Travel dreams

Big Sur coastline, California

By Caitlin Kelly

My California trip, solo, for the month of June, was a dream come true, something I had longed to do for many years.

Like you, perhaps, I still have some specific travel dreams, so it’s always a question of budget and time. I’m also not wild about any flight longer than six or seven hours — and now the places I haven’t yet seen are almost all long-haul flights, which means I’d likely stop halfway and stay for a day or two then take another four to six hour flight onward.

I’m really fortunate to have already visited most of Canada (except PEI, New Brunswick, Yukon, NT and Nunavut.) I’ve been to 33 of the 50 U.S. states — and not desperate to see the rest (OK, Colorado and Alaska, probably.) Have been to 41 countries, from Fiji to Peru to Turkey to Kenya, but (help!) there’s still so much more to see.

I occasionally read travel magazines, but am also a big fan of a weekly travel Twitterchat, #TRLT, which stands for The Road Less Traveled, and is run by a tour guide in Nairobi, Shane Dallas. It draws people from Dundee, Vancouver, India, and even Uzbekistan and Malawi. I learn a lot from it, and love sharing stories with people whose idea of a vacation is usually pretty adventurous and not just expensive luxury.

He lets us ask the questions, every week on a theme, which makes it more fun and democratic.

As readers here know, I’m pretty independent and not one for group trips or official tours. I would be highly unlikely to take a cruise unless it was a very small ship (and probably then our of my budget!) I hate being around large crowds (especially now with COVID and every emerging disease.)

My happiest vacations, and I tend to plan them carefully, usually combine spending some time in gorgeous landscapes/scenery with a chance to be active there, a hike or out on/in the water with, when possible, some sophisticated city time with shopping and a few great meals and some culture, whether a museum or gallery or concert.

I tend to be a high-low traveler — I’ve camped in a small tent at the Grand Canyon (not in it), have stayed in super elegant hotels like the Gritti Palace in Venice, had tea at the Ritz in London and cocktails at the Hemingway Bar at the Ritz in Paris, but was equally thrilled in Big Sur with a tiny room and shared bathroom and a burger and fries while staring at the San Gabriel Mountains at sunset.

It’s all about the experience!

My best trips, so far, include 21 days in Thailand, five separate visits to Ireland, many visits to various parts of France, (loved Corsica!!) and a great three-week, five-city Mexican adventure way back in 2005.

I speak good French and decent Spanish, so I love being able to use them.

Here are some of my dream trips:

Wadi Rum, Jordan

If you’ve seen the films Lawrence of Arabia and The Martian, you’ve seen the rust red landscape of Wadi Rum. Even the name! I’ve been following a WR tour guide on Twitter and now have a better idea what it could cost and how one even gets there. It’s easier to start planning (or not) once you do some research.


My parents went, a cousin lived there and a friend who works nomadically lived there for a while. Not sure I would do it alone, but it has long intrigued me, especially the deserts, mountains and design esthetic.


I’ve been fascinated by Japan since I was small and my father went there to make a film about it. Many of my friends have visited and loved it. I’ve read a few books about it. I admit I’m intimidated by a 13 hour flight from NY to Tokyo and the reputed high costs of lodging. My only visit to Asia so far was to Thailand in 1994.


Again, inspired by friends and their photos. So dramatic! (Have been to Kenya, Tanzania and Tunisia.)


Have never been — still! Especially interested in Crete and Corfu, but also the smaller islands.


Have you seen images of Torres del Paine? Whew!


I once did film research about it. Such an unusual place.

The Amazon

Fort Smith, Northwest Territories

Amazing aurora borealis and canoeing the Nahanni River.

Gros Morne, Newfoundland


Cornwall, Yorkshire and Northumberland, England

So gorgeous and rugged. I confess that watching the BBC series Poldark did it for Cornwall and All Creatures Great and Small for Yorkshire.

The Inner and Outer Hebrides

A young friend grew up there and returns frequently.


I feel like I’m the only person left who hasn’t visited!

What are some of your dream trips and why?

