Megan Singleton lines up cute towns and desert safaris.
It's an almost impossible task: choosing five cities for a 2014 travel wish list. It's a big world and you can't compare apples with oranges - or Galway with Istanbul. But I gave it a go - here are five cities to which I would return in a heartbeat.
1. Cabo, Mexico
On the tip of the Baja Peninsula, just two hours from LAX, this is the resort location of Americans so avoiding the spring break season would be wise. I liked Cabo San Lucas for its laidback marina town, Sammy Hagar's taco and music bar, and souvenir shops. Take a harbour cruise with the whales and visit nearby San Jose del Cabo for a taste of history - and tequila. Stay in one of the many all-inclusive resorts dotted along the beach. Read more about my time in Baja here.
2. Galway, Ireland
Quite possibly the cutest town in all of Ireland - well, to my mind anyway. Plan to stay here for three or four days to bob along the cobblestoned streets and listen to traditional Irish music wafting from quaint old pubs, the storytellers and the buskers. Take day trips to the Cliffs of Moher, the famous Sky Road to Clifden and south to Limerick. All are less than two hours away by car. Then return for good pub grub and a toe-tapping singalong.
3. New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Last year marked my fourth visit, but I still haven't seen and done everything. Stay in the heart of the French Quarter so you don't have too much walking to do - and you'll do a lot of walking so bring sensible shoes. Have lunch at the Court of Two Sisters on Bourbon St, listen to jazz on Frenchmen St, eat sugary beignets from Cafe du Monde, buy local art at Jackson Square and go see a Saints game. Want to find some great jazz music? Read my blog here.
4. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Instead of whizzing through on your way to Europe, plan to spend two or three days to do very different things than anywhere else in the world. Check out the views of the desert from the top of the Burj Khalifa, go for a black diamond ski run in the Dubai Mall and book a 4WD dune-bashing, desert safari dinner complete with falconry display, camel rides and dinner in a Bedouin camp.
5. Istanbul, Turkey
Such an amazing city filled with historic buildings, buzzing with nightlife and world-famous markets - a photo opportunity around every corner. Put your haggling face on to visit the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market and load up on tea, ceramic bowls, leather jackets and glass lamp shades (I bought all three). Visit Aya Sofia, the Blue Mosque and have a traditional Turkish bath at a local hamam.