With each new year comes a new must-do trave list, a #bucketlist of all the things we want to do and places we want to visit. In 2021 however, and considering the unusual nature with which we enter this new year, this year’s bucket list is full of desires grounded in deeper concious thought.

For 2021, our wish lists are not simply a listing of places to which we long to travel. Uniquely, this year they also offer insight into our intense love for travel beyond the WHERE and WHAT, tapping into the beauty of the WHY. They are reflections of the connections that we have missed, or missed out on, because of our being unable to discover the world in 2020.

For us all, wherever in the world we may be, the past year grounded us in a way that was completely unexpected, unimaginable, and inescapable.

For us travel nomads who spend a significant amount of our working and personal lives on airplanes, discovering new places around the world and unlocking new opportunities, this loss was yet another facet in what was a challenging year. For this reason, our untouched 2020 bucket lists have enriched our 2021 ‘TO DO’ lists. We are determined to venture out, to discover and go and see beyond our immediate borders, as soon as we possibly can.

As I look ahead into 2021, I am certain that we will see travel return. With the first round of vaccine doses already being dispersed and dispensed, these will be the key needed stabilizing force to move beyond the mere desire to go. The dispensing scale of the various approved pharma manufacturers will have the necessary positive global impact to enable the gates to travel to reopen. The vaccine, combined with testing, the continued use of masks, social distancing, hand washing and other supplier actions, will enable us to once again travel and reintroduce ourselves to the different places, people, cultures and experiences that enrich our lives.

So, what is on my #TTC2021 bucket list? As stated earlier, interestingly this year my travel bucket list is defined not by WHERE, but motivated by WHY.

My personal bucket list features only three places in the world. Nevertheless, it is a list that means the world to me. Here is my #TTCTOP3:

#1: Space and Big Sky

I love the great outdoors. It is what I’ve always loved. I love being out in nature, whether it is climbing sand dunes in the desert, skinning up then snowboarding down snow covered slopes or watching wildlife across the African veld.

Now post-lockdowns, I have a greater yearning for open space, along with a remnant unease of crowded places. I also love feeling the humility in being a mere speck on the globe. I want to be able to experience that again, opening up psychologically, not just physically, having been locked in for the entire year. Where do I want to go? I want to be able to look up like never before and see the lights, the Northern Lights. As I’ve written in the past, I have booked and intend to go to Lapland, Northern Sweden, in early April – a time that coincides perfectly with when I think travel will begin finally reopening up once more. I want to observe the beginning of Spring by looking up to the night lights dancing across the sky, celebrating all of the natural wonder that our world has to offer.

Importantly, I want to appreciate now and with deeper meaning, the blessing we have of being able to finally go out and explore again the gifts of Mother Nature’s creation.

#2: Cultural Re-awakening

By being locked in, we locked out the opportunity to gain direct, personal engagement, and the stimulation of learning from people of other cultures, and being an insider in their worlds. How I have missed discovering what it is that gives their lives meaning, gives their lives definition, and gives them a sense of identity.

Where do I want to go in 2021 to re-ignite this love of local? Top of my list remains Vietnam. I’ve never been, despite trying to go for the past three years. For whatever reason, these plans never came together. But in 2021 my wife and I are determined to try and make it happen.

I am excited to explore the culture and warmth of the nation through its food, its dance, its traditions, and of course, its art. I have been told to anticipate the country’s breath taking natural beauty. But post the Covid year,  it’s the friendliness and hospitality of Vietnamese people that intrigues me. I want to be able to connect with a country that has been connected to the world in so many ways, meeting and engaging with people who are as excited to share their pride of place as I am to experience it through their hearts and minds.

#3: Personal, Purposeful Connection

Third on my bucket list is one of personal motivation – I want to ensure that I continue to broaden my mind through travel.

I therefore want to be able to make a personal connection to the realities of people not only millions of miles away, but right beside me. 2020 made vividly clear just how harmful, how hurtful, and how deeply divisive racial inequality is and continues to be. Respectful and respected equality must become a legacy that our generation can be proud to pass on. But this only happens if we truly understand the position of others – if we walk in their footsteps. In doing so we gain a genuine understanding what makes their hearts smile, what makes their minds tick, what they find to be meaningful.  

In this regard, the trip that I’m determined to take, is a new Trafalgar itinerary that I am so proud of, which frames the important history of the Civil Rights Movement in the USA. This trip will go on sale during the month of February, recognised as Black History Month.

Inspired by one of our own Team Trafalgar members, this itinerary is a unique historical experience, as it explores the pioneers in this period of American history, particularly that of, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Guests and I will take a journey of enlightenment, meeting activists and guides along the way who will unlock each place through their eyes. Starting in Memphis, Tennessee where the world lost Dr. King the day after his final “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech and ending in Atlanta, Georgia home of his birth. The trip will explore significant places like Greenwood and the Mississippi Freedom Trail, walk in his footsteps across The Edmund Pettus Bridge and Birmingham, Alabama. Our team is excited to bring this vision to life, through a different lens. With a first departure in May 2021, this itinerary will, no doubt, become a leading feature of our 2021 portfolio, and beyond.

Reflecting on the three bucket list travels I have shared, I cannot but feel a quiet smile emerging within me. Why? Because they all feel so true to my dreams for travel in the year ahead. All three of these capture the heartbeat of what I have missed. That sense of missing has created a sense of purpose and a sense of direction for my spirit of travel that now shapes my bucket list for 2021.

I am excited about what is ahead in 2021. I’m excited not just because of the opportunity to be able to travel again, but the deeper, much deeper appreciation I have for my travels; for being a positive force, socially, economically and environmentally.

The challenges of 2020 have made us appreciate not just the value of travel, but the values of travel. And in doing that, it makes our re-entering the world in 2021 all the richer, more meaningful, and more connected – exactly what travel must, at its core, always be about. #MakeTravelMatter