Travel

Travel Fantasy: Where Do You Want to Go?

This past weekend, we did something wild…

We drove up to Mamaroneck, a suburb just north of New York City, and walked around a little park. Not our neighborhood park! A DIFFERENT PARK!

As we strolled together along the bay, I listened to the seagulls squawking, Alex admired the skyline, Anton tossed snowballs, and Toby asked when we could go back to the car. It felt so, so good to be in a different place, we might as well have been a million miles away.

During this pandemic year, I haven’t let myself daydream much about traveling. Imagining flying to Michigan to visit my mom or crossing the ocean to see my grandmother feels like tempting fate. Who knows how long it will be until that can safely happen?

But our day trip made me hunger for more adventures. And the New York Times says that it’s actually okay — even good — to fantasize. “Anticipation is such a valuable source of pleasure,” said Elizabeth Dunn, a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia.

Plus, your dream trip doesn’t have to be flashy. When we start traveling again after a year staying home, Dr. Dunn says we’ll experience a ‘happiness reset,’ meaning that even low-key trips will make us giddy. “You can do something pretty simple and it’s going to feel fantastic,” she said.

So! Just for fun, for a pretend escape, where would you like to go, if you could? A certain hotel? A rocky beach? A relative’s house? Please share below…

P.S. Six ways to plan an epic vacation, and the weirdest best part of trips.

(Photo of the White Cliffs of Dover by Kirstin Mckee/Stocksy.)

  1. Frederikke says...

    My dream travel post pandemic would be traveling from Scandinavia where I’m from to California with my family. We would rent at house near the beaches of Malibu for a month taking small trips to SF, Santa Barbara and Laguna Beach, hiking in the canyons near L.A, looking at the views from Griffith Conservatory, strolling on Santa Monica Pier.. I could go on forever.
    My actual traveling plans this summer I we can travel, will be taking our car going to the South of France which we usually do in the summer. Can’t wait. But am afraid it won’t happen thus year either..

  2. Lisa says...

    I really want to go back to a particular hotel in Miami Beach. We (my husband, children and i) spend the day going to the beach and swimming pool and that’s it. That’s my dream. It was very cold in London and we’ve been under lockdown since December (I think – it’s been so long). Sunshine and swimming would be the perfect antidote.

  3. Virginia says...

    We live in Larchmont and spend a lot of time in Mamaroneck! If you need another park to explore Manor Park in Larchmont is also great! Beautiful water views and amazing houses to daydream about.

  4. Ashley says...

    The book, the Happiness Project says just that. She talked about her daughter planning her own birthday and the time she spends pouring over cake options at baskin robins. Part of the joy is the fantasizing!

  5. k says...

    I want to go home. I live in overseas with my husband. We welcomed our baby boy in July. I am desperate to go home but thinking too much about it is just sad and like you said… feels like tempting fate. So we will stay here and wait. We will FaceTime and text and share way too many photos and every once and while allow ourselves to daydream about the day he will meet his family.

    • Abby says...

      This is exactly my situation too. I feel you!

  6. Jess says...

    We live in the Bronx and drive-up to the Mamaroneck playground/beach regularly. It’s one of my five year olds favorite playgrounds lately. Check out the Rye Beach Boardwalk and Orchard Beach (playground, boardwalk, trails). There’s something so magical about the beach in winter for us. Solitary and magnificent.

  7. For my birthday in January we usually go to Mexico (lolsob) which is an incredible reprieve after spending our family holidays in Michigan every year. This year we drove the 90 miles from our home in DC to Richmond, VA and stayed in a hotel, ordered takeout from local joints and walked around (masked!) to the big city cemetery. Watching whatever random movie was on the hotel HBO and looking out a window to a DIFFERENT scene was almost as restorative as a trip to Mexico.

  8. Not a pretend but a real destination I never thought would happen but my friend will be getting married in Australia (where her fiance is from) so I am hoping to go there for that and extend my stay for a few weeks to really explore. The crazy thing is her wedding will be her first time going there since her initial plans to go there were disrupted due to the pandemic.

