Tag Archives: dream trips

smartphone taking picture ocean beach

How to Take Better Travel Photos with Your Phone

Photojournalist Tim Baker has been Wendy’s personal photographer (not to mention her husband) for decades. Not only has Tim shot emotive portraits and gorgeous landscapes all over the world, he’s also covered the action in war zones and pro football stadiums. But even with all that professional experience, Tim stands by an old saying in photography: “The best camera is the one you have with you.” And for many travelers these days—Tim included—that’s their smartphone.

So for our closing Travel Talk of WOW Week 2024, on February 9, we asked Tim to share his tips for getting great photos from your phone’s camera. Watch the full video below, and scroll down for Tim’s most important pieces of advice.

Clean your phone’s lenses. Tim cleans his before almost every shoot, especially when around salt water or sunny weather. (You might be wearing sunscreen and accidentally brush your arm up against the lenses, giving them a coating of SPF 100 and your photos an unwelcome misty quality). You can clean the lenses with anything you would use to clean your glasses.

Take action shots. Ask yourself: What is the verb in the picture? Rather than having people pose for every photo, try to capture interaction and movement. For instance, shoot your family taking part in a cooking class, interacting with local people at a market, or bobsledding down a mountain—not just standing beside the chef, the fishmonger, or the bobsled.

Instead of using the flash, use a flashlight. Since the flash on phone cameras produces horrible results, borrow someone else’s phone and use its flashlight feature to light the backlit subjects. (Watch the video above to see a few examples of the pocket-sized lights that Tim also carries.)

When shooting a food photo, light it up. Food pictures should look delicious! Use someone else’s phone in flashlight mode to light the dish. Food often looks the best with backlighting.

If a group of people is posing, take multiple photos. Often one person in the group will have their eyes closed or won’t be smiling at the exact moment when you snap the photo. Shoot several times, then choose the shot where everybody in the group has their eyes open and is smiling.

For portraits, turn the subjects away from dead center to the camera. Have them point their feet an eighth of a turn away from square to the camera. Their shoulders will naturally turn too, giving a more pleasing, less driver’s-license look.

Use the phone’s camera grid to follow the “Rule of Thirds.” The rule basically says: Don’t put a horizon line or subject in the dead center of a frame. Turn your camera’s grid on and place the subject at any of the four points where the horizontal and vertical lines intersect.

Use the sun-icon slider to adjust the light. Learn to use the exposure compensation feature (which you can pull up by simply tapping your phone’s screen while in camera mode). The exposure of a subject can be “fooled” by very bright or dark scenes. Using exposure compensation can improve the photo; it’s especially useful with scenic shots.

When shooting close-ups, tap the screen to select the part of the image that you want to be sharpest. When shooting foods or busy scenes, the camera may pick one focus point, whereas you want another. Tapping on the specific focus point that you want tells the camera to focus on that.

Take horizontal photos. We naturally orient our phones vertically, but many shots are best composed horizontally, in what’s called “landscape.” Try both orientations—unlike in the days of film, it’s free to shoot, and you can delete what doesn’t work. (Also, if you’re planning to submit photos with your trip review to post on WendyPerrin.com, keep in mind that we can only publish horizontal images.)

Avoid using the zoom. When you zoom, all you are doing is cropping the original image, which can result in blurry photos because of their small file size. It’s better to walk in closer to your subject instead. (But if zooming is the only possible option, go ahead and try it.)

Use burst mode for shooting fast-moving action. Say your spouse is in the Tour de France and they will pedal by in a heartbeat. Using burst mode (approximately 10 photos per second) will greatly increase your chances of getting THE shot. Once you decide which shot was THE shot, you can delete the other nine to save space.

When shooting video, know that you can take still photos at the same time. Videos are great when you want to capture sound or action. Once you start recording a video, a white button will appear above the red record button; that is now the shutter button that allows you to take still photos while still recording.

Don’t oversaturate. If you’re using the in-phone editing tool, experiment with moving the various sliders around, but don’t boost the saturation too much. It can give your photo a phony Chamber-of-Commerce look.

