Most travel plans were shelved last year. Much was put on pause as we learned how to navigate our new normal – and so much has changed.
Travel, too, has changed. Where, how, and when we travel next is still uncertain. But why we travel remains the same. One of the best parts of traveling is right in the beginning – the planning phase. Browsing for captivating articles and vibrant images, sharing travel tips with friends and family, and discussing all the small details with your AAA Travel Professional to ensure your next trip is unforgettable.
Right now is a great time to start planning for your next getaway in 2021 and beyond. Because space is limited this year, starting early will ensure you’re getting all the experiences included that makes the perfect trip. Additionally, many AAA travel partners are currently offering fantastic deals that will provide you savings or added benefits on your next vacation.
As we move into the new year, AAA has compiled some ideas to help inspire your next travel adventure – whenever that might may be.
Top Destinations for 2021
Where do you want to travel in 2021 and beyond? Though it may feel impossible to fathom right now with travel restrictions still in place, things are looking up for 2021. As countries begin to slowly open their borders to American travelers, they’re doing so with health and safety protocols in place – so when you’re ready to travel again, you can do so safely and confidently.
When travel gets the green light, we owe it to ourselves to dream big and start planning for those once-in-a-lifetime getaways. For some inspiration for your next bucket list vacation, below is a list of trending destinations for 2021.
- Costa Rica
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- US National Parks
Short Flights. Big Adventures.
If that dream vacation is a few years out or if you would prefer to stay closer to home for a bit – there are some fantastic destinations to explore that are just a short flight away.
- Vancouver, BC : Vancouver has won many accolades as one of the top cities in the Americas, and for very good reasons. Set against a backdrop of majestic snowcapped mountains, the city lies on a peninsula that juts into the Pacific Ocean. This spectacular setting allows for a plethora of outdoor adventures, including skiing, sailing, hiking, scuba diving, fishing and more.
- Victoria, BC: With its stately parliament buildings, glorious gardens and cultural amenities, the Queen’s namesake city flaunts its quintessential British bent. On arrival, two prominent features—landscaping and architecture—immediately beg a closer look. Victoria cultivates the British passion for horticulture. Flowers and foliage pruned to perfection pop up everywhere
- Big Island: Kīlauea volcano’s fiery red lava streams down ocean cliffs. A group of scuba divers watches an underwater ballet performed by massive manta rays. Tourists and locals alike tan their hides on a sun-splashed Kona beach. Hikers in a pristine rain forest admire a postcard-perfect waterfall. At sunset, atop 13,796-foot-high Mauna Kea volcano, photographers aim at pink clouds for their winning vacation shot. The “Big Island” of Hawai‘i has it all.
- Maui: The beaches are some of the most beautiful in the state and are often ranked among the best on the planet. Looking for rain forest and waterfalls? The famous Hāna Highway is hands down the ultimate jungle adventure drive in Hawai‘i. Volcano? Maui has one of those, too.
- Oahu: O‘ahu is nicknamed “The Gathering Place,” and the name is apt. In addition to its residents—nearly 70 percent of the population of all of the islands combined—a million visitors a year land on O‘ahu, then proceed to explore the other islands. To many, O‘ahu is Hawai‘i. Hawai‘i’s capital, Honolulu, with its commerce, industry and celebrated Waikīkī resort beach, is the heart of both the island and the state.
- Cancun: Imagine water so deeply turquoise that the color simply does not look real. Pair it with an expanse of pearly white sand for contrast, and then phase in the soothing aural backdrop of gently breaking waves. Add coconut palms: gracefully curving trunks crowned with arching green fronds rustled by a constant breeze. Install an azure sky. Mix well. Voilà—you have Cancún.
- Puerto Vallarta: When it comes to the requirements for a quintessential Mexican beach vacation, Puerto Vallarta’s pretty much got it all: tropical beauty, luxury resorts fronted by golden-sand beaches, charming cobbled streets, local restaurants with outstanding food and outstanding views, shopping galore, evening strolls along the malecón, lively nightlife. Even amid stateside big-box stores and expats from el norte, there’s Old Mexico charm to spare and countless fun things to do with friends.
