With 2017 just around the corner, it's time to start making vacation plans for the next year, especially if you've resolved to travel more. Unlike some other New Year's resolutions (being more patient with your sister-in-law, joining a CSA), taking a trip requires a little advance planning, especially if you're trying to see the famous Dutch tulips in the spring or the annual Telluride Fire Fest.
With that in mind, our list of the 5 places every Texan should look into visiting in 2017:
Flights from: $519
United Airlines began weekly non-stop service from Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) to the capital city of Cuba on December 3. As our Sarah Rufca found out when she visited Havana last year, travel to the formerly closed-off country can be a little difficult in terms of acquiring the correct travel permits, documents and health insurance. But with eight U.S. airlines now serving Cuba, it's getting easier by the day. Thanks to a sharp uptick in American tourism, which increased by 80 percent over the last year, you'll need to book your trip at least a few months in advance in order to find an available hotel room or Airbnb homestay, which are in finite supply on the small island.
Flights from: $707
Singapore Airlines may have ended its direct Houston-to-Moscow flight as of October, but it added a new non-stop route, this one to Manchester. The city in northern England is a transportation hub in the region with flights to over 200 destinations. Many of those flights are offered on discount airlines including Ryanair, easyJet, Jet2.com, Flybe and Monarch, meaning you can reach plenty of European destinations on cheap, non-stop fares. That said, if you choose to stay in Manchester, you'll find easy access to some of England's most interesting historical sites, including the Roman-walled, Tudor-built town of Chester, the medieval Haddon Hall in the scenic Peak District National Park, and The Lowry on the formerly dilapidated Manchester docks in Salford.
Flights from: $87
Miami was recently named the world's most inspirational city, and we can't say we disagree. Our own Cathy Matusow found herself unable to look away from the non-stop spectacle that is South Beach, where the people-watching is rivaled only by the competition to be people-watched yourself. The city makes an inspiring destination for Houstonians for other reasons, though, namely its proximity (the flight takes a little over two hours) and its affordability (United offers non-stop flights starting at $87). As a bonus, the Telegraph just came out with a highly useful list of the 10 best cheap-chic hotels in Miami.
Flights from: $108
Southwest Airlines is adding one new direct route from Hobby in 2017, and it's to this Midwest destination beginning March 9. Here's your chance to get ahead of the hipster curve (which is currently vacationing heavily in Dubrovnik, Croatia) and discover all that Omaha has to offer. The farm-to-table food scene in the corn-fed culinary capital is as legitimately farm-to-table as it gets, with the New York Times dining section name-checking King Fong Cafe, J. Coco, The Grey Plume and The Boiler Room last year. Recommended for the cinema buffs: checking out an indie flick or two at non-profit theater Film Streams followed by a driving tour of director Alexander Payne's filming locations for such hipster-approved classics as About Schmidt and Election. Complete your trip with a stay at the historic Hotel Deco, which recently underwent renovations and now boasts gorgeously updated guest rooms.
Anywhere in New Zealand
Flights from: $1,178
Air New Zealand is still celebrating the recent addition of its service from IAH with a sale that ends January 10, 2017. Fares are available to seven different Kiwi towns and cities, but the only non-stop flight from Houston takes you to Auckland—which is just about as far away from Texas as you can possibly get on a single flight. Our own Scott Vogel called it "far and away Houston's most exciting getaway" when he visited last year and quickly found himself swept up in New Zealand's globally-inspired cuisine, breathtaking scenery and famously friendly natives. If this sounds like just the destination for you in 2017, plan quickly; not only does the sale end on January 20, you must travel within a fixed set of dates to get the bargain round-trip prices: April 4 to June 9, Jul7 24 to September 17, and November 1 to 30.