Last but not least, overshoot and overedit. Don’t hesitate to shoot a lot of pictures, since this will give you more options when you’re ready to edit them. But then make tough editing choices, so that you show people only your very best. Everyone will think you’re a great photographer!

To see some of Tim’s work—and get inspired to shoot better photos on your next trip—click to these articles:

Farm Visits: WOW Trips That Get You Back to the Land Around the World

A Private Gulet on Turkey’s Aegean Coast: Wendy’s Family Trip

How to Know if a Barge Cruise in France Is Right for You

What the Right Local Fixer Can Do For You in Israel (or Anywhere)

Wendy’s Romania Trip Photos and Experiences

Staying Safe in a Global City: Wendy’s Trip to Istanbul

What Made Uzbekistan Special


Be a smarter traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know. Read real travelers’ reviews, then use the black CONTACT buttons on Wendy’s WOW List to reach out to the right local fixer for your trip.

A few dream trips destinations selected by our travelers.

10 Top Dream Trips for 2024

Many of you are thinking ahead this year and booking trips much farther in advance than in the past—which is smart, given the travel rush we saw last year: Many people waited too late and got shut out of the most charming places to stay and less-discovered locales.

These ten travelers are especially on top of things:  Their dream trips are already booked and on their calendars. They’ve worked with destination specialists on The WOW List to design their trips, some of which they’ve dreamt of for many years, and all of which they’ll remember for a lifetime. For the rest of us, we hope these trips provide ideas and spark inspiration.

Hoping to make a dream trip a reality this year? Click the button below to get started.


Puglia: Italy regulars head to a lesser-known region to practice their Italian

Beautiful town of Alberobello with trulli houses among green plants and flowers, Puglia.

The town of Alberobello, in Puglia, with its iconic trulli houses. Photo: Shutterstock

Dana Perry and her husband, Charles, have been to Italy many times, where they put the Italian language they are learning to good use—most recently to Sicily with a WOW travel expert. They love slow travel and off-the-beaten-path activities—and are serious foodies. They wanted to head somewhere new to them.

“Italy has a perfect mix of cultural attractions, history and beautiful scenery—we chose Puglia for our 2024 trip because it’s a bit under the radar and got such positive reviews from travelers. I think we keep coming back to Italy due to the mix of attractions and to go deeper. We’ve hit the major cities on previous travels—by getting to some of the less touristy destinations we have more authentic experiences and can slow down the pace. We’re looking forward to a nice mix of historical sites, food and wine tours, cultural things, and relaxation.” —Dana Perry

This trip was arranged by WOW List Puglia experts Antonello Losito and Alison Pike. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


India: “the people, colors, sounds, and food…”

Women servants dressed in sari.

Some of the people and colors you might see at the Amber Fort in Jaipur, India. Photo: Shutterstock

Ron Klausner and his wife stay home in the summer, where their family joins them by the beach. In the wintertime, they often head to warmer climes. After a trip to Sri Lanka, India sparked their excitement.

“We are hitting the major tourist sites in Northern India: Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, and Jodhpur. We may also add in Varanasi. After those major sites we are taking a seven-day Brahmaputra river cruise in northeast India. We’re so excited to experience the unique culture—the people, colors, sounds and food. I can’t imagine there is anywhere else in the world quite like it. Anticipation is one third of the joy of travel, the trip itself is a third and the memories are the last third.” —Ron Klausner

This trip was arranged by WOW List India expert Sanjay Saxena. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Norway and Svalbard: unique scenery, fjords, polar bears, midnight sun…

Polar bear, Svalbard, Arctic

A polar bear relaxing on the sea ice in Svalbard, in the Arctic. Photo: Shelley Fry

Tom Redburn, his wife Lisa, and their friends are retired journalists and nature photographers. Prolific travelers, Tom had wonderful memories of hiking in Norway in college and has always wanted to return.

