The Best of Intelligent Travel

We publish new articles and stories all the time on Intelligent Travel, but there are a few that really got your attention last year.

In case you missed them, here are the 15 most popular posts of 2015:

1. Travel Lens: Anthony Bourdain’s World

Television host, author, and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain has licked his plate clean all over the world, from soup dumplings in Shanghai to piranhas in Peru. The New York City native’s CNN show, Parts Unknown, headed to locales such as South Korea, Madagascar, and Scotland during its fifth season. Traveler associate editor Hannah Sheinberg presents a look at the world through his unique lens (and appetite).

2. In Praise of the Imperfect Photograph

Digital photography has made it all too easy to delete less-than-perfect snaps from our image libraries. But it’s the imperfect photos that, given the passage of enough time, can offer the most revealing, intimate, and evocative details about our lives and travels. Nat Geo family travel guru Heather Greenwood Davis offers her ode to a lost era.

3. The Best Places to Stargaze in America

For 25 years, NASA’s orbiting Hubble telescope has beamed mesmerizing images of our universe. But Earth dwellers can get stellar celestial views, too. Traveler contributor Monika Joshi highlights three trip-worthy dark-sky havens in the United States.

4. Travel Sketching: 101

Illustration by Candace Rardon
Candace Rardon shares her sketching essentials.

In the hopes of convincing more travelers to embrace the paintbrush and sketch pad as a way to be wholly present while they explore the world—and to record their unique experience of a new place—artist and frequent freelance contributor Candace Rose Rardon offers her take on how to get started.

5. Reader Recs: The World’s Best Hiking Trails

Eager to spend some time in the great outdoors? We asked our Nat Geo Travel Facebook fans to share their favorite trails, and their responses will have you lacing up your hiking boots before you know it.

Like this topic? Check out another popular piece we published this past year, 10 Great Pleasure Hikes in the U.S.A.

6. The Wolves of Yellowstone

Witnessing a wolf—once poisoned and hunted to the brink of extinction in the continental United States—free and healthy in the wild can be a transformative experience. If you’re looking to catch a glimpse of the rebounding carnivores, Yellowstone National Park is a good place. And winter provides the best odds of seeing them.

7. The Riches and Revelations of Paris

Four decades ago, Traveler contributing editor Don George spent a fateful summer in Paris. The veteran travel writer reunites with his long-ago self on a return trip to the City of Light—and reveals how cultural immersion can inspire our life’s path and make us fall in love with the world.

As Hemingway famously noted: “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”

8. Why You Should Plan an African Safari…Now

From its wildebeests and mountain gorillas to its rhinos and elephants, Africa’s iconic animals now face a new and unexpected conservation crisis: A continent-wide drop off in tourism due to mostly unfounded fears about Ebola. Traveler contributing editor Costas Christ shares why it’s more important than ever to plan a trip to Africa.

9. Transformed By Travel: Nine Stories

Transformative travel is really just a term for what most of us want to feel when we leave the comfort of our daily lives to experience the world. We want to be inspired and to give something back; we want to have our lives and thought processes changed through the meaningful connections we make on our journeys. Here, Nat Geo Travel’s Urban Insider, Annie Fitzsimmons, asks nine lifelong travelers to share the most life-changing trips they’ve ever taken.

As a follow up, Annie herself recounted the five most enriching destinations she’s visited so far.

10. The New New Orleans

The first postcard was copyrighted in the U.S. by John P. Charlton in 1861. (Photograph by Tyler Metcalfe, National Geographic Travel)
Traveler features editor Amy Alipio asks readers: Is the postcard obsolete? (Photograph by Tyler Metcalfe, National Geographic Travel)

When Hurricane Katrina crashed through New Orleans’ man-made levees in 2005, critics and cynics alike predicted The End of the famously overexuberant city. But the locals dug out, rebuilt, and preserved, attracting a wave of newcomers who are helping propel the Crescent City to new creative heights.

Ten years after one of the biggest natural disasters in American history, Traveler contributing editor Andrew Nelson presents his a guide to the new NOLA, and the people who make it shine.

11. The Postcard Project

Traveler features editor Amy Alipio asked our readers to show their love for this iconic form of correspondence by sending a postcard, including a short paragraph about what makes wherever they are so unique, to us at National Geographic headquarters. And boy did they ever.

Find out what locals love about their hometowns in the United States and Europe, then be a part of the #Postcard Project by sending one of your own to:

National Geographic Traveler
c/o Amy Alipio
1145 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036

12. My Favorite Place in Ireland: The Wild West

Almost 30 years ago on a chilly June night, Traveler editor at large Andrew McCarthy stumbled into a hotel in County Clare and came upon a gruff lion of a man with an unruly mop of hair who offered him a country welcome amid peat fires, heavy blankets, and flowing pints of Guinness. That’s when his love affair with the wilds of Ireland’s western coast began.

From the filigreed fringe of west Cork, along the lakes of Killarney, to the world-class golf links of Ballybunion and Lahinch, to Yeats country in Sligo, there is no shortage of characters who give him yet another reason to come back.

13. A Beginner’s Guide to Voluntourism

Not all volunteerism projects are created equal. But giving back when gallivanting around the globe can be one of the most rewarding experiences a traveler can hope for. If you’ve been kicking around the idea of joining the growing ranks of travelers volunteering around the world, Ken Budd, author of The Voluntouristoffers five steps to get you on your way. As a complement to his beginner’s guide, Budd also unpacks five myths about voluntourism.

14. Why We Need Travel Experts

More travelers are following recommendations found on crowdsourced review sites. Do travel experts have a future? Are they even necessary anymore? Nat Geo Travel’s Digital Nomad, Robert Reid, says yes.

15. @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. Each year, we share where we want to go next, and why. If you’re searching for inspiration for your next adventure, look no further.

Check out our most recent edition, @NatGeoTravel Staff Bucket List: 2016, then see if we actually followed through on our 2015 bucket list goals by reading Oh, the Places Nat Geo Goes.

Leslie Trew Magraw is editor/producer for the Intelligent Travel blog network at National Geographic. Connect with her on Twitter and Instagram @leslietrew.

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