    But pretend vacation, I really want to go clubbing in Berlin. I am not usually a clubbing person, more a stay home and go to bed early person, but this pandemic has had me dreaming of dancing the night away!

    • Byrdie says...

      I’ve had dreams about dancing in the streets Mardi Gras style and that’s verrrry far from my normal idea of a good time, ha!

  9. cs says...

    I’m so frustrated by my best friend who has been traveling during this pandemic. Her first trip was from Austin to Denver in July for a few days and she just informed me that she is going to NYC for a few days for fun. She explained the first trip as wanting to ‘get back to a normal feeling.’ I’m just so frustrated bc I want to say that she is being irresponsible and hurtful to the nation, and that if she is travelling then she shouldn’t complain about the quarantine since she is literally not quarantining….but don’t want to sound preachy/rude.

    • Jessica says...

      The government completely failing the people is not your friend’s burden to bear, or yours. I understand your frustration and I think perhaps more of it could be directed at the “leaders” who got us into this mess and not the individuals trying to survive their lives being turned upside down. This is a systemic failure — not your friend’s. If she’s an anti-masker, anti-vaxxer…that’s another story 😂 but hoping this is something you consider since you described her as your best friend, I hope this doesn’t lead to resentment between you and impact your friendship for years to come.

  10. Kendra says...

    My husband and I managed a last minute trip to the UK, pre-pandemic. I would fly immediately back to England, to Bassenthwaite, in the Lake District, to the Ravenstone Manor Hotel. I want to drink British beer and eat fish and chips again in the lounge, in front of a roaring fire, while we laugh about the harrowing drive on skinny roads through the mountains, anticipate the next day’s trip to Scotland, and chat with the innkeeper about Liverpool’s win the night prior. Life seemed so simple and fulfilling that evening, and I can’t wait to live it again!

  11. Abbey says...

    I’ve got it all planned out. First, I go to lush verdant Vermont to visit my parents and my brother and sister-in-law. I make trips to the cheese market with my parents, I go for a run in the woods on the mountain they live on, I bring bear spray because bears, and we all have a little too much wine by the fire pit in the evenings.
    Then! I go to Rome to visit my boyfriend. We listen to the church bells while lazing in bed in the morning, walk the cobblestone streets, plan our lives around meals, I pause for an awkwardly long amount of time while I process what people say to me in Italian because studying in isolation has been a slog, and the rest of the time is spent kissing.
    Buon viaggio a tutti!

    • “Because bears” LOL

      And goodness, this sounds like pure perfection. I hope you get to do it all soon! x

    • Byrdie says...

      Sounds divine!

  12. Mona Cardwell says...

    My post Covid travel fantasy is to visit Naples and Ischia–inspired by Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend quartet. Then I would bullet train over to Venice and walk the streets of Donna Leone’s wonderful character, Commissario Brunetti. Following Venice, I’d wander around Florence until I was sated with art and culture and the musical Italian language. Not to mention the food…

  13. Lindsay says...

    Top 3 would be Italy, New Zealand or The Pacific Northwest. I could spend my life traveling if budget allowed!

  14. K says...

    I’d go to my parents’ place in South Korea!

    On a side note about the happiness reset, I took a walk around my neighborhood one morning without my young kids. It was the first time in awhile….and I felt like I was on vacation. :D

  15. Hallie says...

    I’m from Mamaroneck. Check out Manor Park next time in Larchmont – it’s an Olmstead park and a pretty magical spot!

  16. jane says...

    I am not sharing my ideal spot – it’s a wonder and I don’t want it ruined by a horde of tourists – even very cool ones lol.

    But it is green and lush with gentle cool breezes, glorious nature all around, and a tiny but sophisticated populous living simply – just my cup of tea.

    • Kate says...

      BRB – moving there right now.

  17. Lillian says...

    My daughter is turning 12 this May. We were truly fortunate that we went to London for two glorious weeks during what feels like the last summer. She had just turned 10 and it was her first trip abroad. London has always been a special place for me—it was my first trip abroad when I was 10 and I lived just outside London during my junior year in college (close enough that I had a favorite room at the V&A where I would go to study and read when my housemates were driving me crazy). I loved being able to share that city with her. We had been planning to go to Rome this past Christmas (my mom’s favorite city and the one she has been dreaming of sharing with my daughter). Obviously, that trip didn’t happen. Now we are dreaming of a week away from our house to quarantine at a different house. And still holding out hope that we’ll be able to be in Rome for Christmas some day…

    • Naomi says...

