Detroit Free Press writer Ellen Creager boils down a career of travel to these quick tips.

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If you could see the sights at only five places in the world during your lifetime, where would they be? Editors posed this question to me a few days before my retirement date this month. So forget the books about 1,000 places you must see before you die. You only need to see five:

1. Paris

Yes, the city has suffered some blows recently, but it remains the most elegant of all world cities. I once wrote that if they held a contest for the best city in the universe, Earth should send Paris. I still believe that.

2. The Grand Canyon

The United States has equal or better scenery than anywhere in the world. And the Grand Canyon and its massive scale must absolutely be seen in person at least once in your lifetime. Stand on the edge and be overwhelmed.

3. Vietnam

The combination of incredible food, wonderful shopping, energetic people and a profound sense of history makes this one place you must try to see in your life. For anyone who recalls the Vietnam War, there’s an added poignancy and familiarity here, especially when you’re taking a cruise down the Mekong River or lunching in Hanoi.

4. Great Migration on the Serengeti and Masai Mara in Tanzania and Kenya, Africa

Stunning wild animal scenes you will never forget. Don’t scrimp on this trip. Go during the migration months, spend the money to fly at least part of the in-country routes, and stay at the best tented camps you can afford. Life changing.

5. New York City

I actually have grown to love the city over the many decades I have visited. The museums, the little restaurants, the neighborhood feel, and of course Lady Liberty are sights every American should see at least once in their lives.