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Travel News 10 dream destinations for your post-Covid bucket list

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10 dream destinations for your post-Covid bucket list

We know that travel is especially difficult right now. But alongside the latest COVID-19 travel advice and updates, we want to continue to inspire you with new travel content so that when the world opens its doors again, you'll be ready.

In a time when travel is nearly impossible, the label “dream destinations” can apply to almost everywhere in the world. On the other hand, it’s important to keep in mind that the pandemic will eventually end, and you’ll be immunized against COVID-19. Regardless of when these events take place, now is the time to spruce up your travel bucket list!

While it may be 2022 (or later) before you can take the once-in-a-lifetime trips we’re about to describe in tantalizing detail, it’s possible that some destinations will open their doors later in 2021. We hope you dream without bounds, but we strongly recommend that you verify national, state and local travel restrictions with official government sources before booking any travel.

Top 10 once-in-a-lifetime destinations

  1. Hawaii
  2. African Safari
  3. Mt. Everest
  4. Italy
  5. The Nile River
  6. Iceland
  7. Japan
  8. New Zealand
  9. Southeast Asia
  10. Antarctica

1. Island hop around Hawaii

Aerial shot of Na Pali coast in Kauai, Hawaii

Of all the dream destinations on this list, the Hawaiian islands are the most accessible to American travelers. Irrespective of when you embark on your Hawaii adventure, allow your inspiration to be boundless. Follow up a trip to Oahu’s famous Pearl Harbor with a drive along Maui’s Hana Highway or Kauai’s Na Pali Coast. Or, kick back and relax on the Big Island’s timeless Punalu’u Beach, which is covered in black sand due to millennia of volcanic eruptions.

Read more: Hawaii’s current travel restrictions and guidelines

2. Experience a safari on Tanzania’s Serengeti plain

Tourists taking an African safari

There are seemingly as many places to see the “Big 5” African game as there are wild creatures on this beautiful continent. However, the bucket-list-worthy place to do this is on Tanzania’s Serengeti plain. This is true whether you spot a herd of zebras darting across the savannah with Mt. Kilimanjaro in the background, or fall asleep in your luxury hotel amid the roar of lions just outside. Tip: Make your Tanzania dream destinations trip even more special by following up your safari with an excursion to Zanzibar, one of the world’s foremost paradise islands.

3. See (or climb) Mt. Everest in Nepal

Nepali peace flags at Everest Base Camp

The good news? Reaching “base camp” at the foot of Mt. Everest isn’t extremely difficult if you take your time and go with a sherpa guide trained to keep you from pushing yourself too hard. The better news? Even if you don’t want to hike to Base Camp (or, even more strenuously, climb Everest itself), you can take in majestic views of the world’s tallest mountain from many places in Nepal. Book a sightseeing flight at Kathmandu Airport, or spend a few days in the scenic town of Nagarkot, where enticing Himalayan views bound.

4. Take a grand tour of Italy

The ruins of Palatine Hill in Rome, Italy illuminated at night

While we admit that few people will visit Italy only once in their lifetime, why not plan your next trip to this dreamiest of dream destinations as if it will be your last? For some travelers, this will be a cuisine- and culture-focused tour of Italy’s best cities. Relax canal side in Venice, or eat the best pasta of your life in Rome’s eclectic Trastevere district. Other travelers will hit the road, be it amid the rolling hills and wineries of Tuscany, or along the too-beautiful-for-words Amalfi Coast. Tip: Prepare for your post-COVID Italy adventure by signing up to get an alert when Italy reopens!

Read more: When can I travel to Europe again?

5. Sail along the Nile River in Egypt

Felucca sailboat on the Nile River in Egypt

What’s better than the gentle hum of insects lulling you to sleep as you sail the Nile on a traditional felucca boat? For starters, the nearly endless array of attractions on either side of the world’s most famous river. For example, the towering temple of Abu Simbel in Nubia near the border with Sudan, or Luxor city’s 3,000-year-old Karnak, which is by some measures the largest temple in the world. While more luxurious river cruising options exist, we recommend going it old school while out on the water. Wait to splurge on high-end hotels in Cairo once you get back to the capital!

6. Drive Iceland’s Ring Road

Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall in Iceland

A trip to Iceland is the gift that keeps on giving. For example, just when you think nothing can be more awesome than Reykjavik’s towering Hallgrimskirkja cathedral, you arrive at the aptly named Diamond Beach on the southern coast. The northern hub of Akureyri is as awesome in summer, amid the midnight sun, as it is under winter’s Northern Lights. However, it’ll compete with the Snaefellsnes Peninsula’s Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall for your title of favorite place in Iceland. This is our long way to make a short point: The only way to experience Iceland and its dream destinations is to see all of it, by making a loop around the country on Ring Road.

