So how is 2021 so far? Pretty OK? No different? Colder?
I am once again writing to you from the past, as I am off for the New Year’s Day holiday. And even though the calendar still says 2020, my brain has already checked out of this year and moved on to 2021.
I’m not really the kind of person who makes New Year’s resolutions. The best thing I can say about them is that they gave us that episode of “Friends” where Ross makes a resolution to try something new everyday and ends up in a pair of way too-tight leather pants.
Even if I were that type, I don’t think 2021 is the year for big sweeping declarations to change our lives for the better. It’s the year of small, incremental changes that slowly make life better, like, say, delivering a vaccine, one vulnerable population at a time.
So here are all the goals I’m willing to put on paper for the new year: I will try to be easier on myself for not being perfect, for putting off cleaning the kitchen or wearing sweatpants during the work day. I will keep my distance as long as I have to, wear a mask and stay home. I’ll talk to my friends and family. I’ll play with my dog.
Learning a new language or running a marathon? Let’s save those for 2022.
Today’s (hopeful) 2021 plans
Canceled trips. Dashed plans to see family and friends. Missed opportunities to explore different places and cultures.
It was a year of disappointment for travelers as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world. Health officials’ advice not to travel, personal concerns and government-imposed travel restrictions to stem the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 halted much of our movement this year, for business, pleasure and family.
But as the vaccines begin to roll out, the USA TODAY Travel team is hopeful that 2021 will bring more opportunities to travel the globe – to the destinations we’ve been wanderlusting after over the course of this trying year. Editor Julia Thompson wrangled her reporters and a bunch of other writers and editors across our newsroom (myself included) to write about 100 places we want to visit when it’s safe again (my entries: to Michigan and London to see my family).
Here’s an sampling of some of the places my colleagues are dreaming about. Hopefully someday soon, we won’t just be taking vacations to these places in our minds.
- Madagascar: Maybe I’ve watched the DreamWorks movie too many times with my kids in quarantine, but Madagascar seems like the perfect respite from Zoom meetings to get reacquainted with nature. – Julia Thompson, USA TODAY travel & consumer news editor
- Randolph, New Jersey: Maybe this is too simple or cliche, but I want to go home to New Jersey. I haven’t been back since the pandemic began, which pained me this fall. Nothing compares to the fall foliage leading to the house where I grew up – cozy canopies of red, yellow and orange. A rollicking European getaway is next on the list, to be sure, but a stop in exurban ecstasy sounds ideal first. – David Oliver, USA TODAY entertainment reporter
- Oaxaca, Mexico: After my dad died, my mom and I started taking a yearly vacation together. My mom was born in Oaxaca, and we’ve never been there together. We’ve made a commitment that this will be our next trip, and we want to be there to celebrate Día de los Muertos in 2021. – Sandy Hooper, USA TODAY senior video producer
- Galway, Ireland: The west coast of Ireland is home to miles of wild and forbidding landscape, and the warmest most hospitable people in the world. An Irish hug along with a dose of Irish wit (in a cozy pub with a pint in hand) would do us all a world of good when this is over. – Katie Kelly Bell, USA TODAY travel contributor
- The mountains: I’m not really a skier, but I can’t think of a better balm for 2020 than mountain air and a bloody mary (or two). Any mountains will do, but Crested Butte, Colorado, has a special place in my heart. It still feels a bit like an old ski bum town, not overly haughty, and there’s a Waffle Cabin. Enough said. – Annah Aschbrenner, USA TODAY 2020 elections editor
One more Christmas-themed pet picture, even though it’s after New Year’s Day. It’s too cute to pass up.
This is Freddy. “He likes to hang out in my Christmas tree,” says his owner, reader Colleen Endres. “I have two bags of concrete on the tree stand and no breakable ornaments… so it’s all his!”
Enjoy your giant toy, Freddy.