Bring Back the All-American Road Trip
How long has it been since you planned a good old-fashioned road trip? Touring the U.S. by car can be a great alternative to visiting exotic, far-flung destinations—especially if budgets are tight, flights get cancelled or crowds are an issue.
Road tripping the U.S. is a bucket list vacation for people around the globe. From the Pacific Coast Highway to Route 66 and Highway 61, there are so many domestic adventures to be had. A little fresh air in the face—while blasting your favorite album from senior year of high school—will do your body and brain good.
Road trips provide a real sense of freedom. Nowhere is this more true than in America’s southwest. From the majestic Rockies and the Grand Canyon, to the Colorado River, Mesa Verde and Santa Fe: The siren call of the wild, untamed beauty immortalized in Hollywood westerns is something people dream of experiencing for themselves.
Whether you’re adventuring alone or with the whole family in tow, get inspired with AAA’s most popular road trips at AAA.com/RoadTrips
Your Wellness Needs a Getaway
Samantha Brown, Host of Samantha Brown’s Places to Love has said time and time again that travel is her favorite form of self-care. “Travel allows me easy access to my favorite forms of self-care. I love a quiet morning cup of tea while soaking up my surroundings — the more beautiful, the better! There’s nothing that relaxes me as much as walking through a new town, hiking in the fresh mountain air or hitting a winding trail on my bike. And is there anything lovelier than a slow dinner overlooking the water with a glass of wine?”
Many people find it impossible to break free of their hectic routines at home, which is why a wellness vacation can be just what the doctor ordered. Leave your day-to-day cares behind and finally attend those classes you’ve been meaning to make time for like meditation, Pilates or yoga. Try foods you wouldn’t usually cook for yourself, or let tension melt away with a massage or good soak in a hot tub.
Because selfcare is different for everyone, here are some ideas on how to treat yourself on your next getaway.
- Spa Vacations
- Getaways with the Girls
- Wine Country
- All-Inclusive Resorts
- US Golf Resorts
- Beach Vacations
It’s Not Too Late to Celebrate
There were many events and celebrations we missed last year. Birthdays, weddings, honeymoons, anniversaries, graduations, and other major life moments. Though we may not have been able to celebrate the way we anticipated or in person, there is no reason why we cannot make up for it as soon as it is safe to do so.
Here are some ideas on how you can celebrate with your friends and loved ones in the near future:
- Family & Multigenerational Vacations
- Theme Parks
- Wedding Venues
- Adventure Travel Destinations
The Great Outdoors are Great for a Reason
It’s easy to see why getting outside and into the natural world would be good for you. You’re bound to be moving about and getting the exercise you don’t usually get at your job. Sunlight on skin stimulates the production of Vitamin D, and research has shown that spending time in forests improves people’s moods and reduces blood pressure. The Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku or “forest bathing” is simply experiencing a forest with all your senses, and studies have demonstrated doing so may boost your immune system as well as your outlook.
See for yourself. America’s national park system alone offers millions of acres to explore. Consider these three gems to start with.
- Glacier National Park
- Great Smokey Mountains National Park
- Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
- Yellowstone National Park
- Rocky Mountain National Park
- Tips on Planning Family Camping Trips
Now more than ever, travelers are becoming more conscious of the footprint they leave behind while exploring the world. Being a sustainable traveler or eco-tourist can seem daunting. You have to consider where and how to travel, and what to bring, do, take back or use – but it can be done.
Celebrating a journey by making some kind of contribution along the way is a powerful force for good. Mindful altruism comes in all flavors — from simply making a monetary donation to the community you’re visiting to jumping into a project with some sweat equity and teamwork. However it’s done, the notion of making a positive impact along the way elevates a holiday to the most satisfying heights.
Ask your AAA Travel Professional about eco-friendly itineraries available and how you can make a difference on your next vacation!