Though I was blessed to be marooned in New Zealand for two years during the pandemic, I greatly missed the ability to change countries and explore new horizons. As the COVID restrictions finally abate and international travel resumes, I’m looking forward to making up for all the travel I missed. As a full-time traveler, I have the luxury of time. So, when I think about the places I want to go, I’m more interested in exploring different cultures and daily life than seeing tourist sites in specific cities (with a few exceptions). Here are some of the places I’m looking forward to discovering.
1. Reunion Island
In 1993, I spent a year working in Paris, France. While there, I became friends with a wonderful colleague from Reunion Island. At the time, I had no idea where it was. Over time, my friend moved back to Reunion Island, married, had a family, and came to visit me in New York City, twice! We’ve been discussing that it’s my turn to finally visit her country. It’s a small island near Madagascar and the perfect place to go during a trip to Africa. I had planned to visit in 2020 when I had booked a gorilla trek in Uganda. I had to put those plans on hold, so I’m now looking forward to picking them back up. Reunion Island boasts a volcano, excellent hiking, and beaches. I can’t wait to explore them all.
Pro Tip: The best time to visit is between May and November. The drier, less humid season. January is typically a very wet month.
Discovering wildlife in its natural habitat has been one of my favorite parts of traveling the world. Naturally, I can’t wait to see the lemurs. Apparently, there are many varieties of them! Madagascar is also known for producing vanilla, so learning more about it and its fabrication is something I’d like to do. Another allure is the Baobab trees. The variety of trees and plants from one country to another fascinates me and this tree is one I’d like to hug and see first-hand.
Madagascar is right near Reunion Island, making it the perfect place to visit when I get to that part of the world. I loved my time in Southern Africa and can’t wait to explore a lot more of the African continent.
Pro Tip: Similar to Reunion Island, Madagascar has a cyclone season at the beginning of the year. The best time to visit is May through October.
Turkey has always held a special draw for me since I think of it as the country of East meets West. I’m excited to see the architecture, fabric patterns, and spices. Though I don’t want a Turkish carpet, I find them beautiful and would love to see them in the markets. Of course, there’s the magic of flying carpets and magical cities in the sand from various movies that draw me to this country, as well as Turkish coffee and Turkish food. I’m curious to compare authentic Turkish food with the Turkish restaurants I’ve dined in New York City.
I’m eager to see the balloons in Cappadocia because it’s one of the images that stand out in my mind as a beautiful testament to travel. I’d like to see it with my own eyes.
Pro Tip: Be prepared for the possibility of using a Turkish toilet — a simple hole in the ground. While clean, they may not be comfortable to use if you’re used to a Western toilet.
Years ago, in Paris, I enjoyed a Moroccan Mint Tea in the fifth arrondissement. A man arrived with a tray on which was a beautiful glass cup and a teapot. In the cup were some pine nuts. I watched, amazed, as he raised the teapot high above the cup, and poured, perfectly, to the top of the glass, without spilling. He then placed everything in front of me. It was one of the most delightful tea experiences I’ve ever had. That was the beginning of my desire to go to Morocco.
I almost held my 50th birthday party here but felt I wanted more than just a few days to explore it. I’m called by the wonderful markets, the blue city, and of course a camel ride into the desert. I’ve seen sand dunes in Peru, Namibia, and even New Zealand, so seeing cities on the sand will complement my experience with different landscapes. What I love about Morocco is how it’s part of Africa and yet close to Europe, while having an Arab influence. This conjoining of cultures is fascinating to me. I visited Israel years ago and was intrigued at how many different cultures, who we often see fighting one another, live in peace in Jerusalem. The architecture and colors of different Moroccan cities are also something I’d greatly like to see.
Pro Tip: If you get lost in a Marrakech souk, ask families or women for help instead of young boys because they will insist on a large tip for their help.
Years ago I met a lovely couple from Montenegro and have wanted to find my way there ever since. I’ve spent so much time in the classic parts of Western Europe that I’m eager to explore Eastern Europe and the Balkans, where I’ve spent no time at all. My family’s heritage is Eastern European, so I’d like to gain some insight into what it’s like in that part of the world. Montenegro is also perfectly sandwiched between other countries I’d like to explore by train such as Croatia, Albania, and Budapest.
Pro Tip: Travel by train can be nicer than travel by bus.
I’ve loved traveling throughout Asia. It feels extremely safe as a female, solo traveler. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot more of it. The Philippines seems like an idyllic land of lush beaches and vegetation. I’ve heard the people are wonderful as well. I’m looking forward to the feeling of peace and relaxation on the beaches and exploring the many islands that make me excited to take out my camera and eternalize the moments. Palawan is a region of special interest with its beautiful views and beaches. The idea of being able to spend infinite amounts of time exploring over 7,000 islands is more than a little alluring.
Pro Tip: U.S. citizens can stay in the Philippines for 59 days without a visa and can extend for up to six months.
There are some places I want to return to because I had wonderful experiences there. In 2019 I spent four months in Argentina. Because I travel slowly, without a planned itinerary, I don’t get to every corner of any country I visit. I often find places I enjoy and stay for a while and explore the culture, rather than trying to see every single tourist site in a week. Four months in this wonderful and huge country was not enough! I made some wonderful friends I’d like to see again and I want to explore some places I didn’t the first time such as Cordoba and Puerto Madryn. Of course, I would also like to enjoy a daily dose of yerba mate once again.
Pro Tip: Learn some Spanish before you go because you’re likely to encounter many people who don’t speak English, especially in smaller towns.
8. South Africa
I fell in love with seeing Table Top mountain every day in Cape Town, and have longed to return since my first visit in 2019. I’m looking forward to exploring some of the neighborhoods I got to know and getting to see the Gods Window this time, a view I missed the last time. This is a vast country full of wonderful people, wildlife, and scenery. I can’t wait to get back to Cape Town and make my way into more of Africa.
Pro Tip: Don’t wander around Cape Town alone after dark.
While I spent six months meandering South America in 2019, I didn’t get to Ecuador. One cold afternoon, exploring Rotorua, New Zealand, I happened upon a market. A woman was selling colorful and wonderful jackets. She turned out to be from Ecuador. We had a wonderful conversation, in Spanish, about her life and she invited me to stay with her in New Zealand. I bought one of her jackets and was left with a wonderful experience leaving me wanting to learn more about the people of Ecuador. I love the colorful clothing of South American countries and loved the rolling mountains which greeted me in Colombia and Peru so traveling to Ecuador would be another opportunity to explore these landscapes, colors, and discover something different than what I’ve seen in some of the other South American countries. Obviously, the Galápagos Islands are on my list as well! Another thing I’d like to see is the wildlife.
Pro Tip: The weather may be colder than you expect.
This is a newer country on my “I can’t wait to go” list. For much of my life, I associated Mexico with getting “Montezuma’s Revenge” (diarrhea) after drinking water there. In more recent years, good friends have raved about Tulum and others have spent months in places like Guadalajara, Oaxaca, and Mexico City. I’m in love with the colors and designs I see in Mexican artwork. This is another country that I know will have foods that tantalize my senses. I’m eager to experience real Mexican cuisine as an alternative to the Tex-Mex that I’m acquainted with in America.
Pro Tip: Don’t drink tap water or use ice cubes in your drinks. Montezuma’s Revenge is still around.
The truth is, I’m excited to go everywhere! The opening of travel and the reduction of regulations is a welcome relief. My feet have been itching to get back to roaming for a long time and I’m delighted to be able to let them lead me to new destinations.
Check out these articles for more ideas on where to travel on your next trip: