Behind the Scenes: How We Chose the AFAR 2024 Where to Go List

In the editor’s letter of the latest issue of AFAR, deputy editor Tim Chester explains the process behind the annual Where to Go list.

A person taking a picture if another person on a rock.

Bhutan is encouraging visitors to stay longer and explore further with its recently restored Trans Bhutan Trail.

Photo by Jonathan Pozniak

Early summer is one of my favorite times of the year at AFAR—and not just because half-day Fridays kick off. It’s when we start soliciting ideas for our annual Where to Go list. We reach out to our network of writers across the globe to find out where they are, where they’ve been, and where they think our readers should go in the coming year.

As the story ideas roll in, I get to vicariously travel the world. I read convincing arguments for cities, regions, and whole countries, before we begin the hard work of whittling those submissions down to the 25 destinations that make the cut.

It’s always refreshing to take the travel community’s pulse—to learn what’s exciting for our team, and to see trends emerge. Old favorites reappear and new places pop up. Italy is on many writers’ minds this year—and every year. Cities across North America jockeyed for attention, including Toronto. Events often shape travel plans: The Summer Olympics will take over Paris in July, and the total solar eclipse will draw skygazers across the United States, including the Hill Country in Texas.

Our list is a global mix that includes Manchester’s edgy creative scene, Uruguay’s homegrown winemakers, and Black art in Los Angeles. I learned a lot about Brno, Czechia—not least how to pronounce it—and enjoyed sharing why travelers should see and help protect Fiji’s marine life.

Working at AFAR for five years has left me with an extensive list of places to experience. This issue’s dispatches from our seasoned reporters have added even more ideas to my mental scrapbook. I hope you also find inspiration for 2024.

Tim Chester is a deputy editor at AFAR, focusing primarily on destination inspiration and sustainable travel. He lives near L.A. and likes spending time in the waves, on the mountains, or on wheels.
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