Pandemic wanderlust: 100 places we’re yearning to travel in 2021 and beyond

Canceled trips. Dashed plans to see family and friends. Missed opportunities to explore different places and cultures. 

It was a year of disappointment for travelers as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world. Health officials’ advice not to travel, personal concerns and government-imposed travel restrictions to stem the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 were an inconvenient backdrop to a much more sinister reality, with more than 81.6 million cases and 1,780,710 deaths worldwide as of Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins data. The U.S. accounts for 19.3 million of those cases and 336,325 deaths.

But as COVID-19 vaccines begin to roll out, we’re hopeful that 2021 will bring more opportunities to travel the globe – to the destinations we’ve been wanderlusting after during this trying year.

Here are the places that staff and contributors across the USA TODAY Network, including travel site, want to travel in 2021 – or when it’s safer to do so. When we’ll make it to these spots is yet unknown, but we’re holding on to hope for a brighter year of travel ahead.  

1. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona: With plunging depths and spectacular vistas, this is one of the great wonders of the world and one of America’s most popular national parks. The Grand Canyon has inspired wonder since Indigenous people first farmed there centuries ago. I love it so much that I celebrated my bachelorette party there.

2. Madagascar: Maybe I’ve watched the DreamWorks movie too many times with my kids in quarantine, but Madagascar seems like the perfect respite from Zoom meetings to get reacquainted with nature.

3. Hawaii: Since moving to the West (meaning cheaper Hawaii flights), I’ve been dreaming of a beach vacation in Hawaii. It just might be time to pull the trigger after the year we’ve had.

– Thompson

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