#TTCTop10 – Jo Basley, president of Grand European Travel, shares her 2020 Vacation Bucket List – taking a look across the destinations and trips she hopes to cross off this year!
As 2019 comes to a close, it’s always fun to look back at the highlights of the year. Trips with friends and family are by far my favorite and 2019 was no exception. I knocked off a couple of firsts with trips to Seville, Spain and to the island of Guernsey in the Channel Islands. I visited Belfast and fell in love with everything about it once again (my last visit being when I was 8 years old). But by far the biggest highlight of the year was our family vacation to Europe, where for eight glorious action-packed days I revisited some of my favorite European cities and watched my kids revel in the excitement of seeing iconic places on their travel “wish list” for the first time – including Paris, Lucerne, and Amsterdam.
With 2019 travel firmly in the rear-view mirror, my attention has flipped to this year’s adventures. What’s on my 2020 Travel Bucket list? The list is constantly changing as I discover new places in magazines and travel shows, hear stories from friends and co-workers, or find myself lost in the travel boards of Pinterest…but for right now…here’s my #TTCTop10, a mixture of countries, cities, and sites that have tickled my wanderlust:
A carry-over from last year, Iceland is still high on my list of places I really want to visit. With its breath-taking scenery, volcanoes, hot springs and of course the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) this small Nordic island nation will very soon be conquered… by me in January 2020!
Known as the jewel of the Adriatic, from the ancient walled city of Dubrovnik to the terraced lakes interlinked by waterfalls and footbridges of Plitvice National Park, to the coastal city of Split on the Dalmatian Coast, Croatia truly has something for everyone. The island of Hvar was recently voted the 2019 best island in Europe by readers of the world’s leading travel magazine Conde Nast, with Croatia ranking as the 20th favorite country in the world! Insight Vacations Dalmatian Elegance trip is a great way to explore Croatia by yacht and is perfectly paced with time to explore as well as relax on board and soak up the spectacular scenery.
Another holdover from last year, Peru and a trip up to Machu Picchu is still firmly on the list of places I want to see and experience for myself. Trafalgar’s Highlights of Peru includes all of the must-see sights, as well as some unique experiences that not only educate travelers and connect them with the local people but also gives back and makes a difference to the people and the community such as visiting a local market with a young chef, a traditional chichi tasting at a local chicheria and a visit to the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco.
Rich in history and culture, Istanbul is a major city straddling two continents. Brimming with memorizing sites, intoxicating flavors and spices, and stunning scenery, I’m drawn to the excitement and hustle and bustle of the Grand Bazaar and I’m intrigued as to what treasures I’d find there. The Hagia Sophia and nothing short of spectacular and its history complex and fascinating. With an amazing food scene and a trip topped off with a cruise along the mighty Bosphorus, Istanbul has all the fixings for the perfect city break.
Yellowstone National Park
Since moving to the USA 20 years ago, I am ashamed to say that I have explored very little of it. Visiting as many of the National Parks is a family goal and we are very tempted to kick off our quest on Trafalgar’s Scenic Parks Explorer which covers eight states and eight National Parks – including two nights in Yellowstone!
After watching a travel show on The Forbidden City and Great Wall of China, Beijing captured the attention of my 12-year old and is currently #1 on the places he wants to visit. I didn’t need much convincing and nor did the rest of the family…so a trip to China is highly likely in 2020!
I love nature, hiking and the great outdoors. And am a huge sloth fan…(who doesn’t love sloths?!) yet I still haven’t made it to Costa Rica. Not only is this wonderful country home to my favorite mammal it’s also home to an abundance of birds, tropical rain forests, volcanos, and turtles. I have a friend who was lucky enough to visit Costa Rica during the turtle nesting season and saw a turtle lay her eggs. She said it was by far the most profound and emotional experience of her life. I hope to be as lucky when I visit!
The Rhine River
There is something amazingly calming about spending time close to the water. This could be a few days at the beach, renting a lake house, or literally “living” on the mighty Rhine River for a week! U has revolutionized river cruising and I really hope to spend a week with my girlfriends Rolling on the Rhine this year. With fun onboard activities like a silent disco (YES! – anyone that knows me knows I love to dance), rooftop yoga, mixology classes, and on-deck art classes, as well as plenty of on-shore activities to choose from – this is the perfect trip to connect with friends.
Egypt has been a bucket list destination since I studied the ancient Egyptians in Primary (Elementary) School! After a turbulent few years, Egypt is open for business once again and there has never been a better time to go than now. With fewer crowds, you can see more! I’ve been trying to coordinate dates with another family to travel together with our kids for the ultimate educational experience for us all…maybe 2020 will be the year I knock it off my list!
Tasmania was cemented onto my bucket list after attending a travel conference and hearing the product manager describe the Perfect Tasmania trip offered by Trafalgar. The tiny island off Australia’s south coast is extremely rugged and extremely fertile making it the perfect destination for lovers of wildlife, adventure, and fine food and wine! During the Trafalgar trip, travelers can make their travel matter and make a difference by sharing their sightings of marine mammals and birdlife to assist the monitoring of endangered wildlife for the Tasmanian Nature Conservation Branch while cruising on Wineglass bay!
I hope that I inspired you to create and share your own #TTCTop10 list of trips that you’d love to go on!