9 mins

#WishIWasThere: The places team Wanderlust can't wait to get back to

We can't travel right now, but we can celebrate the past travel experiences that made us who we are. Here, the experts behind Wanderlust reveal the destinations they dream about revisiting...

A young gorilla spotted in Uganda (Shutterstock)

The Seychelles

Local life in the Seychelles (Peter Moore)

Local life in the Seychelles (Peter Moore)

I’m not usually a tropical island kind of guy – I enjoy a disastrous bus journey as much as kicking back on a beautiful stretch of sand – but something about The Seychelles got under my skin.

It’s true, the beaches are unbelievably stunning. But because I was travelling on a budget I got to hang out with the locals and sample their lifestyle: playing dominoes under a palm tree, drinking ice cold SeyBrews on the beach, sharing stories face-to-face instead of on social media.

When I was there, the cares and woes of the rest of the world seem a million miles away. What I wouldn’t give for that now.

 

– Peter Moore @petermooretravel, Associate Web Editor

Uganda

Mountain gorilla in Uganda (Shutterstock)

Mountain gorilla in Uganda (Shutterstock)

When I think back on all of my travels, the country that had the biggest impact on me was Uganda. It was my first solo trip and a huge adventure.

I felt completely at peace staying in the lush tropical rainforest and after a ten-hour trek through the Bwindi Impenetrable NP, my efforts were rewarded with my first ever gorilla sighting – it was exhilarating and a truly epic moment.

At times like this, you really value being able to get away from it all and find a whole new world.

 

– Zara Gaspar @zaralisa, Assistant Editor

The Netherlands

The UNESCO-listed windmills of Kinderdijk in the Netherlands (Shutterstock)

The UNESCO-listed windmills of Kinderdijk in the Netherlands (Shutterstock)

I've been reflecting on a few trips over the last couple of days, but the one destination I'm always dreaming about, without fail, is The Netherlands.

One of my favourite places on Earth is Kinderdijk, home to 19 UNESCO-protected windmills, first built in the 1700s, and surrounded by nature . It may be busy during the day in peak season, but off-season, close to closing time, I practically have it all to myself.

I also love setting up camp in Amsterdam or The Hague for as long as I can get away with it (not a literal camp, mind) - exploring every neighbourhood, lazing around in the parks, day-tripping to nearby towns and beaches, and trying to pretend to myself that I'm a local. 

I can give someone directions, but only manage a few sentences in Dutch. So, I'm not quite there yet. Still, I can't wait to get back on the Eurostar and escape to my home away from home.

There's still so much of it left for me to explore. Next on my list: the sand dunes of Texel National Park.

 

- Elizabeth Atkin @elizabethkatkin, Digital Editor

Laos

Kuang Si Waterfalls (Shutterstock)

Kuang Si Waterfalls (Shutterstock)

This time three years ago, I was preparing for a trip to South-East Asia. If you had told me then that right now we would all be grounded, I wouldn’t have believed you.

A defining moment for me on the trip – something that made me realise just how beautiful and diverse this world is – was visiting Kuang Si Falls.

After a long, rainy and slippery climb, I finally made it to the top. And it took my breath away.

I was literally standing on a bamboo platform over the very edge of the waterfall. I was at the exact moment that powerful body of water toppled over the side. Listening to the crash beneath my feet, feeling the cooling spray on my face and not being able to take my eyes off the verdant jungle in front of me that seemed to go on forever, I knew this was a moment I would never forget.

It was in that moment I realised I wanted to write about travel. I wanted my words to take other people to this incredible place and to see what I had seen and feel what I have felt.

A year later, I secured an internship at Wanderlust, and have been working for this incredible and inspiring magazine ever since – and enjoying every moment! I have the pleasure of bringing happiness to people’s lives by encouraging them to travel.

Things are bleak in our industry right now. Flights are grounded, hotels are empty and jobs are being lost. It’s more important than ever to remember the happier travel moments, not just to cheer us up, but to bring us hope that we WILL all be travelling again soon.

It won’t be long until our days are once more brightened up by orange-hued sunsets, thundering waterfalls, glittering skylines and spinach-green jungles.

 

– Rosie Fitzgerald @rosiefitzgeral9, Deputy Content Editor

Switzerland

Wengen Village in Switzerland (Shutterstock)

Wengen Village in Switzerland (Shutterstock)

We awoke each day on our Interlaken campsite anticipating the brightly-coloured paragliders that would navigate the alpine morning thermals. Soaring effortlessly and gracefully in cloudless skies, their only company was the high-flying birds they mimicked with their skilful manoeuvres.

