 2019, my 2020 holidays will most likely be kept to Australia; so I’m going to embrace the chance to see more of my own backyard. I'm starting with a camping trip to the Mid North Coast of NSW (just under Port Macquarie)  there’s a group of about 15 of us heading up for a week of off-grid relaxing. My best mate lives in Brisbane, a city that seems to get trendier every time I go. I’ll try to make a couple of visits in 2020, especially to escape the cold Melbourne winter. 

In the summer, my parents are taking their camper trailer straight up the guts of Australia to the Gulf of Carpentaria, through Outback QLD. They’re recently retired and loving their new freedom, so I might try to meet up with them somewhere along their journey for a few days.

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