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It’s Time To Go Now

Porthole Contributor Steve Leland Looks back at 2020 and ahead to 2021

Would I be alone in sharing that over the past ten months of travel isolation, I’m tired of the ritualistic trip to the supermarket, the daily perusal of Netflix for mental stimulation and most of all the non-stop regurgitation of political discourse that’s fed to us every day? OK, good, we’re on the same page.

I get it that 2020 was a communal sacrifice we all played along with. It limited who and how we met and when and where we went.  But, it’s time to play the ‘what if’ card. Imagine a world without Fox or CNN, a universe that serves up a stimulating menu of travel entrees and new faces to add into our current playlist of interactions. (Disclaimer: I love my friends but meeting new ones wouldn’t hurt?)

2021 shows a glimmer of hope and although we can’t pack and go just yet, there are no restrictions on getting ready to hit the ground running when things open up. With so many exciting travel adventures on the radar, now is the time to start planning.

So then where shall we go?

I’m opening up my mental cache of travelogues to give you some ideas. You can read more about some of my personal favorites ….by clicking on the highlighted topics. However, if you don’t like travel stories you’ll never want to invite me over for dinner. My brain’s cluttered memory bank is occasionally slow to respond and although I may not remember what I had for dinner, two days ago, ask me about the exquisite wine we had in Bordeaux while on a Uniworld cruise 4 years ago and I could write a story about it. Actually I did….

Travel does that to you. It’s creates indelible experiences. It’s easy to find a mainstream trip to Europe, the Caribbean or domestic travel destinations and while there are some good ones, if you’re anything like me, it needs to be different, somewhere off the radar with a twist of adventure.

Let’s start with Indonesia.  I know, it’s a long flight but hey, no pain no gain!  Tick off the ‘maybe someday’ barrier and loosen up your grip on the wallet for a business class ticket with an indulgent flat bed seat. The downside is, you’ll never want to fly economy again once you discover what it’s like on the other side of that curtain.

That marathon hurdle overcome, it’s time to choose destinations. Bali perhaps? Although it certainly has the ‘it’ appeal on it’s own, how about a cruise to the lesser known islands in the Ring of Fire? Seatrek Sailing Adventures offers a sailing adventure on a traditional phinisi with just a dozen or more like minded guests, calling on deserted beaches, island villages and witnessing the endemic Komodo dragon in the wild.

While you’re in the neighborhood, consider heading down under to Australia or New Zealand. High on my list of recommended adventures is a yacht cruise on the True North into the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Kimberly, Australia

Kimberly, Australia | Photo: Steve Leland

Looking for island paradise? It’s just a short hop, skip and jump to Fiji where you can cruise or snooze, laze away in a secluded villa on a private island or cruise through tropical lagoons with Blue Lagoon Cruises

Southeast Asia is as exotic as it gets. We were fortunate to experience the allure of isolated Myanmar shortly after its borders were reopened to foreign tourists. Elegantly dancing her way along the Ayeyarwady River, the Strand Cruise. explores thousands of years of culture and riveting scenic beauty while offering sophisticated elegance on board.

Combining luxury with an expeditionary style, Aqua Expeditions explore the Mekong River of Vietnam and Tonle Sap of Cambodia. There is no sight more Instagrammable than sunrise creeping over the temples of the Angkor Wat complex outside of Siem Reap, Cambodia.

The international cruise company, Pandaw plies the rivers of Laos and Vietnam and India with an appeal to the adventurous traveler. Looking to experience things as a local? Vespa Adventures is the ultimate land based thrill combining food, sightseeing and culture seated on the back of an authentic Vespa scooter. 

Pandaw in Laos

Pandaw in Laos | Photo: Steve Leland

The Philippines, Thailand and Singapore all have their own special allure and a cruises are the easiest ways to take it all in.

With the happiest country on earth opening up to tourism, who could resist the excitement of visiting the Land Of The Dragon, Bhutan. The thrill of a lifetime becomes reality with a hike up to the Tiger Monastery perched high on a cliff in the foothills of the Himalayas. 

Going to extremes, Hurtigruten will establish their hyperlink to travel memories with unforgettable voyages into the ‘bergs’ of Antarctica and up north to the west coast of Greenland.  The tag team partnership of National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions take on fascinating journeys to worldwide locations like Iceland or the Galápagos off the coast of Ecuador

Ride the rails on a multi day train ride through Volcano Alley in Ecuador with Tren Crucero or plan a trip to Machu Picchu in Peru. If you’re going to be in this neck of the woods, don’t miss the chance to cruise the Amazon on Aqua Expeditions’ brand new Aqua Nera.

 

Puglia, Italy

Puglia, Italy | Photo: Steve Leland

Domestic road trips are always the ticket if long distance travel isn’t your cup of tea but don’t overlook the roads less traveled in other countries. I’ve written about our beloved 100 year old home that we remodeled in Abruzzo, Italy and the neighbors we’ve become friends with, but venturing southward on a road trip to the heel of Italy’s boot was a tremendous experiences. Driving is simple, uncrowded and the villages are full of sights and quaint little B&B accommodations. The domed houses of Alberobello in Puglia, the cave dwellings of Matera and the thrill of Il Volo dell’ Angelo ziplining from village to village through the mountains of Basilicata all contribute in making this a YOLO road trip.

To rescue us from travel isolation and feed our cruise wanderlust, the annual wave season has arrived in the nick of time. New ships, new itineraries and amazing incentives make planning for your next cruise even more attractive. The pause in operations has not been squandered and cruise lines have implemented new protocols designed at protecting the health safety of their guests.  If the call of the open sea doesn’t ring your bell , maybe it’s time to think river cruising or even canal barge cruises in France, Scotland, Ireland or England

There’s a new world emerging out there waiting to be rediscovered. I’m ready to re-experience it, see it again and re-live it. Top off your bucket list by making travel plans now.  Mine is spilling over, ready to be emptied in 2021. Travel 2021 vicariously with us at Porthole.com or subscribe to Porthole Cruise Magazine for the best in travel inspiration.

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