“The trip is to fulfill a long-standing dream for both of us, a return to a place Lisa loved visiting with a close friend (who tragically died a couple of decades ago from breast cancer), and for me, to add to our great outdoors adventures by witnessing the stunning natural landscape of Norway. We’re looking forward to a different way of traveling this time. We’ve never taken a cruise (apart from a small 16-passenger adventure cruise to the Galapagos) and we’re not likely to ever take a conventional cruise. But as we’re getting older (we’re both 73), we found the idea of expedition cruising through a gorgeous remote landscape very appealing and are expecting the adventure-seeking atmosphere on the NatGeo expedition ship.

I’m probably most excited about two aspects of the trip: the spectacular scenery of the fjords and enjoying them both from the deck of our ship and exploring by small boat, kayak, and short hikes; and the chance to see polar bears in their natural environment. I also think it will be very exciting to be traveling to the land of the midnight sun during the very long daylight hours of June.” —Tom Redburn

This trip was arranged by WOW List Expedition Cruise expert Ashton Palmer. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Scotland: green rolling landscapes, country castles, Scotch tastings…

Kinnoull Hill tower ruins, Perth Scotland, overlooking the River Tay on a clear day

Overlooking the River Tay from Scotland’s Kinnoull Hill tower ruins. Photo: Shutterstock

Sue Paolucci was ready for her third WOW trip after heading to Spain in 2019 and Greece in 2022. Our team helped her and her companions land on Scotland for their next trip, chosen for its unique mix of history, landscapes, and culture.

“My husband and I are recently retired physicians, and worldwide travel has always been on our bucket list. Although admittedly in this age of COVID, and global unrest, leaving the safety of our home base gives us pause. So, we decided to travel intelligently and safely (and this is where you and your colleagues come in!) and decided that our raison d’etre would be as ambassadors of goodwill and peace as we represent our country going forward. We knew we wanted to experience local flavor, not just the usual touristy sites…and if we went to a ‘touristy site,’ we would like to see it from a different, exclusive angle. We are most looking forward to wonderful green rolling landscapes, tasting Scotch, of course, and trying to decipher the Scottish brogue.” —Susan Paolucci

This trip was arranged by WOW List United Kingdom expert Jonathan Epstein. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Southern Africa: a bucket-list safari to celebrate a high-school graduation

Namib Desert, Namibia

Namibia’s Namib Desert is right on the Atlantic Ocean. Photo: Shutterstock

This family of four—mom, dad, and two boys ages 16 and 18—are celebrating their eldest’s high-school graduation with a trip they’ve long dreamed of.

“South Africa and safari has been on our bucket list for decades. But we just never made it happen—other trips, finances, time, distance from L.A., etc. All sorts of excuses. But with our older son’s high-school graduation this June we realized that if we were going to do it as a family, we needed to finally pull the trigger. And we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate him than to take this dream trip. It will be the first time to Africa for all of us.

Namibia is what we are most excited about. It has been on our list—its isolation, alien beauty, remoteness, uniqueness. We thought that we would have to wait for another trip once we had the traditional safari under our belts. So, we were extremely excited when Julian was able to include Namibia.” —Julie Heimark

This trip was arranged by WOW List African Safari expert Julian Harrison. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Vietnam and Cambodia: Off-the-beaten-path experiences and time with locals

small rowboats in Halong Bay Vietnam

Halong Bay, Vietnam, is home to thousands of towering limestone islands topped by rainforests. Photo: Shutterstock

Molly O’Neill-Emmi and her husband, Tom, love to travel. Before the pandemic, they had pushed off many of the bigger trips for later. The pandemic changed their philosophy: “No more thinking ‘one day’ we’ll get there—now‘s the time,” Molly said.

“We didn’t want to limit ourselves to just one region in Vietnam, so Sandy provided expert guidance and recommendations for a comprehensive and diverse itinerary. We’ll start in Hanoi, travel to Hue and Hoi An in central Vietnam, and then spend time in the Mekong Delta and Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam. From there, we fly to Siem Reap to explore Angkor Wat and temples off-the-beaten-tourist-path, as well as engage in hands-on experiences with locals.

