We've all got a bucket list, those destinations we've always wanted to travel to. But most people talk of the unrealistic places on earth which whilst great are often hard to reach with the limited amount of holiday we all have. But what about a realistic bucket list? Here are fourteen destinations that you can aim and aspire to reach, many of which you may have already ticked off.
It takes several trips to Thailand to really explore the country. From the active to the laid back you can choose to cycle through the Chiang Mai countryside or spend the morning embracing your spiritual side at a temple with some meditation. For the honeymoon or romantic holiday of a lifetime, think about the islands – CNN presenter Hannah Vaughan Jones travelled recently with Out Of Office to Paresa Phuket and Koh Phi Phi.
Switzerland is close enough to be in the Alps and on your skis in just a few hours. But it's also a place worth exploring away from the slopes. Rolling hills, fairy tale castles and exquisite handmade goods contribute to the stunning atmosphere of relaxation. My favourite for that authentic Swiss experience has to be Zurich: a city on the water whose beauty would give Venice a run for its money.
If you're wanting to venture further afield then this chain of volcanic islands fringed with coral and boasting white and black-sand beaches is breathtaking. However it's also a country known for being particularly gay friendly, so I've fallen for Bora Bora in particular as the perfect venue for a honeymoon (proposals welcome!). A private island experience of pure white sands set against crystal lagoons. It's a truly memorable setting.
Every year Tel Aviv Pride gets hotter and this year won't disappoint and it's on my list for June. It's worth remembering just how diverse a place Israel is. If you've only ever been to Tel Aviv you're missing out. Floating in the Dead Sea is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and Jerusalem has an incredible history that is well worth exploring. By all means go for the party, but spend an extra couple of days exploring the rest of this vibrant country.
With the Republic of Ireland trailblazing in comparison to its northern counterpart in legalising gay marriage last year, it's the perfect time to celebrate with a trip to the Emerald Isle. What I most enjoy about Ireland is that it ticks a lot of boxes no matter who you're travelling with – perhaps it's a group of you hitting the bars of Dublin, or a quiet weekend with your partner on the west coast (such as tranquil County Mayo and its surroundings). You might fall so in love with the scenery that you'll start planning your wedding there (proposals still welcome!).
I know that when you hear the words 'Greek Islands', you immediately think of Mykonos or Santorini. There's nothing wrong with that, but what about Milos, Paros or Skopolos. It's a shame that islands such as these tend to get overlooked, as they simply have so much to offer. Teeming with idyllic historical villages and white beaches, I'd encourage following the path a little less-travelled when it comes to Greek Islands.
This is the year to take a little walk on the wild side, so I can't recommend South Africa enough for both adventure and relaxation. Check out the vineyards of Stellenbosch or Franschhoek, drive the garden route to Plettenberg Bay or opt to spot the wildlife on safari at gay friendly Kwandwe Ecca Lodge or Amakhala Hlosi Lodge.
The Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands are what the phrase 'once-in-a-lifetime' was invented for. In the past few years interest has definitely risen in these stunning islands, and it's become a hot destination for lovers of nature due to its extremely rare wildlife and deep emerald waters. Widely known as Darwin's inspiration, it's a fascinating destination with sights you'll see nowhere else.
Beautiful beaches, a great party atmosphere and historic sights set against waterfalls and rainforests are just starting points for how wonderful the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico truly is. The best reason for visiting the super gay friendly island comes from airline Norwegian Air, who have just launched a twice weekly direct flight to San Juan making it so much more accessible from the UK.
It wouldn't be a 'best of' list for top gay hotspots if supremely gay friendly Brazil wasn't featured somewhere, but it doesn't all begin and end with its famously flamboyant Carnival. Some of the most happening gay areas have managed to slip under the radar – Florionapolis, for example, is said to be the darling of the gay community in South America, boasting lavish scenes of nature and a striking beach. After the Brazil Olympics got people thinking about the country's sporting ambition, you might want to take a backseat on training but still embrace the sun, sea and sand culture.
Sun and sea packages aren't the only holidays – there's a real charm to stepping into a winter wonderland, especially if you're thinking of whisking your partner away on a Christmas getaway. Dog-sledding through powdery snow past glaciers, mountains and fjords before settling under the Northern Lights is a romantic journey that sounds too good to be true, but is exactly what Norway offers. Tromso, is the destination of choice for seeing the aurora.
Intense green landscapes and mythical features aside, there's an even more unique reason to head to New Zealand in search of an unforgettable journey next year. Its Gay Ski Week is held in Queenstown every year and is the largest LGBT winter event in the Southern Hemisphere. Promising fun and adventure in the form of parties, competitions and more for a full seven days, it's a quirky experience that thrill seekers will love. Combine that with a week driving round the two islands to complete your trip.
Home to part of the lush Amazon rainforest and the historic city of Cusco, Peru has culture and scenic views in spades. There's no doubt that the real draw lies in Machu Picchu though, an ancient city that appeals to the Indiana Jones in all of us. A lost Incan city set high in the Andes mountains and one of the seven wonders of the world, it's a truly awe-inspiring sight that's ideal for a real life history lesson.
How many of these holiday destinations have you visited? Leave a comment below to let us know.