Travel allows you to hit pause and take a break, but after living through the pandemic, which gutted tourism-dependent economies, many of us realize it is about so much more. Global leaders such as Prince Harry, who heads the non-profit global tourism initiative Travelyst, are setting the tone. “Travel can be a catalyst for good,” he said during the pandemic. “It can be sustainable, ethical — and even regenerative.” Cultural sensitivity, economic support and environmental sustainability are on everyone’s mind as we resume travelling, but COVID-19 heightened our understanding of travelling with purpose. While dolphins were spotted in the canal near St. Mark’s Square in Venice during the March 2021 lockdown, the loss of tourism dollars in Uganda meant gorilla keepers lacked the resources to guard the endangered animals from poachers and disease.
It’s a delicate balance, but now that carbon dioxide emissions are ramping up again, and the price of plane tickets is expected to rise as countries eventually drop travel restrictions and jet-fuel prices climb, we need to think about where we spend our tourism dollars. Luckily, travel companies are taking social responsibility seriously. Collette Tours is collaborating with the organization South Pole to help achieve carbon neutrality and support renewable energy projects in India, Vietnam and Rwanda, while Fairmont Hotels and Resorts banned single-use plastics, planted rooftop gardens and invested in human resources by promoting female and under-represented staff.
When the world starts to open up again, here are my 22 reasons to pack your bags in 2022.
1. Safety First
Airplane health and safety measures were called into question early in the pandemic, but with state-of-the-art air filtration and mask mandates, there’s reason to get over the fear of flying. Regardless of where you go, you’ll need proof of vaccinations against COVID-19 to board a flight in Canada. Some provinces have their own vaccine verification apps or QR codes, while the federal government launched a vaccine passport for international travel in late 2021. At press time, travellers needed a negative PCR test to enter Canada, which can cost more than $200. Air Canada has introduced portable, self-administered COVID-19 molecular and antigen test kits, eliminating the need for a lab test before returning. The airline’s $149 kit gives results in about 45 minutes.
Vaccination has other privileges at Singapore’s Changi Airport — the gateway to Southeast Asian cities such as Bangkok and Denpasar — where there is a vaccinated-only lane for flyers who arrive from Vancouver, as well as some select U.S. cities.
2. Cruise Cuisine
Avalon Waterways, the river cruise division of Globus travel brands, has enlisted the culinary prowess of Vancouver chef and restaurant owner Vikram Vij on its July trip, Danube Dreams, sailing on the storied river from Deggendorf, Germany, to Budapest, Hungary. It’s a meaningful voyage for the former Dragon’s Den star and cookbook author, since it includes a stop in Salzburg, Austria, where Vij studied hotel management before he came to Canada to work at the Banff Springs Hotel.
And Emerald Cruises has rescheduled its Portugal voyage featuring Toronto restaurateur and MasterChef Canada judge Michael Bonacini, to July. Sailing along the Douro River Valley, passengers on the Emerald Radiance – which has a maximum of 112 guests — will dine with the chef at a wine estate and shop at farmers markets.
3. Intentionally Wes
It’s a Wes Anderson world and now you can travel in Wes Anderson style. The filmmaker, known for his whimsical vintage movie sets, has sparked a movement among travellers who post photos of architecture and design that evoke his films on the popular Instagram account @accidentallywesanderson. Now, the U.S. director of visually stunning movies like The Darjeeling Limited, which took place on a train across India, has partnered with the British hospitality and leisure company Belmond to redesign the iconic 1950s Cygnus carriage (above) on its British Pullman luxury train. Originally a first-class car on the Golden Arrow train from London to Dover, the Cygnus joined the British Pullman in 1977. Anderson preserved its art deco details, but couldn’t resist adding pops of colour and his favoured art nouveau style. Departing from Victoria Station in London, the train takes day trips into the English countryside. As far as sustainable travel goes — referred to as slow travel in the industry — trains account for a fraction of the greenhouse gas emissions produced by cars, boats and planes.
4. Tee Up Some Golf
St. Andrews Old Course in Scotland (below, circa 1840) will host the 150th Open in July, which attracts the world’s top players. Look for last year’s winner, Collin Morikawa, and Wayne Gretzky’s son-in-law and 2020 Masters winner, Dustin Johnson, plus Canadian golfer, Mackenzie Hughes. You don’t have to be a pro to play St. Andrews, the oldest and largest public course in Europe. You can book a tee time on its website, or your travel agent can hook you up with a golf tour operator who can take you there.
