@NatGeoTravel Staff Bucket List: 2015

The staff at National Geographic Travel is continually criss-crossing the globe to uncover the best and the brightest places, but we have travel wish lists just like everyone else.

Here’s where we want to go in 2015 and why:

> Philippines

“I can’t get the Philippines out of my mind. This archipelago is the land of my ancestors, so I am a little biased. Nevertheless, there is a lot to lure even those who don’t have family ties there. Islands like Bohol and Palawan beckon with strange and lovely creatures like the tarsier (looks like Yoda) and the monitor lizard (looks like a dragon). Manila is one of Asia’s most dynamic capitals. Hotels range from the historic Manila Hotel (Douglas McArthur lived there shortly before World War II) to the luxury castaway El Nido Resorts in Palawan (on stilts overlooking transparent waters). And the food—don’t even get me started. Let’s just say I’m dreaming of halo-halo, an icy dessert of tropical fruits that’s simply heaven on the tongue.” —Norie Quintos (on Twitter and Instagram @NorieCicerone), acting editor in chief, National Geographic Traveler

> Cuba

”Like many Americans, I’m so curious about Cuba. Now that travel restrictions have been eased, I plan to watch classic cars cruise past crumbling colonial buildings in Old Havana, awkwardly dance along to live timba music, and cycle through the tobacco fields of the Viñales Valley the very first chance I get.” —Christine Blau (on Twitter @Chris_Blau and on Instagram @christineblau), researcher, National Geographic Traveler

> Borneo

“I am longing to go to see wild orangutans before they disappear. Two places you can see them: Camp Leakey and the Orangutan Care Center, both established in central Borneo by primatologist Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas, the first person to study the primates in their native habitat (and the author of a June 1980 cover story on the subject for National Geographic magazine). Dr. Galdikas has worked to protect the orangutans and their rain forest habitat for the past 40 years, defending these charismatic primates from illegal logging and mining.” —Marilyn Terrell (on Twitter and Instagram @marilyn_res), chief researcher, National Geographic Traveler

> Isle of Man 

“This year is my year to finally visit the Isle of Man, a self-governing British Crown dependency sitting lonely in the middle of the Irish Sea. I’ve always been fascinated by the island, which boasts its own currency, breed of cat (the Manx), team sport (cammag, akin to Irish hurling), and Celtic tongue. Dramatic cliffside views, Viking and medieval castle ruins, kaleidoscopic sunsets, and uber-fresh seafood (is it overkill to have kippers, salmon, and scallops every single day?) should fill a fantastic week.” —Larry Porges, Nat Geo Travel Books

> Chiloé (Chile)

“I’m hearing a lot about this land mass off the coast of Chile, considered a rising destination for Chileans. The fifth largest island in South America, Chiloe has been compared to Scotland for its moors, green sheep-grazed meadows, and rugged fishing communities. Of particular interest: the many wooden churches built by fishermen (who had few other materials to work with), several of which are protected as World Heritage sites. Also creating buzz: new, locally inspired lodgings, including the Quilquico Park Hotel, modeled on the indigenous palafitos—fishermen houses built on stilts—and the architecturally striking Tierra Chiloé lodge. The word is, get here sooner than later if you want to have the place more or less to yourself.” —Jayne Wise, senior editor, National Geographic Traveler 

> Portillo (Chile)

“By the time August rolls around here at Nat Geo’s D.C. headquarters, I’m completely over the horrible, humid summer that engulfs the nation’s capital and want to escape to the cold. That’s precisely what this resort in the Chilean Andes offers: open-piste skiing on spring corn with refreshingly brisk temperatures, lots of wine, and even more beef. Then, after a week of skiing, I hope to spend a few days at the edges of Patagonia, spotting animals as they start to emerge from the shadows and warm themselves in the Southern Hemisphere sun.” —Nathan Borchelt, senior product manager, National Geographic Travel and Adventure

> Rome (Italy)

“I spent around seven years of my educational experience studying Latin. Unless I quickly need to translate the motto on a college seal, my knowledge of the extinct language doesn’t get much use. This year I hope to visit Rome for the first time in order to satisfy my inner Latin nerd, surrounded by ancient history and plenty of pasta.” —Hannah Sheinberg (on Twitter @h_sheinberg), assistant editor, National Geographic Traveler

> Botswana

“Two literary prompts put Botswana at the top of my wish list this year. One is the recent opportunity to work with Alexander McCall Smith, author of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency seriesNo. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, which is set in Botswana, on a piece for Traveler‘s “My City” section. The other is Jodi Picoult’s Leaving Time, a recent Traveler Book Club selection centered around a researcher studying elephant cognition in Botswana. The novel imparted a ton of surprising information about elephant behavior that I found fascinating, and I’d love the opportunity to see these amazing—and endangered—animals in their natural habitat.” —Amy Alipio (on Twitter @amytravels and on Instagram @amyalipio), features editor, National Geographic Traveler

> Hawaii (United States)

“As someone who loves the beach and the woods with equal fervor, Hawaii has always been at the top of my travel list. And if I’m being completely honest, I’m a huge fan of Jurassic Park, most of which was filmed on Kauai. With Jurassic World premiering this year, 2015 seems like the perfect time to experience the beautiful scenery of the original film firsthand. Plus, who doesn’t love a good meal made with SPAM?” —Megan Heltzel (on Twitter and Instagram @meganheltzel), associate producer, National Geographic Travel

> Palau

“This year, I’m determined to trade the city streets of D.C. for the idyllic island of Palau. Tropical wildlife abounds on this archipelago in the western Pacific Ocean and travelers can get up close and personal with many species. I plan to snorkel among hordes of “friendly jellyfish” without fear of being stung. Other must-dos include kayaking across clear, shallow water to view colorful coral and, of course, lying on the beach and drinking in the beautiful setting.” —Rebecca Davis, associate producer, National Geographic Travel

> Vietnam

Book your next trip with Peace of Mind
Search Trips

“My father passed away at the end of December after a three-year battle with cancer. He completed a tour of duty in the Vietnam War, and though his feelings about the experience were complex, his service gained significance for him as he aged. I’d like to travel to Vietnam to honor his memory and better understand his experience there. I’d also like to see another side of the Southeast Asian nation that he never got the chance to appreciate.” —Leslie Trew Magraw (on Twitter and Instagram @leslietrew), editor/producer, Intelligent Travel

> County Kerry (Ireland)

“After visiting County Cork and receiving such a warm welcome that it felt like home (even though I don’t have a stitch of Irish in me), I now want to visit County Kerry, where my husband’s paternal line originated. I’d add in a trip to view the puffins on Skellig Michael, a remote island where a community of monks once lived in the early Middle Ages. Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw described the Skellig Islands in a letter as being ‘part of our dream world.’” —Susan O’Keefe, associate editor, National Geographic Traveler

> San Francisco (United States)

“I’ve been building a playlist of songs that remind me of, or make reference to, the Bay Area. (The most recent addition? Mayer Hawthorne’s cover of Tony Bennett’s “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”) I plan to listen to it as I’m touching down at SFO. I can’t wait to eat good Chinese food.” —Kevin Kunitake, editorial assistant, National Geographic Traveler 

> Related:

Where do you want to go in 2015 and why? Tell us in the comments section for a chance to appear on the Intelligent Travel blog.

Read This Next

A city guide to Oslo, from hot dogs to harbour regeneration
Where to travel in the U.S. this September
Fireflies are vanishing—but you can help protect them

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet