Travel brings so much to our lives. Not only do we meet people from all over the world. We also experience cultures foreign to our own. Travel teaches us acceptance. It opens up new worlds to us, making us richer in the process.

Yes, I realize I’m telling you how wonderful travel is at a time when we can’t travel. However, we can plan. Some of the biggest trips we take in life are booked well in advance. I can’t think of a better activity to help pass the oh-so-long months of sheltering at home, can you? 

Planning is Part of the Fun

When a group of friends expressed an interest in going to Peru to explore the Peruvian Amazon and Machu Picchu, the planning started months in advance. We filled those months with securing flights, hotels, and guides. We chose an eco-lodge for our time in the Amazon and made decisions about which adventures we wanted. Piranha fishing topped that list.

After my husband said he wanted to go to Antarctica, I assembled a group of interested friends and started researching expedition companies. I can’t tell you the number of penguins, whales, and iceberg videos our group shared in advance of that trip. 

While we wait out this pandemic, why not start planning your future fun? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Machu Picchu courtesy of Pixabay
Machu Picchu courtesy of Pixabay

Discover the Characters of Scotland

The Scottish company Away From the Ordinary creates innovative ways for future travelers to Scotland to connect with locals before the trip. Currently, you can video chat with Lord Bruce, a lineal descendent of the legendary Robert the Bruce—yes, that Robert the Bruce! When you arrive in Scotland, Lord Bruce will lead you on a private guided tour of his family estate, the 300-year-old country mansion, Broomhall House.

In the mood for a little Scottish music? Malin Lewis, a young bagpiper, fiddler, and instrument maker will share the history of Scottish music. Literary buffs will enjoy a chat with Hugh Allison, who enjoys undertaking author-endorsed tours tailored to the Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon and Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher. For a taste of Scotland, connect with Jenny & Verity, a private chef and forager team specializing in local, seasonal, and communal dining in Scotland.

Scotland Landscape
Scotland Landscape photo courtesy of Away from the Ordinary

Chase the Northern Lights

Hopefully, by the time the next season of the aurora borealis rolls around, the travel bans will be lifted, and we’ll be free to check off all our bucket list experiences. If chasing the elusive northern lights is on your list, there are a couple of excellent places to visit.

Located in the Swedish Lapland above the Arctic Circle in the village of Kangos, the family-owned and operated Lapland Guesthouse offers all those must-do winter experiences served with a side of personality. From feeding reindeer to snowmobiling through the icy landscapes to dog sledding on a frozen lake to ice fishing, each winter experience checks off a mark on the bucket list. And as fate will have it, the northern lights just might dance across the sky to the delight of locals and visitors alike.

If you prefer to view in the USA, Fairbanks, Alaska delivers its own show across the skies. Situated in the aurora oval, a ring-shaped area around the North Pole, the Fairbanks area offers some of the best aurora borealis viewing in the world. While you’re there, be sure to visit the Running Reindeer Ranch for a hike with Santa’s team—in the offseason, of course.

Northern Lights Lapland Guesthouse
Northern Lights over Lapland Guesthouse. Photo: Johan Stenevad

Plan a Small Ship Cruise

Understandably, many travelers are wary of cruising on a ship with thousands of passengers. If you’re a fan of getting out on the water, consider a smaller ship cruise. River cruises are ideal for this, with passengers numbering less than 200 for most. I previously cruised with Scenic River Cruises on the Rhine River in Germany. In addition to a pristine small ship, each cabin has a butler ensuring all of your needs are met promptly. If you’re looking for a way to celebrate the end of 2020 (and aren’t we all?!) check out the Emerald Waterways Christmas Market River Cruise. I can’t think of a better gift for the family than getting away for the holidays this year.

Another option is a sailing cruise. I was fortunate enough to sail with Star Clippers through the Western Mediterranean last summer. The Star Clippers fleet includes three stunning vessels: the Star Clipper, Star Flyer and the Royal Clipper. The largest of the three, the Royal Clipper, holds the Guinness World Record as the largest full-rigged sailing ship in the world. Polished and stately, this majestic tall ship transports you back to the days of your ancestors. Typically, there are 175 to 200 passengers on board, keeping the numbers fairly low for more personal attention.

Star Clippers
Star Clippers courtesy of Star Clippers

Make it Personal

While we all love to travel, our comfort level of returning to it will vary from person to person. I’m likely to jump in as soon as I can, but others may be more cautious. That’s OK. Travel is personal, and there are plenty of options to do so from luxury experiences to camping, from exploring faraway places to your own backyard. Choose what matters to you. Consider when you feel you’ll be ready to travel again. Then, start planning. It’s your trip, make it personal. Make it count!

Road Trip Blue Ridge Parkway. Credit: Pixabay
Road Trip Blue Ridge Parkway. Credit: Pixabay