Exodus Travels and the Royal Canadian Geographic Society have created the RCGS Quest series of trips in 2022, hosted by renowned Canadian adventurers, as part of Exodus’ People, Places & Planet sustainability plan. Mario Rigby, the Turks and Caicos-born Canadian who gained eco-adventurer cred for his two-year walk-and-kayak trip from Cape Town to Cairo in 2017, will lead travellers from Cape Town, through Namibia, and along Botswana’s Okavango Delta to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Egypt, Morocco and Costa Rica are among other destinations on offer.
6. Water Works
Travellers will get new perspectives on two of Canada’s mightiest water wonders — Niagara Falls and the Bay of Fundy. The Niagara Parks Power Station, decommissioned in 2006, has been turned into a tourist attraction, where visitors can learn about its 100-year history harnessing power from the Niagara River and play with interactive exhibits. Located south of the Horseshoe Falls, at night its arched windows and polished concrete floors become a canvas for a sound and light show, Currents.
In New Brunswick, the new Fundy Trail Parkway features hiking trails, bike paths and driving itineraries that provide vantage points to watch the highest tides in the world ebb and flow in the Bay of Fundy, as well as observation decks with a view of the famed Flower Pot Rock.
7. For Queen and Commonwealth
In 2022, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will celebrate her Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years of service. The celebrations continue all year in the U.K., but peak party time begins June 2, the date of her official coronation in 1953, and runs to June 5. The bank-holiday weekend starts at Buckingham Palace, with the traditional Trooping the Colour for the Queen’s birthday parade, followed by a service of thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral, the derby at Epsom Downs and the Platinum Party at Buckingham Palace, where the BBC will stage a live music concert to rival the star power of the Jubilee concert in 2012. The Royal Family plans to travel throughout the U.K. during the year-long celebrations, starting as early as February, the month the Queen assumed the throne after her father, King George VI, died in 1952.
If sport is more your thing, the 2022 Commonwealth Games take place in Birmingham, England, Britain’s second-largest city, in July and August.
8. Sky Walking
About 35 minutes north of Victoria, on the traditional territory of the Malahat Nation, the Malahat Skywalk is forest bathing on a whole new level. The 600-metre-long elevated walkway, which opened in July 2021, takes hikers through a forest of Douglas firs and arbutus trees to a spiral tower that looks like a giant woven basket. From the 10-storey lookout, 250 metres above sea level, you can see the Gulf and San Juan Islands, Saanich Peninsula, Mt. Baker and the Coast Mountains.
For another breathtaking view, travel to Grandfather Mountain, the 1,812-metre behemoth near Blowing Rock, N.C., which is doubling the size of its Nature Discovery Center, set to reopen in June. While there, walk the Mile High Swinging Bridge, the highest suspension footbridge in the U.S. At 1,615 metres above sea level, you’ll get a panoramic view of Grandfather himself.
9. Lest We Forget
Tour companies have new itineraries to mark the 105th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge in the Hauts-de-France region, when, during the First World War, Canadian forces captured this important tactical position from the Germans. EF/Go Ahead offers “Vimy Ridge 105th Anniversary: Amsterdam to Paris” and “London to Brussels,” which include stops at significant sites such as Dieppe, Normandy and Vimy. If you can’t pay your respects in person, Veterans Affairs Canada is working with the Vimy Foundation to create Vimy: A Living Memorial, a storytelling app and digital experience that will launch in April to coincide with the anniversary.
10. Chill in the Caribbean
Saba Rock, a tiny island resort in the middle of the British Virgin Islands, is a favourite hideaway for divers. Destroyed by Hurricane Irma in 2017, it has reopened with nine guest rooms, a restaurant, bars, a spa and, of course, a dive shop for underwater explorers.
You get two islands for the price of one flight when you go to St. Kitts and Nevis, where there are two ways to relax by a beach with a signature cocktail. In St. Kitts, try a Ting with a Sting, a mix of local high-proof rum and Ting, a Jamaican grapefruit-flavoured soda; on Nevis, order up a Killer Bee rum punch at Sunshine’s Beach Bar.
11. Gardens of Delight
To mark 100 years of ornamental horticulture, the Canadian Garden Council is planning lots of events for 2022, which it has dubbed the year of the garden. Not to be missed is the International Garden Festival in Grand-Métis, Que., about 300 kilometres northeast of Quebec City, which runs from June to October at the renowned Reford Gardens/Jardins de Métis. It took Montreal horticulturalist Elsie Reford 30 years to design and build the English gardens at her family’s Métis River fishing camp, beginning in 1926. With more than 3,500 plant varieties and species and 30-plus gardens, it is one of the northernmost gardens in North America.