7. Enjoy Japan’s magical cherry blossom season

Cherry blossoms along the Urui River near Japan's Mt. Fuji

Japan’s sakura bloom every year. However, you’ll need to coordinate well to perfectly synchronize your Japan trip with the so-called “cherry blossom front” that moves across the country each spring. As a result, a Japan cherry blossom adventure is a once-in-a-lifetime trip for many travelers. You’ll never forget the feeling of entering 17th-century Himeji Castle as it seems to float in a sea of pink, or a fubuki (petal blizzard) falling around you as you frolic with the friendly deer of Nara. The weather in Japan at this time of year is also excellent. Sunny, warm days amid the temples of Kyoto’s Higashiyama, and jacket-weather nights beneath the neon lights of Tokyo’s Shinjuku.

Read more: Top tips for your first trip to Japan

8. Immerse yourself in New Zealand’s otherworldly South island

Lupines on Lake Tekapo in New Zealand

New Zealand’s masterful handling of COVID-19 means it will likely be one of the last countries in the world to reopen its borders. The bright side of this? You can take your time planning a South Island road trip! Start in cool Christchurch, an underrated city that built back hipper than ever before after a devastating earthquake in 2011. From here, it’s on to the stunning lakes of Wanaka and Tekapo, the latter of which is painted in purple and pink lupine flowers during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer months. Not everyone will skydive or bungee jump in the adventure capital of Queenstown. If you don’t, sightseeing flights to the Milford Sound or Franz Josef Glacier allow for altitude without adrenaline.

9. Backpack (or flashpack) around Southeast Asia

Tourist at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Is there any experience more iconic of 20s travel than backpacking around Southeast Asia? Maybe not, but that doesn’t mean you can’t eat your way through Bangkok or explore lost cities in Cambodia and Malaysia if you’re past 30. When Southeast Asia opens again, combine an immersive itinerary (yes, with a backpack in tow) with luxurious hotels in cities like Kuala Lumpur and Hanoi, and boutique stays in charming river towns like Laos’ Luang Prabang and Thailand’s Chiang Mai. Or, pick a single destination. Bike amid the rice fields of Ubud in Bali, or hop between the paradise islands of the Philippines.

Read more: Tips for long-haul flights from the US to Southeast Asia

10. Cruise to Antarctica

Penguins in Antarctica

A sojourn to the world’s coldest continent is certainly a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Part of this is (unfortunately) because of price. A cruise from the Argentinian port of Ushuaia generally costs $5,000 at a bare minimum. This says nothing of how much you may spend trekking amid the glaciers of South America’s Patagonia region before or after venturing to Antarctica. On the other hand, Antarctica is among the dream destinations you’re only likely to visit once, so dwell on its timelessness, not its priciness!

Conclusion

Whether or not you’ve started to browse flights on Skyscanner, we hope this list of dream destinations has reignited your wanderlust. Would you like to feel the sand of Hawaii’s best beaches between your toes? Maybe you’d rather discover centuries of history in Japan beneath a canopy of cherry blossoms. The ongoing global vaccination campaign signifies a light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. Travel inspiration like this adds to the brightness, allowing you to plan for better days to come.

Where can I go right now?

As you prepare to translate your dream holiday bucket list into real trips, we recommend keeping an eye on travel restrictions. Check out Skyscanner’s interactive travel restrictions map. Here, you can see in real time where you can go, and what the conditions of entry for each country are.

FAQ about once-in-a-lifetime travel

Where can I travel once in a lifetime?

Nowhere in the world limits you to visiting just once, but some trips are ones you’ll likely take only once. This could be because of strenuousness (trekking to Everest Base Camp) or expense (cruising to Antarctica). In other cases, it’s because certain trips (such as backpacking through Southeast Asia) are best suited to limited periods of your life.

What are some dream vacations?

Dream vacations are as diverse as, well, your travel dreams! Some travelers fantasize about spotting the “Big 5” African game while on safari on Tanzania’s Serengeti plain, while others want to eat their way through Italy or drive along Iceland’s Ring Road. The important thing, no matter where you’d love to go, is turning your dreams into reality.

What are the 10 best places to visit in the world?

The 10 best places to visit in the world vary, depending on your personal preferences and interests. However, countries such as Italy, New Zealand, Japan, Thailand and Egypt seem to pop up more often than others, suggesting these places have appeal that approaches being universal.

Where is the prettiest place on Earth?

The prettiest place on earth is wherever you can surround yourself with your definition of beauty. For some travelers, this will mean sunbathing on volcanic beaches in Hawaii, while others may prefer frolicking amid the lupines of New Zealand’s breathtaking South Island. No matter where you seek beauty around the world, keep in mind that a destination is only as pretty as the memories you make there.

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