16 thoughts on “Travel dreams

  1. I took a dream trip last year to St. Louis, Las Vegas, and New Orleans. I liked St. Louis and was happy to finally have memories of the city I was born in, found Las Vegas to be overstimulating (though I would visit again just to stop by the Haunted Museum one more time), and fell in love with New Orleans, and would gladly visit again outside of summer or tourist season.
    As for future trips, there are plenty of places I would love to visit again and spend more time in, like England and France. I would also love to visit my old haunts in Germany again. And maybe another trip to Israel, though it’s not high on my list of priorities. Closer to home, I would love to see Boston again, with another trip to Fall River and the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast (so haunted!), as well as South Carolina to visit friends and hang out in Charleston.
    As for places I haven’t been yet, I would want to see Maine, especially Bangor, because of Stephen King. And I would love to see Providence, RI because it’s such a historic city with lots of cultural hotspots, it’s where HP Lovecraft is buried, and I have a novel I would like to set there. And if possible, I would love to see Italy someday, as well as Spain. There are certain haunted and/or macabre places in Central and Eastern Europe I would love to check out. And Japan is also on my list of places to go (though part of me is just happy to observe it through anime and manga, lol).
    Maybe someday. I’m low on vacation time and I’m just starting to pay off my mortgage, so it probably would take a while before I can go those places. Luckily, I have some trips planned for the near future that are writing-related or to see family, so that should scratch an itch.

    1. That’s a lot!

      I’ve been to New Orleans probably three times and enjoyed it but have so many other places yet to explore.

      Have been to Vegas 2 or 3 times but only for business. Not my cup of tea at all.

      Maine is gorgeous. Well worth a visit.

  2. I always enjoy planning travel and reading about dream trips! I would definitely recommend Greece, as I’ve mentioned before. Gorgeous scenery, culture, food… I hope you get the opportunity to go soon. I’ve been to Crete, mainland Greece, Lesvos and Corfu, but there are so many other islands and parts of Greece I’d like to explore. It’s a country with a special place in my heart.

    The nice thing about Corfu is that it’s only about 40 miles long, so we rented a car and were able to explore most of the island in our week there. It was so much greener than other parts of Greece, I was struck by the abundance of wild flowers in May.

    Patagonia is on my list too. I’d love to go to Croatia. I saw a documentary about the Plitvice Lakes national park there and it looks stunning. Also on my list: southern Spain, Madrid (again), Paris and, a bit further afield, California and Maine.

    I know Yorkshire and Northumberland very well, happy to share tips when you visit šŸ™‚

    1. I really enjoyed my week in Rovinj, coastal Croatia…if you (!?) have seen the BBC series Hotel Portofino, some of the scenes were filmed there. Those streets are very recognizable.

      Andalusia is amazing — go in spring when Seville is fragrant with orang blossoms.

      Both California and Maine are stunning — very different.

      That would be great!

  3. This is timely as we are trying to plan a trip for my husband’s 1 month sabbatical in November. That limits a lot of destinations, as we’d like to go to sunnier climes (but not too hot). Also limiting is the current Covid climate. Japan, where Stefan has been twice but me never, would be our first choice; however, like you I’m an independent soul and would not want to travel there as part of a tour group, which is currently the only way you can go as tourists. Are thinking of New Zealand, Vietman/Cambodia and maybe the Maldives. Probably S/E Asia anyway vs any of the Americas or Africa. Dream destinations for me are also the Hebrides, Ireland, all of Scandinavia, the Amalfi coast. BTW, I love solo travel and especially the Greek islands! Was recently in Naxos and Amorgos.

    1. I think I remember you posting from the Maldives?

      New Zealand!!! It is fantastic. I was there in 1998,. alone, only on the North Island. Loved everything about it — great food, kind people, gorgeous scenery, It would be a brutally long flight for you, but so worth it.

      I am eager to return to Scandinavia but it is so pricy! I did some writing for a client in Helsinki, profiling a senior female energy executive, and watched two crime series set in Finland — all of which really intrigued me. One advantage of Finland is easy ferry access to Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania — so that would make an easy tour.

      I also want to see northern Italy — Lake Como and the Dolomites. Maybe Milan.

      1. The island I posted about was Mauritius (Ile Maurice). Volcanic and much more mountainous than the Maldives, which are known for hotels with rooms on stilts right over the water. Any flight that way is sooo long! Hate that bit but we might shorten with a stopover somewhere like Dubai.
        When you live in Switzerland, most destinations feel like good value. And northern Italy is wonderful – we’ve been to Lake Como, Major and Garda.

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