The Places We’ll Go: 39 Travel Writers on the First Place They’ll Visit After COVID-19

From Iceland to Umbria, Georgia to Guyana

June 26, 2020 8:28 am
capri italy beach
On the beach in Capri, Italy
Will Truettner/Unsplash

Before restaurants were shuttered and schools closed, travel writers were grounded. No one wants to get on a 24-hour flight to New Zealand at the moment, and even if they did, New Zealand’s closed. 

For many travel writers, non-stop travel isn’t so much a job as a manner of living — one that is now on pause. Many have returned home to hunker down and wait, and hope for the best, and plan their next big trip. Here’s where 39 of them will head, once the all-clear sounds.  

Tokyo is one of those few places that’s just as amazing as you hope it will be. I went for the first time five years ago, and was supposed to be going back … in exactly two weeks. Next time, I want to go to all their amazing paper shops, like LoftTokyu Hands and Kyukyodo. Also all the food. Also, I hope, staying at one of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed in: the Park Hyatt, better known as the hotel from Lost in Translation. You can see Mount Fuji from the gym!” —Diane Rommel

Italy has a love-hate relationship with tourism, but after this crisis has passed it will need the support of responsible travelers more than ever. I’ve been meaning to go back to Puglia — in particular, to Alberobello, to see the conical-roofed trulli houses that give the town a dreamy, fairytale-like personality. I also want to staycation here in Rome and spend time and money at smaller spots (which typically suffer such stresses acutely). Get coffee at neighborhood hangouts like Tram Depot and Faro, shop vintage and handmade in the Monti district, and dine at independent restaurants such as Marigold, 180g Pizzeria Romana and Altrove. Those who want to come and do the same should stay at the eco-friendly and community-spirited Beehive Hostel, near Termini station.” Emma Law

“I’d set my eye on Georgia just last year, though tourism there has been booming for some time since the close of the 2008 Russo-Georgian War. Its generous visa policies mean I could spend months there getting to know it — the way I usually do as a slow traveler — from the capital Tbilisi to Ushguli, Europe’s highest continuously inhabited settlement. Soviet history, supra feasts with wine, swathes of protected wilderness to explore — I honestly can’t wait.” Brooke Thio

“I’ve always been drawn to less developed places: East Africa, Brazil, Fiji, New Zealand. The exotic is what appeals to me. I’ve never been but have always longed to see India, and I plan to make it a reality as soon as it’s safe. I want to go from the Himalayas to Havelock Island, and tour Jaipur and Kashmir. I want to see a tiger in its natural habitat, and the frenetic cities. I want to experience the smells, even the bad ones, of Bombay, and do the cliched pilgrimage to see the Taj Mahal at dawn. And one of the main reasons I want desperately to do it is that going to such a densely populated place will mean that the danger of the novel coronavirus has passed and a vaccine has been found.” —Jonathan Soroff

hawa mahal jaipur
The Hawah Mahal in Jaipur (Annie Spratt/Unsplash)

Iceland is my happy place. I first went in 2009 and have been back six times since. I love that the island feels so alive: between the geysers and volcanoes and hot springs and waterfalls, the whole place is constantly steaming and shifting and moving in some way. I always feel awed — and somehow calmed — by the power of nature there. When I go back, I’ll make a beeline for the town of Húsavík in the north to check into the Kaldbaks Kot Cottages, soak in the Geosea Geothermal Sea Baths, and stare at the fjords all day.” Katie Hammel

“There’s no city in the world quite like Hong Kong. It’s truly the epicenter of opposites, where skyscrapers erupt out of mountains, Michelin-starred chefs eat at crowded dai pai dong street stalls and a bustling city gives way to jungle. Take every type of transport: from the world-class MTR to the rickety trams, star ferries, and even glass-bottomed cable cars. And eat everything. I’ve been dreaming of rice rolls on the stoop of Chôm Chôm, the abalone tart at Lung King Heen and eating spicy crab from a plastic stool in the middle of the Temple Street Night Market. Take the ferry from Kowloon to Central at night for the best view of the skyline.” Sarah Engstrand

