As 2021 rolls in, it’s time to get creative with that travel bucket list you’ve had on the go. Time to get off the beaten track, literally and figuratively. Whatever is round the corner, one thing is for sure, it’ll be different. We all proved our mettle in 2020 and showed we have far more imagination that we thought. We reimagined normal, we pushed boundaries, we repackaged our dreams. Yes, the big bucket listers are still here, but there’s so much more.
There is little as magical as setting out in a canoe or singing into on a pitch-black lake and paddling into an otherworldly glow. You dip your finger or paddle into the water and a million fairy lights explode around it, lighting your way, mesmerising you.
Bioluminescence is thrillingly rare, so as you glide, you know this is a memory you’ll carry with you forever.
Best places for bioluminescent action
Nature’s fireworks, the Northern Lights – or the aurora borealis – dance across the skies in the Artic winter. Pencil in Norway, Sweden, Iceland or Canada for a spectacular experience that will remind you how amazing it is to be alive. All sensational, your senses will fill with utter joy as the anticipation of the wait comes to an end, rewarded by the flashes, shimmers, great rivers of colour swaying across the heavens to set the sky ablaze.
You could wait for minutes or hours or days, bundled in thermals, but it’s worth every second.
Best places to see the Northern Lights
Commuter trips? No. Since the dawn of railway time, the railway journey has been the pinnacle of elegance. And right now, a long-distance adventure in a sleeper with in-cabin service should have a very comfortable place on your bucket list. The Orient Express, the Trans-Siberian or Trans-Mongolian experience, the continental America Sunset Limited, the Caledonian Sleeper: they’re famous because they are next-level incredible.
You have your own cabin with super-comfy seats to watch the stunning world around you just roll by. A glass of bubbles here, an afternoon tea there and you trundle through the most breath-taking landscapes. Some of these journeys couple on a viewing bubble, a glass viewing area on top of the train carriage – should you ever want to leave your cabin.Journey the Royal Gorge Route through Colorado Trip along the Bergen line in Norway
Up your travel bucket list experiences by side-stepping the obvious flights. Extend your holiday by taking the more eco-friendly, far more enjoyable path: the ferry.
Plush restaurants, live entertainment, first-class cinema, cocktail lounges and casinos – and sometimes a couple of days to enjoy it all before you arrive. Instead of flying, take the ferry from UK shores to Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands, Norway, Iceland and France. From the moment you roll on to the ferry, holiday starts.
Take passage from the UK to Spain or Scandinavia and you might even be in for some whale and dolphin spotting as you lounge on the deck chair.
Step aboard – the seas are calm
For something that sounds impressive but is actually an entirely wonderful experience, a stroll across a slow-moving glacier is right up there. Of course, you could hike Mount Kilimanjaro to see last of the iconic Furtwangler or trek to the Antarctic, Iceland or Alaska if you want to go large. The Perito Moreno in Argentina is one of the few advancing glaciers left.
But there are some pretty impressive glaciers that are far easier to get to and equally impressive. Austria’s Pasterze on the country’s tallest mountain, Grossglockner, has a whole glacier experience and is a short drive from some world-class skiing at Zell am See.
France, Iceland, Italy and Norway also have their fair shares of glaciers, but to feel a little but more intrepid, try Georgia – the birthplace of wine – to adventure on its glaciers by day … drink wine by night.Hike across Iceland’s Skaftafell
It’s one thing to learn a language from YouTube or CDs, but launching yourself into a culture is by far the best way to really get to grips with the words, grammars and – the best bit – the nonsense idioms that make up a language.
Learn German over a stein and a krainer in Köln, learn French on a blanket overlooking a vineyard, learn Spanish on a beach in the golden sun, learn Polish pottering around the cobbled squares of Krakow. Chatting with locals and immersing yourself in everyday life takes you to another place – and will add even more things to your bucket list as it opens your mind.