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14 trips to inspire in 2014

Published January 13th, 2014

If your New Year’s resolution was travel more, you’ve come to the right spot. Here at Student Flights HQ, our wanderlust has us planning the next OS sojourn while still on vacay, sourcing travel inspo from locations in music videos, searching for the softest sand and clearest waters, and generally just wanting to go everywhere! We also love a list, obvs. So in honour of 2014, here’s our selection of  destinations that are having a moment right now. See you there!



Los Angeles

To dismiss LA simply as La La Land is to do this Cali city a disservice. Los Angeles is a sum of many parts and the current hipster penchant for green smoothies, gluten-free goodies and creatives of all persuasions points to some big-time California love. Plus there’s plenty of cheap flights and deals to, err, seal the deal at this time of year here.  Do Venice Beach for prime people watching but also head to Melrose Avenue, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Highland Park and Santa Monica.




Party all night, sightsee all day or just kick back on a Caribbean beach – Cancún is more than just spring breakers, cerveza and alcopops. Think of this city as a gateway to the Mayan monuments and cenotes in the Yucatan peninsula with plenty of downtown markets, museums, Mexican nosh and even a day trip to the nearby Isla Mujeres island to fit around your busy schedule of tequila, margaritas and beach parties. Plus there’s some pretty sweet deals on right now here.




Conjuring up exotic images of spices and resplendent in (mostly) rosy hues, Rajasthan’s ‘Pink City’ is a feast for the senses. Chaos and colour collide in the gritty North Indian city where centuries of Rajput rule have left a legacy of palaces, forts and historic sites. See painted elephants, dodge the coloured powder street fight that is the Holi festival and take a camelback ride through the Jaisalmer Desert. DIY your way or nab a sweet deal on an all-inclusive tour here.




While Edinburgh may garner all the attention for its Royal Mile and picturesque castle, over on the west coast of Scotland, Glasgow has the dubious distinction of being named the UK’s friendliest city and the Western Europe murder capital in the same year. Go figure. Already with a sold rep as a cultural hotspot and live music destination, the XX Commonwealth Games comes to town in 2014, so expect a more polished look to this rough diamond, laddies and lassies!



Lake Malawi

Most may know the southeast African country of Malawi as the birthplace of Madonna’s adopted kids, this landlocked nation’s most famous attribute is its inland sea, the voluminous and mega-deep  Lake Malawi. Think fresh, clear water bound by golden, sandy beaches. It’s a popular spot for watersports including diving, snorkelling, kayaking and water-skiing. Plenty of fishing villages are sprinkled around the water’s edge, and check out the stretch from Mangocha to Monkey Bay for lodge accommodation.




It’s top of most travellers’ bucket lists, so why not make 2014 your year to tackle the seventh continent? Antarctica, or The Ice, has never had a native population and the only human residents are transient workers and scientists so it’s one of the last places on Earth to enjoy pristine wilderness and cold-climate wildlife. The only way to get here is via boat (where you’ll also sleep) and on a tour during the summer (November to March) still making it a bit spesh but more attainable than ever before.



São Paulo

You’d have to be a major sports avoider to not know that Brazil is hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup. While most of the tickets may have been snapped up already, the Socceroos are going to be here and you can bet this already festive nation will be partying just a bit this year. Matches are on in cities all over the country, but we like São Paulo for its mix of street smarts and cool cachet.  Check out Oscar Niemeyer’s masterpieces,  the Downtown area , Bom Retiro and Feira da República.




The US motor city shocked the world when it went broke, and while it still may be dark days for the once-prosperous city of Detroit (quite literally, it’s estimated 40 percent of its street lights are not working!), we’re predicting a resurgence of mammoth proportions to combat the decline and urban blight. After all, gritty cities attract artists and creatives to their ‘hoods who will fuel the urban rejuvenation and make Detroit cool again. I mean, the home of Motown deserves a hipster makeover, amiright?



La Paz

At over 3,500 metres above sea level and gouged into a canyon in the Altiplano with snow-capped Mount Illimani hovering over the Bolivian city, La Paz is a mixture of the mystical and modern. Think sun-bleached landscapes juxtaposed with ultra-stylish locals rocking bowler hats and woven ponchos (the typically traditional garb). Hit up Mercado de Hechecería (Witches Market) for medicinal herbs, good luck charms (mummified llamas, anyone?) and superstitious trinkets and wander the hilly streets.




Where the East meets the West, Shanghai is our fave gastronomic, shopping and nightlife mecca in China. From a mashup of European architecture on the Bund to gentrified stone Shikumen gatehouses in Xintiandi, and from the traditional Yu Garden to the skyscrapers of Pudong, China’s most populous city is also a mix of the old and new. Gorge yourself on dumplings, sample the fare at Euro culinary whiz restaurants and generally just drink in the awesomeness that is Shanghai.




Um… where? Get to know this Scandi destination as the northern Swedish city of Umeå  has been anointed European Capital of Culture 2014. It’s a uni town and having a bit of a moment with new infrastructure being thrown up at a rapid rate. Why you’ll want to check this compact city out though has to do with location, location, location. It’s in the land of the midnight sun, so it’s all about mega parties, gourmet kayaking (yes, really) and the northern lights in summer, and cultural activities, dog sledding and winter sports in the colder months.




Another European Capital of Culture 2014, the Latvian capital of Riga is going to be known for more than just Eurovision winners (in 2002). As the biggest city in the Baltics, and with Latvia now adopting the Euro, it’s fair to say the spotlight is definitely on Riga this year. Come for Northern Europe’s biggest light festival in November – Staro Riga Light Festival, sip lattes in cosmopolitan cafes, and check out the Central Market housed in massive former zeppelin hangars.




If you’ve ever wanted to visit the Caribbean, make Cuba your first stop. And the capital, Havana, in particular. It’s like time stopped still here with 5 centuries of decaying façades, abandoned American muscle cars and street kids roaming the barrios that hark back to pre-Castro days. Join the locals in an impromptu rumba, find your religion with Santería, stroll along the Malecón, crash and eat with locals in their homes and revel in pure white beaches near Old Havana. Viva la revolución!




Dubbed the ‘Windy City’, New Zealand’s capital is located on the North Island and sure knows how to blow you off your feet (literally, but that’s a story for another time). Wellington sits between a sparkling harbour and rolling hills and has the bright, shiny looks of an outdoorsy city. Which it is, but there’s heaps of culinary, cultural and shopping to entice you across the Tasman too. Hidden bars, pop-up shops and designer labels (hello, Karen Walker!), and interactive museums are just some of the reasons we heart Wellington.




Cassandra Laffey

Consumed with unrequited wanderlust, I get my fix in 24/7 cities and hippie retreats. I'm still looking for the ultimate combo of secluded beach and major metropolis, and my happy place is a 5-star hotel room all to myself - sigh.