“Southwestern France is one of my favorite places in the world, specifically the seaside playground Biarritz. Along with culture and cozy bistros there’s surfing, incredible local food, mountain biking, climbing and the Pyrenees aren’t far for skiing. It’s where I’ll be heading as soon as it’s possible (and socially responsible) to travel. Fall is the best time to visit as the swells are still rolling in, the water is warm and the crowds are thinner than summer. I’m optimistically hoping I’ll make it this fall. It’s motivation to stay fit and brush up on my French in quarantine.” –Hans Aschim

“My siblings, father, and I have been talking about going to Sicily for literal decades. My father’s family emigrated from Gibellina in the early 20th century, and the village was destroyed by an earthquake in 1968, when my father was just nine years old. He’s never been — and neither have we. I’ve been putting it off until we can all go together, but time and distance and organization have never quite calcified for this particular trip. When this is all over, no more waiting: I’m buying tickets.” Emily Monaco

“Being in confinement has given me a lot of time to think about travel and how it affects the environment, so my first trip is going to be a train ride to France’s best kept secret, Hossegor, a postcard-perfect town in the Landes region, aka the Surf Capital of France. Sitting at the tip of a marine lake that is surrounded by elegant architecture, with a pine forest that runs into the sand dunes and the ocean beyond, this is the ideal place to get back to life. I’m dreaming of what the farmers will have brought to the daily outdoor market (hopefully it’ll still be asparagus season!) and the oat milk lattés from WAXED. As soon as the tide’s right, I’ll dash to Les Culs Nus beach, for lessons at Chipiron Surfschool and if the sun is setting, I’ll stay with the locals to applaud the sunset over an apéro at Lou Cabana beach shack.  —Sylvia Sabes

Photo of Hossegor, courtesy of Raphaël Biscaldi / Unsplash

“I had this whole idea. I was going to celebrate turning 40 and being born in one of the last years of Generation X by doing the most Gen. X thing I could think of: seeing Pavement. Yet in order to see the indie rock icons, I was going to Primavera Sound in Barcelona since the band was only doing that one single date. Of course, then everything happened, the show got canceled and I’m still left with a long list of places in and around Spain I’m dying to visit. Primavera confirmed two weeks ago that Pavement will be back in 2021. So will I.” —Jason Diamond

“I fell head-over-heels in love with Umbria when I spent two weeks there last year — especially Perugia, where I was based most of the time. I can’t wait to head back there to spend hours in Umbro, my favorite grocery store/coworking spot/bookstore/library/wine bar (yes this is all one place; it’s heaven); grab a square of crispy-chewy Roman-style pizza from Alice; and eat bowls and bowls of pasta. Speaking of, I’m very much hoping to be able to time my trip for late September again — that’s when Italy’s national pasta festival takes place a few towns over, and it’s as fantastic as it sounds.” Krystin Arneson

Prague. Spring in the Czech Republic usually means beer gardens and outdoor spaces bringing life out into the sunshine again. As a huge performing arts fan, this is when I start scouring the programs of classical music, fringe theater and dance festivals; I was excited to see a show in the newly remodeled State Opera. My plans to spend the 2020 season crisscrossing the country for guidebook research is postponed for now, but I’ll be raising a glass (or four) of local lager and toasting ‘Na zdraví!’ (to health) again as soon as we’re allowed.” Auburn Scallon

Taghazout, Morocco. I can’t believe it’s been two years since I surfed in Morocco. I had just finished surfing for five weeks in Ecuador at the start of this year, and I knew I wanted to keep going this time, so I booked myself for Morocco for all of April and a bit of May. I wanted nothing more than to actually get up on the green walls of water, something I had been practicing in Ecuador but didn’t master during my last time in Morocco. I can’t wait to get back — I sure do hope it’s soon!” Nina Ragusa

