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Grab the sunnies: our 2021 travel bucket list

It's been so long, holidays have taken on a rather emotional hue. So we asked our editors how they really want to spend their annual leave. Expect cocktails, cities, and plenty of sun.

There’s nothing quite like being told you can’t do something to make you want to do it with a fervent passion. Travel to foreign climes – hell, even to neighbouring counties – has been forbidden for so long that naturally, we’re all desperate to break out the bikinis and Ray Bans and make like a Love Islander in Dubai (even if it’s just a chilly April beach in Devon). And we thought, as it is midwinter and rather bleak, we’d try to inspire you with our travel wish list for 2021. So go on; tot up your Air Miles, unearth your suitcases and count those Euros, because this year – the year Covid got put in the naughty corner – holidays look like they might just happen.

Ginny Light, Muddy Associate Features Editor

I expect that I’ll be fairly easily pleased when it comes to travel in 2021. Just leaving Oxfordshire will be a revelation. With so much time for reflection in the past year, my overwhelming desire for travel in 2021 is two-fold – firstly to do something meaningful and memorable with my family, and secondly to kick the mud off my stilettos and discover somewhere buzzing, urban, bustling, eccentric and startling. For the former, I’m looking for a contrast to Oxfordshire’s verdant rolling fields so I’m thinking perhaps the wide open plains of the savannah. Imagine heat waves rolling off the dusty ground, a giraffe gambolling over the prairie, perhaps in Tanzania or Botswana, spotting the Big Five with my gawp-mouthed daughters.

Getting back to reality, perhaps a beach is all we need – but one with reliable sunshine and fresh fish – the Greek islands would fit the bill. Putting aside hazy memories of orange sweat dripping down my white vest top in a Crete nightclub after some overexuberant application of Hawaiian Tropic carrot oil, I’m hoping for something altogether more turquoise/white Instagrammy this time around. For my city break with mates, the world will need to be a very different place before it’s safe to jostle for space in a Brooklyn cocktail joint or haggle for a leather bag in the tiny streets of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. But, oh boy, will that moment be joyous when it comes.

Emma Galvin, Editor of Muddy Northants

The day I found out I was expecting my eldest child was also the day I had been planning to pay a deposit on five weeks of travel through Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal and ending up in Mali for the Festival in the Desert. I’ve always been an adventurous traveller and back then I used to take my surfboard everywhere I went. I didn’t book that trip but I still dream of going, perhaps when Mali has fewer bandits and the festival resumes. I’m considerably more risk-averse since becoming a parent but the kids aren’t put off by political unrest, terrorism or financial constraints, so in an ideal world I’d take them to Giza to visit the pyramids and then on to Japan for snowboarding and sushi, which my youngest would consume by the bucket load.

With two horse-obsessed daughters, no travel fantasy would be complete without a ranch holiday in Wyoming or Montana and we’d throw in a visit to Yellowstone for good measure. Realistically? I’ve always wanted to visit Shetland, not just because I’d hope to spot Dougie Henshall solving the disproportionate number of murders they always seem to have there, but also to spot some of the majestic orca that call the sea around the islands their home. We’ve booked a trip to France, which got pushed back from last year, so I’m keeping everything crossed that, come August, I’ll be wafting around the markets sans mask and sun-bathing by the pool, having banished those dreaded corona rolls. We live in hope. 

Lucy Foster, Muddy Associate Features Editor

We don’t have high expectations in our house. Years of incredible press trips segued into years of gruelling childcare and we haven’t been abroad for years. Our three-year-old daughter doesn’t even have a passport because by the time she was born, we were more realistic about what was achievable when you haven’t got a film studio or tourist board paying for your flight. So our dream – as small as it may seem – is to take the kids to the west coast of Scotland so they can know, first hand, the wild beauty of these isles. Loch Lomond and then onwards to Islay, with a day trip to Jura, perhaps? Then stopping in on long-missed cousins, siblings, aunts and grandparents via Edinburgh, Newcastle and Yorkshire on the way down. But if I was to reach… well, a villa with friends in Île de Ré or Sorrento would be high up there. Lots of laughter, lazy poolside days and warm nights with happy, safe kids asleep upstairs and plentiful wine flowing and perhaps a pizza oven churning out freshly-baked offerings. I don’t think it will happen this year. But – mark my words – it is DEFINITELY happening the next.

