Lonely Planet has unveiled a radical reimagining of its much-awaited Best in Travel picks for 2021, reflecting an unprecedented year of disruption in the travel industry.
For the first time, this year's list spotlights not only places but also people and communities who are transforming the travel industry. In 2021, Lonely Planet is looking ahead to the important changes taking place globally, from sustainability to diversity, and shining a light on the future of travel.
"Travel is a much more considerate exercise in 2021 than it has been ever before," Lonely Planet CEO Luis Cabrera said. "With travelers cautiously re-engaging with the world and focused on ensuring their impact is safe and positive for host communities, we have decided to highlight destinations and individuals that truly enable visitors to have transformative experiences and make genuine contributions."
Travel is always changing. Best in Travel 2021 champions people who make travel a force for good, all the more essential in a year when COVID-19 has disrupted and deprioritized travel. Best in Travel 2021 reflects how travel contributes to sustainability, community, and inclusivity and ponders how we can best explore the world responsibly. Rather than delivering a destination bucket list, Lonely Planet focused on how people travel now: outdoors; in family groups; purposefully; with careful attention to the communities they will explore.
After a tumultuous year for travel, Best in Travel also symbolizes Lonely Planet's commitment to these values. "We are taking the chance to re-emphasize what we are here for and why: our mission remains to be a trusted travel companion. One that inspires, informs, and guides, while being in sync with your travel wants and needs," said Cabrera.
Lonely Planet started the process for the 2021 Best in Travel list by seeking nominations from Lonely Planet's vast community of staff, writers, photographers, videographers, bloggers, publishing partners, and more. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic struck and, like the rest of the travel world, Lonely Planet hit the pause button. But other things changed, too. The conversation surrounding diversity took a decisive shift. The future of travel moved towards small-group engagement and decades-old issues like overtourism came back to the forefront. As a result, Lonely Planet's picks fit this new approach and are tailored for travel in 2021 — a year that's going to be like no other.
Highlights in Lonely Planet's Best in Travel List for 2021:
Discover the remarkable people and places transforming travel and making the world a better place - for now and future generations. Winners include:
- Soraya Abdel-Hadi
- Le Vie di Dante (Roads of Dante)
- Antigua & Barbuda
- Rocky Mountaineer
- Virginia Mountain Bike Trail
- Grootberg Lodge, Namibia
- Gothenburg, Sweden
Everyone has a different story to tell. Celebrate the people and places that illuminate the mosaic of stories and perspectives found around the world. Winners include:
- Gabby Beckford, Packs Light
- Costa Rica
- El Hierro, Spain
- Hiakai, New Zealand
- Jeff Jenkins, Chubby Diaries
- Wheels of the World
- Karl Krause and Daan Colijn, Couple of Men
- Gullah Islands, USA
- San Diego, USA
- Amman, Jordan
Who knows best what kind of travel will benefit their communities? People who live and work there, of course, offering authentic and unforgettable experiences that give back to local communities. Winners include:
- Invisible Cities, U.K.
- Faroe Islands
- Medellín, Colombia
- Tesfa Tours, Ethiopia
- Hesham Moadamani, Refugee Voices Tours
- Footprints Café, Cambodia
- Burren EcoTourism Network, Ireland
- Georgette Jupe, Girl In Florence
The Best in Travel list is a two-way street in 2021, as well. In January, Lonely Planet will announce readers' nominations of their own favorite people and places that are shaping the future of travel this year and beyond. Reader's Choice voting begins today and can be found on the Best in Travel landing page.
For those interested in visiting one of the destinations in Lonely Planet's Best in Travel list, KAYAK's suite of COVID-inspired tools, including its flexible filters, Explore feature, and Travel Restrictions map can help travelers do it smartly.
For more information on the Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2021 list, go to www.lonelyplanet.com/best-in-travel. Award destinations can also be explored with Lonely Planet's Guides app for free and on social media channels via #BestInTravel.