Repeat after me. 2021 is going to be better than 2020.
The world has been through it this year. In almost every corner of the globe, people’s lives and livelihoods have been upended by the pandemic. The whole world has experienced a tragedy. And what do global citizens tend to do when a place experiences a tragedy? We come together to lift up that community. We travel to these places to not just give them a critical economic boost, but to show these communities that they are important. That they matter and it’s important to us that they thrive.
Well, with a vaccine in site and a projection that all Americans can be vaccinated in the first half of 2021, we have travel on our minds. And not just any kind of travel. Travel to places we care about and want to help build back stronger.
No matter how you spend your travel dollars once we are able to move about freely, doing so will have a meaningful impact. Here are seven of the destinations that we have our sights set on as we plan our travel for the new—better—year ahead.
It feels like just yesterday that we were seeing the pandemic-related devastation in Italy. Those painful images were some of our first glimpses into just how real this pandemic would be. Many months later, the economic picture has become clear. Per Giorgio Palmucci, President of the Italian national tourist board, ENIT.
“Economically speaking, Italy is projected to see a 2020 loss from overseas visitors to Italy is €24.6 billion and even domestic traveler spending is down €43.6 billion.”
We also vividly remember the feeling that washed over us when we watched the video of the opera singer serenading a quarantined Florence. That video reminded us of one of the many reasons we, like so many, adore Italy: the warmth and the spirit of the people.
Simply put, we can’t wait to return to Italy. And because tourism is so crucial to Italy’s economy, we are expecting some extraordinary deals as things start to open back up. The money we’ll save getting to Italy, we’ll be able to spend in the communities we visit.
New York City
Like Italy, the news coming out of New York City early in the year made the pandemic a very real thing for many of us. We watched as one of the world’s greatest (both culturally and in global influence / impact) cities was brought to its knees by the virus.
The US has always rallied around New York City in times of need. We understand that the vibrancy and resilience of the Big Apple is synonymous with our collective strength as Americans. So, of course, we have New York City on our list for travel in 2021. We were there in early 2020 just as news of the Coronavirus was starting to spread, and it feels like it was years ago. So we’re eager to return. We’ll be looking for great travel deals—from hotels to Broadway tickets—as the city welcomes us back.
Many people recount Disneyland (and other Disney Parks around the world) closing as one of those moments. Prior to the pandemic, Disneyland had closed a few times following heartbreaking events, and always for just a single day each time. So, the closure of Disneyland, which has now had its gates locked since mid-March, has been an indicator of the unprecedented nature of tragedy we’re all experiencing. But it’s also been a tragedy in and of itself.
Having worked closely with Disney for years, we know how crucial the parks are to the company’s revenues. A $4.5 billion hit to revenues across two quarters was an astonishing loss, but that’s just money. To us, and to our friends at Disney, the tens of thousands of cast members (what Disney calls employees) being laid off was far more devastating.
Not only are we looking forward to a little “magic” once we are able to roam freely, we want to make sure that all of cast members can, once again, create magical experiences.
As we hunkered down over the last year, like so many, we’ve been paying close attention to the news. With so much tragedy, we found ourselves craving some positive stories. New Zealand delivered.
New Zealand stood out on the world stage for their best-in-class handling of the pandemic. The decisive steps they took to control the virus effectively “crushed the curve” and kept both infection and death rates relatively low. But those actions, like closing off the country’s borders, came at a cost.
The closure of New Zealand’s borders saved many lives but was devastating to many businesses. We read that in one of New Zealand’s fastest growing tourism centers—the stunning Queenstown Lakes District—was poised to experience nearly 8,000 job losses. And the region only has 40,000 permanent residents.
We’ve been to New Zealand several times and can tell you that it is one of the most breathtaking places on the planet and the country’s residents are among the friendliest in the world. It’s a long journey from the U.S., but it’s so worth it. We are chomping at the bit to get back.
For anyone who has ever been to Las Vegas, those pictures of an empty Las Vegas strip early in the shut-down were hard to believe. The throngs of tourists from all of over the world had seemed to disappear overnight. It was really like watching a scene from some dystopia sci-fi movie.
Tourism is the lifeblood of Las Vegas and crucial to the livelihoods of the millions of people who call Sin City home. Yes, we want to get back to the bright lights and over-the-topness of Las Vegas to just celebrate—it’s one of the best places in the world to let loose—but we also want to help out our friends—the entertainers, the service workers, the restaurateurs, etc.—that make the city really light up.
The verdict is in and the world has a lot to learn from South Korea’s handling of coronavirus. We all witnessed the nation take on the pandemic with rigor, precision, and decisiveness that, well, was just really impressive.
We’ve been to South Korea and loved every second of our time in Seoul. In fact, one of our best travel memories was having our concierge write us a note that said “please not too spicy” in Korean. Every time we showed it to a server, they would laugh.
We are craving some of that “not too spicy” food. We’re craving the smiles and giggles even more.
Most people associate the start of COVID in the U.S. with the Seattle area. Trust us, we get asked all the time. It’s true, Seattle was hit early and hard. And while we’ve had our ups and downs, the city we proudly call home has done a very good job of keeping the pandemic at bay. To do so, we’ve been under a tighter lockdown than many parts of the country (but we’re not complaining).
We love this city. Now this city could use your love.
While we’re busy visiting parts of the State that we’ve yet to get to, we encourage you to come see just what makes this part of the world so amazing. With the cruise ships anchored for a bit longer, you’re likely to experience Seattle’s top attractions—Pikes Place Market, the Space Needle, The Amazon Spheres—without the crowds that usually fill these spaces.
And while you’re here, be sure to stop by the University of Washington’s gorgeous campus—maybe check out the spring cherry blossoms—and remember that some of the world’s leading COVID-19 research has happened here.
No, we are not though the worst of it yet. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel and, once everything is back to (some version) of normal, those of us who are able to travel, will play a major role in helping communities all over the world bounce back from this pandemic. Whatever you might be on your travel wish list, now is the time to get to researching. Plan now on Expedia, book early, and then enjoy the anticipation of getting back out there.
What destinations are you looking forward to visiting in 2021?