Photo of Taghazout, courtesy of Louis Hansel / Unsplash

“Due east of San Juan lies my favorite uncrowded island locale: Culebra. Although it’s smaller than its sister island Vieques, it has one of the most stunning playas in the world: Flamenco Beach. A large horseshoe bay creates a calm, crystal clear oasis. Snorkel through labyrinthine coral reef 20 feet from shore, if you’re hungry, a cluster of Kioskos offer boozy smoothies and Puerto Rican staples like seafood Mofongo. Best idea: plan your trip for a new moon and see more stars than your brain can process (not to mention the psychedelic display of bioluminescent life in the bay). As a fisherman, one of my greatest memories was catching a 22″ Yellow tail Snapper, fishing from an abandoned Sherman tank, leftover from the former Marine training grounds.” —Ben Gershman

“I was supposed to visit Guyana on one of the first direct flights from New York City to the capital of Georgetown. Aside from adding a new country to my list, I was super-excited to visit the world’s tallest single-drop waterfall, Kaieteur, and explore the Amazon. I was also going to witness the Goliath bird-eating spider there —  the largest spider in the world by mass and size. Not sure if I was looking forward to or dreading that experience, maybe a mix of both?” —Rana Good

“Mexico pulls my heartstrings. I’d dive back into Spanish lessons with Language & Luxury in Oaxaca (or San Miguel de Allende or Mexico City, for that matter). I’d stay at the sublime, Zen-like Hotel Escondido that opened recently and fill my belly at the equally sublime Criollo restaurant with its sweet setting and inspired cuisine. To feed my soul, I’d revisit museums, contemporary art galleries, graphic arts collectives and buy more art — maybe even splurge on a piece by the city’s beloved Francisco Toledo.” Leslie A. Westbrook

“My husband and I moved from Philadelphia to the West Coast last fall and haven’t gone back since. When we do, we’ll dine at inventive new restaurants: Israeli skewer house Laser Wolf (next door to our old house), rooftop taqueria El Techo, and pasta joint Fiorella — plus a bucket-list meal at much-lauded Israeli Zahav. The Fishtown neighborhood’s our fave home base–for everything from local beer-baked bagels at Philly Style Bagels to running with our local club, Fishtown Beer Runners. We’ll stay at Lyric’s new apartment-style suites with perks like self-check-in, a city-view roof deck, game room, yoga studio, plus local Reanimator coffee and vinyl in every room.” Jenny Willden

“Over the years, I’ve been to Canadian cities like Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, and even Windsor, but not Toronto. I always wanted to go to the film fest, but haven’t gotten around to it. On March 26, my dream was supposed to become a reality, when I was invited on a three-day global-inspired culinary press trip. Hopefully when all this is over, I’ll finally get my wish: I plan on visiting Little India, eating at Café Boulud, seeing the CN Tower and Lake Ontario, exploring craft coffee shops like Pilot Coffee Roasters, and sussing out Schitt’s Creek filming locations.” —Garin Pirnia

Photo of Toronto, courtesy of Zia Syed / Unsplash

“I realize that ‘once this is all over’ is a highly subjective phrase, but if one could define it as ‘when large groups of people are again allowed to congregate on narrow cobblestone streets and drink excellent Rioja for €1.50 a glass,’ I’m gonna have to go with San Sebastian, Spain. I used it as a jumping off point for a hike along the Camino de Santiago (and later the Sentier du Littoral) up to Biarritz last year, and the mix of old world architecture, fantastic food/wine and beach-y surf vibes was so intoxicating that I found it incredibly difficult to say goodbye and begin my northward campaign. I paddle boarded around the crystal waters of the Bahia de la Concha as gulls wheeled overhead, wandered the hilly paths of the Urgull until I came upon a delightfully secluded outdoor bar with live music and a magnificent view of the bay, and each night I would traverse the crowded, labyrinthine streets of La Parte Vieja, where music, animated conversation and clinking glassware combine to create the sort of alluring din that sticks with you long after it has receded from your ears. To say nothing of the aforementioned hiking trails just outside the city, which offer plentiful pastoral solitude should my inner social distancer require it. Danny Agnew

