The destinations we've missed in 2020, and the places we are hoping to travel in 2021

Ask any traveller what they want for Christmas this year and the answer will be a rather simple, "to travel". Or make that, to travel unencumbered of the constraints and burdens of the past nine months or more.

All any of us really want in our stocking this year is the opportunity to do what we love, to get on a plane or a train or even just in a car and go as far as it will take us (okay, well, a travel trinket or two wouldn't go astray).

Even with the tentative opening of select state borders recently, and the loose commitment to have Australia united by the end of the year, planning a holiday has never been more difficult.

And yet, there is light at the end of the tunnel (Channel or Swiss mountain, for starters, thanks). So it's no surprise to discover that among the gradually reforming Traveller team, our Christmas wish lists involve vaccine developments, certainty around borders, the chance to plan, the chance to dream, and the chance to once again do what we love most.

TO BE ABLE TO MAP A ROUTE AGAIN

Cobh, County Cork, Ireland.

Cobh, County Cork, Ireland. Photo: iStock

During the lockdown, I of course cleaned out stuff (who didn't). In the process, I rediscovered a giant road map of Italy that I used for my first drive around that beautiful country some years ago. I've long been talking about doing a full road trip of ancestral sites in Ireland and England and unfurling this map and seeing the little towns circled, the roads highlighted, I yearned to pull out the felt tips and design the route to my roots, old-school style. I would like Santa to bring me some good old-fashioned paper maps to that end. See Ireland.com visitbritain.com JJ

A REVIVAL OF A MORE TRANQUIL STYLE OF TRAVEL

I hope when international travel returns that we'll all stay calm and truly appreciate what a gift it is. I hope we'll take more care of our footprint and less care of bucket lists and Instagram posts. If we slow down, respect local cultures and the environment, and become less commercially minded and more contemplative, perhaps we can produce some positives for travel out of the COVID pandemic. Too big an ask? BJ

TO BE ABLE TO MEET NEW PEOPLE AGAIN (UNMASKED)

I'm sick of talking to people I know. I'm so ready to once more connect with someone whose life has nothing in common with my own, and see where a conversation might lead. So many of my favourite memories are built on the random encounters that crop up when you travel – from the grandmother in a Himalayan village who proudly showed me her collection of jewellery to a young Ethiopian boy sitting by a dusty road who wanted to talk technology. Give me more. See welcomenepal.com UJ

ONE WEEK IN TOKYO

Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo.

Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo. Photo: iStock

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I want to keep my fantasy destination reasonable. Realistic, even. I don't want to go to the US next year, and I'm not even holding out hope of making it to Europe. However, a week in Tokyo? A week to soak up one of my favourite cities in the world, to eat and drink and shop and browse and sightsee and marvel? To tap back into the travel experience in all of its otherworldly, discombobulating glory? Surely we could make that happen. See gotokyo.org japan.travel BG

TO MAKE IT AN OPEN AND SHUT CASE AGAIN

My suitcase has never sat still long enough to gather dust – until this year. It needs to get moving. (As do I.) So do all the little cell bags, squeezy bottles and other bits of ephemera that go into my packing and preparing for a trip. I'm very ordered, you see. And I love to write a timeline to departure and a packing list based on my itinerary and I never, ever forget my passport – except that once. I'll go anywhere, just to exercise this fastidious – and really very satisfying – process of preparation again. JJ

TO BE ABLE TO ROCK ON ONCE MORE

Is it odd that I love stones? The old stones, the ones piled up to form medieval cathedrals or ancient viaducts, tumbledown temples or mighty pyramids. Whether I'm in Egypt or Mexico or Cambodia, I get such a thrill out of putting my hands on their rough surfaces – some ever-cool, others slowly warming in the sun - and feeling a direct connection to the people who put them in place centuries or millennia ago. It's a feeling I've missed this year. UJ

A SOJOURN ALONG THE SILK ROAD

Uzbekistan, Central Asia.