There are so many elements of this trip that have us excited. True hands-on experiences with locals, including spending a day gaining insight into elements of rural Vietnamese life, such as planting rice, paddling a bamboo basket boat, etc. Exploring a war-time tunnel complex and a secret bunker. Meeting a former North Vietnam fighter pilot. Attending sunrise meditation with monks. The list goes on and on.” —Molly O’Neill-Emmi

This trip was arranged by WOW List Southeast Asia experts Sandy Ferguson and Ethan Crowley. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


The Galapagos Islands for giant tortoises, playful sea lions, and scuba diving

photo of Sea turtle swimming underwater in the Galapagos island

A sea turtle in the Galapagos Islands. Photo: Shutterstock

Andrea’ Phillips’ family of four—two adults and two teenage daughters—wanted to see and interact with as many sea lions, sharks, turtles, and penguins as possible. They learned that securing a Galapagos trip a year in advance is crucial to ensuring that their preferences are met.

“We are most excited about the extraordinary wildlife, breathtaking landscapes, and unique ecosystems. We love nature and creating unforgettable experiences, so to have the opportunity to meet giant tortoises, interact with playful sea lions, and dive alongside hammerhead sharks in crystal-clear waters is nothing short of a dream come true for us! In fact, we’ve arranged a trip to the Philippines this April, also planned by a Wendy-Perrin-recommended expert, specifically to prepare for scuba diving before our Galapagos adventure.” —Andrea Phillips

This trip was arranged by WOW List Galapagos expert Allie Almario. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


France: biking, hiking, cooking lessons, exploring with grandkids…

A colorful and old town street of Aix in Provence, France.

The ancient town of Aix-en-Provence in the south of France. Photo: Shutterstock

Karen Dalfen planned this trip with the intention of sharing fun and lifelong memories with her grandkids, ages 13 and 16. They love being active and have limited patience for museums and historical sites.

“I usually plan a vacation many months ahead as I want particular rooms, restaurants, entrance tickets and plane seating. This becomes particularly important when traveling alone with grandchildren. It’s important that plane seats are close by, that rooms are either next to each other or a family suite, that meal times are spaced properly. Given that Paris is an extremely busy city, planning way in advance is a must.

We will spend half our time in Paris, and the other in the region of Aix-en-Provence. There will be cooking lessons, site seeing, craft visiting, some hiking and biking, a food tasting day, and my favorite, a night at Versailles. I have discovered that it is not important to see everything on a vacation. In fact, this can be exhausting. The deeper and richer the experience is, will in turn help to create the long-lasting memories.” —Karen Dalfen

This trip was arranged by WOW List France expert Jennifer Virgilio. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Argentina and Chile: meticulously preserved nature in Patagonia and legendary wine estates

snowy mountains reflect perfectly in a blue lake in Torres del Paine park in Patagonia

Torres del Paine National Park, in Chilean Patagonia, brims with mountain peaks, glaciers, and lakes. Photo: Knowmad Adventures

Andy and Marci Shapiro have used WOW List experts to plan trips to India, Sicily, Croatia, Mexico, and Thailand. Next up: wine tasting in Mendoza and breathtaking mountains in Patagonia.

“Patagonia, as well as both Argentina’s wine country/Mendoza and Chilean wine country, has been on my wife’s and my bucket list for a long time. We love nature and we love wine. Patagonia is one of the most preserved places on the planet with incredibly dramatic natural scenery. With man’s impact on earth, we’re concerned our natural wonders are being adversely affected and want to visit these places sooner than later. As for wine, Argentina and Chile produce some of the most iconic wines anywhere in the world. We’re looking forward to visiting the estates of some of our favorite wines that we’ve been drinking for decades, including but not limited to Catena Zapata, Viña Cobos, and Clos Apalta. As my wife and I enter our 60s and with the pandemic behind us, our life approach is ‘If not now, then when?” —Andy Shapiro

This trip was arranged by WOW List Chile, Argentina, and Patagonia expert Jordan Harvey. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Belize: snorkeling with stingrays, watching manatees, sailing with young kids…

aerial photo of Tobacco Caye with sailboat and blue green ocean

Tobacco Caye, a tiny tropical island in Belize. Photo: Absolute Belize

For Kim Segal and her family, Belize—where they can fly direct from their hometown—seemed a great international travel option with young children, ages 4 and 7, without the challenge of jet lag. They planned highlights for the whole family, including a night walk to look for nocturnal creatures and creepy-crawly bugs and spiders.

