As a travel agent, I get asked all the time “what’s your favorite vacation?” My pat answer is always ”my next one.” Here are some of my bucket list places and current trending vacation locations.

Iceland: It’s made up of waterfalls, volcanoes and gorgeous landscapes and then at night you can catch the Aurora Borealis dancing light against the sky. Great prices on flights make this a fun destination and not just a stopover on the way to Europe. The Northern lights are a natural phenomenon and sighting cannot be guaranteed, but it’s worth the trip anyway.

Cuba: There is a rush to get here before it becomes too “touristy,” but Cuba has been available to every other country except the United States all along. When President Obama approved limited trade and travel in March 2016, the major travel vendors were very excited. Most cruise ships made arrangements to add this location to the Caribbean itinerary and land vendors rushed to expand their offering. The one requirement that Americans are still under is the “people to people” program restriction. Travelers, in addition to requiring a special VISA, must “engage in a schedule of full-time educational exchange which will result in a meaningful interaction between the traveler and individuals in Cuba.”

Even with all of the restrictions, Cuba remains a great place to visit. Shrouded in mystery for over 50 years, the island nation is waiting to be rediscovered. With its beautiful churches and vintage cars as well as world renowned cigars, Cuba will transport you back in time.

Europe: Travel vendors are offering great deals on airfare which makes now the perfect time to go to Europe. Don’t put off making arrangements for the Baltic or Mediterranean cruises. Prices are not going to get much better. River cruises on the Rhine and Danube give you a great way to unpack once and see many renowned locations. Italy and Ireland remain the perennial favorites of tourists, but Croatia and Eastern Europe are being rediscovered. Churches, history, food, beer and wine are some of the reasons to journey across the pond!

Dubai: The largest city in the United Arab Emirates is located on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf and is the capital of the Emirate of Dubai, one of the seven emirates that make up the country. Its opulent display of wealth with the hotels, shopping and cars are juxtaposed against the Bedouin desert complete with camels, tents and belly dancing. The Palms — three architectural wonders that were designed in the shape of a date palm tree and appears as a massive trunk, a full palm crown with fronds, and a crescent island to act as a breakwater wall — are often shown from the overhead view. These are the first man-made islands in the world, which earned them the “Eighth Wonder of the World” title. The difference in culture and geography make this a great travel destination.

Alaska: One-half of all U.S. National Park land is in Alaska and it is home to 19 of the 20 tallest mountains in the United States. Cruises and cruise tours are the way to see this great state since its coastline is longer than the entire coastline of the contiguous United States. You can go roundtrip from Seattle or Vancouver to see the inside passage. Or you take a longer cruise tour north — or south — and see more of the coastline, glaciers, wildlife and mountains and ride the Alaska Railroad. Picking the right cruise line is important depending on how you like to travel. Many choices are available and the cruise shouldn’t be picked based on price alone. Optimum time to travel is May through September and many bookings for 2018 are already getting filled. Book early to get great cabins.

Next week: Planning travel for the Holidays.

By Marci DeWitt

Contributing Columnist

Marci DeWitt owns a local travel agency, Anchor and Away Travel, a Dream Vacations franchise. She can be reached by email at [email protected].