“It’s been a while since I’ve visited London, but it’s always had a special twinkle — whether I’m visiting the Chelsea Botanical Gardens and having a delicious lunch in the garden in the summer, or browsing the majestic window dressing and festive decorations in the wintertime. It’s a really special place to be. Now, I realize that London might not top everybody’s foodie destination list, but it certainly does mine. Not only is there some seriously impressive Michelin-star type dining, there’s also must-visit spots like the Great Food Halls in Harrod’s (where I can easily spend hours) and Borough Market, where last time I’ve picked up quite an assortment of unusual salts and mouth-watering delicacies.” Katherine Brodsky

“Before all of this bullshit, I was living in Mexico City, but came back stateside just in case things turned too apocalyptic. I was never planning to move there permanently, but knew it was somewhere I would continue to return to for the rest of my life because of the incredible art and food culture, not to mention the unmatched niceness of the local chilangos. I can’t wait to wander the streets of the Roma and Juarez neighborhood again, sampling streetfood and stopping by Expendio de Maiz Sin Nombre for a tasting menu lunch at sandwich shop prices. Then I’d spend the night in one of the many phenomenal bars: Diente de Oro for dive-bar vibes but with outstanding music, Bacal for natural wines and Bohemian patrons, or Departamento for late-night dancing from some of the best DJs in town. Finally, I’d cap the night in one of the many cantinas — basically the Mexican version of a 24-hour diner, but with more alcohol).” —Eli London

“While the cliffs of El Nido are the stuff of postcards and screensavers, some of the most magical spots I’ve found are in the Visayas islands of the Philippines. A return to Siquijor, with its otherworldly calm and access to the marine-paradise of Apo Island, plus an adventure to the eco-hideaway of Danjungan are top of my list. Sand between my toes, a rum-improved coconut after a day of diving with turtles, dinner under the stars on a solar-powered island, and mountains of garlic rice: paradise. Marbree Sullivan

Photo of Apo Island, courtesy of Cris Tagupa / Unsplash

“I’ve been planning to visit my fiancé’s hometown in Karnataka (India) for years. He’s always painting me vivid pictures of the family farm he grew up on: the smell of betel nut, the roaming monkeys, the nearby Jain temples. We would travel from Bangalore to Mysore and the coastal city of Mangalore, one of his favorite places on earth.” Maggy Lehmicke

Australia has long been at the top of my travel bucket list. As a journalist, I’ve visited close to 40 countries, yet somehow, have yet to check this box. I want to head off to Western Australia to explore its diverse landscapes, including its world-class wine region, meet with the chefs pairing their foods with the varietals, and of course, snap a few selfies with the friendly quokkas!” —Stacey Leasca

“I spent some formative teenage years in Seattle and my family still lives in that area. And yet, I’ve never traveled down one state and into Portland. While Portlandia didn’t do anything for me, I do like cities that develop their own strange and wonderful personalities. I also like good beer, great food and inventive cocktails, which I keep hearing about from Portland ex-pats. Add in some ideal Pacific Northwest weather — I dig slightly damp! — and the fact that Oregon sent my current home state ventilators when we needed ’em, and well, first round of Jammy Pants is on me.” —Kirk Miller

Belize may be small, but the English-speaking Central American country has a big personality, which is why I visit as often as possible. Though the date of my next trip there may be uncertain, the thought of eating fry jacks at Pop’s Restaurant in the Cayo District, stopping for tamales while driving the Hummingbird Highway, and staying at the San Ignacio Resort Hotel so I can see wild toucans every morning is enough to keep me going. If there’s enough time I’ll also spend at least a week living the pirate life out on Glover’s Atoll, away from all the complications of modern life.” Ali Wunderman

