2021 Family Travel Wishlist: All the Places We’re Dreaming Of

Dubrovnik, Croatia. Photo by dreamer4787/Adobe Stock

What a difference a year makes! This time in 2020, both our clients and our Ciao Bambino team were looking forward to incredible family vacations across the world. The pandemic may have put those plans on hold, but it never stopped us from dreaming, and while globetrotting will have to wait just a little longer, brighter travel days are on the horizon. Here are the places our team thought about often in 2020 and can’t wait to visit as soon as things open up again — beloved destinations we’ve missed as well as new favorites we’re excited to discover. Let them inspire you to map out your family travel wishlist for 2021 and beyond!

2021 Family Travel Wishlist
Sainte-Maxime in the South of France. Photo by Amie O’Shaughnessy

2021 Family Travel Wishlist Ideas

Our family bought a wonderful village house by the sea in the South of France in 2019 and we are crushed that we couldn’t stay there in 2020. We are Francophiles through and through and miss so much about exploring this part of France … the weekly markets filled with tables piled high with locally produced delights like cheese and honey; St. Tropez evening strolls; all things Provence; and, of course, rosé all day! I know we’ll get back to France soon and I’m counting the minutes. À bientôt! — Amie O’Shaughnessy

2021 Family Travel Wishlist
Breathtaking Alpine panoramas. Photo by Cary Walker

I’ve hiked the Alps a million times in my head since the pandemic began. Some of my best travel memories involve getting up early and setting out on a trail nestled high in the mountains. More than ever, I cherish the way the Alps make me feel small, the jawdropping scenery that catches me by surprise and the friends made along the way. I miss the quaint Alpine villages with their half-timbered houses, rosy-cheeked locals and hearty cuisine sure to satisfy my hunger after a long day of hiking. This year, I’m incredibly grateful for the many places I’ve visited that I will never take for granted again. — Cary Walker

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2021 Family Travel Wishlist
Costa Rica teems with capuchin monkeys and countless other creatures. Photo by Amie O’Shaughnessy

I was scheduled to go to Costa Rica in May 2020 and was so disappointed when I had to postpone. We are big adventure seekers and animal lovers, so I couldn’t wait to explore this tropical paradise with my family. Having had to pause our travel, we have done even more dreaming about everything we can experience in Costa Rica when we eventually get there. The biodiverse wildlife, varying terrain and thrilling activities have me counting the days until I can reschedule. — Megan Norris

2021 Family Travel Wishlist
Playful penguins in Antarctica. Photo by Amie O’Shaughnessy

Not being able to travel in the past year made me realize that travel cannot be taken for granted, nor can quality time spent with family. There is so much of the world to see, but many of us only saw the walls of our homes this year. For that reason, I decided I was no longer going to wait to take a bucket-list trip and booked a cruise to Antarctica for my family in 2022. It is still so far away, but having something to look forward to at the end of this is so refreshing. Now my family dreams about penguins and wide open spaces! — Melissa Smith

2021 Family Travel Wishlist
Borgo Pignano amid the Tuscan hills. Photo by Flytographer

I have been dreaming of returning to Borgo Pignano with my family since the first day we stayed there. The property is located in the Tuscan countryside with a backdrop of beautiful rolling hills that resemble a postcard. I love the maisonettes where you have your own space and a full kitchen. Visiting the farm animals, swimming in the pools, walks in the forest, picking from the local garden, sipping on wine and tasting the delicious local products are some of my favorite activities at Borgo Pignano. We are looking forward to returning soon for a relaxing family vacation! — Mandy Cecchetto 

2021 Family Travel Wishlist
Beach time in Los Cabos, Mexico. Photo by Natalie Ethridge

My family and I are thankful to be based in Los Cabos, Mexico, for most of the year. During the pandemic, we returned to the U.S. and spent months away. I missed everything about Los Cabos — the food (who doesn’t love fish tacos?), beach walks on the Sea of Cortez, sunsets over the Pacific and swimming in the warm blue waters. It’s open for travel in 2021, and I’m very thankful to be back enjoying it. I encourage all who haven’t experienced the Baja to do so when it’s time for an adventure again. — Natalie Ethridge

2021 Family Travel Wishlist
Sicily’s picturesque coastline. Photo by Brendan Considine

We went to Sicily for the first time in 2018 and then three further times in 2019 (to Taormina, Cefalù and Palermo). We had planned to visit Taormina at least twice in 2020. For the moment, Taormina sits at the top of our “favorite destinations in the world” list for a number of reasons. The first reason is that food is Italian (need I say more?) but with Greek, Spanish, French and Arab influences added to the pot. The second reason is that to us, Taormina is a combination of the romanticism of Amalfi and the cuteness of the Cinque Terre, without the crowds of either. Thirdly, we have the Sicilians — not only are they extremely hospitable, but they are known to have the best sense of humor in Italy, so lots of laughter is heard everywhere. As soon as it is safe to do so, this will be our first destination to visit. Arriviamo, Sicilia! We are coming! — Linda & Brendan Considine