This always lifted our souls to similar heights for the day ahead, where we would be transported on a mixture of interconnecting ancient and modern railways, through wild flowered meadows to our own high-reaching elevations within the Swiss Alps.

The majesty of the mountains was simply staggering in both their breathtaking height and their sheer range. Unfolding layer after layer, they encircled vast shimmering blue lakes such as Thun and Brienz, the tall cascading waterfalls of Lauterbrunnen; and the picturesque village of Wengen, decorated throughout with beautiful flower-filled balconies. 

Our overriding memory is one of Swiss time standing still during our appreciation of mother nature in all its pomp and splendour. A dream escape where each day, you could choose to explore a new adrenalin-fuelled activity, or simply another epic view.

 

– Mike Wright, Art Editor

Cuba

A casa particular homestay in Cuba (Shutterstock)

A casa particular homestay in Cuba (Shutterstock)

Back in 2017, I was fortunate enough to visit Cuba. My two-week stay on the Caribbean island is one that I often find myself lost in a daydream about, reminiscing on salsa, mojitos, cigars… 

Travelling around as two young women was hassle-free – everyone we met gladly offered help with logistics and recommendations for the next leg of our Cuban adventure.

So much so, that I ended up getting a hair cut from a friend-of-a-friend-of-a friend (in fact, I’m not sure I ever understood the exact relationship) after mentioning it one evening, over a few mojitos, to the lady who owned the casa particular I was staying at.

The next morning, I found myself sat in the living room getting a fresh new Cuban 'do, whilst her son and granddaughter watched!

Opening her home to a near stranger exemplified the kind-heartedness of every Cuban I met. I feel truly honoured to hold it as a travel experience.  

– Lucy Bairstow, Senior Sales Executive

Pigeon Island, Saint Lucia

Pigeon Island (Shutterstock)

Pigeon Island (Shutterstock)

If I could be anywhere, it would be Pigeon Island.

Panoramic views over both the Caribbean, the Atlantic and the Piton Mountains. Beaches inviting you to slowly submerge yourself into to snorkel with tropical fish and turtles. Over 40 species of bird, including the purple-throated caribs, snubbing gravity as they fuss about the greenery.

Pigeon Island National Landmark sits at the north-west corner of Saint Lucia, a vital piece of local maritime history crowned by the hikeable Fort Rodney and Signal Peak ruins that continue to survey the local shipping lanes.

Visit both sites for a round trip and then crack open a well-deserved Piton beer on the beach while the water sprays through your toes.

 

 Tom Hawker, Managing Editor

Ruaha National Park, Tanzania

Elephants roam Ruaha National Park, Tanzania (Shutterstock)

Elephants roam Ruaha National Park, Tanzania (Shutterstock)

As the world seems to slowly shut down, I find myself looking back at how much travel has taught me and pondering over life-changing experiences.

Right now, I wish I was in Ruaha National Park in Tanzania. While tracking lions, buffalos, giraffes and zebras, I learned more about wildlife than I could have hoped for and found myself amazed by the incredible flora, too.

But my favourite moment remains the morning we stumbled across an entire elephant family. From so close up and against the baobab-dotted landscape, these giant creatures truly looked majestic.

I’ll never forget the mixed feelings of admiration, peace and fear I experienced that day, gazing at them gently crossing our paths. A very humbling encounter.

 

– Fanny Moros, Circulation Manager

New York City

New York streets (Graham Berridge)

New York streets (Graham Berridge)

I was at a family wedding a couple of weeks ago and the bride and groom told me that they were off to New York for their honeymoon, and that they’d chosen New York as their destination after being inspired by photos I had posted online from my own New York trip a few years earlier.

I wasted no time in sharing my insider tips with the newlyweds, suggesting itineraries and recommending special places to eat and drink.

Regaling in my Manhattan adventures reminded me of what a great time I’d had and made me long for a return visit. It also filled me with excitement that soon the happy couple would also get to experience all that the Big Apple has to offer.

Our own travels inspire others to travel and create their own memories and special moments. I’m looking forward to a time when we can all get out and explore again but in the meantime, that's where I wish I was. 

– Graham Berridge, Art Director

Rome, Italy

Piazza Navona (Shutterstock)

Piazza Navona (Shutterstock)

Even now, I wish I could be in Italy – just to revel in the indomitable Italian spirit. 

Despite being on lockdown, the Italians have not given up hope. They're out singing on their balconies, they're celebrating their national identity by spraying their flag in the air to the joyful overtures of Nessun Dorma. If there was ever a time to feel such a force of identity and community, it would be now. 