      This is our first trip post COVID! Mom-daughter trip to London. My daughter just turned 10, and I’m so excited to take her!

  18. Julie says...

    My family is looking to rent a house (safely) for a week this summer, perhaps near a beach or with a pool in the Northeast. If anyone has a great vacation rental website, I’d love some suggestions (or fun locations to go safely to enjoy the outdoors!)

    • Kate says...

      It depends where you’re going, there are some local vacation rental sites. But across the board the best ones are Airbnb, VRBO/Homeaway and I think I learned of OneFineStay in a COJ post years ago (pricey but very nice!)

    • Julie says...

      helpful thanks! We are based in NY, but are open to upstate NY, New Hampshire, Maine, anything on the coast… so basically anywhere we can drive to safely during COVID!

    • We visited Maine last summer (we lived on Long Island) and loved it. Beautiful, clean, uncrowded. We stayed in Portland, Bar harbor, and Boothbay. Bar Harbor is great bc you’re right next to Acadia National park. It’s a lovely place to visit :)

    • Jesse says...

      Go to Block Island! Over half the island is nature conservancy; it’s so beautiful. Don’t tell anyone about it ;)

  19. Kamila says...

    I have also been thinking a lot about this, and it is truly hard for me to say that not being able to travel has been really, really hard. It is tough to admit because of the judgments you face. It goes without saying that I’m grateful for my family’s health and financial stability – I’m always grateful for those things, pandemic or not. As a European living in Canada, I sometimes find that North American’s undervalue travel (just look at our standard vacation times!). I have family in Europe that has managed to travel safely last year and I’m happy for them. Travel is not just about chugging beers on a beach and “doing it for the ‘gram”; it is a passion and a lifeline, it is loving and missing the people in Morocco, it is deeply connecting with your Sri Lankan colleagues after a trip, it is coming home and finding your new favourite Korean restaurant that makes the KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) you’ve been craving since your visit to Seoul, it is connecting with Namibian’s at a communal table and sharing stories that you will remember and pass on, it is putting your trust into a stranger in the middle of the Jordanian desert, it is coming home and speaking of your experiences and the wonders in the hopes of helping people become more accepting of others that are different from themselves.

    I wish people would stop the judgment surrounding travel. It has turned so acrimonious. I believe there is room to be a concerned citizen, one that stays home and wears a mask to protect others and be someone who wants to fight for travel to return quickly and safely. I for one, am both.

    • Claire says...

      This is the best thing I have read all year. Totally agree!

  20. Somewhere with a pool. I’m thinking a private villa in Tenerife…

  21. Laura says...

    Copenhagen and Auckland are both high on the list for me. I also just read “Wintering” and am desperate to go see the Northern Lights in Norway and try swimming in the frigid seas off Finland for a mental reset…and I hate the cold!! I travel to sub-Saharan Africa a lot for work and I miss it so much. I would love to be on Zanzibar, or drinking coffee in a Nairobi cafe, or sipping wine in South African wine country, or standing in the spray of Victoria Falls.

    • Kate says...

      1. What do you do and where do I apply?
      2. After reading Wintering I also wanted to swim in cold water! That was the biggest impression the book had on me…the opposite of the ‘warm and cozy under a blanket’ I thought it would deliver haha

  22. Kate says...

    I would immediately run to visit my boyfriend in India. Anyone else struggling in a LDR separated by border closures with no end in sight?

    • Kate says...

      My roommate hasn’t seen his Australian girlfriend since she was here last February. I am in awe. They often cook meals together on Zoom and play games :) She also ‘zoom-visited’ us for Christmas dinner which was a cool way to include her in our festivities. They also send each other neat gifts for every holiday. When all this is over I hope I can attend their wedding!

      I have been in an LDR before and found the LDR subreddit very helpful at the time. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for couples separated like this.

