Revenge vacations: The most unique places you can travel to in 2021

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We just went through an unprecedented global shutdown during history’s most mobilized time. Before the coronavirus, anyone with Instagram (for some inspiration) and a credit card (preferably a travel rewards one) could book a ticket straight from their smartphone and jump on a plane to some of the best vacation spots such as Bali, Hawaii or Iceland — for cheap. Then COVID came around and we had to find ways to make our living room the next great travel adventure.

Travel is slowly coming back and not soon enough — people are ready to revenge travel to make up for a year spent at home. Many have already started, enjoying favorite destinations before the bigger crowds — and higher prices — inevitably show up. Pent-up demand means most major destinations are likely to be booked up this summer as people revenge travel to make up for lost time.

The COVID-19 vaccine has given many travelers new confidence. (Photo by 06photo/Shutterstock)

Cruises, road trips and flights look like the top revenge transportation and travel choices. Cruise bookings are up for 2021. Road trips have been hot since late 2020. Some travel experts even predicted 2021 to be the “year of the road trip,” although the vaccine has given millions of travelers new confidence that it’s OK to “move about the country” on a plane, as the Southwest Airlines ad says.

The TSA reported that airport security officers screened 1,357,111 people at airports on March 12 of this year, the highest number of daily outbound flyers in nearly a year. To compare, roughly 1.7 million people went through America’s airport security the same day in 2020, and 2.6 million in 2019, the busiest year in travel.

Revenge travel has taken hold — TSA’s daily reports show 1,580,785 travelers on April 2 and it’s likely the number of travelers who are planning on flying will continue increasing, especially this summer.

If you’re one of the millions planning on revenge traveling to have a good time with a vengeance, there are some things you should resign yourself to and prepare accordingly. Four travel trends you’ll probably see this year are:

  • Higher prices
  • Congested and fully booked locations
  • An emphasis on sanitation and social distancing
  • A return of husbands and boyfriends aggressively lined up in front of landmarks, photographing their girlfriends and wives for their Instagram feeds

You can best prepare for the influx by booking ahead, since many favorite places to travel may already be fully booked. Restrictions are easing up, but to make matters more complicated, social distancing will likely still be in effect, limiting the number of travel options and services. Airlines, hotels, tour operators and facilities may not be at full capacity just yet.

To make your first revenge travel adventure as satisfying as you envisioned in the last year of lockdown, consider a real disruption by avoiding the crowds and trying something different. The following hidden gems are less likely to be expensive and crowded yet could be equally (or more) fun to explore. Go out and travel like your life depended on it!

12 unique destinations to travel to in 2021

Million Mile Secrets has been keeping abreast of all the changes to travel due to COVID-19. The destinations that made this list have the virus under control or are seeing a decrease in new cases. Some places to travel are nearby and easy to access, while others require a jump across the great puddles known as the Atlantic or the Pacific Ocean. Here’s a breakdown of 12 of the best vacation spots based on how adventurous you want to be this year.

Domestic destinations

1. Lake Tahoe, California

Best for: A scenic outdoor getaway

Average Cost: $$

You can climb high to enjoy some spectacular view of Lake Tahoe.
(Photo by Rachid Dahnoun/Getty Images)

If you’d like to ease back into travel, a mountain destination with gorgeous lake views may be just what the doctor ordered. Other nature-inspired places to travel, such as the Grand Canyon or Colorado River, could be crowded. But Lake Tahoe and its surroundings may be the perfect place to duck in and out of civilization for a few days.

You could make it a road trip or fly into Reno-Tahoe Airport and rent a car. There are plenty of places to stay around Stateline/South Lake Tahoe and even casinos and nightlife. Or you could get away from the crowds by checking out more than a dozen ski resorts around the lake. The resort Heavenly, in particular, could be the perfect place to go for a hike or do some mountain biking with the gorgeous lake as your view.

2. Maine

Best for: A coastal foodie adventure

Average Cost: $$

Maine offers a lot to explore, including a portion of the Appalachian Trail. (Photo by Cavan Images / Getty Images)

Maine has miles of pristine, rugged coastline ready to explore. Best of all, most people may have chosen to head south to Long Island, the Jersey Shore or even further south, to Florida. You can check out more lighthouses than you thought you could be interested in seeing. Sea kayaking is a popular way to get out and about. But the coolest part of a coastal getaway in Maine is all the local food options.

