With so many more people worldwide planning to travel this year—now that so many countries have dropped their Covid entry requirements—it’s important to book well ahead. These ten travelers have already locked in their 2023 dream trips: They’ve used destination specialists on The WOW List to arrange exciting trips that they’ll be sharing with family and friends in the coming months—and there are great ideas here for the rest of us!
Wondering which dream of yours to bring to life in 2023? Click the black button below for our help.
Morocco: birthday and anniversary milestones
Bill and Lynn Martin will be celebrating both a birthday and an anniversary in Morocco in the fall, joined by friends Bill has known since high school.
“Morocco has been on our bucket list for a long time. Many friends have raved about their time there. We were uncomfortable traveling there during the pandemic, but now seems like a great time to go. We will start in Casablanca and finish in Marrakech. In addition to the predictable venues, we are excited to include Chefchaoun (the Blue City) and Essaouira. We will celebrate a big birthday for Lynn and our 30th anniversary at the spectacular Richard Branson resort Kasbah Tamadot in the Atlas Mountains.” —Bill Martin
A Galapagos family cruise over Spring Break
Expats John and Janie Strachan are taking advantage of their current homebase in Quito, Ecuador, to bring their school-age kids to the Galapagos in April 2023.
“When we moved to Quito, I immediately went to your website to find people to help plan some of the trips which we had long aspired to make. Back in August, I contacted agents about trips to the Amazon, Galapagos, and Machu Picchu/Inca trail. I really didn’t know how far in advance I SHOULD have started planning, but in response to my timelines and assumptions, they all pretty much said, ‘Nope. Not enough lead time. Wrong time of year. Can’t do it.’ Together, we worked to reschedule and re-order the trips I had imagined, and we made it all work. We had hoped to be able to get two rooms on a ship, we had hoped to get a cruise of seven or eight days, we had hoped that it would be on a catamaran for a smoother trip, and it had to be during the kids’ Spring break. With Allie’s help, we got it all. I have read this line in a lot of trip reviews on your site, but without Allie, we would NOT have been able to make this Galapagos trip happen. At least not the way we wanted with only an eight-month lead. I’d recommend longer — a year — to anyone who asked.” —John Strachan
Thailand in June: bonding time with grown kids
Andy and Marci Shapiro booked a year ahead for their adventure to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Phuket with their two twenty-something kids.
“Thailand has been on our ‘must’ visit list for many years. We love Thai food; Thailand’s history and culture are fascinating; it has a reputation of having wonderful people, extraordinary diversity, and unique animal/elephant experiences; and, all of our friends who’ve visited loved it! We always book our exotic and extensive trips well in advance. Allowing ample time to plan has provided so many benefits to us over the years with our travel adventures. They include but are not limited to… getting our choice of hotels; often getting better rates because we book far in advance; getting our desired rooms with spectacular views and ideally a balcony, which is important to us; booking certain excursions; reservations for select restaurants; obtaining great seats for various events; enabling us to use points for business-class airfares if we choose. Of course, having travel insurance is critical!” —Andy Shapiro
Italy: summer trip with teens
After a much-loved family trip to southern Italy seven years ago, Andrea and Dave Phillips and their two teenage girls are returning to northern Italy in June 2023.
“We started thinking about this trip during our trip to Greece this past summer. We usually brainstorm about the next year’s trips during our extended summer trip. It is a great time to discuss future travel wishes for everyone at dinners, on boat trips, midday between safaris, etc. We love the Italian culture, so we are most excited about all of the cooking experiences and excursions that we have planned, as well as the wellness resort and an anniversary splurge hotel in Tremezzina, Lake Como: We are also celebrating our 20th anniversary and we honeymooned in Italy, so the timing works out perfectly. A long, multifaceted trip takes time in order to get the correct stops, excursions and flight patterns lined up, so I started planning with Maria in mid-September. Plus, fall and winter get busy, so it’s one less task to work on with everything else going on, and it’s something to look forward to!” —Andrea Phillips
Indonesia and Singapore in March, before tourists return en masse
Judy Calvert and Doug Anderson are making the most of their early retirement and getting to Asia before the crowds return, building a three-week trip around a world-class scuba-diving site with the help of a candidate for The WOW List (a destination expert who is being tested for possible inclusion on the List).
“I think because it had stayed closed the longest, there is still an allure that Asia won’t be as busy yet. That is what we are hoping for. The research I did on Raja Ampat was that the snorkeling and diving there should be the best in the world. And because my husband dives, and I love snorkeling, it was on my radar to build a trip around that. But it’s a very obscure area, and when you want to do a VIP trip, of course I thought of Wendy’s WOW List. We are early retirees and we want to do all the big, dreamed-of trips while we are still healthy. Too many times you hear of people who are waiting until they’re retired but older, and all of a sudden the health just isn’t there. YOLO!!!” —Judy Calvert
The United Kingdom: two countries, three kids, one month
Greg Broughton and Anne Scott are bringing their three children (ages 8, 5, and 3) to England and Scotland in July 2023.
