Everyone has one. That dream list of destinations you want to see with your own two eyes, those experiences you want to savor with your own five senses, and those exotic flavors you want to taste with your own tongue before life passes you by. Whether you call yours a bucket list, a retirement list or prefer to keep your list unnamed, having a list of dream travel experiences inspires and motivates you throughout your day-to-day life. It’s much more interesting to file reports for work while dreaming of sipping mint tea in the souks of Marrakech, and time flies during long commutes to the office while imagining yourself test driving a Maserati along the winding roads of the Italian Alps.
Unfortunately, all too often these dream trips rarely become realities. A recent study commissioned by luggage provider Victorinox found 76 percent of Americans expressed a strong desire to travel more frequently than they were currently, but a lack of finances or simply feeling unprepared and ill-equipped prevented many from taking their first steps. Although money can be a limiting factor to travel, only in extreme cases will it truly prove a hindrance to taking a dream trip. Waiting until you have enough money, enough time or enough [fill in the blank] often results in a missed opportunity when it comes to travel.
Having the physical stamina to trek through the Impenetrable Forest in Uganda to see the silverback gorillas is more attainable now than it will be for many in decades to come, and some of the world’s more rare and mystical destinations are quickly changing due to climate change or other natural factors. The truth is, there is never a perfect time to travel — something will always come up, and there will always be an excuse to put a trip on hold. Fortunately, this current travel climate of discounts, airfare sales and reward points makes this year the ideal time to take a dream vacation and start turning those travel dreams into realities. From wine tasting in Europe to snagging an early ticket to Machu Picchu, here are the top five bucket-list trips to take now.
WINE TASTING IN FRANCE
Plane tickets to Europe have never been more affordable, thanks to budget airlines like WOW air and Level, but travelers can even score tickets as low as $400 for a round-trip ticket to Europe during exclusive airfare sales on Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and Turkish Airlines. Once there, the next step is deciding upon a wine region. Red wine fans will love the complex and robust flavors of Burgundy (book a tour with Maison Joseph Drouhin for the ultimate immersion into this legendary wine region), while those who prefer rosé or white wines shouldn’t pass up the delicate flavors of Provence. Looking to celebrate? Head to Reims in the heart of the Champagne region to learn the art of making and sabering a bottle of Champagne.
TREKKING FOR SILVERBACK MOUNTAIN GORILLAS IN UGANDA
Mountain gorillas only exist in four forests around the world, but the largest population resides in the densely forested hilltops of Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. “Mountain Gorilla numbers have increased, according to the last census done earlier this year, which means that the conservation efforts being employed are working,” says Alfred Kamya, director, Let’s Go Travel, in Uganda. Not only are the chances the best they’ve ever been to see these amazing creatures interacting in their natural habitat, but tourism has made a huge impact on the livelihood of the locals, with people in and around Bwindi receiving training in aspects of tourism, and the blossoming market is creating jobs, feeding families and quite literally saving lives in the area. “As of now, Bwindi is still not on the quintessential safari circuit, which means that there is a real intrepid atmosphere about visiting the area and trekking in the forest,” Kamya adds. “That feeling will diminish as more catch on to this incredible experience, so the time to go is now.” Trekking permits cost $600 per person and need to be purchased well in advance from a company like Let’s Go Travel.
CRUISING TO ANTARCTICA
A voyage to the seventh continent consistently ranks No. 1 on many bucket lists as one of the most remote places on the planet. News headlines about climate change drove the urgency for many visitors to make the trip sooner than planned. Fear of the unknown and fear of discomfort remain as major deterrents for many, which is why affordable cruise company Polar Latitudes upgraded its ships to improve comfort and safety with all-suite configurations for 100 passengers, offering exterior views from each room. “Antarctica is a destination people want to see while they can because of the time and expense a voyage takes,” says Jonathan Brunger, general manager, Adventure Life. Some of the activities available on the voyages include kayaking among icebergs and spending a night camping on the ice. One of the more interesting activities with Polar Latitudes is its citizen science initiatives with researchers from organizations like NASA and the Scripps Institute, allowing passengers to participate in climate research, penguin and whale surveys and more.
EXPLORING THE RUINS OF MACHU PICCHU
As entrance regulations continue to change for this UNESCO World Heritage site, the future is unclear as to what a visit to these ancient ruins will entail in years to come. In the past, visitors were free to roam the mystical ruins as long as they pleased for only a small entrance fee. As of Jan.1, 2019, re-entry to the citadel will not be allowed, and stays will be limited to a maximum of four hours for Llaqta de Machu Picchu. When booking tickets for this Incan citadel, consider including a ticket to Huayna Picchu Mountain, where visitors are able to enter the citadel an hour earlier to make an hour-long climb up the steep mountain to another Incan ruin offering postcard-worthy views over the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu.
WATCHING THE NORTHERN LIGHTS IN AN IGLOO IN FINLAND
The Northern Lights are often called “the fickle lady,” as they don’t always show up … even after viewers traveled thousands of miles and spent an equal sum of money to get the chance to see them in person. Finland offers more opportunities to see this natural phenomenon than most other destinations due to its percentage of clear nights and latitude. Northern Lapland offers the chance to see the lights about every other clear night between September and March, while they show up in southern Finland roughly 10–20 nights per year. Although now is as good a time as any to see the lights, scientists predict a surge of aurora activity will likely begin mid-2019, bringing increased atmospheric activity until the solar maximum, likely in 2025.
We can see it now and remember when it happened to us: Watching as the black car icon loops around and around, seemingly endlessly, and our wait time on the rideshare app continually changes. Long wait times and confused drivers are just a few bothersome issues that can nag at rideshare users. Need a solution? Ditch rideshares altogether in favor of renting a car on your next trip.
Hamburg is not only the second-largest city in Germany, but it also boasts one of the greatest ports in Europe. Though the city is chock full of incredible seafood restaurants, you’ll find there’s a little something special no matter what you’re craving.
Once business concludes, a world of wonder awaits in many of Italy’s incredible cities.