12. The Great Migration
A spectacle driven by ancient instinct, the caribou migration is considered the longest land-migration route of all mammals on the planet. Each spring, more than 84,000 caribou in Yukon and another 350,000 in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories make the journey from their winter grounds in the south to their summer grounds in the north, with a return trip in the fall. Churchill Wilds offers an eight-day Polar Bear Arctic Safari from its Tundra Camp in the Barrens region that, depending on the time of year, includes taking guests to see the Qamanirjuaq caribou herd. A good time to go is fall, when the caribou travel along the west coast of Hudson Bay from Nunavut and the Northwest Territories – with feeding stops along the way to fatten up for winter — to Manitoba, where the landscape explodes in reds, yellows and oranges.
13. Indigenous Education
In Winnipeg, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in The Forks is always a good place to learn about Indigenous perspectives, culture and history, but this year you don’t want to miss the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s new addition, which houses the country’s first — and the world’s largest — public collection of contemporary Inuit art. In March, the gallery had a virtual opening of Qaumajuq, which means “it is bright, it is lit” in Inuktitut, but now you can visit in person.
14. Club Med North
With the words Club Med, you picture couples sunning on chaise lounges on pristine beaches or you start humming their famous Hands Up jingle, but ski fanatics who travel to Quebec’s winter playground, Le Massif de Charlevoix, can now check into Club Med Québec-Charlevoix. It’s the all-inclusive resort company’s first location in Canada. The mountainous area, known for its vertical drops and fresh powder, is about 90 minutes east of Quebec City, with stunning views of the St. Lawrence River below.
15. Celebrate Elvis
When you think of Elvis Presley, you probably think of Graceland, his home in Memphis, Tenn. Presley’s story, however, begins in Tupelo, Miss., where the city will commemorate the 45th anniversary of the King of rock ‘n’ roll’s death. The big draw is the Tupelo Elvis Festival in June, but this year Tupelo, like Memphis, will put on an Elvis Week in August, the month the King died of a heart attack at 42. As the years go by and living members of Presley’s bands dwindle — drummer Ron Tutt died last October at 83 – this is a great way for fans to keep Elvis’s memory alive. In 2021, Priscilla Presley visited Graceland for Elvis Week, so odds are she will return for this special anniversary. Stay at the new Hotel Tupelo, the city’s first boutique property, and which was named after a now bygone hotel.
16. Elephant Walk
The TreadRight Foundation encourages animal preservation through educational experiences with its Make Travel Matter program, created by parent company The Travel Corporation (TTC). At Reteti Elephant Rescue in Kenya, a community-owned-and-operated sanctuary for orphaned calves, guests spend time with caregivers and learn how the precious pachyderms are nursed back to health and reintroduced to the wild. For every couple that books a Lion World Travel or African Travel trip with Reteti on the itinerary, TTC will donate two bedtime blankets and three bottles of milk to the sanctuary.
17. Honour Harriet Tubman
Maryland, where Harriet Tubman was born into slavery in 1822, will mark
the 200th birthday of the abolitionist and chief conductor of the Underground Railroad in March. The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Park and
Visitor Center in Church Creek will host an exhibit revealing artifacts archeologists found in 2021 on the site of her father’s home, which he inherited — along with his freedom — from his owner in the 1840s.
The centre will give fascinating insight into the early life of Tubman, who used the railroad — a series of safe houses — to cross the Mason-Dixon line to freedom in 1849. She went on to establish her own railroad, and helped at least 70 slaves escape to St. Catharines, Ont., where Tubman and her family lived for 10 years before returning to the U.S.
If that wasn’t enough, Tubman, a nurse, put her skills to use during the Civil War, when she also acted as a Union spy, and was the first African-American woman to command a military raid. In 2020, Cynthia Erivo was recognized with an Oscar nomination for playing the heroine in the biopic, Harrie
18. Yucatán’s Foodie Movement
The Yucatán peninsula, famous for its Mayan ruins and pristine beaches, may just be the new Oaxaca, the state long considered the culinary capital of Mexico. In the state of Yucatán, pre-Columbian recipes such as cochinita pibil (marinated pork) have stood the test of time. The flavours here are a blend of local ingredients like habanero peppers and huaya, a type of lime grown only in the Yucatán, married with bitter oranges likely introduced some 500 years ago by Spanish colonizers from Seville.