“We chose to travel to the English-speaking world with our children so that they may more fully participate in the trip due to the common language. We didn’t want them to feel disengaged and disconnected due to a language barrier. We’re starting off in the Cotswolds, which to the kids should feel a bit like a fairy tale. Then it’s on to London for about 10 days. After that, we’re heading to York for the Viking and Roman history (and to hopefully avoid some of the summer crowds). We get a vacation within a vacation at Gleneagles, in the Scottish countryside, which we’re really excited about. We finish up in Edinburgh. Normally, it isn’t until about day five or six of our seven-day vacations that we finally achieve relaxation. We’ve had this summer 2023 trip planned since this past summer, so the hardest part is just waiting for it to finally get here!” —Greg Broughton
Japan in late spring: insider access, local experiences
After Covid closures delayed their plans for a year, Andy and Sarah Kaplan are finally taking their four adult kids to Japan (after the sold-out cherry blossom season).
“As our kids have gotten older and they have jobs and lives, their vacation time is pretty constrained, so we are focused on doing really special trips during the time we have. After many Europe trips, we did a safari during summer ’21 — and on that success, started planning Japan for our big ’22 trip. But as we got closer to the trip, Japan had still not re-opened to outside vacationers…so 30 days before the planned trip, we rescheduled for the following year. Our travel expert was great about rescheduling and made things very easy. If I had to narrow it down, it’s the experiences that I’m most excited about. We’ll be sake tasting, doing a cooking class, seeing a master swordsmith at work, enjoying a Ryokan, and several others — including the traditional tea ceremony.” —Andy Kaplan
Retirement kickoff in southern Africa
Two couples—two of whom are friends since college—are celebrating retirement with an August 2023 trip to South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe.
“I’ve been thinking about a tour of sub-Saharan Africa for 15 years. When we first contacted Julian, he cautioned that our options would be limited in the few months that remained to book the trip for September 2022; our entire group was amenable to delaying the trip for a year. The delay also enabled us to move the trip to Julian’s preferred month of August. Wildlife has always been the greatest African attraction for me, but Julian’s itinerary has taken this trip over the top. Our group is accustomed to going first class, but we were surprised by the combination of 5-star accommodations and fine cuisines in Cape Town, and world-class bush camps. Working Victoria Falls into the mix really made the whole itinerary special. I expect that when I finally hang up my traveling shoes, I will look back on this trip as one of the highlights of my traveling life. Recognizing that fact and with Julian’s counsel that the high-end camps we were seeking filled up early, especially in the prime August window, made the year’s wait worthwhile.” —Stephen Bajan
Ecuador for a multi-generational group of 7
Peggy and Bob Schuemann are taking their son, daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren on a spring break trip to the Galapagos and mainland Ecuador.
“This is a Christmas gift for three of our grandchildren. Our four older grandchildren went with us to the Galapagos in March 2013. We think there is no better gift than to share travel with our families, and in particular, our grandchildren. As Americans we sometimes forget that we live in the greatest country in the world. As we travel, especially to many remote countries, we find that many want to visit our country, and many want to live here. When we traveled with our daughter and her family, we spent a couple of days in Quito and went for the day to the market in Otavalo. This time we are going to the Lodge at Mashpi. We think this looks very educational for our three grandsons, who at the time of the trip will be 13, 11, and 7. Previously we traveled on a ship that accommodated around 100 guests. This time we chose a smaller vessel, the Origin/Theory. Many years ago, when we did our first trip with our older grandchildren (and their parents), I decided we all would do ‘reports.’ I make a list of subjects, such as Blue Footed Booby, Frigate Bird, Tortoise, Charles Darwin. We each do several reports and then we present them to one another. This way, when the tour guide is talking about a particular subject, the children, and we as well, are able to chime in with questions or comments. When another trip is announced, the children excitedly ask if they can do reports!” —Peggy Schuemann
New Zealand: 3 generations honor a big birthday
Alana Jacobson’s dad is celebrating his 80th in New Zealand in April 2023 with a group of six family members, ranging in age from 13 to 80.
“My grandfather was in the Dutch Navy and spent time in New Zealand many years ago. He always spoke about how beautiful it was and how it was his favorite place he had ever visited. So when we asked my dad where he would like to go for his 80th birthday — he said New Zealand! My dad loves to hike, fish, boat, and just be in nature. He also enjoys wine tasting — New Zealand has it all! We are planning most activities together, with downtime for individuals to do what they like. Hiking, wine tasting, kayaking, fishing, helicopter tour, speed boating!” —Alana Jacobson
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