  23. Kelly says...

    I would love to visit my son in Berkeley California. He moved there in July and this has been the longest I have gone without seeing him. He has been telling us about places he will take us when we can visit. I can hardly wait.

    • hi kelly, i’m from the berkeley area. would love to recommend the claremont regional canyon preserve hike. it starts behind the claremont hotel and possibly a place your son doesn’t even know about. incredible views of the bay! trail starts near the cross-streets claremont ave and stonewall rd. https://www.yelp.com/biz/claremont-canyon-regional-preserve-oakland

  24. Sally says...

    I spent a few weeks in Cape Verde (island in the Atlantic, an hour or so off the coast of west Africa) in the summer of 2016 and 2017. Only a couple of days ago I was fantasizing about going back… Standing in the surf, under baking sun, listening to the wind. The whole place is like sticking your head in the oven with the fan on!
    And sleeping naked on the balcony under an incredible starry sky! It’s the sky I miss most of all.

  25. Eve Briend says...

    Greece always.

  26. Emily says...

    I’ve also been trying to explore new-to-me parks in my city or even just different routes to the grocer to change my perspective. On another note, I grew up in Mamaroneck and many memories were made in those parks- watching fireworks with my family, having my heart broken at that waterfront (immediately followed by a car accident) and I even worked for the parks dept as a teen. I haven’t been back there in many years and seeing your post just took me down a nostalgia path in a sweet way. I hope you stopped at Walters for hot dogs.

  27. Janna says...

    1. mum
    2. Camino del Santiago- after walking the same walk hundreds of times over the past year, I just want to walk somewhere new, and keep walking….
    3. Road trip down the Washington/Oregon/California coast- still haven’t been to Cannon Beach and will detour a bit to go see Sedona

    • Nataliemklann@gmail.com says...

      I also have been dying to do the Camino. With a full time job and young kids, it won’t happen anytime soon, but someday !

    • Reba says...

      So funny that you should mention the Camino. After walking two different routes to Santiago, I felt–not that I had “seen it all,”–but that I should broaden my horizons and focus on some other places. Nevertheless, I have literally dreamed of specific points on the Camino at least once a month since the pandemic began. It is such a unique way to travel: I think my pandemic subconscious is craving that perfect balance of novelty and simplicity.

  28. Holly says...

    OMG, Julie! Thank you for posting this! I feel the exact same way!!

  29. hatty says...

    i just got so stuck on ” Toby asked when we could go back to the car”, lol. I have three boys and that is at least one of them every time we go somewhere—that and when can we go back home. I think it’s always been a thing with them but def more often now due to COVID.
    But we would just love to vacation anywhere with friends right now.

  30. Elisha says...

    My grandfather passed away last May and growing up we used to hike along a little canyon behind his back yard, getting back just in time for the most beautiful West Texas sunsets. If even just for the last 5 minutes of sun, I like to imagine the vacation I’ll not get in this life, but only in my memory, of the two of us sitting on the rock wall together looking out on the horizon.

    • lori says...

      This made me tear up. My wonderful Grampa died many years ago and I still miss him. Sounds like you have many wonderful memories to hold on to …. and there’s nothing like a West Texas sunset.

    • Amy says...

      This made me cry too! My beloved and loving dad and adored and adoring Pa to my little boy died in December. We were so fortunate that we got to be with him through every moment but I miss him HARD. I talk to him in my head all the time.

  31. Carrie says...

    This one rocks :)

  32. Sam says...

    Backstory first: Pre-pandemic and pre-kids, my husband and I visited the UK where my parents live. After less than a week with them in the tiny bungalow I grew up in, with the push-and-pull of parents who don’t accept you are grown people with your own opinions, he felt the similar need I felt my whole life …. to have his own space and to flee. We found a local AirB&B and had the most glorious overnight which allowed us all room to breathe. Yet it isn’t the quaint little cottage by the sea we crave. It’s the stifling, overbearing love of my parents and their smelly dog, Meg. I want to be stifled; I want my Mum to make me too many cups of tea a day; I want to walk to the pub for a pint with my Dad and catch up on the years (yes YEARS) that I haven’t seen them and squirrel away all the boring moments and all the annoying moments and ALL THE MOMENTS because I know now that life can be unpredictable and we can’t take the moments for granted.
    I didn’t realise how much I missed ‘home’ until I watched “The Dig” the other day, a Netflix movie set 7 miles from where I grew up. I now reside in Cleveland, Ohio but I sobbed as I heard the familiar lilt of my childhood. As soon as we can safely see my immunocompromised father and mum, I want to go home.

