Top 10 Places to Travel


Has the travel bug got you wondering where to travel this year? Here are the top 10 places to travel in 2021 when and if we can travel safely.

Scotland and the Scottish Highlands

If you like medieval castles, stunning scenery, hearty food, and perhaps scotch and whiskey, Scotland is your cup of tea.

Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is a cosmopolitan city with culture, fabulous shops, and great restaurants. There’s even a castle!

I visited Edinburgh when I travel hacked Europe. A $23,000 ten day trip to Europe for $633.

Pro-tip: Hike to Arthur’s Seat for a birds eye view of the city.

Whatever you do, do not leave Scotland without visiting the Scottish Highlands. No ifs, no ands, no buts.

Everyone should go to the Scottish Highlands.

Your reward for visiting is amazing views.

Jeff and I visited the Highlands last March and did the North Coast 500, NC500, when our trip to Catania, Italy was canceled. It was a quickly put together last minute trip that has been one of our favorite vacations.

We had almost completed the entire North Coast 500 route, with only one day left when the President declared that all Americans needed to get back to the United States. 😢

This year we planned to go back and finish those last 51 miles and add on a trip to the Isle of Skye and Isle of Man for the Tourist Trophy. But the TT is canceled and thus far Scotland is under stay at home orders except for essential travel. 😢

If you’re a travel hacker, you can use points to stay at the Best Western in Inverness. You can save on your trip by using cards like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and erase your travel expenses. Or use your $300 yearly travel credit from the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Here’s a video of the top 10 places to travel in 2021. The video shows where to travel in 2021 when and if we can travel.

Pro-tip: There are tips and travel hack tricks in this blog post that aren’t included in the video.

Utah

If you want to stay close to home, consider taking a road trip in the United States.

Utah is one of the places where you should travel in 2021. Did you know there are 43 state parks and 5 of the 63 national parks in Utah?

Utah is home to the “Mighty Five”:

  • Zion National Park
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Arches National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Capital Reef National Park

Pro-tip: Save money with the America the Beautiful Pass.

The American the Beautiful Pass costs $80 a year. The pass lets you and up to 3 adults visit every national park in the United States and over 2,000 federal recreational sites.

Seniors who are 62 and older can buy an annual pass for $20 or a lifetime pass for $80.

Active duty US military, National Guard, reserves and their dependents and active reserves can get a free annual pass military.

Veterans and Gold Star Families get free annual passes.

Fourth graders can get a free Annual 4th Grade Pass.

Through August 31, 2021, fifth graders and their families get free admission to the national parks.

Pro-tip: You have to show the pass when you enter the park.

Utah is more than national parks. It has some of the best skiing in the United States.

Channel your inner paleontologist and see dinosaur fossils throughout the state from the Brigham Young University Earth Science Museum in Provo to 185 million-year-old dinosaur footprints in Kanab.

If near Salt Lake, make time to visit the Bonneville Salt Flats. It is 300 acres of flat white salt. After it rains, the salt flats look like water.

New Mexico

From Albuquerque to Taos and the less heard of Tyrone, New Mexico may surprise you. You’re probably wondering it makes our list of top travel destinations 2021.

You can explore art galleries in Santa Fe, take a drive on the unforgettable Route 66, and visit the International UFO Museum in Roswell. From El Paso you can take a day trip to Big Bend National Park.

But a visit to New Mexico isn’t complete until you’ve been to Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands National Park.

You can get lost in the underground labyrinth of Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Literally.

For an unforgettable experience, you have to visit White Sands National Park, 275 square miles of pure stark white gypsum sand dunes. White Sands National Park is the world’s largest gypsum dunefield.

The sand at White Sands National Park is soft like talcum powder. You can even go sand sledding!

Pro-tip: New Mexico visitors from high-risk states have to isolate for 14 days.

New Zealand

Looking for an outside adventures, spectacular scenary and maybe Middle-earth? Head down to New Zealand.

New Zealand has almost 600 islands, the more commonly known are North Island and South Island.

The mountainous North Island has active volcanoes and geothermal hot springs.

New Zealand’s South Island has beaches, mountains, and fjords. You can visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Milford Sound in Fijordland National Park.

Mount Cook, the tallest mountain in new Zealand, and the Franz Josef Glacier are also in the South Island.

For a little fun side trip, you can visit the Lord of the Rings filming locations.

Pro-tip: If you’re visiting New Zealand from the United States or the UK, you need a negative covid test and have to isolate for 14 days.

French Polynesia and Bora Bora

After exploring mountains and glacier hiking in New Zealand you might need a little rest and relaxation. How does a beach in French Polynesia sound?

French Polynesia is made up of five islands. The one most people know is the Society Islands archipelago which includes Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora.

