A picture-perfect trio of islands lapped by turquoise waters, the Maltese archipelago has all the charm of nearby Sicily with far fewer tourists. Valletta, the tiny nation’s capital and a UNESCO World Heritage site, feels like something plucked straight from Westeros. The historic walled city dates back to 1565, and has a vibe that’s Mediterranean with a North African twist. This underrated destination is finally stepping into the global limelight as a 2018 European Capital of Culture. To celebrate the occasion, the city has planned more than 140 projects and 400 events throughout the year. The festivities begin on January 20, with contemporary dance, a choral symphony, and acrobatic performances across the city’s four main squares. Should you miss the grand opening, swing by in February for Carnival, or in June for the Malta International Arts Festival and the Valletta Film Festival. —Diana Hubbell
Flight Denver - Washington (DEN - IAD) $97+ Flight Orlando - Washington (MCO - DCA) $100+ Flight Minneapolis - Washington (MSP - IAD) $115+ Flight Minneapolis - Washington (MSP - DCA) $120+ Flight New York - Washington (LGA - DCA) $147+ Flight San José - Washington (SJC - IAD) $154+ Flight Boston - Washington (BOS - DCA) $155+ Flight Fort Lauderdale - Washington (FLL - DCA) $168+ Flight Denver - Washington (DEN - DCA) $173+ Flight San José - Washington (SJC - DCA) $180+ Flight Miami - Washington (MIA - DCA) $183+ Flight Los Angeles - Washington (LAX - DCA) $204+ Flight San Francisco - Washington (SFO - IAD) $206+ Flight San Francisco - Washington (SFO - DCA) $206+
Landlocked Laos might be quieter than Southeast Asian neighbors like Vietnam and Thailand, but 2018 could transform the country into the region’s next hot spot. Wattay International Airport, in the capital of Vientiane, is set to complete a terminal expansion to accommodate more international links next year, but the biggest changes are foot in the UNESCO World Heritage–inscribed town of Luang Prabang, in central Laos. This serene riverside spot lures travelers to its golden Buddhist temples, French-colonial architecture, hiking trails, nearby elephant sanctuaries — and now, glamorous new digs. Last year, the design-forward Azerai opened inside a century-old French-colonial building that was formerly an officer’s quarters. The debut concept from Aman Resorts founder Adrian Zecha has airy, light wood interiors that nod to local culture in their use of batik textiles and Laotian artwork. There’s also an 80-foot swimming pool in a tree-shaded central courtyard. The upcoming Rosewood Luang Prabang aims to be a destination in itself. Opening in mid 2018, this highly anticipated resort will feature pavilion-style villas, luxury tents, and a spa that seems to float above the jungle. —Kate Springer
Philip, while under the influence of drugs, commits to memory an anti-viral formula sent via messenger. The information is passed on to fellow Traveler Derek via Jenny so it can be synthesized and distributed to other Traveler teams as well as people targeted to be saved in order to minimize the spread and mutation of a flu like virus that historically killed 70,000 people. However, two weeks after dissemination, people around the world start getting sick with a virus even more dangerous than the original one. With no contact from the Director, and the death toll rising, Marcy and the team rush to find a solution before it's too late.
During an update for historians, one of them dies from cerebral overload and is taken over by another traveler. The faction then breaks in and kidnaps the historians. A Blackbox is a device used to extract information from an unconscious or dying person and the team uses one to access a critically injured Hall to ascertain the location of historians. Jeff reaches out to his police sergeant to get his job back and is told to get help from a social worker first. Philip is questioned by the faction. Philip is given time with Kyle as a gesture of good will, who states that he sympathizes with the faction's goal, especially since he just saw another historian die during the update. Faction saves a TELL that Kyle provided to gain his support. Jeff reaches out to David to sign his therapy form for him to get his job back. David agrees to help as a social worker with Jeff's addiction, which the traveler doesn't actually have. Hall is able to relay information from when he was tracking his team's historian showing he ran into a faction team and was shot climbing a fence. He reveals that it was Kyle and Luca from his own team that shot him. Hall is able to show the team the location of the historians and the team is dispatched. While with David, Jeff receives a message to meet up at the location for tactical support. Philip is able to escape before being cornered by Kyle and Luca. Maclaren's team shows up just in time to save Philip and kills Luca and Kyle. The team saves all the historians while taking out many of the faction. Hall is told he saved them all and is able to pass away in peace knowing that. Jeff and Carly reconnect. Philip is seen throwing out his yellow pills that historians have to take.
Cruise ships and luxe lodges are familiar sights in western Greenland, but more recently, the untamed tundra of the east has begun opening up. Natural Habitat Adventures is leading the push: two seasons ago it debuted Base Camp Greenland, a seasonal eco-lodge comprising eight rustic but cozy tented cabins, which visitors use as a home base for exploring East Greenland by boat, helicopter, and on foot. When you’ve had enough of the wilderness, return to the western shore. Upscale additions there include the glamping retreat Camp Kiattua, which has tipi-like tents with fireplaces and fur-draped furnishings, and the new Ilimanaq Lodge, which feels like the Arctic’s answer to the overwater bungalow. Each of 15 Scandi-inspired cabins feature floor-to-ceiling windows and oceanfront terraces for whale-watching and iceberg-spotting. —Lila Battis
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In 2006, a Travelers commercial titled Snowball was nominated for an Emmy. Snowball featured a man, walking down a steep San Francisco sidewalk, who trips and knocks over a table of items at a garage sale. The man and the items roll down the street, forming a ball which gathers garbage cans, pedestrians, construction materials, motorcycles, light poles, and other items, in a manner very reminiscent of the familiar cartoon "snowball" effect or the cult video game Katamari Damacy. The creators of the ad say it is simply based on the snowball effect, they have never heard of the game, and that the resulting similarity was a surprise to them.
To better accommodate the millions who visit Iguazú Falls, a UNESCO site of 275 mighty waterfalls straddling the border of Argentina and Brazil, nearby Cataratas del Iguazú Airport is being modernized and enlarged. Within Iguazú National Park, the Ecological Jungle Train, which takes visitors on a 25-minute journey to the epic Devil’s Throat cascade, is converting from gas to environmentally friendly electric trains. Starting this February, travelers will be able to bed down at the long-awaited Awasi Iguazú resort where 14 rainforest villas will each have plunge pools and guests will have access to a personal excursion guide and 4WD vehicles. Expect visits to native Guarani tribes, river kayaking, and jungle treks led by a resident biologist. Selvaje, an upscale 12-room lodge, will also open early this year and will offer a menu of couple-friendly activities, from picnics to spa treatments. For the ultimate in romance, though, Argentinean travel outfitter Mai 10 (run by Travel + Leisure A-List Agent Maita Barrenechea) can arrange private dinners alongside the falls under the light of a full moon. —Nora Jean Walsh
Flight Atlantic City - Fort Lauderdale (ACY - FLL) $89+ Flight Atlanta - Fort Lauderdale (ATL - FLL) $105+ Flight Denver - Fort Lauderdale (DEN - FLL) $107+ Flight Houston - Fort Lauderdale (HOU - FLL) $111+ Flight Houston - Fort Lauderdale (IAH - FLL) $111+ Flight Philadelphia - Fort Lauderdale (PHL - FLL) $111+ Flight Washington - Fort Lauderdale (BWI - FLL) $113+