Much like this culinary marriage of flavours and ingredients, the state and its capital city of Mérida hold a historical significance worth experiencing. In what the locals call The White City – because of the ubiquitous use of white limestone in its buildings – Mayan culture maintains its place alongside the more recent vestiges of colonialism, giving the city’s people, architecture and vibe a unique sensibility. It’s about 35 kilometres from the beach, so free from all-inclusives and fly-and-fry types of tourism, which also help to make it a safer bet. Book a table at Micaela Mar y Lena, where chef Vidal Elias Murillo gives his modern interpretation of ancient traditional recipes. His prowess with seafood is also a must experience.
19. Colombia Calls
When the Canadian author, explorer and 2020 Zoomer cover subject Wade Davis published his latest book on Colombia’s Magdalena River, we knew it was worth a look. The waterway runs through the heart of the country, through areas rich in biodiversity and indigenous culture. Now AmaWaterways is working with Metropolitan Touring, the South American company known for its sustainable, carbon-neutral operations, on a new luxury cruise sailing the Magdalena for 2023.
If the Magdalena is the country’s main artery, Cartagena is its literary heart. With its 16th-century architecture and narrow stone streets, this city on the Caribbean inspired the setting for Love in the Time of Cholera, by Colombian Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Márquez. The newly renovated Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena hotel, formerly the Santa Clara Convent, featured in Márquez’s 1994 novel Of Love and Other Demons, is celebrating 10 years as a Legend-designated property this year.
20. Toronto’s Hotel Revival
Sure, Airbnb was still running, albeit with restrictions, during the pandemic, while most hotels shut down completely. But hotels are back, and in Toronto, reinvention is the vibe.
The Fairmont Royal York’s storied Library Bar – known for one of the best martinis in town — has reopened after a refresh and a hint of Roaring ’20s glamour; the Gladstone Hotel, which closed for renos during the pandemic, has reopened as Gladstone House; and W, Marriott’s forever hip and happening brand, will be greeting guests come February near the city’s busy Yonge and Bloor intersection. Here are two more places to check into.
The former Thompson boutique hotel is now 1 Hotel Toronto, where designers were driven by sustainability. They created the feel of a cabin in the city, with fallen logs and tree stumps repurposed as coffee tables and charcuterie trays, and faux-fur throws evoking a fireplace ambience.
The Park Hyatt in Yorkville has reopened after a renovation, including a grand lobby restaurant lounge called Joni — a nod to a certain Yorkville habitué from back in the day. The famed rooftop cocktail bar on the 17th floor, which was featured in Margaret Atwood’s 1988 novel Cat’s Eye, and was once the haunt of literati like Leonard Cohen, Mordecai Richler and gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, has been reborn as the Writers Room. Its designers kept the old caricatures of famous scribes by newspaper cartoonist Andy Donato, but added new collages by Vancouver author and artist Douglas Coupland and an abstract landscape by Toronto’s Madison van Rijn. But the most jaw-dropping sight is the sweeping view from the terrace of the city laid out at your feet.
21. Dreams Come True
It was a tough year for Mickey Mouse and friends in Florida, after COVID-19 infection rates soared and major tourist attractions shut down, including the fabled Walt Disney World near Orlando. By July, the park had reopened, and in October it kicked off an 18-month celebration to mark its 50th birthday. Guests can take in high-tech light shows on iconic buildings such as Cinderella’s Castle in the Magic Kingdom, and Spaceship Earth, the giant, golf ball-like landmark, at Epcot; and try new rides like Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, based on the Disney movie about the rat who loves to cook. Montreal’s Cirque du Soleil returns to its permanent theatre at Disney Springs with its 50th production, Drawn to Life. The new show features the art of the Walt Disney Animation Studios alongside Cirque’s unique acrobatics.
22. Alpha & Omega
Although Athens is famous for its ancient history and as a quick stopover for a tour of the Acropolis on the way to the Greek islands, the city is fast becoming a beach destination in its own right. In town, check out the stunning new Athens Olympic Museum, which delves into 3,000 years of sport, then head to the Athens Riviera, about 30 minutes from the city centre, where the One&Only Aesthesis will open this year in Glyfada, with views of the gulf on one side and Mount Hymettus on the other.
A version this article appeared in the Dec/Jan 2021 issue with the headline “It’s Time! 22 Reasons To Travel in 2022,” p. 80.