Pair your getaway with delicious, soul-comforting foods and drinks. There are roadside ice cream shops, bed and breakfasts and family-owned restaurants serving fresh seafood and clam chowder, and a Maine Beer Trail featuring over 100 craft breweries. Just make sure you agree upon a designated driver in advance.

3. Puerto Rico

Best for: A Caribbean-lite experience

Average Cost: $$

No passport or travel visa is required for Americans to visit Puerto Rico. (Photo by Justin Lewis/ DigitalVision via Getty Images)

Puerto Rico is often overlooked by travelers looking for a Caribbean destination, but it’s one of the easiest places to travel to. It’s a U.S. territory, which means no passport or travel visa is required. Carry along your driver’s license or government ID, flip flops and a swimsuit.

You’ll find plenty of tropical beach options. You can literally get off the plane and find white sand beaches near the capital of San Juan. Or venture further out to Isla Verde or Culebra. No matter what spot you choose, you’ll likely have plenty of space to spread your beach towel out and enjoy revenge travel.

International Destinations

1. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Best for: The ultimate revenge travel

Average Cost: $$$

Dubai offered to pay the medical expenses of travelers who caught COVID while visiting. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets)

You could say that Dubai is like Disney for adults. You’ll literally find anything or everything you need. Want to ski on the 4th of July? There’s an indoor ski resort located in a shopping mall. Want to lay out and catch a tan, South Beach/Miami style? Dubai built miles of white sand beaches for every taste and budget.

Best of all, you can also experience the local flavor by venturing into the souks (outdoor markets) that sell gold, East Asian food and wares or even spend the night in a luxury desert camp. You’ll find that English is spoken everywhere, things are cheaper than you’d think and the people are friendly and hospitable — Dubai even offered to pay for your medical expenses last year if you caught COVID while visiting.

2. Greece

Best for: Making your friends and family jealous

Average Cost: $$$

Greece has lifted restrictions on travelers from 32 countries, including the United States. (Photo by Westend61/Getty Images)

The European Union is still closed to tourists without much news on when Americans can visit again. The good news is, Greece just lifted restrictions for U.S. travelers (and travelers from 31 other countries).

As of April 19, you’re welcome without quarantine or fuss to gorgeous Greek destinations such as Crete, Athens, Corfu or Rhodes. You’ll need to provide proof you’ve been vaccinated or show a negative COVID-19 test taken 72 hours or less before your flight.  

3. The Bahamas

Best for: A quick three- or four-day getaway

Average Cost: $$ to $$$

The Bahamas are just a short plane ride away from some spots in the United States. (Photo by Khaichuin Sim/Moment via Getty Images)

The Bahamas has reopened to U.S. travelers after an island-wide vaccination campaign and seeing some days with no new COVID-19 cases. To enter, you’ll need to provide proof of a negative COVID test before you get on a flight, apply for a travel health visa online and agree to take a rapid test on the fifth day of your stay. (If all the nose swabs are too much for you, book a shorter trip of three to four days in length before you’re required to test again.)

Getting to the Bahamas is relatively fast for an international destination — flights from Miami are less than 30 minutes long. You can even skip Florida and fly direct from New York, Boston, Chicago and Dallas. The effort is worth it — an abundance of white (and even pink sand beaches), fabulous seafood and Bahamian hospitality all make a Bahamas trip an unforgettable experience.

4. Morocco

Best for: A bucket-list adventure with friends

Average Cost: $$

You currently can visit Morocco with proof of a negative COVID test. (Photo by p. lubas/Moment via Getty Images)

The affordable nation of Morocco in North Africa has maintained relatively low numbers of COVID cases and deaths throughout the pandemic. Part of the reason is the king’s decision to shut down borders to all travel in and out of the country for citizens and visitors.

One of the few countries whose people can visit with proof of a negative COVID test is the United States. This means you basically have the Sahara desert, Marrakech, Fez and Casablanca all to yourself without worrying about the busloads of Europeans that normally take over. 

