Since the onslaught of a global pandemic mandated a year (and counting) of isolation, the concept of “revenge travel” is currently trending. Revenge against what, you may ask? Revenge against the time spent in mandatory lockdown, of course. But where to book that once-in-a-lifetime trip now? From the arctic tundra of Finland to the pristine islands of the South Pacific, read on for the top six destinations to add to your revenge travel bucket list.
Islands of Fiji (Image provided by Adobe Stock)
As if you even need a reason to include Fiji at the top of your bucket list, this trip is the ultimate revenge as travel to the destination was impossible for the past two years. Unlike Bali and the Maldives, which managed to stay open throughout the pandemic (more on the latter later), Fiji has been closed to commercial tourism for the past 20 months. The last commercial flight to arrive in Fiji occurred in 2019, but as of December 1st, the island nation will be welcoming its first commercial flight of vaccinated travelers. It’s one thing to go to Fiji post-lockdown, it’s another to be among the first to arrive in the islands after a year plus without tourists. While the natural beauty of Fiji is always overwhelming it’s safe to say that the natural world will be thriving after such a long absence of tourists. But it’s not just the wildlife and nature that makes Fiji such an idyllic destination to visit, it’s also the thriving culture and the people who make the islands home.
Mountains of Nepal (Image provided by Beyul Experiences)
George Mallory may have infamously answered the question of why he wanted to climb Mount Everest with the simple remark, “Because it’s there,” but we’d argue these three words also apply to why anyone should want to visit the entire country of Nepal. You don’t need to be a mountaineer to be overwhelmed by the sheer beauty and majesty of Mount Everest, but there is far more to do in Nepal aside from hiking. And why climb up to Mount Everest when you can board a private plane for a champagne breakfast overlooking the mountain in all its glory with Yeti Mountain Home? A trip to Nepal is incomplete without staying in Dwarika’s Kathmandu or Dwarika’s Dhulikhel—the luxurious establishments are more like living museums than mere hotels.
Tigers of Nepal (Image provided by Toger Tops)
A safari with Tiger Tops in the jungles of Bardiya and Chitwan is an absolute must when visiting Nepal. Tiger Tops is a legendary family-owned establishment within Nepal and the pioneer of the first ethical elephant safari in the country. Finally, if you do go on a trek, we recommend Mountain Travel Nepal for the most breathtaking views, and the emptiest trails, in the Himalayas. If you are interested in trekking to Everest Base Camp, we recommend the second-generation Nepali guide company Crystal Mountain Treks. And be sure to start your trip with a stay at the Happy House, the former residence of Edmund Hillary, and one of the most beautiful homes in the nation. This entire adventure redefines the entire concept of bucket list travel since after you visit once, you will want to return to Nepal again and again. (All the more reason to hang in there if the going gets rough, or—rather—infected, once more in the future.) Humphrey Bogart may have always had Paris, but we’d rather always have Nepal, as it is one of the most unexpected and wondrous places to visit in the world, and a two-week trip will more than compensate for a year and counting spent indoors.
The Galápagos Islands
The pool at Pikaia Lodge (Image provided by Pikaia Lodge)
We know some people are emerging from a protracted period of isolation in desperate need of human contact, but what about those who’d rather reconnect with the natural world? If you’re someone who likes the company or your pandemic puppy more than reunions with your increasingly distinct (physically and mentally) human friends, then The Galapagos is a dream come true. And for travelers who are wary of spending the entirety of their vacation on a boat after having been cooped up inside for so long, there’s the gorgeous Pikaia Lodge, a Five Star Relais & Chateaux property located on the island of Santa Cruz. The views of the island are unparalleled, and the guides available via the resort are some of the best on the islands. Request a tour with Luis Rodriguez, also known as the Galapagos Champ (or ‘Champy’ for short.) He certainly lives up to his nickname, as you will feel the past come vividly to life when he recounts the days of Darwin’s exploration and revelations on the islands. And isn’t it time to experience an equally life-changing trip for yourself? You may not discover the theory of evolution, but I guarantee you will uncover a renewed sense of wanderlust and love for the natural world.
Arctic Treehouse Hotel (Image provided by Visit Rovaniemi)
From the unspoiled archipelago off the coast of South America to the last great wilderness of Europe, our next selection takes us to colder climes as we head north above the Arctic Circle to Finland. If this is a surprising selection to you, then you must not have googled Lapland on an idle afternoon. Reindeer, Northern Lights, husky farms, Arctic forests, this land is your childhood dream of the North Pole turned into reality. (Quite literally: SantaPark exists in Rovaniemi.) And if you were heretofore unaware that Santa Claus was Finnish, that’s certainly not the last of the surprises awaiting you upon your trip to this Nordic nation. Sleep in an igloo, or a treehouse, or an ice hotel. (Finland does luxury very, very well.) Warm up in a sauna, and go snowmobiling through an endless tundra of snow. Lapland is known as the last great wilderness of Europe for a reason, and now is the time to find out why.
Lux North Male Atoll (Image provided by David DiGregorio)
The best part of visiting Maldives—aside from the breathtaking beauty? The realization that you’re in the perfect self-contained environment to practice social distancing. We are, after all, mid-pandemic technically, and—though borders have reopened—not every destination is equally safe. Once you arrive at your final destination in the Maldives, you can be sure all guests are in possession of a negative PCR test—allowing you to enter a relaxed, mask-free state that’s increasingly difficult to find now around the world. Additionally, the hospitality in the Maldives is wonderful—especially for travelers feeling like they may have lost their touch. The Maldives is also perfect because it’s a reintroduction to travel but also rather distanced, which is ideal if you don’t feel like totally re-entering the world. (Social distancing comes naturally on a private island.) And, though the white sand beaches are amazing, you can customize your trip based on your interests. Finally, climate change is a major concern—all around the world but particularly in the Maldives, as the islands are (quite literally) sinking. (And the efforts to preserve the land and its culture and heritage are inspiring and heroic and certainly a cue the rest of the planet should follow.) And after surviving a global plague, there’s no reason to really think you can wait it out for another year or two to visit—the time is now.
Tsavo National Park Kenya (Image provided by Adobe Stock)
Last but certainly not least, we’re concluding our list with my personal favorite country to visit, and a place I think should be mandatory for every human on earth to experience at least once. We’re talking, of course, about the capital of mankind. According to several indigenous tribes, it is the resting place of God himself: Kenya. Kenya is truly a life-changing trip and it does nothing less than restore your faith in humanity. And after a year like we’ve had (and counting), who isn’t in the mood for a little life-affirming positivity? The Masai Mara will put all your mortal problems in perspective—There’s a reason that safari means journey in Swahili—the experience will make you appreciate the rhythms and even the unpredictability of life on earth, in all its wildness. And if the best revenge is living well, there’s no better place to visit, as you will return home replenished, reinvigorated, and restored. (A mindset that should see you through the next global pandemic, or temporary lockdowns at the very least.) It’s the Circle of Life, after all.