It’s been a little while since we talked about bucket lists as a company. The bucket list is a travel community touchstone, something we’ve probably all thought about at one time or another. While a rapidly changing world will require new ways of thinking about travel and challenge us to change as well, that’s what a bucket list has always been about: aspiration, inspiration, change. Maybe it’s a little early to think about a 2021 bucket list — but time constraints never stopped travelers from dreaming before.
So, we look with hope to the future. Let’s keep asking each other, “where to next?”
“A member of our team traveled to Anchorage last summer with a group of friends and raved about her overall experience. Since then, it’s been in the back of my mind.” — Zach Houghton (founder)
Located on the Cook Inlet in the south-central portion of the state, Anchorage is known as “the best of Alaska.” With towering mountains, sparkling glaciers, and commanding wildlife, the city is a gateway to nearby wilderness areas and mountains including Chugach, Kenai, and Talkeetna, a base for those looking to explore Denali. From the serene waters of the Cook Inlet to the fjords of Prince William Sound, and the natural wonders of the Chugach range, Anchorage offers a space for both adventure and reflection.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CALIFORNIA
“As a (very) amateur rock climber, seeing El Capitan in person is high up on my bucket list.” — Lily Allen (production)
During the quarantine, I was fortunate enough to leave New York City temporarily and being out in nature has made me appreciate it more than ever. My bucket list destinations for 2021 changed quickly this year, but there’s still so many domestic destinations I have yet to explore.
My brother and I go on an annual camping/road trip somewhere in the U.S. each year. Growing up, we didn’t get to explore much of what the U.S. had to offer so it’s been an amazing experience visiting areas at an age where I can really appreciate them. Last year, we visited Joshua Tree and the previous year was Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon. This year, I’d love to go to Yosemite.
“Another area that I’d love to visit in the cooler winter months is New Mexico. Ideally, I’d land in Albuquerque and drive up to Santa Fe to explore and spend a few days skiing Taos. Then it’s a reasonable 4 hour drive down to White Sands National Park – a photographer’s dream!” – Lily Allen (production)
“For many reasons, Nicaragua is a special place for me. After all, it holds the roots of my ancestry and my bloodline, but experiencing Nicaragua firsthand in my adult years fostered a deeper love for it.” – Alex Ortega (social)
As a visitor with a strong bond to the country, it left a large imprint on me. On the surface, it’s a place filled with immense beauty and charm, but explore a little deeper and you’ll find such a unique charisma about it not felt anywhere else. From its diverse landscapes that range from the Pacific to the Atlantic and Caribbean sea, Nicaragua’s lure is strong.
Despite its complex history and severe poverty, the warmth and hospitality of its people remain sincere across the nation. Prior to COVID, I had plans to backpack through Central America from April to September, with a month planned in Nicaragua alone. It’s a place that time and time again I will return to, as long as I can. In 2021, if things normalize, Nicaragua and the Corn Islands will be at the top of my list for the first place I visit.
BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK, SOUTH DAKOTA
Kyle Peters (design)
In 2017 I was on a solo cross country road trip from Oregon to South Carolina. I debated for weeks before leaving whether to take the north or south route across the country, but finally landed on heading from Oregon to Wyoming and on to South Dakota. By the time I had made it to The Badlands, I had concocted an entire photo project I was going to shoot in the park — there was lots of time to think in the car.
All of this went to shit. In the space of a few hours on the first day that I got there, my Pentax 645 broke and I encountered one of the biggest rain storms of my life. The clouds were so dark that it tricked me into thinking it was night. I had planned on camping in the park for three days, and in actuality was there for less than three hours. I would love to go back in 2021.
CROSS-CANADA ROAD TRIP, SEA TO SKY HIGHWAY
Janelle Choi, Social
At the top of my bucket list for 2021 is a road trip from Vancouver to Alberta that I’m planning with some of my close friends! It would be a pretty long trip (around 2 weeks) so we’d be making stops in Whistler, Banff, Jasper, etc. I’ve lived in Vancouver for 18 years of my life but still have yet to make the trip to Banff, which I know is absolutely stunning.
The route from Vancouver to Whistler (which would be the first stop) is called the sea to sky highway, and I have always loved that drive because of the beautiful scenery that it offers. Canada has so many amazing sights to see, but I never really realized that until I moved away from the country. Hopefully next summer I’ll be able to really take advantage of the local sights!
VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK, NEVADA
“As much as I’d enjoyed sin city’s nightlife in the past, I knew that there were some stunning landscapes not very far by car; you can see some amazing canyons, mountains, and river valleys from the air when you fly in.” – Joseph Ozment (editorial)
Like many people, social distancing measures left me with only one place to explore, the great outdoors! I had a chance to (safely) get out of Tennessee and spend some time with family in Las Vegas back in June, just before summer temperatures there started to get really out of hand (think 105 degrees by nine in the morning).
My aunt and I got up early in the morning to reach this stunning stretch of desert before the heat became too much, but we hiked until noon because honestly, even the awesome heat couldn’t distract me from the awesome beauty of this place. The color of the rocks and the way they seem to dance across the desert, looking odd and graceful at the same time, makes you feel like you’ve stumbled into a surrealist painting.
Nature is often beautiful, and often intense — in places where it’s both, something really special happens. We think of deserts as devoid of life, but getting some respite from a world that’s been awfully loud lately definitely gave me a chance to reflect on the essentials of life, the constant song too often hidden beneath the noise. I can’t wait to go back and spend a night or two camping out here, under the stars.
ZION NATIONAL PARK, UTAH
Joseph Ozment (editorial)
During quarantine, I had the chance to work with a number of awesome creators for editorial features on our website, and one of my favorite pieces focused on a short film called, “We The Keepers,” about Zion National Park in Utah. The spirit of adventure and creativity that a place like Zion fosters was immediately tangible to me as I watched the video and talked with its creator, Sean Slobodan. I practically swooned over both its unique beauty and the stories I imagined that land was capable of telling. While we all look to take more road trips and see more of the great outdoors next year, I think Zion will be at the top of my bucket list.
ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA
Joseph Ozment (editorial)
So many of my friends and fellow travelers have raved to me about Asheville, lauding the awesome local music scene and, of course, its unparalleled craft beer offerings. Add a dash of Appalachian charm and outdoor adventure, and that’s pretty much my traveling holy trinity.
Being from Tennessee, I have a strange traveling track record that has often taken me around the world, but never to some of the places that border my home state. The drive from Nashville to Asheville rises and falls through mountain passes that look absolutely stunning in fall, which is when I’ll plan to go. With a good traveling companion, a hammock, and a medium format film camera, I’m ready to go live up my hipster fantasies in Asheville next year.
What destinations make your bucket list for 2021? Let us know on Twitter!