Family vacation spots

1. Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World – Orlando, FL

Best for: activities for the kids and adults

Average Cost: $$

Disney Parks in Orlando are open and fully operating. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Disney World is open and fully operating. And if you choose the right place to stay, such as Four Seasons Resort Orlando, everyone in the family could have the best time ever, regardless of age. Guests of the resort get complimentary transportation to the Disney Parks and are just a few minutes away from all the excitement.

And if you need a break from the “happiest place on earth”, the hotel’s pools and activities are a good way to take a break from the heat of the day or the crowds at Epcot. For the ultimate in social distancing, you’ll also have access to Extra Magic Hours so you can get to your favorite rides in the morning or evening when the parks are closed to the general public. 

2. Grand Hotel – Mackinac Island, MI

Best for: Letting the kids wander without worry

Average Cost: $$

The world’s longest porch at the Grand Hotel. (Photo by Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The Grand Hotel is often called “America’s Summer Place” because of all the activities. Guests of the huge lakeside resort can play golf, go biking or swimming, and explore the island. You probably won’t have to worry about long lines and crowds.

The resort is located on Mackinac Island on Lake Huron, which can only be accessed by taking a ferry. Best of all, you can relax and let the kids explore — there are no cars allowed on the island. Everyone walks, rides bikes or takes a horse-drawn carriage to get around.

Solo travel adventures

Camper Van Trip – Anywhere, USA

Best for: Travel without an itinerary

Average Cost: $

Many have turned to campers for socially distanced trips. (Photo by Hauke-Christian Dittrich/picture alliance via Getty Images)

You can rent a well-outfitted camper van to experience #vanlife, the ultimate in safe travel during coronavirus times. Companies such as Escape Campervan Rentals make it simple to grab a van and get on the road with no schedule or worry of full-occupancy hotels.

Choose a region of interest, book a van and go get it. Best of all, you’ll save money on hotel rooms and tourist restaurants. You won’t have to worry about awkwardly dining at a restaurant alone when you can whip up a quick meal while enjoying a lovely view somewhere. Camper vans come fitted with a compact kitchen and a cozy bed where you can catch up and read a good book or take a nap before you stumble upon the next scenic location.

Group travelers

1. Geodome Retreat – Sedona, AZ

Best for: The coolest vacation rental for a party of 6

Average Cost: $$$

Sedona, Ariz. is known for its stunning mountain and rock views. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

If you really want something unique for you and five of your favorite people in the world, consider renting the Geodesic Dome located in Sedona. The $390 per night with a minimum of three nights is a bit spendy, but if you split it with your guests, it turns out to be a bargain. 

The dome has gorgeous mountain and rock views from every angle. Juniper trees, red rocks and desert cactus are your backdrop. Cozy up by the fire and enjoy slow living. This vaxication is all about quality time with loved ones or friends — the satellite internet can be spotty and there isn’t much around other than the gorgeous landscape, ready to be explored. 

2. Olive House – Paso Robles, CA

Best for: A weekend of wine with friends

Average cost: $$

You can rent this house on a working, 20-acre vineyard for a quiet, luxurious getaway that feels more Mediterranean than American. The Spanish hacienda-style house sleeps four, featuring two master suites. There are three fireplaces, and private terraces to enjoy the views and relax.

Located on the top of a hill with 360 degrees of grapevines and olive trees, you may not want to go anywhere, but you should definitely venture down to the town of Paso Robles to taste and purchase some wine from one of the many local vineyards.

Bottom line

It’s OK to want to feel the sand between your toes again, to not understand the local language, to get lost in a maze of tiny streets — or to admit you’ve missed plane food. And it looks like you can do something about it now that COVID-19 seems to be easing up.

However, travel this summer will likely be crowded and expensive since millions of others feel the same way as you. Get your fix by choosing one (or a few) of the many more unique places to travel. The best vacation spots to revenge travel may be the ones off the radar of the majority of travelers, but the perfect way to ring in the new normal.

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Cynthia Paez Bowman is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets where she covers credit cards and general travel. Her work has appeared in Bankrate, GOBankingRates, Freshome, The Cheat Sheet, The Simple Dollar and Reviews.com.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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