Within our TTC family of 42 brands, we offer hundreds of ways to discover the world. Within my areas of responsibility at Trafalgar, there are nearly 40 choices alone. With so much to see and so much to do, the choice of discovery is limitless. At the start of each year as has become tradition, I look to see where I will travel in the months to come, seeking to add a few extra slices of inspiration in the process.
Here are my personal top 10 Travel Trips for 2020, and why…
In July of this year my wife and I will travel to Vietnam, a country I have yet to visit. It’s been on my travel list for years and with the new decade, I am determined to make it a definite. The country checks all the boxes that inspire my personal travels. In terms of its culture and history, Vietnam is a place where old and new live side by side. I grew up hearing stories of the country’s modern history, but Vietnam’s ancient history is still very much a part of its present, apparent in places like Hanoi, or Ho Chi Minh City. The people of Vietnam too, add to its charm. With welcoming smiles and an abundant desire to share their heritage and culture, I believe you’ll find a warm reception everywhere you go. Of course the natural beauty of the country also makes it appealing, with mountain ranges, rivers and lush forest all there to be enjoyed. And then finally you have the food, a major passion of mine. I love eating all around the world, not just for the flavour but also for the cultural immersion, so in Vietnam I’m excited to taste the steaming bowls of pho, fresh banh mi or summer spring rolls.
Visit the one of the magical Temples of Ho Chi Minh
From the written world of Shakespeare to the pageantry of the Royal Family, Britain is a country that is inimitable in style and tradition. So in this new decade and with the uncertainty of Brexit soon to be a thing of the past, 2020 is set to be a wonderful time to visit Britain. Rugged coastline, historic castles, renowned cathedrals, vibrant cities and charming rural villages are all on offer here, and come rain or shine you can always count on the Brits for a warming cup of tea and a friendly smile.
In 2019, I went back to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1997. With an open mind and a willingness to learn, what I found here was an extraordinary place of remarkable warmth and opportunity, and a chance to understand the region’s recent “Troubles” history and how this has impacted our contemporary society. I particularly enjoyed visiting the Ulster American Folklore Park, where three centuries of immigration from Ulster to the USA are depicted. I thought this coming together of history and nature was an inspired form of storytelling, and an experience I’m sure many of our guests will similarly appreciate.
Explore Northern Ireland’s culture, landscapes and history
I cannot quite put into words the love and admiration I have for Namibia. Vast and diverse, this is a country where much of the land is uninhabitable; an endless expanse of deserts and sand dunes. As well as peering into the depths of Africa’s largest canyon, exploring a petrified forest and heading out on safari, this trip visits the last semi nomadic tribe of Namibia, the OvaHimba tribe, offering an opportunity for cultural exchange and fascinating storytelling.
Drift into an breathtaking African Sunset
Travel and Leisure listed Georgia as one of their top new destinations to visit in 2020, and it’s not hard to understand why. Both of these countries have been on our radar for a while, and this year we are one of the first company’s to offer trips to this unique and beautiful region. Offering an extraordinary collection of medieval monasteries and churches, dramatic mountain ranges and historic cities and towns, both Armenia and Georgia have plenty to offer for the discerning traveller seeking to venture off the well trodden path. As a company we are committed to making travel matter by helping smaller and lesser known destinations take their turn in the spotlight, a move that will in turn help to combat overtourism in the more traditionally popular destinations.
A country formerly dogged with a reputation for conflict, crime and drugs, Colombia has risen from the ashes to become a destination of choice for many travellers around the world. Drawn in by the sun drenched Caribbean coastline, vast and lush rainforests, strong coffee, the towering Andes mountain range and countless animal species (many of which are on the endangered list), Colombia can justifiably say it has a little something for everyone. Colombia Rediscovered is new for 2020 and features a number of exciting and unique experiences, my favourite of which takes places at Tayrona National Park, on the Caribbean coastline. Here, our guests will meet with Dr. Santiago Giraldo of the ProSierra Nevada Foundation, who was the recipient of a TreadRight Foundation grant for his incredible work with elusive indigenous tribes. Led by Dr Giraldo, our groups will meet and engage with local indigenes who work closely with Dr Giraldo, in an experience that is the first of its kind.
Get lost in Cartagena’s labyrinthine streets and admire the bright bougainvillea colours
Wild, rugged and beautiful, Tasmania is a unique gem at the bottom of the world and a place that should be on everyones travel wish list. It’s certainly on mine, and from this year it will also be on many of our Trafalgar guests as we launch our new Footsteps & Trails trip. One of the undisputed highlights of this trip is a visit to one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places in the world – the Bay of Fires. This experience includes the Wakalina walk; a two-day Aboriginal guided walk through the magnificent Bay of Fires landscape as well as the Mount William areas, the cultural homeland of the Palawa people. Bruny Island’s rugged coastline and the calming beauty of Wineglass Bay are other highlights on the agenda.
If you take a second to Google any of Utah’s national parks, you’ll understand why this experience is so deserving of a place on my top 10. Visiting the big 5 – Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park, plus other spectacles of nature like Lake Powell and Goblin Valley State Park, this trip is all about appreciating a region of the USA many never take the time to see. It gives our guests a chance to get active with much of the trip done on foot, where moderately strenuous hikes are rewarded with landscapes that wouldn’t feel out of place elsewhere in our solar system. Antelope Canyon is a particularly special place for me, where you can really feel the majestic power of nature.
The exquisite natural sandstone shapes that dot the landscape in Arches National Park
New for 2020, our Southwest Native Trails trip really is one of a kind. It’s an opportunity for honest and authentic cultural immersion, and is centred around learning, understanding, and the mutual benefit tourism can have on a community. Everybody knows and has perceptions of America, but this trip offers the opportunity to learn about the original forefathers of the country, diving in to their culture, language, stories and heritage. On the trip, our guests will meet and bond with members of the Navaho nation, the Anasazi, Hopi and the Puebloan people. They’ll hear ancestral stories, but also develop an understanding of how indigenous peoples in America continue to honour their heritage today, whilst being guided by tradition.
A timeless classic that never goes out of style, a trip to Egypt is a trip back in time to the Cradle of Civilisation. Walking in the footsteps of pharos is a guaranteed spine tingler, and that moment when you catch a glimpse of the Pyramids for the first time – it’s something I can’t quite put into words. Ancient temples, magnificent monuments, fascinating hieroglyphics, and carvings and paintings that have withstood the test of time are all here for the culturally curious, not to mention the nightly Nile, the vast desert and the lush delta.
Discover the mysteries of Abu Simbel at the Temple of Ramses II
Whenever I think of travel, there is always one quote that inspires me, written by the inimitable Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” In essence, live life for the now, get out and ensure you discover your small part of our extraordinary world in 2020 and beyond. You won’t regret it.