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It’s safe to say that many of us would love to get back to traveling in 2021, and it’s quite likely we will – at least locally and domestically where restrictions allow. Many have pegged their hopes on the last quarter of 2021 to open up international destinations on a selected basis, safety and local restrictions pending. If nothing else, the pandemic has taught us to keep our plans fluid and flexible. So where to travel in 2022?
I’m hoping that a planned trip in 2020 with girlfriends to kayak in Belize with Island Expeditions will actually come to fruition sometime in 2022. The tour company is certainly preparing for this, but flights will still need to be confirmed. Frankly, who knows what airlines will be flying there, or what their schedule will be by then?
But having a dream to look forward to can give us some much needed hope these days! Fortunately most companies are offering very flexible booking options right now, so it’s almost a no-brainer to lock something in for a small fee, have it easily cancelled or your travel time shifted without penalty, with the balance only due shortly before travel. As travel is perceived to be increasingly safe, these type of arrangements will harder to find. And for sure, there is going to be some serious pent up demand that will likely lead to fewer options available, and higher prices for those who leave it until later.
This is likely that once in a lifetime window to book that bucket list mega trip. Do you have some destinations or experiences on your list?
It’s with that spirit, I decided to do some preliminary searching, and I’ve come up with some pretty cool options. Each of the companies listed here have a massive depth of offerings to investigate. I’ve just summarized a couple that caught my eye for adventure!
TourRadar.com is a site that gathers various tour and adventure trip options, and allows you to search by criteria such as travel styles (adventure, cultural, marine, festival & events, special interest, and independent). Within the adventure category for example, they include hiking & trekking, safari, wildlife, beach, bicycle and surfing. Even within a sub-category like safari, you can search 250+ options that include different destinations, styles of travel, age groups, type of accommodation and travel etc. TourRadar.com is like the Google search of group travel experiences. They also allow you to search by deals, which can be handy for getting an overall sense of competitive options out there. Of course, because they are a site of many operators it’s important to know the style of travel you are searching for first, and then to start reading reviews to reconcile how the description matches up with the actual experience. If nothing else it’s a great place to start dreaming while you get serious with your research!
Ever since meeting Bruce Poon Tip, the founder of G Adventures at a Capilano University Travel and Tourism event several years ago, I’ve been intrigued with the companies approach to sustainable travel, and supporting local communities wherever they venture, in meaningful ways. I was also honored to be an panelist attendee at one of their virtual online presentations about an Antartica Expedition. And Bruce Poon Tip was generous in providing some quotes to an article How Contact Tracing Could Help Us Travel Again, which I wrote jointly with Barb Cameron in 2020 when the pandemic began. If you want to really get a sense of how Bruce intends to revolutionize travel, you really should download a copy of his FREE eBook called Unlearn: The Year the Earth Stood Still. It runs about 24 pages so it’s a reasonably quick read – and both thoughtful and thought provoking. G Adventures states on their site that they help you “connect to the world with small group adventure travel.” You can select your travel style (classic tours, NationalGeographic Journeys, 18-30 somethings tours, Wellness Tours, Marine Tours, and NationalGeographic Family Tours. There’s also the Jane Goodall collection, and “bubble private tours” introduced in 2020/21 to meet concerns of some pandemic travelers. Their destinations pretty much cover the globe, but I have to admit I got lost in the South Africa and Tanzania safari tour options just recently. Their 40 day Serengeti, Falls and Cape Town overland tour looks epic, although I might be pushing the 30-something upper ranges for this tour. There are of course much shorter trips, and tours for a broad range of ages, but all with an emphasis on small groups. But if 2022 or beyond is calling for something epic, why mess around with a short tour? Go big and make it memorable! G Adventures is not cheap, but sometimes you get what you pay for – with many folks raving about the small group emphasis, sustainability component and authentic experiences. Worth checking out! And right now they’ve got some discount deals you can lock in for future travel, which is something you could have only dreamed of a couple years ago.
There are actually many similarities between G Adventures and Intrepid Travel in terms of the types of experiences offered, destinations and emphasis on small groups with the adventurer in mind. They’ve got some interesting tours listed under “deals” to the Antarctic and the Galapagos right now that appear available for 2021/22 bookings. They also track site visitors by region and offer some great local touring options if you prefer to stick to your own country or continent. They cover Africa, Asia, Australia & Oceania, Europe, Middle East, North America, Polar and South America.
I learned about Sailingeurope.com through a friend, after mentioning that we had chartered a 45 foot Bavaria for a week in Desolation Sound last summer. Sailing Europe specializes in bare boat charters, where you skipper and sail your own boat with your invited guests. This option of course only makes sense if you are qualified in terms of sailing and navigational experience, but who wouldn’t love to charter their own boat and sail off Croatia or the Maldives if you were able? Of course if you would rather just tag along as crew and not have to put a boat of people together, G Adventures also does a group sail in the Maldives! Search it out in the links above. Sailingeurope.com offers lots of options for cruising dreamers, and serves as a great resource to plan your ideal sailing holiday in Europe. Ah… imagine yourself off Spain, Portugal or Greece in aqua blue seas. Of course Desolation Sound right here in Canada off the Pacific shores of British Columbia is a world class destination that many Europeans and Americans flock to in a normal year. The summer of 2021 might just offer a repeat opportunity of what we did in 2020 when closed borders prohibited international travelers from chartering, and we got a great charter last minute, which normally would have been booked out at least a year in advance. Check out that amazing adventure in What to See and Do in Desolation Sound: 10 pro tips to plan your boat trip this summer. And link to Desolation Sound Yacht Charters if you’re curious about rates and availability.
As I mentioned earlier, my sea kayaking adventure in Belize was cancelled in 2020. But I’m hoping to make it happen with IslandExpeditions.com in the future! Island Expeditions specialize in Belize kayaking adventure experiences exclusively, and are recognized as industry leaders. It doesn’t get much better than kayaking and snorkeling a pristine barrier reef with girlfriends and then kicking back with good conversation at sunset to put a pandemic behind you. This company comes highly recommended from a friend who plans to join us on a return trip. That’s a pretty solid endorsement.
Of course all of these options are for small group travel. Many folks may prefer to travel independently and organize their own time. Frankly with the exception of some harder to access places like hiking to Machu Picchu in Peru, where having a guide and access passes arranged ahead of time is easier, I have always preferred to travel independently with my own agenda. I love the serendipity and opportunities that arise with this style. However, with so much uncertainty as we emerge from the pandemic, and with the desire to explore traditionally more challenging locations, I think group tours offer a great option. Plus they fulfill the hope and promise of travel to come, with a lot of flexibility and little financial commitment at this stage. That’s a win in my books!
For some these next few years will be a time to continue to explore closer to home and safer locations. If you happen to live in a beautiful location like I do in British Columbia, this is not a hard pill to swallow – although I’m still itching to pack my bags for somewhere requiring a passport! It will be very much about a spectrum of comfort as the skies and world opens up again. We’ll also be challenged by what the new infrastructure for transportation might look like as airlines struggle, consolidate and re-start routes. Where to travel in 2021 and 2022 may well be just as much about what borders are open and what flights available, as it is about where might be on your bucket list. Time will tell.
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