After weeks of reflection on the true meanings of love and life, I woke up one day from a pleasant dream about travel adventures in exotic destinations.
Since I am not qualified to receive the vaccine in the immediate future, I am currently keeping my travel plans in my journal and simply daydreaming of unforgettable trips abroad with family and friends.
I long for conservation-centric experiences like tracking the previously undocumented elephant herds in Angola’s unspoiled wilderness, and supporting safari rangers in Botswana’s Okavango Delta.
I have heard that it won’t even be until the end of 2021 before a significant portion of the world’s population gets vaccinated—enough to break the chain and slow down the transmission. With that in mind, I have made travel plans with Corporate International Travel and Tours,Inc. (Citti) for Antartica in February 2022 onboard Silversea Cruises.
At the exciting exclusive webinar of Citti last October, we started planning our once-in-a-lifetime adventure to the world’s final frontier, Antarctica. Citti has selected this Silversea expedition scheduled for 2022, and it’s definitely a destination I cannot wait to tick off my bucket list.
Silversea has stepped up their safety protocols to protect their passengers without sacrificing any of the luxurious and pleasurable amenities they are known for.
Citti is also actively promoting their signature program to Santa’s home in Finland. The winter destination is a favorite of families and small groups of friends who wish to experience the northern lights, as well as exhilarating husky sledding and reindeer sleigh rides across snow-covered forest trails.
For the latter part of 2022, other notable destinations that Citti is preparing for are Svalbard, which is an excellent place for those interested in the Arctic and its wildlife, modern Dubai and the upcoming Expo, exotic Morocco and its diverse offerings of spices and sand, and their new East Africa program covering carefully curated luxury camps in Kenya and Tanzania.
For local destinations, Citti has specially packaged travel vouchers for Discovery Shores Boracay and Club Paradise Palawan. (tel. 0917-6316541; @CITTIexperience on Instagram)
Travel, of course, won’t be the same as it once was—though maybe that won’t be a bad thing. Cities will be quieter, Unesco World Heritage sites won’t be overcrowded, and the skies will be less polluted. The planet has had a breather, and although the tourism industry has been suffering massively, the pandemic has taught us the vital lesson that travel is a privilege and not a right.
Due to the negative economic impact of the pandemic, many travelers will also help boost tourism. Engaging with local communities in a safe and respectful way will also be an important aspect of trips in the future, with tourists keen to learn and form human connections. We will also want to leave a positive footprint—to give something back—whether that is paying direct or volunteering.
While the prolonged periods at home will continue to increase people’s sense of adventure and their search for escapism, travelers are understandably cautious heading out into the world for the first time in months. It is important to do research on each country’s pandemic rules and regulations to ensure that we travel wisely. Reviews will become increasingly vital, both online and by word of mouth, as people seek recommendations and reassurance about health and safety measures.
I asked several friends where they want to travel when it is safe and permitted. Many of them chose Australia, Japan, France, Italy and Portugal. Whatever the destination, all of them said they just want to travel with family and experience being together in a foreign country, embracing its culture, food and natural beauty.
If not for the pandemic, I would already be preparing to travel to the Asian Development Bank’s annual meeting in Tbilisi, Georgia, as the plus-one of ADB’s principal human resources specialist, my soul sister Vina Francisco. Tbilisi would have been our first stop in Central Asia before embarking on our Silk Road adventure.
The Silk Road is one of the world’s most famous and historic routes that existed for 1,500 years from the 2nd to the 18th century.
A complex network of ancient trading corridors, both on land and sea, it generated trade between the kingdoms and empires of China, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. It earned its name from Chinese silk, which was a highly traded commodity in ancient times. The trade routes soon became more lucrative, with gold and silver, precious stones, spices, tea, porcelain, and many other items being traded along these routes.
The Silk Road is credited for the blending of races and nations, cultures, religion, the arts and politics in ancient times. Today, 40 independent countries in the world are listed as part of this historic route, many of them in Central Asia. Some countries were even formerly part of the Soviet Union.
Our stop in Tbilisi would have been to pay homage to the ancient cities of Samarkand and Bukhara in Uzbekistan, two of the most significant stops along the Silk Road. Bukhara, two hours from Samarkand by high-speed rail, still has hundreds of bazaars housed inside the glorious trading domes from the 15th-16th centuries.
I liken these trading domes to our modern day shopping malls. Here you can shop for Central Asian treasures such as traditional Uzbek wear like chapans, headgear, fur, carpets, rugs, antiques, pottery, jewelry and many other unique items. I heard these domes are quite a magnificent sight against the backdrop of Bukhara’s blue skies and stunning sunset. Picture perfect!
To a shopper like me, the Silk Road is a must. After all, it was the origins and beginnings of global shopping! Oh, just take me there now!
Where would you like to go when this pandemic is over? INQ