“I can’t wait to introduce my older son to great snorkeling. He was so excited to see fish in the ocean when we were in Croatia last year, but those fish were pretty boring compared to what we will see in Belize! I hope that my kids enjoy all the activities, and I really hope they like Shark Ray Alley. Watching them experience all these cool places and things—it’s as fun as experiencing them myself. I’m excited to watch them play on the beach; they spent hours doing that in Croatia and they just had a blast. Also, they got super into shell collecting in Croatia and in Cabo San Lucas, so hopefully they can do some beachcombing as well in Belize. Mainly, though, I’m just excited because travel allows me to focus solely on enjoying time with my family, something that is harder to do at home when I have a household to run and we all have busy and hectic lives. I set my email on out-of-office, let the organization I volunteer with know I’m unavailable, and I focus on having fun times together as a family.

Personally, I’m also hoping to see a manatee (haven’t seen one of those yet in the wild!), and I’m looking forward to cruising around on a catamaran checking out the views, maybe lounging on the trampoline of the boat with a good book and a glass of wine in hand, and of course I’m looking forward to a week of sunshine in the middle of winter!” —Kim Segal

This trip was arranged by WOW List Belize experts Patricia Johnson and Rachael Wilson. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.



Be a smarter traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know. Read real travelers’ reviews, then use the black CONTACT buttons on Wendy’s WOW List to reach out to the right local fixer for your trip.

snowy landscape of mountains and lake in Torres Del Paine National Park Chile

The Trips We’re Dreaming About to Get Us Through

It’s a proven fact that the anticipation of a pleasure trip does wonders for a person’s sense of well-being. Not only is this boost of happiness backed up by nearly every person who has ever looked forward to a vacation, but it’s also confirmed by scientific studies. Isn’t it nice when the thing you love to do turns out to be good for you?

For now, though, the thing that’s good for all of us is to stay home—and yet we can still simultaneously benefit from some much-needed optimism about the months to come. That’s why we’re inspired by these frequent travelers who are planning adventures for the future, tapping into the joy that travel brings them in order to give themselves something wonderful to daydream about during this difficult stretch. (And, at the same time, they’re making an investment in the locations, the locals, and the small local businesses that will need so much of our support to recover.)

What about you? What places and people are you eager to visit, near or far, when the world is ready for us again?

A Month in Uganda and Ethiopia, January 2021

Ethiopia - bleeding-heart baboon

A gelada, or “bleeding heart” baboon, in Ethiopia. Photo: Paul Callcutt

“My wife and I are retired and live in the Hamptons full time. We like to go away for a month or two every winter to get away from the cold weather. Over the past few winters we’ve traveled to Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Myanmar, Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. We were in Kenya and the UAE last year, and we wanted to go back and see more of the real Africa, not just the safari type of Africa. Plus we’ve always wanted to see the gorillas and chimps. Having just returned from Antarctica this February, we needed to book our next winter trip. So we looked on Wendy’s WOW List, contacted Cherri and started planning two weeks in Ethiopia and two weeks in Uganda for January 2021. Coronavirus kept getting bigger and bigger, but we thought: It’ll be gone by next winter, and if it isn’t, we’ll postpone it. Will we lose some of our deposit? Maybe? But we have to have something to look forward to. I’m optimistic. I have to be planning something or else I’m just wasting time waiting. I can’t just wait; I have to be moving forward.

When we firmed things up on our itinerary, and Cherri asked for a deposit, I asked if the on-sites would consider taking a reduction in the deposit because I do still have some concern. She said, let me ask—and yes, they were willing to take less. I like supporting them and keeping them going, but I also would like to have some consideration back on this end because I may end up losing my deposit.

