The big trip: bucket-list travel for 2021

If you’re dreaming of that trip of a lifetime overseas, this is an excellent time to plan it. We ask respected travel junkies what’s at the top of their globetrotting agendas come 2021

The Maldives

The Maldives

Says who? Ben Groundwater, travel writer
My 2021 dream features all of the clichés: the white-sand beaches, the crystal-clear waters, the palm trees, the cocktails. I’m planning to head to the Maldives, an island nation I’ve never visited, for an epic water-borne adventure, sailing the high seas on a live-aboard charter vessel, flitting from island to island, beach to beach, dive site to dive site, fishing spot to fishing spot, paradise to… paradise. Next year seems the perfect time not only to check off a journey I’ve long been meaning to take, but to get away from the bustle of civilisation and enjoy some time in nature – which, to me, means the ocean. A few weeks making my way around the Maldives will be just the tonic after a challenging 2020.
How to get there: Fly to the Maldives with British Airways Holidays



Says who? Lyn Hughes, editor of Wanderlust
I’m dreaming of a safari in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park. It has some of Africa’s best lodges, guides and wildlife and yet still feels like a well-kept secret. I’ll combine a stay at Mfuwe Lodge with Tafika, a small family-run camp that steals many a heart. On daily game drives I’ll be spotting lions, wild dogs, elephants and leopards. Each day I’ll take a walking safari – nothing beats it for making all your senses zing. And then dusk will be spent with a sundowner overlooking the Luangwa River. Bliss.
How to get there: Fly to Johannesburg with British Airways and oneworld partner Comair, and take a connecting flight to Zambia

Italian Lakes

The Italian Lakes

Says who? Harriet Cooper, travel writer
A hankering for la dolce vita means one thing: a driving tour around the Italian lakes, preferably in a vintage open-top car (a girl can dream). After a couple of days in Milan – my list includes the pink marble Duomo di Milano, Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II for the ultimate in window-shopping – we’ll slowly make our way to lakes Garda, Iseo, Como, Lugano and Maggiore (at the latter, the short trip to Isola Madre to see the famous white peacocks is a must). Our days will be punctuated with long, lazy lunches in pastel-hued villages, boat trips and swimming, marvelling at the photogenic palazzos that dot the shores, gelato in shady squares and aperitivo while watching the sun catch the water. If there’s time, we’ll follow in the footsteps of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers and stop by fair Verona for its mediaeval palaces and frescoed churches.
How to get there: Fly to Italy with British Airways

The Algerian Sahara

The Algerian Sahara

Says who? Simon Urwin, National Geographic photographer
The Algerian Sahara is so otherworldly that crossing a sea of sand dunes here feels like lunar exploration, while a hike through red rock canyons is akin to traversing planet Mars. Having visited the jaw-dropping Tassili N’Ajjer in 2020, next on my wish list is the mountainous Assekrem, said to be home to the most spectacular sunrises on earth. Such harsh terrain is best explored with an adventure specialist, such as Untamed Borders, who can arrange experienced Tuareg guides, 4x4s, and nights under canvas in what is undoubtedly the world’s most beautiful desert.
How to get there: Fly to Algiers with British Airways

British Columbia

British Columbia

Says who? Mike MacEacheran, travel writer
Nothing beats the gung-ho thrill of jumping out of a whirring helicopter on to the top of an unsung, snow-fuzzed mountain. Seismogram-ragged peaks crowd in and heart-pumping powder bowls beckon below. British Columbia is ground zero for heliskiing outfits and I’m dreaming of swooping from Tweedsmuir Park Lodge over the backcountry ski fields that converge on Bella Coola. The season doesn’t really get going until January, so I’ve plenty of time to book flights to Vancouver – and to talk my partner into splashing out on a well-deserved, post-corona break. If there was ever a moment for planning a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, it’s right now.
How to get there: Fly to Vancouver with British Airways



Says who? Ianthe Butt, travel writer
Japan has got completely under my skin. I’ve visited twice in the last year and its tucked-away temples, work-of-art gardens, astonishing arts and crafts (calligraphy, kintsugi and next-level ceramics) and diverse landscapes have left me itching to return. It’s never been a show up and wing it kind of destination. To get the most out of a visit it’s wise to map out a route and book your accommodation in advance – and next year will be no exception. If things look as if they’ll open up in the spring, I’ll book to stroll under bubblegum-pink canopies during the cherry blossom season. In the summer, there are the postponed Olympic Games to look forward to, and in autumn I’d watch sumo wrestling in Tokyo before beating a path south to scuba dive in the crystal-clear waters of the subtropical Okinawa islands.
How to get there: Fly to Japan with British Airways



Says who? Katie Gatens, digital travel editor at The Times and The Sunday Times
A big trip doesn’t have to mean travelling to the other side of the world. I’m desperate to get to France for a few weeks to really explore the country in depth. I’d start in Provence’s lavender fields and drive south to the Côte d’Azur, stopping off for a wild night in Marseille, a vivid city I’ve only passed through before, before heading up to Toulouse and Bordeaux for the wine (of course). I’d eat the freshest seafood in La Rochelle and stroll through St Malo’s mediaeval streets. The best bit? Absolutely no jet lag.
How to get there: Fly to France with British Airways



Says who? Hattie Sime, deputy travel editor of the Daily Mail
My first encounter with the sea was when I was eight hours old and my parents drove me from the hospital straight to their favourite beach. Ever since then, my love for the ocean has been unrelenting. It’s part of the reason I’m desperate to explore Panama’s coastlines; to surf in the monster swells on the Pacific side and snorkel in the rainbow reefs on the Caribbean side. Panama literally means ‘abundance of fish’ and there’s no better place to witness this than at Isla Secas, a private island off the Pacific coast, where there are 750 species in its waters.
How to get there: Fly to Panama City via Miami with British Airways and oneworld partner American Airlines

