With a new year and a new decade upon us, we're feeling more inspired than ever to explore the world in a thoughtful, meaningful way. To that end, we came up with four destinations we think are worth visiting in 2020 ... with a Travel That Matters twist.
1. Australia for Natural Beauty and Economic Relief
As you've undoubtedly heard, Australia has been experiencing an unprecedented bushfire season. Thankfully, much of the continent is completely safe for travel, and one of the best ways we can help Australia is to encourage people to continue traveling there.
Many countries depend on tourism dollars for economic health. When a natural disaster occurs, travelers often cancel all plans to the impacted country, sometimes without understanding the true state of affairs at their desired destination. This only adds to the devastation the local residents must endure.
If you already have plans to visit Australia, take the time to understand what’s really happening before completely cancelling your trip. For example, check out this list of impacted regions, put together by Tourism Australia.
If you still feel uncomfortable visiting your desired destination, consider rescheduling or rearranging your trip instead of cancelling altogether.
If you don't currently have plans to visit Australia, we encourage you to explore the magnificent continent this year, when your travel dollars will have a hugely positive impact.
For outdoor adventurers, we especially recommend exploring Ningaloo Reef, which is a wonderful alternative to the Great Barrier Reef, and one of the best places in the world to swim with whale sharks and other sea creatures.
2. Caribbean (by Small Ship) for a Sustainable Tropical Retreat
The Caribbean is another region that relies heavily on tourism. We recently visited a few islands in the Eastern Caribbean and saw first-hand how resilient and inspiring the local residents are, despite the major challenges they continue to face as they recover from recent hurricanes.
Cruising is big business in the Caribbean, but instead of visiting the islands aboard giant ships, we recommend sailing on small ships or yachts instead.
Just imagine this: You begin your journey (with 300 rather than 3,000 other guests) aboard a small luxury ship—with actual sails that utilize actual wind. You glide across deep blue waters to little-known isles to explore parts of the Caribbean that remain authentic and unspoiled. You end your journey understanding why this part of the planet is so often called Paradise.
Traveling this way, not only do you have a richer personal experience, you'll also lessen your environmental impact, and help widen the economic benefits of tourism in the area.
3. Slovenia for an Authentic Old World Experience
Slovenia, a small country covered in forests, is nestled between Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, with a small section of coastline on the Adriatic Sea. Recently named the planet’s most sustainable country, its residents feel a deep connection with the land.
As a result, you will find numerous opportunities for outdoor adventure. In addition to hiking and skiing the surrounding Alps, paddling glacial lakes, or rafting crystal-clear rivers, you can also explore the country's labyrinth of limestone caves (karst).
If you're looking for history and culture, you'll find it in abundance here, too. This region dates back to pre-historic times. (Archaeologists discovered the world's oldest wooden wheel in the Ljubljana Marshes.)
You can also expect to find farm-fresh cuisine and excellent wine at every turn. After all, the country is home to more than 28,000 wineries and the world's oldest-know grape-producing vine.
While you're in Slovenia, be sure to include a visit to Trieste, Italy. It's just across the border on the Adriatic Sea and is a charming alternative to over-touristed Venice.
4. Zimbabwe for Life-Changing Safari Encounters
Despite its abundant wildlife and stunning beauty, travelers often overlook Zimbabwe. Thankfully, things are changing ... Fortune magazine recently touted the country as a must-visit safari destination.
At the end of 2019, we spent six days in Zimbabwe, and our experience was truly magical. The landscape, the wildlife and the people simply stole our hearts.
During our trip, we experienced one astonishing animal sighting after another: Elephants, giraffes, zebras, lions, cheetahs, buffalo, baby warthogs and the ever-elusive leopard, just to name the highlights. As each experience topped the last, we couldn't believe how fortunate we were.
Beyond the wildlife, we witnessed the deep love the locals have for their country, and we couldn't help but fall in love, too.
We also had the chance to learn about the inspiring conservation and community improvement efforts in Zimbabwe and the important role tourism plays in those efforts.
For example, due to recent misleading reports that Victoria Fall is drying up, Zimbabweans worry that tourism to the area will dwindle.
We had the good fortune of seeing first-hand how beautiful Victoria Falls can be in November ... near the end of the dry season ... during a year of extreme drought. Yes, parts of the falls were dry, but we still found the iconic site impressive and definitely worth visiting.
Here's a quote from the article linked above: “It is crucial to consider the livelihoods on the ground who are impacted by these reports ... The tourism industry does not only support the revenue of countless people but it also plays an active role in the community and conservation of the area."
If you feel inspired to visit any of these amazing destinations, or just want to learn more, give us a call or schedule a time to chat.