Lviv is one of those cities that just captures your heart and soul forever. There’s something so special about walking around its narrow, charming cobblestoned streets.” Olga Maria Czarkowski

Photo of Lviv, courtesy of Darya Tryfanava / Unsplash

Capri is a Mediterranean jewel and every visit makes me fall a little bit more in love with its beauty. Since I first went there 13 years ago, I look forward every spring to the start of the ferry service from the Amalfi Coast so I can spend the day on the island. This year, instead of a day trip I’m planning to staycation on the island to have even more time visiting friends and enjoying incredible meals at Ristorante Michel’angelo, shopping the new collection at Ecocapri, and letting Capri’s quiet beauty and history sink in at the Villa San Michele in Anacapri.” Laura Thayer

“I’m excited to go to the nature reserves in Borneo and Malaysian Borneo. The wildlife roam freely inside the Semenggoh Nature Reserve and Bako National Park. Although it’s not guaranteed that you’ll see the orangutans or the proboscis monkeys, they do sometimes make an appearance during feeding times. It’s close by the city of Kuching in Malaysia, which is called the ‘City of Cats.’ I want to visit the Cat Museum, visit Kuching’s Oldest Temple Tua Pek Kong Temple, and eat my way through the street food. I’d like to stay in the treehouses at the Permai Rainforest Eco-Resort and wake up in the canopy of the jungle.” Carrie Ann Back

Bermuda is one of my favorite places in the world — definitely my favorite island, but also, my home. I grew up on the 22-mile-island, and though I always felt fortunate to grow up surrounded by a constant color wheel of cerulean waters and backyard beaches, I don’t think it was until I moved away that I appreciated its entirety. I try to visit at least twice a year now, and summer — with boat parties and long, lazy afternoons at the beach — is one of those times I never want to miss. Those salty, simple, warmer days ahead are what I’m looking forward to, with a sushi dinner at Pearl, dockside lunch at Woodys (their fried fish sandwich is a local speciality), and a few Dark ’n Stormy cocktails in between.” Jillian Dara

“A road trip through Andalucía, where I spent most of my 21st year, and a place I’ll always be trying to get back to. I’d fly in to Málaga, the birthplace of Picasso, and take a paseo around the immaculate pedestrian streets, stopping here and there for a caña and a tapa (a beer and a snack). I’d drive to the village of Ronda, where bullfighting was born, and hike to the bottom of the Puente Nuevo. Then on to Sevilla, the city where I studied, to check all my old haunts off the list: the sprawling gardens at the Alcázar, the river where we used to drink bottles of cheap beer in anticipation of another night that would bleed into morning, the epic Plaza de España. Eventually I’d make my way to the one vision of Spain that outshines all the others: the view of Granada’s Alhambra from the Mirador de San Nicolas at dusk. Bill Clinton once told Hillary it was the most beautiful sunset he’d ever seen — but don’t let that ruin it for you.” —Walker Loetscher

Photo of Alhambra, courtesy of Leon Lee / Unsplash

“I’ve always dreamed of exploring South Africa. I can’t wait to peer down at Cape Town from the top of Table Mountain, catch a wave at Jeffreys Bay, and admire wildlife from the front of a safari car at Kruger National Park.” Chantae Reden

“It’ll be more important than ever to support Canadian tourism once travel advisories lift, and Mont-Tremblant — my family’s happy place — will forever be at the top of our list. This year-round destination in Québec sits at the base of a nearly 3,000-foot mountain and has a quaint pedestrian village that feels more European than Canadian. It offers some of the northeast‘s best skiing in winter and an outdoor enthusiast’s playground all summer.” —Andrea Traynor

