Returning to work after the Christmas break isn’t easy for anyone.
But with a brand new holiday allocation at your fingertips, there are a few rays of hope to cling on to.
So here’s some inspiration if you’re planning travel adventures and weekends away in 2018.
New flight routes, exhibitions and exciting developments are putting these seven places on the map.
1) BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA
Best for: Urban discovery
Why: Once considered territory only for backpackers and career-break travellers, South America is now a very feasible option for a shorter holiday. British Airways paved the way with a series of direct flights, but now Norwegian is opening the destination up to the low-cost market.
On February 14, the ambitious airline will launch a direct service from London Gatwick to Argentina’s romantic capital Buenos Aires.
Along with sampling some of the country’s finest steaks and Malbecs at parrillas such as Don Julio (parrilladonjulio.com), admire the ornate beauty of the Teatro Colon opera house (
) or learn about the history of tango at the Carlos Gardel House Museum (museo-casa-carlos-gardel.business.site).
Later in the year, Norwegian plan to launch a subsidiary to fly domestic services in Argentina’s interior, which will make it easier to visit other parts of the country too.
How: Norwegian (norwegian.com) offer flights from London to Buenos Aires from £283.80 each way, with four departures per week.
2) PICOS DE EUROPA, SPAIN
Best for: Hiking
Why: One hundred years ago, this stretch of peaks linking Cantabria, Asturias and Castilla y Leon was designated the first national park of Europe. Just 20km from the northern coast of Spain, it’s regarded as one of the most scenic wilderness areas in the country.
Limestone mountains, cloud-reaching forests and tumbling glaciers make up the 300sq mile terrain, which is ideal for easy, multi-day hikes. Aside from the landscapes, there’s also the possibility of seeing golden eagles, wild horses and (if you’re really lucky) the Cantabrian brown bear.
How: Pura Aventura (pura-aventura.com, 01273 676712) offer a 7-night Picos de Europa Inn to Inn walking holiday from £1,050pp.
Best for: Art and design
Why: Excitement is mounting for the new V&A Museum of Design Dundee (vandadundee.org) which is expected to open in late summer and is part of an ambitious £1billion development of the city’s waterfront.
The first museum of its kind in Scotland will house a permanent collection tracing the country’s design heritage – from Charles Macintosh, the inventor of waterproof fabric, to Ian Callum’s creative input at luxury car manufacturer Jaguar – along with world-class touring exhibitions.
In 2018, the city also celebrates its links with Mary Shelley, whose Gothic classic Frankenstein was first published 100 years ago. Explore streets described in her book on a walking tour with Dark Dundee (darkdundee.co.uk; tours from £10).
How: Booking.com offer rooms at the Hampton by Hilton Dundee from £80 with breakfast.
Best for: Wildlife
Why: Although it’s frequently overshadowed by neighbouring safari giants Zambia and Tanzania, this small, friendly and politically-stable country is gearing up to be a world-class wildlife destination.
Last year, the world’s biggest ever translocation of elephants took place, successfully restocking the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, and next year there are plans to reintroduce lions into Liwonde National Park with the help of Leonardo DiCaprio’s charitable foundation.
But even without the big cats, Liwonde is a natural treasure. Watch elephants swim across the park’s Shire river on a boat safari and fall asleep listening to hippos snuffling in the undergrowth.
How: South African Airways (flysaa.com) offer flights from London Heathrow to Lilongwe via Johannesburg from £694 return. Stay at the Mvuu Camp (cawsmw.com) in Liwonde National Park from £270 per person per night full board.
Best for: Culture
Why: With 12 months of cultural events planned for this dockside city, there’s good reason to visit year round. One of the biggest talking points is the impending arrival of the Terracotta Army from Xi’an.
For more than 2,000 years, these statues guarded the tomb of China’s First Emperor and, from February 9 until October 28, they’ll form part of a major exhibition at the World Museum (
) recounting one of the world’s greatest archaeological discoveries.
Other highlights in the arts calendar include a return visit from French puppeteers Royal De Luxe as part of the city’s celebrations to mark 10 years since being European Capital of Culture, The Liverpool Biennial of contemporary art (July 14-October 28), and Tate Liverpool’s 30th birthday celebrations.
How: Booking.com offer rooms at the Z Hotel Liverpool from £45 per night.
6) NASHVILLE, US
Best for: Foodies
Why: Whether you’re a country music fan or not, Tennessee’s capital ripples with intrigue. Sure, cowboy boots still tap to irresistible riffs in crowded bars, but the appeal of the city renamed ‘Nowville’ by American GQ is so much broader.
A dynamic food scene runs from gritty Southern fare to classy gourmet creations, and the reinvigorated neighbourhoods of 12 South and East Nashville are shaping up to be hipster magnets.
Responding to growing interest in the city, British Airways will launch Europe’s first direct flight on May 4, with five services operating weekly from £499 return.
How: Abercrombie & Kent (abercrombiekent.co.uk) can tailor-make a three-night break including the new direct flights, accommodation and private transfers.
7) AKUREYRI, ICELAND
Best for: Adventure
Why: A wilderness within easy reach, Iceland’s popularity grows every year. Now second timers are venturing beyond Reykjavik and heading north for similarly striking waterfalls, geothermal pools and lava caves – only without the crowds.
In January, Super Break launch direct charters to Akureyri from Bournemouth, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Exeter, Humberside and Newcastle; from February, additional services will operate from East Midlands, Liverpool, Leeds, Bradford, London Stansted and Norwich.
Iceland’s second city is the gateway to the Arctic North, where highlights include Europe’s most powerful waterfall Dettifoss, lava formation Dimmuborgir and Myvatn Nature Baths – a far less touristy alternative to the Blue Lagoon.
How: Super Break (superbreak.com) offer the four-night Incredible Iceland trip from Liverpool from £749ppp including B&B accommodation, flights and two excursions.