    • Ser says...

      This was beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. Sending you love Sam!

  33. Jessi says...

    We are dreaming of a trip to Hawaii, The Catskills, London & Amsterdam!

  34. Julie says...

    I’m enjoying all of the vicarious travel fantasies. This post is helping quell all of the feelings of rage and face palming confusion I have about the people who are out there traveling right now like there’s no pandemic. The posts to social media of cheek to cheek beach shots and group hangs and…
    I’d at least appreciate a Kim Kardashian “after weeks of quarantining and multiple tests.” Instead vacation shots with no mention of Covid and no masks are actually making me feel like I’m losing a handle on reality. (And these people aren’t Covid deniers. They’re self professed liberals, one with an MPH!) I’m just so confused.

    • Sam says...

      SAME, Julie, same. I couldn’t have said it better myself. I just wanted to let you know:

      A. You’re not crazy,
      B. You’re not alone,
      C. It’s not you who’s not facing reality, it’s them. And the blood will be on their hands, not yours.

    • E says...

      Omg, same same same same same!

    • Florrie Fiennes says...

      Me too Julie. And thank you for saying what you said..

  35. Aaahhh!!! I’m still dreaming and scheming about our Family Gap Year.

    https://feedingthesoil.com/our-gap-year/

    We were supposed to leave last June and chase the summer around the world. We were aiming to visit 13 countries in 12 months: Ireland, France, Switzerland, Norway, Italy, Croatia, South Africa, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Costa Rica, and the Pacific Northwest.

    Our children are in 4th and 2nd grade this year, which felt perfect. I’m worried that it will be harder and harder to pull them away from their friends for an entire year as they get older. We shall see!

  36. Lucy says...

    I would buy a ticket for the Orient Express and travelled from Paris to Istanbul sometime at the turn of the 19th and 20th century.

    • Meg says...

      I was just on the Orient Express site the other day, day dreaming about taking a trip on it!

    • Emily says...

      Yes, Lucy, Yes! With a proper sleeping cabin, ornate mahogany and crystal champagne glasses. I keep listening to the train sleep stories on the Calm app, hoping to be whisked away in my dreams….

    • Agnès says...

      That sounds so great!

  37. Jen says...

    I would love to take a year to live in Paris, then a year in Stockholm, then Copenhagen.

  38. sgh says...

    COJ community I need your advice! My gf and I are looking to get engaged at some point in the near future and would love to go somewhere abroad (outside of the US) to get engaged. I haven’t been able to travel abroad for immigration reasons so have no idea where we should go but very excited about it. Obviously not going to travel until is ok to do so but would love to plan it out while we are still in quarantine. Any suggestions of romantic/cool places to get engaged would be so amazing. Thank u!!

    • maria says...

      what do you like? culture, cities, natural beauty, modern vs historic, crowded or sparsely populated. It really depends on what you as a couple enjoy and your budget and how many days you have to get there and enjoy.

    • Audur says...

      I suggest Iceland!
      Breathtaking nature, warm and laid back people, sparsely populated with riverfalls, volcanoes, glaciers and magical landscape … and northern lights in the wintertime :)

  39. Allyson Dobberteen says...

    There have been studies that show anticipating a trip is just as happiness-boosting as actually going on one! That said, I haven’t let myself dream either. I’m setting my sights on a beach vacation (sun, warmth, local seafood!) hopefully this fall.

    • Amy says...

      I’ve heard that, too! It’s meant to be why multiple short trips are more beneficial than fewer long ones.

  40. SA says...

    I want to go everywhere!

    • Maria says...

      yes! i just want to go.