“My travel choices are largely dictated by the fact that I have two young children. As such — and as has been the topic of many jokes around the InsideHook office — at least once a year, for the past six or seven years, I find myself in Hershey, Pennsylvania, visiting a chocolate-themed amusement park. This year, though, my 10-year-old discovered a musical called Six, and it has all but taken over her life. It’s about the six wives of Henry VIII, and while the show has recently come to the States, my daughter, after countless hours of YouTube research, has decided she’s partial to the original British production in the West End of London. There are songs about murder and erectile dysfunction and threesomes, and I have no idea what she does or does not understand, and I don’t really care. She very badly wants to see it, and she’s even managed to pass her obsession down to her five-year-old sister, who can now regularly be heard singing along to the line, ‘I wouldn’t be such a bitch if you could get it up.’ As soon as it seems even remotely safe, we’ll be taking our questionable parenting to London.” —Mike Conklin

Tuscany. I was planning on going this fall — it’s the time of year when the weather is perfect and the vineyards are ready for harvest. I look forward to venturing through the rolling hills and the cypress trees of the countryside on a long-awaited road trip.” —Rossana Wyatt

Photo of Tuscany, courtesy of Patrick Schneider / Unsplash

“I had a trip arranged to go to Washington’s Olympic National Park to camp and hike with my dad, who is in his early 70s, in July. Though that is no longer happening for obvious reasons, I’d still like to do it in the future, as the idea of exploring nearly 1,500 square miles of ancient rainforests, glacier-capped mountains and beaches located alongside glacial lakes sounds like a pretty good way to get out and about after being forced into hibernation for months on end. I’m not crazy about the idea of a cross-country flight, but the park and the wealth of options it possesses seems like a risky-worthy bright light at the end of the tunnel. —Evan Bleier

“After this is all over, my first destination will be Michigan’s Upper Peninsula — a super remote and wild place. I was actually planning to visit the Upper Peninsula in June, anyway, in an effort to slow down and travel less after six flights in February and a rather wild 2019. I kind of doubt that my planned trip will go down in June, but it seems smart to still stick with a road trip-able destination in my home state. I’d love to stop by Nature’s Kennel, an ethical dog sledding operator in McMillan that often has puppy litters open for petting in the summer. I’d also stop by the nearby Tahquamenon Falls (the largest waterfalls in the state) on my way to the shores of Lake Superior. I’ve always wanted to kayak along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, but have been rained out in the past, so maybe this will be my year. My next stop would be Marquette, where I’ll have to stop for an old-fashioned milkshake and grilled cheese at Doncker’s Cafe. And finally there’s the Porcupine Mountains, where you can go backcountry camping and not see another soul (although I’ll definitely be bringing my bear bell and bear spray). For an even more remote camping option, there’s Isle Royale in Lake Superior which is one of the least frequented national parks in the country.” Sarah Bence

“Brand-new bridges have a habit of appearing each time I visit Copenhagen. I hope to bike over one at some point this year or next, and catch a ferry up to Reffen. It’s a village of all-season street food stalls in the city’s far north. Only a few years ago, the area was an abandoned industrial jungle. The place is a cheatsheet to Danes’ favorite things: economy of design, kickass global cuisine, øl (beer), live music and lounge chairs looking out over bodies water like Cialis tubs.” —Tanner Garrity

“I partook in a gloriously relaxing, all-inclusive Cancun vacation a month before the pandemic canceled everyone else’s travel plans, so my sit-on-a-beach tank is still near full capacity. When I get that vaccine, the first trip I’m headed on will be on the opposite end of the spectrum: a cold, dank, self-guided road trip from Glasgow, Scotland up to and around Inverness. Is it partly inspired by my love of Outlander? You bet it is. But it’s also because my MO will be doing everything I haven’t been able to do during quarantine: visit off-the-beaten path bars for Scotch in glasses that are questionably clean, ask directions in my rental car from people isolated in the countryside, and stay in Airbnb castles like Balintore and Mansfield that probably have a hard time adapting to constant updates from the WHO.” Alex Lauer


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