What do I mean by “seeing the real Africa”? To me, it means meeting different people, eating their food, sharing activities together, learning about how they live so I can learn from them and enrich my life, and hopefully, give the local people a little something of myself as well. On our itinerary, we’re going to meet with local tribal people several times, we’re going to have lunch with the chief rabbi of Uganda, and I’m hoping to arrange with Cherri to do some charitable work with schools as well. I’m hoping and expecting that coronavirus is going to be history by the time we’re ready to go. Is that wishful thinking? Well, I’m an optimist. Will I travel if coronavirus is still rampant? No, I’m not going to put myself or my wife in jeopardy. I’m pretty risk-averse although my wife and I like to travel off the beaten path. I remember going to the Soviet Union in 1980 when nobody traveled there at that time, Bhutan just after it opened to tourism, Sri Lanka just after the war ended, and most recently to the Rakhine province in Myanmar. People would always ask why are you going there? I said for fun. They thought I was crazy. Am I?”

—Ron Klausner, Southhampton, NY

Journey to Antarctica over New Year’s

National Geographic Explorer ship in Neko Harbor, Antarctic. Photo: Aabby Suplizio

National Geographic Explorer ship in Neko Harbor, Antarctic. Photo: Aabby Suplizio

“I thought, I’m going to look around for what I’m going to do when this turns around, and Antarctica has always been on my list. I had seen in The New York Times in January about how to do Antarctica either by cruise or by fly-cruise. I was intrigued by the fly-cruise option, so I naturally went to The WOW List and found Ashton, and I set up a call with him to sort out my bias that flying and getting over the Drake Passage and avoiding the turbulent water is a more comfortable way to do it. I learned from him that yes, it is, but that those ships sell out immediately because there’s a very small window when the seas are okay to go, so you have to book this 18 months in advance—and I wanted to do it for this coming Christmas. [Laughs.] So that instilled great urgency in me, because there was scarcity.

I felt bad about talking to Ashton, who’s in the hot zone of Seattle, while he had customers he had to help get home. But he immediately called his contacts and found one cabin available and had them hold it until he and I had our conversation a couple days later. I wanted to do the trip when there was a prime possibility for calm waters and best conditions, and so in the midst of this pandemic, Ashton was able to make this happen. His extreme knowledge from having been there more than 50 times, and his knowledge of the ships and suppliers, just cut through it super fast. So in a conversation with him for maybe an hour, I came away with great confidence that I was in the hands of someone who knows his market. And because of that, I was able to say, Let’s book it. And obviously you can’t do anything about flights because who knows what airlines will be left. But I have a great faith that by December there will be some level of normalcy, and we’ll have this amazing trip to look forward to. And the clincher was that payment isn’t due until July. That made it easy to decide to book and hold the spots.”

—Barbara Schoenfeld, Providence, RI

25th 26th Anniversary Trip to Greece

Oia town on Santorini island, Greece. Traditional and famous houses and churches with blue domes over the Caldera, Aegean sea

Oia town, on Santorini, is famous for its blue-domed churches and white houses overlooking the caldera. Photo: Shutterstock

“I actually had a trip planned for early April. It was supposed to a celebratory vacation in Greece for my 25th wedding anniversary, and we were taking our children with us. We didn’t want to cancel and have instead postponed the trip to spring 2021. Now, it’ll be my 26th anniversary trip! If you have the option to postpone a trip rather than cancelling, seriously consider postponing it. I know that cash is becoming dearer and most people would prefer a refund, but if it’s possible, try getting a full credit to apply at another point. This will help keep travel specialists and agencies afloat and it will give you something to look forward to. For example, Mina and Faye have given us a lot of flexibility about when we want to reschedule our trip, and this has been comforting.

As to when will I begin to travel again? I am already starting to make travel plans for July/August. Given the state of affairs, I am mainly considering local trips— potentially a region we are curious about or even a national park. Regardless of how far I wish to roam, the goal is to not stop planning to travel and to think out farther than just a few months.