Lily Law, Editor of Muddy Norfolk

I’ve not left the UK in over 10 years so I am LONGING for a holiday – any kind, really! My ideal holiday would be somewhere like the Italian countryside during September (although I am pathetic in the heat and very pale-skinned). I’d like a rustic villa, nestled high on top of a hill, with a white chunky church chiming the hours away and below fields of undulating vines. Add to that a low sultry evening sun, ice-cold prosecco on a boho fairy-lit twinkling balcony, with my family and closest friends around me. Great food – those huge Italian tomatoes, sliced up with roasted garlic, olive oil and fresh basil over thick earthenware plates. A long table covered in lace and candles. Laughter and children scampering about, safe and sun-kissed. A pool, cool and inviting. A field with a few horses for me to ride out would be the cherry on top! 

I would also love to take a city break with a girlfriend – somewhere like Barcelona or New York (I used to live in NYC). I’d love to catch up with my old friends in New York. A penthouse or a stay at the Chelsea Hotel would be fab, with lots of vintage shopping and lunches out. I love the countryside of upstate New York too, and Cold Spring Harbour, Long Island, where, in my youth, I went to some seriously cool parties.

Rachel Buchanan, Editor of Muddy Cornwall

Both of my sisters live outside of the UK. Queensland, Australia, where one sister and her children live, and neighbouring New South Wales, have been on our dream list for several years. I’d like to surf with my sister at Byron Bay or Noosa. I’d like our children to play together in the gentle waves of Stradbroke Island. I’d like to see where she got engaged and the rainforest where her husband runs ultra-marathons. Heck, I’d even take just sitting in her garden with a drink and chat in person. Sadly at the moment the borders in Australia look set to remain closed for the rest of 2021.

My other sister works in foreign aid, often in the Middle East. I don’t think I’m quite so adventurous a traveller as I once was, so while I long to see her in person, her suggestion of Amman, Jordan, which she maintains is the perfect place for a weekend break, isn’t quite what I had in mind. My preferred suggestion when we are finally allowed to meet is New York instead. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that as I’ve spent the last year no more than about 10 feet from my two children, my heart dreams of the childfree city breaks we’ve had in NYC – listening to jazz, drinking cocktails, wondering around galleries in peace. Failing that, some swimming and gastronomic research (aka eating and drinking our way through the week), in Sicily would be extremely welcome. I’ll even settle for a road trip to France to visit Beaujolais and the Rhone – the home of some of my favourite wines. But, if Cornwall is all that is on offer, I’m still very lucky.

Sophie Tweedale, Editor of Muddy Gloucestershire & Worcestershire

Not stepping onto a plane for nearly two years has created the most rampant wanderlust in me. If I’m not doom-scrolling #trendingplaces, I’m leafing misty-eyed through Iphoto trying to relive the good times (sigh). My default summer setting is usually this; fleeing to the nearest Sardinian all-inclusive for 10 blissful days, where I exist on a diet of Aperol and tubed pasta whilst the kids ping-pong from pool to games room, living their best lives on a mocktail sugar high. But, great as this obviously sounds, our next holiday is going to be very different.

For the last three years, my youngest son, aged 12, has been increasingly obsessed with the US and all things Americana. It’s a sweet, childhood obsession but one that, until now, I’ve kind of glossed over, taking the easy getaway out. Having spent too many hectic press trips in LA (smoggy and so much traffic) and or on junk-food-powered, whistlestop tours around Philly and Florida, I’d felt jaded about ever returning. But why not look again at the world through my kids’ eyes? Lockdown flung us together, and he used that time wisely to win me over. So I’ve caved, and he’s now planning a USA road trip.

If we don’t go to New York soon he’ll actually combust, so that’s where we’ll head first. And strangely, I’m actually getting excited again about revisiting places I’ve seen dozens of times. Will gazing at the Manhattan skyline and strolling through Times Square and Central Park together be a brilliant way to escape our travel doldrums? Hell yeah. What else will be on the road trip is anyone’s guess (I dread to think!), but I’ve told him as long as I get a day at Martha’s Vineyard, I’m so down with it.

Heidi Ruge, Editor of Muddy Hampshire and Isle of Wight

Travel will be anything but straightforward in 2021. So I’m hoping to splash out on a family boat, get back out on the water and introduce my soon-to-be five-year-old daughter to sailing adventures around Hampshire, Dorset and of course, the Isle of Wight. Last year, I seriously missed trips to see family in Lancashire’s gorgeous Ribble Valley. As I’ve already travelled to more than my fair share of bucket-list places, the next time I jet off overseas, I’m aiming to make it an extended family affair in a Tuscan villa, with a spot by the pool, my lovely, much-missed siblings and a fridge full of local wine and olives. Saluti!

Find more ideas here

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