We are coming up on a year since most travel shut down. Many people had to cancel their plans already in place— my own daughter and new son-in-law had to postpone their honeymoon last year to Europe…twice. Business travel came to a halt. Countries closed their doors to other countries and many people got stranded; some may still be waiting somewhere in a place that is not home.
At a time when the virus is still raging, it may seem that we’ll never return to a time of carefree travel planning. But just as my Monday Inspiration leaned on the word “hope,” I believe we will one day resume the excitement and anticipation to go exploring. It can help to remember that the world still awaits us; for now that’s a source of solace and hope. And for those who have the desire and ability to return to traveling, soon they will also help the world and all the people affected by the shutdown recover and reopen. Count me in.
The New York Times usually publishes its annual travel feature right about now, a visually rich list of worthy destinations for the coming year called 52 Places to Go.
But this year instead of turning to reporters and photographers to compile the list of 52, the Times asked readers to tell about their favorite places — near or far — and share their beloved places in words and photographs. They chose 52 out of more than 2,000 submissions.
“If 2020 has done anything for people who love to travel, it has reminded them that the world is not a checklist of places to tick off — Venice, been there, the Serengeti, done that — but something to explore, to savor and to love.”
~ New York Times, 52 Places to Love
Fittingly, this year’s list is called 52 Places to Love. (Just click on the title in blue to take you to the full list.) The entries are compelling, comforting and inspiring, filled with places that wouldn’t likely make the usual compendium.
The Times writes, “In reading through the submissions, it became clear that while our list usually focuses on what is changing in a place, people can be profoundly changed by the places they have visited — and isn’t that why we travel to begin with?”
In 2021, we face a year of uncertainty. With vaccines newly available, perhaps the travel industry — which supplies millions of jobs and is a crucial part of the global economy — will start to revive.
So maybe when it’s time, we resume our travel planning with a new mindset. Maybe we can step off the beaten path and linger longer, respecting cultural differences and investing in the communities we visit. Maybe we find a way to volunteer to help the local folks help rebuild their special places that relied on tourism to feed their families. That way, my friend, is a meaningful way travelers can come back stronger — and help the planet with each step.