A year ago at this time, much of the world remained totally unaware of how different travel would be just a few months later. Back then jet-setters and aspiring globe trotters had far-off destinations like Florence, Reykjavik, and Kyoto on their minds. Cut to today: In light of the limitations and safety precautions due to Coronavirus, there's a whole new travel bucket list and it's filled with more practical — but nonetheless stunning — locales to try for safer, more socially distant trips out of town.
To address the elephant in the room, most non-essential travel in general is still frowned upon by health officials (including the CDC), as a second wave of the virus is hitting many areas hard. But that doesn't mean you can't dream about the next place you'll visit when it becomes safer to travel again. And if recent trends — as explained by travel experts — are any indication, it seems that safety and practicality will continue the shape what kind of trips most people are taking in the next year or so.
Nature-focused trips (especially camping or glamping) are still majorly trending, so destinations that offer magnificent landscapes are floating to the top of the new bucket list, and in terms of domestic travel, that's heavily centered around national parks. "National Parks, US landmarks, or just getting out-and-about to nearby nature preserves are always top of mind for many but often fall second to grand safari trips or a month-long trek through Southeast Asia." says Esther Klijn of luxury and corporate travel agency, CIRE.
Besides the scenic surroundings, it seems that people are gravitating towards such destinations because they seem to present more space to practice social distancing and outdoor activities. In keeping with that idea, Klijn says CIRE recommends private home and villa rentals to clients for ensured space and privacy.
And according to luxury travel blogger Mona Molayem of MonaCorona, there are a few other ways to keep prospective trips as safe as possible — besides social distancing. "Get tested right before your trip and upon returning: Self-quarantine for a minimum of five days, then get tested," she explains. "Avoid visiting destinations with older and more vulnerable populations, such as Palm Springs, if you aren't completely certain you're not positive." If you're flying, Molayem suggests booking airlines that keep the middle seat open, such as Delta, and cleaning your seat and area with a disinfectant wipe. In airports, she says to keep your mask on and avoid eating in high traffic areas. To steer clear of crowds, you can also consider traveling off-season only, and during your trip avoid dining during peak hours and start any activities early to beat any rush. Last but not least, the travel experts suggests wearing a mask as often as possible, and washing or sanitizing your hands often — all of which complies with the CDC's recommendations.
With the safety info in mind, the next thing to consider is where you'll go next. And if you ask Klijn and Molayem, the six destinations ahead are proving to be gaining major momentum as hot spots that feel relatively safe and accessible.
New Travel Bucket List: Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Klijn shares that this national park has become one of the most desirable domestic destinations to visit of late. Not quite the camping type? She says that the Amangiri resort will give you a thoroughly luxe experience amid the rugged landscape.
New Travel Bucket List: Lake Tahoe, California
For cozy cabin vibes, Klijn says that this northern California destination makes an ideal vacation spot — particularly for those in the nearby Bay Area. And Molayem has also noticed a surge in desire to visit the area — whether in winter or warmer weather — due to all the outdoor activities. "In Lake Tahoe, you can hike or mountain bike, horseback, kayak or paddle board, scuba dive, golf, visit beaches, and ski or snowboard in the winter all while physical distancing," she explains.
New Travel Bucket List: Joshua Tree, California
If you prefer a desert escape, you can follow the lead of so many travelers who have been seeking some solace in Joshua Tree, which is accessible via a short drive from Los Angeles. Klijn attributes the appeal of the place to its natural beauty and remoteness as well as its close proximity to such a major city.
New Travel Bucket List: Big Sur, California
"If being by the ocean is what you're after, Big Sur offers one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world," Molayem says, adding that its especially accessible by car for many parts of California. "Driving through the towns along the PCH and stopping to spend the night at quaint inns or airbnbs will be a relaxing vacation with lots of different beautiful outdoor sights to take in." Because Big Sur can be a popular spot, the travel pro says to also check out nearby Carmel-By-The-Sea or Monterey for similar vibes but potentially less populated.
New Travel Bucket List: Berkshires, Massachusetts
For a scenic trip that's more accessible to those on the East Coast, Klijn says this rural area offers the perfect respite for anyone that needs to take a break — and get some much needed space — from the bustling city.
New Travel Bucket List: Catskills, New York
Like the Berkshires, the Catskills offer visitors serenity from city life and a welcome chance of scenery — and it's only about a three hour drive from NYC.