How do I know a new year is underway? Annual lists of vacation "hot spots" start popping up in my e-mail. The locales may be far afield (Thailand's Ko Phi Phi made Budget Travel's list) or in our back yard (Lonely Planet's list of U.S. destinations includes the Twin Cities), but they always feed my wanderlust.

Where should you consider going this year, based on the lists?

"Already, 2013 is shaping up to be a banner year for European travel," according to Barry Liben, CEO of Plymouth-based Travel Leaders Group. The travel company predicts that Croatia, Turkey, Czech Republic and Portugal will entice increasing numbers of travelers.

No surprise that National Geographic Traveler had me cracking open my world atlas with its "best trips of 2013." Bagan, Myanmar; Raja Ampat, Indonesia; Bodø, Norway. Bogota, Argentina, is so last decade; this year, it's all about Valparaíso, Chile. Who knew? Maybe some of you will truly be in the know -- having been to one of these spots -- by the time 2014 rings in.

Of course, travel hot spots are subjective. What makes mine? Anywhere I want to be. High on my list for 2013 is a great Minnesota resort that I haven't yet visited: Grand View Lodge in Nisswa. Also, Maui (a hot spot for many Minnesotans, according to Travel Leaders). Lucky for me, I'm going next week. Now that's one hot destination.

Send your questions or tips to travel editor Kerri Westenberg at, and follow her on twitter @kerriwestenberg.