Planning a trip reminds you that there is life after COVID-19. It gives us something to look forward to and reminds us that there are still beautiful places to go, new people to meet, and meaningful experiences ahead. Even if you aren’t planning on putting down a deposit, just thinking about a trip and doing some initial research provides a good escape.

If we think beyond COVID-19, there are two ways to consider what travel may be like in the not-too-distant future. Travel will revitalize many local economies dependent on tourism, but there is also an opportunity to consider sustainable tourism in general. There have been many news stories about how smog levels are lower and how wildlife is more easily seen. In a post-COVID world, is there an opportunity for us to consider how travel considerations may better balance what’s an acceptable number of people traveling to one place at one time vs. simply trying to recoup to pre-COVID economic conditions? As a frequent traveler, I’m trying to be sensitive about this balance.

I do think it is still worthwhile to research and plan trips for the future. We should remember that this stressful time period is not just simply about staying safe and well, but also about staying sane. Using some time to think and learn more about places we would like to go may be helpful for our mental state and mood.”

—Yin Ho, New York City

Seeing the Solar Eclipse in Chile

the red sand of Chile's Atacama desert with tall mountains in the distance

The Atacama Desert of Chile. Photo: Awasi

Robert: “In December we’re going to Chile to see the solar eclipse. We’ve been to Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, and Brazil, and we want to add Chile. Two years ago we went with our son to see the eclipse in Nashville, but just a few minutes before totality, the cloud cover came over, and we didn’t see it. So we have been talking about this Chile trip with him for close to two years, and hopefully it will pan out. We also want to go to the Atacama Desert, Easter Island, and to the Chilean side of Patagonia—we’ve seen it from the Argentine side. That’s the plan.”

Patrice: “I think having this trip helps my mental health.  It’s something to look forward to, to help look beyond the moment where there’s so much that’s unknown and uncontrollable—the belief that there will be something better in the future.”

—Robert and Patrice Reiss, Hermosa Beach, CA

Two Cruises to Two Different Continents

Gentoo penguins in Antarctica

Gentoo penguins in Antarctica. Photo: Jennifer Santoyo

“We are currently booked on two cruises, both on Seabourn. The first is in January 2021 to Antarctica. The second is a replacement for a cruise we had planned in Spain and Portugal this May (which we canceled, of course). We moved that to a cruise in October 2021 along the western European coastline. The May cruise we had to cancel was to have been when we received our WOW Moment benefit. It’s disappointing to have to wait for another trip to experience that, but still another thing to look forward to in the future.

We’re both in our seventies, so why risk it? Especially a cruise. I know Seabourn does a very good job, though you still have to realize that it’s a petri dish. But Antarctica has been on our bucket list for a long time. The polar ice caps are melting, and we want to see them before they go away and you can’t go there anymore. Also, there are penguins! [Laughs.] Our granddaughter, from the moment she could recognize things, has had a total fascination with penguins. She’s not going, but we’re going to load our cameras with penguins for her.

Seabourn has done a nice job of refunding and giving credits. We were in a category where we were entitled to a 50% refund, and the day we decided to cancel the Spain/Portugal cruise, Seabourn came out with the announcement that the other 50% could be applied to a future cruise. I don’t know what the policy will be as we draw closer to the cruise date, but I will be very aware of our cancellation deadlines, and we’ll have travel insurance with Cancel For Any Reason coverage, so those sorts of things are sustaining my thoughts. Mary Jean’s staff did a very good job; I can’t say enough good about them. They do onboard benefits for us and adjustments or other perks sometimes, but the best thing is that they work on their clients’ behalf to handle this well.

As far as concerns about cruise ships, I have some comfort in knowing the first cruise isn’t happening until January. If we come to feel that it’s problematic, we probably will not go. But we’re optimistic. I mean, why not? We want to get on with our lives and exploring the world, and this is part of our goal as we take more personal time for ourselves. Once a traveler, you’d like to always be a traveler. We realize there’s uncertainty about what comes next and what changes there will be that impact us as travelers and which cruise lines will survive. But even if we have to give up travel because this doesn’t go away for two or three years, we’ll still be booking!”

