Cuernos Towers during sunrise. Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

Even a once a year trip can be everything to someone, and for many,  it really is.

You don’t have to be a road warrior or digital nomad to miss the thrilling sound of a jet engine, or ding of a hotel elevator right now, and with signs pointing to years before a full recovery, many bucket lists are being put on hold.

How could we have taken something like travel so much for granted?

Does coronavirus change your travel bucket list? It does for me. Even if it just helps another day pass, putting together a post covid-19 travel bucket list is one of the more cathartic and dreamy things you can do today, and I thought I’d share mine to help get things started…

palawan-el-nidoWhere do you even start?

Before things fully kicked off, I wrote “where to go when you’ve been ‘everywhere”, reflecting on the notion that I’ve been crazy lucky to see much of what I’d always wanted to, and how it’s shaped my future travel plans.

It’s an interesting one because as I read it back, the present is like an extreme version of those thoughts. I’m not missing anything general really, I’m missing the remarkable human interactions that the best destinations offer, and the places so beautiful you feel as if you’re in a dream.

My Post Coronavirus Travel Bucket List

I’ve always maintained that travel is highly personal. Often it’s specific people, memories in unique places or new things which draw us to certain areas, and these are just mine. Yours may be totally different, and that’s why the world is cool.

I want to kiss the ground in Central Park

I’m a New Yorker, and was born steps away from Central Park. You never know how much you miss such a typical destination until you’re effectively cut off from it. As soon as it’s safe, I’m going to hop on a plane to New York, and proverbially kiss the ground in Central Park.

I’m then going to wash my mouth out, dive into classic New York eats and finish it off with a sunset cocktail along the Williamsburg waterfront, looking back at this amazing, resilient city.

I want to walk from Maroubra to Bondi Beach

Coogee is the common starting point for a walk to Bondi Beach, but you can go further, starting at Maroubra instead. If this doesn’t make you smile and appreciate how wonderful planet earth is, nothing will.

Sadly, it sounds like Australia will be closed off to outsiders for 2020, which only makes me yearn for this special country more. There’s no finer dining destination than Melbourne, and no metropolitan beach paradise quite like Sydney.

a pool with umbrellas and a beach in the background with Bondi Beach in the backgroundI want to do a hot air balloon in Siem Reap, Cambodia

One of the many trips on the list this year was to Cambodia. I’ve done Southeast Asia extensively, but there was one thing that always looked just epic in pictures, and I wanted to have that moment.

I want to do a hot air balloon ride looking over the incredible temples of Angkor Wat, the mist from the ground and all that makes this such a storied and remarkable land. Really, I think I just want to take a hot air baloon anywhere, but this one was within reach, so I want it more.

I want to dine omakase in Tokyo and make my wife join

Some of you will know that Laura and I get on, almost too well. We border on marital bliss, except when it comes to dining. Spoiler alert: she doesn’t really eat fish. All of my happiest omakase dinners in Japan have been solo, so thank goodness it’s not a weird setting to do so.

Sushi in Japan is worth every penny, and I want to have the priceless experience of having Laura tag along. She’ll get through it, and it’ll be a lasting travel memory for better and worse.

a piece of frozen sushi on a surfaceI want to drink wine in Franschhoek, South Africa

Some experiences in life are so sweet, but they’re over in a flash. With travel, that’s like extra-extra true. Staying in Franschhoek and Stellenbosch was one of those that felt all too brief and surreal.

I adore South Africa and can only dream of again sitting in a vineyard, or better yet La Residence, looking out at the dramatic landscapes and thinking just how sweet it is to be able to see the world. Bring it, soon please.

I want to ride bikes with my daughter in Santa Monica

People love LA or hate it, and I f**king love it. I lived there, know the good and the bad and know that there are some parts which are just at the top of world class. Watching the sunset anywhere along Venice, Ocean Park or Santa Monica is such a treat, and I just really want to take my daughter on a sunset bike ride.

She’s only around 3 months old, so there’s time, but it’s something I never thought would ever be in jeopardy of easily happening. It’s weird to think that something which previously felt so simple and given may take real work.

Cuernos Towers during sunrise. Torres del Paine National Park, ChileI want to stare at Torres Del Paine

For decades, I’ve had my heart set on one hotel, but I’ve never had the nerve to actually make the trip and go. I’ve always wanted to stay at the Explora Patagonia, in Torres Del Paine. This stretch of Chile is often called one of the most rugged and beautiful in the world, and I just need to be there.

It’s ridiculously expensive and hard to reach, but in celebration of being able to get out and explore the world again, I can’t think of anything better than seeing some its most beautiful natural creations.

I just want to board an airplane again

It sounds so simple, but right now it’s not. Over 90% of the world’s flights are cut at the moment, and internationally there are hardly any. I just want to board an airplane again, tap the outside of the plane as I go in and give the crew a big smile on my way.

Air travel made the world a small place in recent years, and with just four weeks of being stuck inside, it’s already missed more than anyone could’ve ever imagined. Safety is everything right now, but when it’s safe again, I just can’t wait to hear a jet engine roar, and be on a plane.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. I wonder if those high-end places in Japan would offer a vegetarian omakase set. Not to compare American “sushi” to the real deal, but there are plenty of veggie options here in sunny California including the ever-present tamago.

  2. I’m curious to see your wife’s post-coronavrius bucket list as to what she’d make you do with her in return for doing omakase with you in Japan!

  3. We stayed at the Explora in Rapa Nui at this time last year and it was definitely worth the expense.

  4. Torres Del Paine is nice but the ripoff pricing for hotels and entry fees leaves a very bad taste. There are no reasonably priced places to stay anywhere near it and it’s very regimented once you get there as you’re tied to using the limited transport options available. I much preferred Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina. You can find lots of accommodation options in El Chaltén and the stunning scenery is walkable from town. Perito Moreno Glacier further south is also a must see.

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