  41. Kayleigh Collins says...

    I would love to be in Santa Marta drinking a cocktail out of a coconut shell. Sitting on the beach Watching the sun go down, oh what a beautiful dream

  42. jdp says...

    london! hawaii! paris! santa cruz! tahoe!

  43. Stacey S says...

    I would love to travel from Denver to NYC–walk in a crush of people to a beautiful restaurant and later see a Broadway show. That’s all–just to be surrounded by people and see their full faces. This is exactly what I would have said I wanted to avoid at the beginning of 2020.

    • KB says...

      I agree with you wholeheartedly! It’s funny that as anti-social as I once was, I truly cannot wait to be around people in a real way.

  44. Lindsay says...

    Recently on a hike, one of my boys and I talked for nearly the entire 4-km loop about traveling to Japan. It’s a place that’s never really been on my radar, but for some reason (probably Pokemon!) it’s on his. I got so excited talking to him about the things we’d see, the food we’d eat, how busy Tokyo would be, how we’d ride the bullet trains from the snowy north to the tropical south. And suddenly I’m excited to visit Japan one day!

    • Jessi says...

      We went to Japan 2.5 years ago. It is such a magical place! It was the cleanest place we have ever visited and people were so kind and helpful.

      We took the bullet train and spent two weeks traveling to Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima and Nagasaki! I’m so excited for you & your son to visit one day ❤️

    • Rachel Pang says...

      oh that made me teary. My boy loves the Shinkansen train and would randomly talks about Hokkaido and Mt. Fuji, he’s five, and would ask if there’s any real train robot. We talked about a train ride in Japan and he looks forward to it. I hope your trip can be realised soon!

    • Karen says...

      My daughters very much want to visit Japan. I hope we can go one day soon!

  45. Connie says...

    Has anyone thought about how post-pandemic travel will be impossible for certain classes of people? Even before the pandemic, international travel was cost prohibitive to most. Now you throw in the cost of a COVID test (and the possibility of having to stay put 14 extra days because of a false positive) and it becomes even more of a deterrent.

    It’s the same with lockdowns: the wealthy can afford to lockdown because often their jobs can be done remotely. It’s not the same for blue collar workers. though. They literally can’t work from home and the lockdowns impact them differently than they do the elites.

    Something I’ve been tossing around in my head lately. The transfer of wealth occurring right now is interesting.

    • Angela says...

      I totally agree with you. Another angle to this idea is what about the people who rely on tourism for their income? They don’t have the luxury of a a paycheck without visitors! No doubt white collar people who collect a pay check(me!) have choices in this pandemic. To travel, to not travel. To eat out(or get takeout), etc etc. Anyway, a tangent, I’ve just been thinking a lot about what the loving thing to do through all this.

    • Connie says...

      Angela — I hadn’t even thought of the tourism angle. Great point! So much is changing so quickly. I truly wonder if we’ll recognize our country (or the world) this time next year. It’s already so different than it was in 2019.

  46. Elizabeth says...

    California to visit my mom and other friends and family – we live in Paris and haven’t been back since summer 2019

  47. Monica says...

    Yes! Happiness reset. I really felt that last week. I went on a short train ride to go to a rented cottage. I really felt the travel-butterflies, iih!
    I used to travel 3-4 times a month. Feeling so excited by a little train ride was really nice!

  48. Elise says...

    We have booked a big house in the Stockholm archipelago for Summer 2022 (surely…surely by then) to celebrate my Swedish mother’s 70th birthday. We contemplated keeping it a surprise but then decided that if she ever needed a time to plan and dream of warm Swedish summers and family meals outside, it was now! We surprised her with a video call and she and her sisters have busy making plans, 17 months out. We made the right call :)

  49. Cynthia says...

    I want to go to NYC to visit my oldest daughter. I haven’t seen her in over a year.

  50. Agnès says...

    There are many places i love, miss ans imagine, but all i really want is to go, to go and not knowing exactly where, just this vague direction on the map, feeling the freedom of “let’s devour nature, roads, hours, streets, nights, let s forget about routine, let s live the adventure of life.’ I can t wait to close the dor and LEAVE. Sending love, from Paris