Men in bright colored robes walk through a field to Chimi Lhakhang, a Buddhist monastery in Punakha district of Bhutan

5 ways to make travel more meaningful in 2023

Discover your roots, blaze a new trail, or chase your passions to rediscover the wonders of travel this year.

The Trans Bhutan Trail takes travelers past 27 villages, four dzongs (fortress monasteries), 12 mountain passes, and 21 temples, such as the Chimi Lhakhang Buddhist monastery in the Punakha district of Bhutan, pictured here. The small Asian country is one of dozens of destinations offering more opportunities for meaningful travel in the new year.
Photograph by Poras Chaudhary, The New York Times / Redux

With 2022’s travel woes in the rearview mirror, the year ahead beckons with the prospect of rediscovering the world’s wonders. “We are seeing travel patterns and habits normalize to pre-pandemic times, a good sign of what is to come in 2023,” says Tiffany Townsend, NYC & Company’s executive vice president of global communications. “People are keen to get out there and seize the opportunity to travel, whether they’re returning to a beloved spot or finally visiting their dream destination.”

From acknowledging new perspectives on history to following a thrilling on-screen story into the real world, these five New Year’s resolutions can help make your travels more meaningful.

Blaze a trail 

This year, resolve to get out on a path that reveals a lesser known destination or that brings a fresh perspective to a beloved favorite. The new, 250-mile Trans Bhutan Trail lures trekkers from this enchanting country’s famed Himalayan peaks to outlying regions with its dense forests and ancient fortresses. Other recently created trails span Armenia; circumnavigate Prince Edward Island, in Canada; and explore medieval Alpine history and culture around Zermatt, Switzerland.

(Discover 25 amazing Best of the World destinations for 2023.)

Follow your passion

Is the future of travel passion-based? Either way, following your latest obsession can deepen a connection to a place—whether it’s to Sicily after binging White Lotus, or Puerto Rico to chase chupacabras. In 2023, soccer fans can head to Australia and New Zealand for the FIFA Women’s World Cup matches. Disney enthusiasts will want to check out the company’s 100th anniversary celebrations (and get their hands on the commemorative swag) at parks around the world. Baseball lovers will flock once again to places like Phoenix for spring training. Anime and comic superfans can geek out at the Anime Expo in California and the ever popular New York Comic Con.

Support local ecosystems

You can help preserve the landscapes and wildlife you love by supporting places that leverage tourism to protect them. Responsible tourism helps rewilding efforts in Scotland, contributes to small-town survival in Slovenia, and elevates a new kind of community-based safari in Botswana. You can also encourage more inclusive nature experiences with outfitters that welcome diverse groups or differently abled travelers.

(Go beyond the beach at these inclusive coastal destinations.)

Grow your roots 

It’s never been easier to travel in search of family history and heritage. When the International African American Museum opens in Charleston, South Carolina, on January 21, visitors can access a database of millions of genealogical records at its Center for Family History. Ghana continues to welcome Black travelers to reforge ancestral links to West Africa. River cruise lines are helping travelers learn more about their European connections by partnering with ancestry testing services. Whether the exploration of roots has fueled the rise in multi-generational travel or vice versa, this travel trend is a great way to bring families together.

(In Charleston, Black history is being told through a new lens.)

Learn something new

There are more opportunities than ever for travelers to add to their skill set while making authentic cultural connections. Learn traditional jewelry-making alongside a Polynesian family in Bora Bora, or perfect your snowshoeing technique along a historic route in Japan once traveled by feudal lords and samurai warriors. Pitch in to get dinner on the table in Guatemala, or trace how traditional foods make its way from farm to plate on an agritourism stay in Tennessee. Or explore mountainside gardens while learning about the health benefits of Rastafarian-inspired organic cooking in St. Lucia. With hands-on experiences like these, trips remain memorable long after they have ended.

(Master these travel skills now for smarter trips later.)

Heather Greenwood Davis is a freelance writer, on-air travel expert, and frequent contributor to National Geographic. Find her on Instagram and Twitter​. 
The Walt Disney Company is majority owner of National Geographic Media.

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