Five years ago, I had my very own Roman Holiday. Inspired by Audrey Hepburn's royal capers around the Italian capital, I set off with my sisters to discover a modern land steeped in history, where past and present collided on every corner.

Roman ruins aside, my most memorable moment is the simplest: walking from the Spanish Steps, passing by the Trevi Fountain, on my way to Piazza Navona, melting gelato in hand.

Piazza Navona is busy, no doubt – but listening to street musicians performing, admiring the bursts of flowers draped over balconies, soaking up the sun with an Aperol Spritz at an outdoor cafe, with the mighty Pantheon just a short stroll away, seemed to me a perfect moment. 

– Kirtey Verma @itsmekirtey, Editorial Assistant

Vietnam

One of Jackie's memorable Vietnamese views (Jackie Scully)

One of Jackie's memorable Vietnamese views (Jackie Scully)

This view changed my life. I climbed hundreds of steps in Hang Múa, Vietnam, to see it. Looking out over the landscape, I knew travelling would always be part of who I am.

Sat in a chemo chair in 2014, I decided to make every day an adventure. I promised myself I'd find awe-inspiring moments, not wait for them to find me. I couldn’t plan ahead, so I created a travel wish list.

Travel gives me space. It gives me hope. It has expanded my horizons in ways I didn’t think possible. And, for that, I am grateful to the booking engines, tourist boards, tour operators, airlines, hotels and, most importantly, the people in the sector for making that possible.

Uncertainty is everywhere at a time when we can go nowhere. Lives threatened. Jobs at risk. Attractions closed. Hotels empty.

When I became Exec Director of Think Travel & Wanderlust, I wanted to help the industry that gave me hope at a time when I couldn’t find it for myself. That is what, faced with a global pandemic, I'm determined to do.

Our suitcases are empty, but our memories are full of the unforgettable travel experiences. So let's share them & fill our feeds with colour & hope. Join our #WishIWasThere campaign by posting a memory & tag us, and your fave travel brands.

We can't travel, but we can travel with kindness. 

 

– Jackie Scully, Executive Director

Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica

White-faced capuchin monkeys resting on tree in Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica (Shutterstock)

White-faced capuchin monkeys resting on tree in Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica (Shutterstock)

My honeymoon at Costa Rica's Tortuguero National Park – not much is better than that.

It takes a while to get to – when I went, it was two flights, a bus and a boat, but it’s worth the wait. The wildlife, the sounds of the rainforest, the culture, the adventure and the incredible sunsets make it so magical.

We saw birds, iguanas, monkeys and en route we even saw some sloths. The neighbouring village is unspoilt. Unfortunately, we were out of season for turtle nesting, but I've heard that’s the best thing to do!

 

– Adam Lloyds, Commercial Director 

Greece

Voidokilia Beach (Shutterstock)

Voidokilia Beach (Shutterstock)

I often find its those seemingly small travel moments that linger most in memory. Take my trip to the Peloponnese in Greece.

Sauntering down to its south-western tip, I fondly recall cycling past the hushed rustle of olive groves in the coastal breeze, that first crisp bite of a traditional Greek salad at a taverna and splashing into the inviting azure waters of the crescent-shaped Voidokilia beach.

Moreover, whilst travelling through this land of ancient philosophers, there’s no shortage of opportunities to hit pause at a quiet spot and enjoy some self-reflection – if not to ponder the big questions of the world then perhaps simply to admire its beauty and your place within it.

One of the best moments of the trip was simply sitting on an empty beach in the early evening, the crash of waves sounding in the distance, and the dusky sunset giving way to a sky of sparkling stars. 

 

– Adam Potter, Content Editor

Cambodia

Ruins of Angkor Wat (Shutterstock)

Ruins of Angkor Wat (Shutterstock)

I have been fortunate enough to be a regular visitor to Angkor Wat for more than 20 years, yet the awe-inspiring grandeur of this temple complex never fails to take my breath away.

Every visit reveals another detail or decorative embellishment and I have lost days admiring the 3,000 heavenly maidens, known as asparas, that are carved into the walls and the detailed bas-reliefs that stretch out for 800m and bring Cambodian history and Hindu legends to life.

My last visit was particularly special as I explored the ruins anew through the eyes of my children. We are already excitedly planning our next trip in November. The magic of Cambodia endures.

 

– Chris Johnson, Think Travel Publishing Director 

More recommendations from the team behind Wanderlust:

12 (genuinely) hidden things to do in London

Cool places to eat around the world

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