2021 Family Travel Wishlist
The Badlands, South Dakota. Photo by Chelsea Johnson

Our family was all set to enjoy a month in Italy last summer, and the dreams of my kids meandering through ancient cities while eating gelato, frolicking through Tuscan farms and vineyards, and swimming on the beautiful beaches of Sardinia were put on hold as the world closed down. We did our best to make lemonade out of lemons, and ended up embarking on an epic road trip across the United States, enjoying several of our National Parks along the way. We’re still having fun exploring more of our own backyard, but we can’t wait for the day when we can all enjoy the dolce vita once again! — Chelsea Johnson

2021 Family Travel Wishlist
Harvesting oysters in Brittany, France. Photo by auremar/Adobe Stock

This past year was filled with many hours of virtual travel as I visited and learned about many destinations without leaving my desk! The silver lining was the opportunity to grow my wish list for future trips, coupled with meeting travel professionals from around the world. From Marie in Brittany describing a visit to a local oyster farm, to sharing a quick lunch on Zoom during a meeting with Goncalo in the Algarve, I now have a brand-new bucket list and I look forward to connecting with these amazing partners in person. As Annarita said from her office on the Amalfi Coast, “It’s just not the same without all of you here.” I know we all share that sentiment! — Susan Robinson

2021 Family Travel Wishlist
Norway’s Lofoten Islands. Photo by Virtuoso

Our family would love to revisit a favorite destination: Norway! One specific region that really interests us is the Lofoten Islands. With red and white fishermen’s huts surrounding the shoreline and granite peaks outlining the coast, this area is among the most beautiful places in the world. We would love to explore the region through hiking, kayaking, fishing, biking and boating while staying in one of the authentic “rorbuers,” or traditional fishermen’s cottages. — Melissa Rosdahl

2021 Family Travel Wishlist
Birdwatching in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica. Photo by Amie O’Shaughnessy

I was planning on traveling to Costa Rica last year and was so bummed it did not happen … hopefully later this year! I love adventurous activities and observing wildlife, so I can’t wait to explore this destination notorious for its well-preserved national parks and unique recreational activities. One tour I’m particularly excited for is a night expedition in the Monteverde cloud forest, when many peculiar animals are active. Many of the accommodations in Costa Rica are ecolodges that exquisitely blend sustainability and culture, making this tropical paradise the perfect destination to be inspired, unplug and travel responsibly. Pura vida! — Kiki Annis

2021 Family Travel Wishlist
Slovenia’s Julian Alps offer hikes for all ages and abilities. Photo by Barbara Weindling

We’ve been pretty restricted to New England and have taken to doing a lot of local hikes. It makes me miss my hiking adventures in the Dolomites of Italy and the Julian Alps of Slovenia. I’m imagining the mountain huts where I dined on pasta with wild mushrooms, Sachertorte and espresso on a restaurant terrace, surrounded by breathtaking views. And you can always take a ski lift up or down the mountain to ease the strain on tired legs! It was also an engaging way for our history buff teenage son to visualize the local military maneuvers of WWI. — Barbara Weindling

2021 Family Travel Wishlist
Dubrovnik, Croatia. Photo by dreamer4787/Adobe Stock

Croatia holds a special place in my heart! This past year I’ve started to plan a trip to the country, which has been open for U.S. travelers with negative COVID-19 results, but just couldn’t make it work with my schedule. My dream of hiking through the mountains and visiting Plitvice National Park, followed by a week on a private chartered boat trip from Split to Dubrovnik through the Adriatic Sea islands, will happen … someday soon. — Anna Sizer

2021 Family Travel Wishlist
Collision of glaciers in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska. Photo by Betty Sederquist/Adobe Stock

One of my family’s all-time favorite trips was a remote small-ship cruise in the Alaska wilderness. I’ve always wanted to return to explore the interior of the state, specifically Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve — the largest National Park in the U.S. yet sparsely visited. Its wild, untamed beauty is anchored by mountains and glaciers that offer adventures like ice climbing and glacier trekking, rafting, backcountry hiking and wildlife viewing. I want my next destination to be a place where I can breathe deeply and feel the spirit of adventure encroaching on all sides, waiting for me to reach out and grab it! — Kristi Marcelle

2020 Family Travel Wishlist
Hohenzollern Castle in southern Germany. Photo by scaliger/Adobe Stock

My family took a giant leap of faith and transformed our dreams of travel into a move to southern Germany. We couldn’t resist the draw of its storybook castles, seasonal festivals and central location within the EU. The logistics of moving during a pandemic were not for the faint of heart, but I am a planner to my core! Soon we will be back to hopping trains to Paris for lunch or Switzerland for a day of skiing. We can’t think of a better gift to our kids than showing them that home is wherever you make it, and we’re looking forward to sharing our adventures with everyone. — Katie Stewart

2021 Family Travel Wishlist
Swimming in the turquoise waters of the Sporades in Greece. Photo by Amie O’Shaughnessy

I have really been dreaming about visiting Greece again … islands I haven’t been to yet (there are only 6,000!). The gorgeous turquoise water, the amazing food, the beautiful landscapes and interesting historical sites — Greece is a love for me. I am looking forward to seeing the cave where Zeus was born, pink sand beaches, sailing, fishing, cheese making, pottery making, Greek music and dancing, and so many more activities. I can taste the dolmades now. Opa! — Helen Buckner

Relevant Links:

18 summer vacations to take before your kids grow up

Pick your passion: Best family vacation spots for every interest

10 family vacations that will change kids forever

10 great places to take kids … while they are still kids

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