Our vacation in Australia, Tahiti and Huahine twenty seven years ago is what got me started in travel hacking.

Bora Bora, the jewel of the South Seas, perfect for honeymooners, couples looking for a romantic getaway, scuba divers, and anyone wanting to experience bliss. It definitely makes our top ten places to travel in 2021 list.

The island is associated with stunning overwater bungalows. You can’t help but think Bora Bora when you see an overwater bungalow.

Bora Bora is a once in a lifetime island paradise.

Pro-tip: A negative covid test three days prior to arrival and an second self-test four days after arriving in Bora Bora is required.

Hawaii

Hawaii is an accessible and affordable island paradise that makes our top ten travel destinations.

After all, who doesn’t love Hawaii?

No one.

Last year almost 10.5 million people visited Hawaii.

Hawaii is made up of six islands:

  • the Island of Hawaii (the Big Island)
  • Kauai
  • Lanai
  • Maui
  • Molokai
  • Oahu

On the Big Island, you’ll find black sand beaches. Stop by Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and explore volcanoes.

The “Garden Isle,” Kauai offers lush green mountains and stunning scenery. It is where most of Jurassic Park was filmed.

Lanai is the smallest of the islands. You go to Lanai to escape, play golf, and relax at a luxury resort.

The “Valley Isle,” Maui has been voted Conde Nast Traveler “Best Island in the US” for more than 20 years.

Maui is a beach lover’s paradise offering 30 miles of white, black, and red sand beaches perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving.

During the winter, you can go whale-watching.

But Maui isn’t just beaches, you can also explore Haeakala National Park.

The less-visited Molokai offers a true Hawaii experience. There aren’t large shopping malls or a robust nightlife. But it is has one of Hawaii’s largest white-sand beaches, Papohaku Beach.

And the best part, on Molokai you get to experience the spirit of Aloha.

The “Heart of Hawaii,” is Oahu. Hawaii’s capital, Honolulu is located in Oahu. The North Shore offers the best surfing.

You can travel hack a free trip to Hawaii. You can use Chase Ultimate Rewards for a trip to Hawaii. You can pay for your flights, hotels, and rental cars.

Hawaii requires visitors to have a negative covid test taken 72 hours before arrival and uploaded to the Safe Travels platform.

Some island require you to isolate.

Pro-tip: Kauai adopted a Resort Bubble program that lets you enjoy your resort hotel’s amenities for three days without having to confine in your room. After three days if you have a negative COVID test you are free to leave the resort and explore the rest of the island.

Oregon

If you love the coast, Oregon should be where you travel in 2021. Oregon offers a gorgeous coastline, hot springs, miles of deserts, wineries, breweries, and of course, Portland.

If you can only see one thing in Oregon, go to Cannon Beach, considered one of the world’s 100 most beautiful places by National Geographic.

Hungary

Hungary is another beautiful place to travel in 2021 with amazing architecture, culture, and delicious food. Because the US dollar goes far, you get more for your money when you visit Hungary.

Pro-tip: You can travel hack Budapest.

Norway

The dollar is also strong in Norway. Norway offers hiking, fishing, UNESCO heritage sites, and the Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis.

A great place in Norway to see the Northern Lights is Tromso.

Pro-tip: There are a few hotels that you can use points and travel hack a trip to Norway to see the Northern Lights.

Vietnam

Offering gorgeous beaches, delicious food, and the friendliest people you’ll meet, Vietnam makes our list of top ten places to travel.

You can visit Hue for custom-made clothes and tailoring, take a cruise on Ha Long Bay’s emerald waters, live to the fullest by defying death by riding a scooter during rush hour and stand on a narrow sidewalk in a condensed residential street while a train speeds past.

Pro-tip: Here’s how to get a Vietnam visa.

Conclusion

When it’s safe to start traveling again and you’re trying to decide where to travel, these are the top 10 places to travel in 2021.

These are the top travel destinations that are bucket list worthy, family-friendly, and affordable (you can travel hack Bora Bora).

Where do you want to travel in 2021?

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Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for beginning travel hackers. It is the first card you should get to start traveling for free because the welcome offer is 60,000 points (after spending $4,000 in the first three months).

 

My favorite perks about this card are earning 2X points on travel and dining, no foreign transaction fees, and transferring points to 13 airline and hotel partners like Hyatt, United, and Southwest.

 



Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is one of my favorite cards for earning cash back card and travel rewards. It offers a welcome offer of $200 (after spending $500 in the first three months).

 

My favorite perks about this card are earning 5% cash back at grocery stores the first 12 months (up to $12k), unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases and no annual fee. When paired with cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can use your points to travel for free.

 


About Debra Schroeder

Debra is a former 12-year travel industry executive and has traveled the world using airline miles and credit card points since 1994. She’ll teach you the secrets of traveling well for less.

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