The 18 Must-Visit Places For 2018


The perfect bucket list for this year

Travel is one of the most reliable ways to expose yourself to new things, learn about new cultures, and expand your mind to new ways of being. So we think you should make 2018 your year of doing all these things. And while travel is definitely a luxury—taking time off work and coming up with the money to go on vacation isn't always easy—it is definitely one of the most worthwhile uses of any spare funds you might have. Plus, in a time when so many Americans (including the president) are promoting horrifically xenophobic, bigoted ideas about any culture that doesn't fit their "American" idea (meaning: white and Christian), it's pretty much your duty to go out there and see why this type of virulent prejudice is so dangerous, as well as baseless.

This year should, therefore, be one of exploration—of the world, of America, of yourself—so that you can see for yourself all the wonders to be found, near and far. Here are our picks for the 18 places you should definitely add to your 2018 travel bucket list. Happy trails.

Punta de Mita & Sayulita & San Francisco aka Riviera Nayarit, Mexico
Okay, so this is not exactly one place, but rather three little villages located along the coast of Mexico's Bahia de Banderas, and we can't recommend strongly enough visiting the entire, gorgeous region. Each of these townships has its own distinctive feel, though all of them are low-key and friendly in the manner of most surfing spots. Which, surfing is what most travelers come to the area for; the waves vary depending on the time of year (we were just there in January, and they were... intimidating, but that only adds to the fun!), but there's real continuity in the laid-back, super-friendly atmosphere. Whether or not you're into surfing, the beaches are expansive and offer plenty of opportunities for long strolls and the most spectacular sunsets you've ever seen. (Just look at the above sunset! No filter needed.) Also, each of these towns has a unique, vibrant town center, with San Francisco (San Pancho, to the locals) being notable for bearing a distinctly artistic vibe. Why go now? Beyond the obvious "why not," we would still encourage you to check out these little towns before they become the kind of "everyone you know is going there this year" spots that other travel destinations have become.

Where to Stay: Spoil yourself with a stay at the W Punta de Mita, which is the kind of place where you could happily spend every single day of your vacation and not even think about leaving the property—or even your room, thanks to the spectacular ocean views you can take in while sitting in a huge soaking tub. But, you know, you probably will want to leave your room eventually, and check out the huge pool, hot tubs, and incredible spa (get a "local" body wrap and be prepared for your skin to feel meltingly soft). The food is delicious, and there's plenty of options, including a ceviche bar right on the beach (it's been fashioned out of an old Chevrolet truck, so it's called the "Chevycheria"), where you can enjoy the freshest fish of your life; or check out Spice Market, the Asian fusion fine dining restaurant (don't miss the black pepper shrimp and the coconut cake). 

Where to Eat: Offsite, don't miss Las Palmas Restaurant & Bar, right on the beach in San Pancho. Grab a table set in the sand and watch the waves crash down, while you sip an icy cold Paloma. I strongly recommend the savory, umami bomb of a tuna tostada and an aguachile dish; my favorite was the maracudja (passionfruit). In Sayulita, don't miss the Sayulita Wine Shop, where you'll find an incredibly comprehensive collection of mezcals, tequilas, and more—including biodynamic wine from a Mexican vineyard that's over 400 years old! Then, swing by Naty's Cocina for exceptional tacos (we like the marlin!) and delicious agua frescas.

What to Do: SURF. If you're staying at the W, you can take surfing lessons with their in-house team, the wonderful Sergio and Abdul. We'll be frank, we had no experience surfing before and were, honestly, terrified. (Which is sensible! The ocean is scary. It doesn't care about you.) The waves were really rough when we were out there, and the beach even had a red flag, meaning not safe for swimming. But we were in really good hands with Sergio and Abdul, who totally allowed us to do what we were comfortable with and take things at our own pace. Sure, this meant that most of the time we were diving into the waves to avoid wiping out, rather than hanging ten. But that's okay! We still had an amazing time and never felt overwhelmed. Plus, we got to appreciate the beauty of watching other people catch some wild waves—and we did that from the safety of our boogie board, which we had gotten once we realized that maybe this wasn't going to be the trip on which we learned how to become a surf goddess. 


Nail polish is for novices

Fashion label The Blonds is known for its high-intensity looks that you'd only wear if you wanted to stand out (and who doesn't?). For its runway shows, wild press-on nails are the beauty step that can't be missed. So, since the brand has partnered with CND since it was founded, we thought it best to get prepped for the show with Jan Arnold, CND's co-founder.

See why you should take your nail look from a zero to a 10, in the video above.

Shot by Charlotte Prager
Edited by Gretta Wilson
Produced by Alexandra Hsie
Production Assistant: Polina Buchak
Featuring Jan Arnold of CND Nails and The Blonds



Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

It would've been nice if someone said the word "fat"

Back in November, Rebel Wilson claimed to be the first plus-sized lead in a romantic comedy when she appeared on Ellen to talk about her role in Isn't It Romantic. Wilson was not only wrong, but she was—even if inadvertently—erasing the work of Black plus-size actresses like Queen Latifah and Mo'Nique, both of whom have expansive resumes that include romantic comedies.

