Do you work to live, or live to work?

Western culture usually dictates the latter--and it's a terrible mindset that we need to stop.

Even the mere thought of an extended break, free of the constant barrage of email and calls, texts and requests from co-workers strikes fear and guilt in the hearts of workaholics across North America.

I'll tell you a secret, though: The company won't fall down and die if you take a week or two off. Everything will still be there when you get back.

But where are you going?

Lonely Planet just released its Best in Travel 2015 list of the top vacation destinations around the globe; use this for inspiration, but don't just dream it! I wrote recently about the benefits of taking more vacations, enhanced productivity and overall happiness among them. Stop fantasizing about cutting free for a break and just do it.

Here are some awesome destinations to help you start planning:

1. Singapore

This Southeast Asian city-state is a multicultural hub and a hotspot for global visitors. Of the approximately 5.4 million people who call Singapore home, approximately 2 million are foreign-born.

Singapore is one of the world's major commercial hubs, but don't let that stop you from visiting for a vacation. Though almost the entire city-state is urbanized, you'll find cultural treasures including historic buildings and places of worship interspersed among the modern architecture.

There are two things Singaporeans are fanatical about: awesome food and shopping. If you're craving hot and humid temperatures, days spent wandering hawker markets and glitzy malls, and a plethora of multicultural food choices everywhere you go, Singapore is the place for your next break.

Be sure to check out events happening in Singapore before you go--there's usually a party or festival somewhere on the island.

2. Namibia

In the south of Africa and bordering the Atlantic Ocean, you'll find a fascinating country well into a period of transition and growth. Namibia has proven an environmentally progressive country and was the first African country to write environmental protection and conservation into its constitution.

Here, you'll find the highest sand dunes on the planet, as well as the largest game reserves on the continent. Namibia is so incredibly diverse that if you only have a week or two, you'll want to choose which of the eight regions to really explore.

In the Namib/Coastal area, you'll find the Namib-Naukluft Park, the 50,000 sq km home of rugged mountains, vast plains and incredible dunes tinted apricot, maroon and orange.

The Kavango region, where Namibia borders Angola, Zambia and Botswana, is the place to explore massive, lush green game reserves populated with zebras, lions, elephants and more.

Namibia celebrates its 25th year of independence in 2015, so check out event calendars for festivities before you go!

3. Lithuania

If you're craving a getaway on the Baltic Sea coast, check out what Lithuania has to offer. Just northeast of Poland, Lithuania is joining the Eurozone January 1, 2015, a move that will make traveling to and navigating around in the country much easier.

Plan to visit the Curonian Spit (it's way more awesome than it sounds, I promise). A UNESCO World Heritage site, this winding sand dune spit separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea and runs almost 100 km from Russia through Lithuania. Though it's very narrow in places, in Lithuania it widens out to 3,800 metres just north of Nida.

After exploring the stunning landscape and beaches, hit a city like Vilnius to wander the baroque old town and take in centuries of history. Lithuania has been settled since the 10th millennium BC; if ever you wanted a getaway to help bring some perspective to your life, this is it.

As European polices are adopted, ATMs will become more plentiful and electronic payments made safer and easier. Lithuania probably hasn't been on your vacation must-go list until now, but it's going to be a great and untraditional place to get away to in the coming years.

4. Nicaragua

Central America's war-torn past isn't that far back in history, but don't let that stop you from escaping work to visit. Nicaragua in particular is starting to realize the tourism potential its neighbor Costa Rica has enjoyed for decades and is fast becoming a luxury ecotourism vacation hotspot.

Areas of Managua are definitely still rough--Lonely Planet describes the Nicaraguan capital city as "chaotic and broken, poetic and mesmerizing." Even so, it's breaking out as a major cultural destination and a foodie's paradise.

Outside of the city, you'll find quaint colonial towns that still bear the scars of the Nicaraguan Revolution in the 1960s and 70s, but are home to spirited Caribbean festivals and warm, welcoming people. Head to the Caribbean side of the country to see the shrimp and lobster boats that help drive the local economies coming in to port. Visit the northern central highlands for authentic coffee harvesting tours and lessons.

If you really want to get away from it all, head to the Corn Islands, about 70 km off the Caribbean cost of Nicaragua. Scuba diving and snorkeling are major attractions here, thanks to its incredible beaches and coral reef.

5. Ireland

Alright, so maybe Ireland isn't what you think of when you want to get away from it all. Bear with me, though.

Ireland's scenery is spectacular and regions like County Cork have long been favorites for travelers. You already know Ireland is the place to go for rowdy festivals, Dublin pub crawling and traditional Irish music.

As steeped as the country is in history and tradition, though, there are unexpected twists for travelers who do their homework. Head west to Clare, a cool surf town on the Atlantic coast, to ride Aileen's Wave, a 25-50ft monster that attracts the biggest names in surfing each year.

Check out Tipperary in Ireland's Golden Vale and wander the Mitchelstown Caves, among the best show caves in Europe.

Just Go.

As you plan your vacation this year (and you're taking one, say it with me now: "I promise to stop being such a boring workaholic and to enjoy my life..."), try to resist the old standbys and plan something different and unique.

Check out Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2015 guide and get inspired!

Published on: Oct 27, 2014
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