—Susan Bland, Seattle

A Nature and Hiking Getaway to Colombia

A view from the beginning of the hike towards Cocora Valley which is famous for its tall wax palm trees in Colombia

A view from the beginning of the hike towards Cocora Valley. Photo: Shutterstock

“I recently put a deposit down on a trip to Colombia for next February. We do a yearly trip, and I always make plans a year in advance in order to take advantage of my frequent-flier miles. After finalizing my itinerary with Marc and Boris’s team, I was asked to put down a nonrefundable 50% deposit. I was hesitant to do so, especially given the current pandemic. The agency got back to me and suggested a 25% deposit and also said that if I had to cancel, they would hold the credit for 12 months. I felt this was reasonable. My husband and I love to travel, but given that we had done a ‘big trip’ this past November to Japan, we felt we wanted to go somewhere closer to home. We have discussed Colombia as a destination for a few years, having heard it is now safe. We also have friends who recently went and had a wonderful trip. In addition, the JetBlue nonstop flight to New York from Cartagena (under 5 hours) is a real plus. We will be in Bogota for two nights , then three nights in the coffee region where we will hike, go birding, and enjoy nature in a beautiful setting. We will then travel to Cartagena for three nights.”

—Judith Luskin, Westchester County, New York

A Burgundy Barge Cruise, Southeast Asia, and Madagascar

Barge Elisabeth in Burgundy. Photo courtesy Barge Elisabeth.

“I’m hoping beyond hope that our barge cruise in Burgundy happens in July. A group of friends did a Scotland barge trip last year, and I just loved it. I also have a big trip that I organized through Wendy’s List for November. I’ve pulled together eight friends, and we’re going to Thailand and Cambodia. We’ve been planning it for a couple years, and I’m optimistic that things will be fine. I think we’re going to have a WOW Moment, and Kae [from Daniel Fraser’s team] is amazing; I’ve been loving working with her. We have a whole itinerary, and when I read it, I get all excited. The most exciting two things for me are the floating market and the elephant hospital in Lampang. As for 2021, the I-can’t-wait-to-do-it trip is hopefully Madagascar. I love Africa so much (I’ve been there five times) because, for me, it’s wildlife and water—that’s the stuff that gets me way more interested than cities.

I think that having these trips in the works helps by putting a boundary on what we’re going through. I’ve seen people get really panicked that it could be this way for years. So my scope of looking at it is controlled by when the next trip is. And for me, at least in my head, as soon as I know that we’ll be okay for November, it’ll be fine. If I have to delay the July barge trip, I’ll be somewhat concerned, but I’ve already thought through the mechanics of that, so I’m already adjusting. The future trips put the scope of what I’m looking at into something reasonable. It really helps.”

—Helene Bard, Washington, D.C. metro area

Natural Wonders in the American West and the Galapagos Islands

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The clear blue water of the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. Photo: Shutterstock

“My family is spending quality time together during this pandemic talking about where we’d like to go for our next big family trip and why. Tim and I like the idea of river rafting out West: It would get the kids off their electronic devices completely—which would be a huge relief after all the time they’re having to spend on their devices now, what with online schooling and musical rehearsals via Zoom and having to connect with friends virtually, usually through computer games. Honestly, moving stress-free at the pace of the river, through wilderness areas with plenty of fresh air, and with almost no surfaces to worry about touching, sounds like what the doctor ordered.

We’re also talking about the Galapagos Islands. They’re so remote—practically in the middle of nowhere—and the animals and beaches and landscapes won’t have been affected by the coronavirus. Also, the Galapagos is one of Earth’s fragile ecosystems that must be seen sooner rather than later (I was actually there 25 years ago, but Tim and the kids haven’t been), and I think this pandemic is reinforcing the importance of seeing the world’s must-see places when you can because you never know when they will suddenly be closed off. Normally a trip to the Galapagos needs to be planned at least a year ahead anyway—especially if you want to travel during a school-break period—so planning a trip there now for 2021 actually seems perfectly reasonable.”

—Wendy Perrin, Short Hills, NJ