Wilson's comment isn't the first example of white women taking up a little too much space in the fat acceptance ethos. It's actually quite common. But there is a reason why women like Wilson—women who are blonde, pretty, successful, and white—get put front and center in calls for body positivity. In the same way that feminism—the movement from which body positivity was born—has often failed to address how gender intersects with other identities like race and class; so, too, has body positivity been championed as a cause for otherwise privileged women. And that's why it's no surprise that Isn't It Romantic, which aspires to be both a spot-on mockery of rom-coms and a celebration of body positivity, is actually a perfect example of how very white both the movie genre and the body positivity movement tend to be.

In the film, Wilson plays Natalie, an architect based in New York, who is single and plus-sized—the archetypal rom-com underdog. Very early on in the movie, she endures the double humiliation of both being hit by a runaway food cart and then accosted by its owner for not stopping it with her "cement truck"-like body. At work, Natalie is similarly disrespected: The office manager hands off troubleshooting tasks to Natalie; another colleague always tasks Natalie to throw out his trash; her assistant Whitney (Betty Gilpin) won't stop watching movies (rom-coms, naturally) while in the office; and Natalie is so afraid to present her ideas for more innovative parking garage designs that she isn't even widely known in the firm as an architect, and is treated like an intern.

But is Natalie just a doormat? Or is it that she isn't asking for what she wants? And isn't very nice about not getting it? If Natalie's life is any example, the bar on suffering is set pretty low for white women. In her personal life, Natalie lives alone with her dog, and seems to be pretty well-off, financially; her best friend is actually her slacker assistant, Whitney, and she's close with another coworker, Josh (Adam Devine), who gives Natalie constant emotional support. She's decidedly anti-romantic, having been told by her mother from a young age that there's no such thing as real-life fairy tales; she's level-headed and practical. But also, she's filled with self-loathing. This leads her to be crass, sarcastic, and disconnected from people. And it was this last part that was hard for me. As a fat Black woman who grew up broke, does not have an assistant, and would get fired if I didn't do my job well, it was hard, if not impossible, to root for her.

For Natalie, though, everything changes when she bangs her head while fighting off a mugger. Her mundane life is tinted through rosy rom-com glasses. Suddenly, all the things that sucked about her life are gone, and everything is beautiful and perfect. But was her life so bad before? It didn't really seem to be.

And yet, looking around the theater at the mostly white, female audience, I accepted that my feelings didn't seem to be shared. But that almost seems to be by design; this feels like a movie for a white, female audience. There is only one person of color in the movie who even has a name: It's Isabelle (Priyanka Chopra), who shows up about halfway through the film—after everything has been rom-com filtered—as a yoga ambassador and swimsuit model. But a name is all Isabella has. A supporting character at best, she doesn't have any connection to anyone other than her white boyfriend, and is sketchily drawn. We learn nothing of her familial or ethnic background, and, even when she is shown at her wedding, there is nobody from her family celebrating with her. This huge oversight is particularly bizarre, given that Natalie has already bemoaned the lack of diversity in romantic films.

Another huge oversight? The presence of the word "fat." I don't think I heard it used a single time. Natalie only references her weight indirectly, by commenting on the appearance of straight-sized women; when talking about her own body, the word "fat" is replaced with "girl like me." But by ignoring this aspect of herself, and refusing to address it head-on, Natalie is succumbing to the same fatphobia that shapes her world, whether she identifies it as being a problem or not.

Before her life becomes a rom-com, Natalie feels invisible at work and in the world. Some of this is certainly her fault, but fatphobia is also at play. Fatphobia chips away at the humanity of fat people from different angles. It means that Natalie gets used to being dehumanized; she doesn't expect others to have empathy for her when she's physically hurt, because they don't value her body. And it's no coincidence that Natalie's fantasy world includes a magically bigger apartment with unlimited clothing options, because discrimination against fat people isn't just a matter aesthetics and preferences—it affects everything from our ability to dress ourselves to our ability to make and save money, since there's a price to pay for being fat, even if it's just having to pay more to travel. Just as much as gender and race intersect with fat bodies, so, too, do economics and class.

I knew I could count on a plus-sized white comedian to take down a genre of films that prioritized thin women. But I ventured to see if Wilson could go further than that, and challenge what it means to be white and well-off and fat in the process; it isn't just about taking down rom-coms but about doing so in a way that isn't just a mouthpiece for white feminist values. But, in the end, that isn't what happened. Isn't It Romantic is fine, but it needed to do more than target an audience of girls who are 10 to 30 pounds overweight and still too jolted by the word "fat" to ever apply it to themselves, so they go for acceptable alternatives, like curvy, plus-sized—or thicc, if they're hip. But I'm not afraid to say I'm fat, I'm just disappointed I will be waiting even longer to see a realistic reflection of that experience onscreen.

Isn't It Romantic is in theaters now.