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Says who? Rob Crossan, travel writer
Hong Kong is, quite simply, one of the most exciting urban hubs on the planet. In this dense, tightly coiled insomniac of a city, just walking around the Kowloon or Wan Chai ’hoods at night is an adrenaline rush. My planning is mostly based on finding the greatest dim sum (current favourite Tim Ho Wan is the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant on earth). Three or four nights is usually enough for me before exhaustion sets in, but I’ll definitely be making time to sail to one of the outlying islands for a day trip – possibly to fly a kite on the old smugglers’ island of Tap Mun.
How to get there: Fly to Hong Kong with British Airways

USA road trip

USA road trip

Says who? Chris Leadbeater, travel writer and US specialist
In almost two decades as a travel writer, I’ve managed to make my way through, and to, 36 of the 50 states. But there’s always more to see, even in the more ‘obvious’ corners of the country. I’ve set off on the fabled west coast journey south from San Francisco towards Los Angeles a couple of times, but following the shoreline north remains a personal itch to be scratched. Mountainous, forested and far less populated, the upper parts of California are much more mysterious than the better-known areas and big metropolises ‘below’. And Oregon offers more of the glorious same, in its dense groves of redwoods and lonely beaches. Then there’s Washington state. With its cool bar scene, musical heritage and self-amused appreciation of its often rainy weather, Seattle has long been my favourite American city. The idea of it rising up on the horizon at the end of a week’s road trip will always appeal.
How to get there: Fly to multiple destinations in the USA with British Airways



Says who? Alicia Miller, assistant editor at The Sunday Times Travel Magazine
I’m desperate to visit Russia – the contrast between historic St Petersburg, packed with wedding-cakey architecture and world-class museums, and modern, glitzy Moscow has always fascinated me. I was supposed to visit this past spring, but I’d happily go in autumn or winter, when skies are crisp blue, locals warm up over bowls of borscht, and evenings are all about the ballet at the gilded Bolshoi Theatre. I’ll book the retro Red Arrow sleeper train between the two cities to make the journey feel like a real, atmospheric adventure.
How to get there: Fly to Moscow with British Airways



Says who? travel writer, Travis Levius
Once the weather heats up and the restrictions have lifted, I’m high-tailing it to South Africa, my all-time favourite country. Cape Town will always be on the itinerary, but it’s buzzy Johannesburg where I’ll set my base. I’ll likely rent a bachelor’s flat in hipster neighbourhoods Braamfontein or Maboneng (pictured) to stay within arm’s reach of the rooftop parties and spate of cultural goings-on. Should I need a city escape, bucket-list safari lodges Cheetah Plains and Lion Sands in neighbouring Kruger National Park await.
How to get there: Fly to Johannesburg with British Airways

Western Australia

Western Australia

Says who? Erin Florio, travel news director at Condé Nast Traveler
The upside of staying put right now? Plenty of time to plan for that epic trip once we can all get back out there. For me, that means the Western Australia coast. This open, wild state has always been on my list, but three months in lockdown inside a small Brooklyn apartment has bumped it firmly to the top. The lure of surfing in the morning, then sipping top-notch Aussie Chardonnays from Margaret River cellars later on feels like the perfect, sun-kissed mix of a high-low holiday, all packaged in Australia’s trademark, breezy ease. The area is blissfully underpopulated, and planning a year out helps secure spots at hotels worth making the 24-hour jaunt across time zones for, such as the regal Cape Lodge.
How to get there: Fly to Australia with British Airways



Says who? John Summerton, editor of Sidetracked magazine
Cycling the dramatic Trollstigen, which translates to Troll’s Ladder, in Norway is at the very top of my bucket list. Deep in the mountains of western Norway is a road that twists and turns for 15km up the mountain. It’s a long and difficult climb by road bike, but the landscape – including sheer cliffs, vast valleys and a huge waterfall – will offer some distraction from the voluntary suffering. I’d base myself in the beautiful town of Alesund and also spend some time exploring the fjords and islands.
How to get there: Book a holiday to Norway with British Airways Holidays

New Mexico

New Mexico

Says who? Alex Allen, staff writer at The Sunday Times Travel Magazine
Why? Of America’s dramatic desert states – think Arizona, Utah, Nevada, parts of Texas and California – New Mexico, with its ancient Puebloan ruins, Native American-influenced cuisine and artsy, spiritual sub-culture, is the one that excites me the most. My plan would be to take a cross-state road trip, starting in slick Santa Fe, with its mix of Spanish and Puebloan-influenced architecture, art galleries and museums (such as the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum) and upscale restaurants. I’d then travel north to cute ski town Taos for a day or two on the slopes, before cutting south through UFO-spotting mecca Roswell, and onto the eerie Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
How to get there: Fly to Santa Fe via Dallas with British Airways and oneworld partner American Airlines


Miami to Orlando

Says who? Sunshine Flint, travel writer and editor
Now that one of my eight-year-old twins is reading the Harry Potter books, a return to Orlando is definitely on the cards. Plus I think they deserve a really fantastic trip more than ever before. The first time round, Walt Disney World Resort was a rite of passage, but this time I’d factor in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, while a trip out to Miami and South Florida will make the grown-ups happy, too. Nothing lifts my mood faster than a cortadito (Cuban coffee) from David's Cafe in South Beach. Here, eating a guava pastelito and smelling the blooming jasmine at night always reminds me that I've arrived in the tropics.
How to get there: Fly to Miami with British Airways Holidays

This article has been tagged Adventure, Destination