Uzbekistan, Central Asia. Photo: iStock

Like many Australians, I haven't seen much of the Silk Road or the nations of Central Asia, where outrageous ice-encrusted mountain chains and deserts clash. I picture lurching dromedaries, mud-brick mosques, crumbling fortresses and fluttering prayer flags. The Silk Road was central to world history and the history of travel – surely it has to be seen. No harm, in this partisan world, if it reminds us of the interconnectedness of cultures, either. BJ

A RETURN TICKET TO GERMANY

The world-famous Christkindlesmart.

The world-famous Christkindlesmart. Photo: iStock

There's a reason I usually head to my other homeland, Germany, at least once a year – it's a place baked into my bones. From my younger days when I used to walk to school along cobbled streets to more recent times when I was able to explore obscure corners of the country in the name of work, this country is so much a part of me that I ache with longing for its familiar scents and sounds, from the aromas of fresh-baked bread rolls and coal heating to the quiet hum of the tram gliding along streets lined with linden and chestnut trees. See germany.travel UJ

TO BE ABLE TO PLAN AGAIN IN 2021

We may not get to do everything we want in 2021, but I'd like to at least start making plans for finally getting to some of my "one day" destinations and trips. There's nothing like having travel ripped out from under you to give urgency to such things. I want to see the Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland, World Heritage-listed St Kilda island particularly for the obvious reason that my AFL team is St Kilda, but also because it's such a special, wild and remote journey, only achievable at certain times of the year. See visitouterhebrides.co.uk JJ

A QUIET MOUNTAINTOP IN CHINA

In China's Six Dynasties period (220-589), Confucianism was in decline, Daoism on the rise and everyone was looking for an alternative lifestyle. Court officials abandoned urban struggle and politics and embraced tranquillity on mountaintops, where they wrote verses extolling the consolations of solitude and nature. Sounds like good advice in the exhausting 21st century. If a quiet mountaintop isn't available, a good book of Chinese poetry may suffice to soothe the spirit. BJ

NOW WHERE DID I PUT IT?

My passport. Seriously. I have no idea where it is. I put it somewhere safe in March and I haven't seen it since. At some point that is going to be a problem – though, probably not any time soon. BG

FIVE MORE CHRISTMAS TRAVEL WISHES

A COVID-FREE AUSTRALIA WITH OPEN STATE BORDERS

Right now, my greatest yuletide desire is the freedom to roam and explore Australia, to dive on the Great Barrier Reef, to drink wine in the Adelaide Hills, to take a road trip through Western Australia. And for this, we need a largely COVID-free country with open state borders. BG

BETTER CONSUMER PROTECTION FOR AUSTRALIAN TRAVELLERS

Without a regulatory framework that guarantees security of travel deposits such as exists in the UK, risk-averse travellers will be unlikely to stump up the cash for their holidays, and the industry will take longer to recover. MG

A FAST, RELIABLE COVID-19 TEST

The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is used to screen travellers arriving in Singapore from several "safe" countries. Test results usually become available within two days. Australian authorities should take note. MG

A WIDELY AVAILABLE COVID-19 VACCINE

Plenty of travellers won't want to stray far from home until a vaccine becomes available. Not only for themselves but also universally delivered in the regions they're visiting. Nobody wants to travel in a country where the population is still at risk. MG

A SAFE RETURN TO CRUISING

What has been overlooked in the whole cruise debate – largely targeted at megaships – are the incredible opportunities offered by expedition and small-ship cruises to have hassle-free holidays, often in places beyond the reach of regular travel. BJ

FIVE CHRISTMAS GIFTS WITH GET UP AND GO

FOR WHEN YOU WANT TO SHOOT THROUGH

Lightweight and compact, the new LUMIX G100 (from $1099) is a new digital single lens mirrorless camera designed and developed for vloggers and online video content creators. Its extraordinary tech includes three microphones that allow the user to capture immersive sound, a free-angle monitor for better video selfies, and frame marker with a range of popular aspect ratios. See panasonic.com.au

CREATURE COMFORTS FOR ON THE ROAD

Taking the furry kids on the road at Christmas? Put a Rufus & Coco seasonal toy under the holiday house tree. Rupert Reindeer ($16.95) is a rope toy for tug-o-war games and soft enough to be a comforting sleeping toy as well. Rufus & Coco also have a range of practical stocking stuffers, such as Water-Free Wash, a dry-shampoo for pets, a chamois towel for fast drying and a seatbelt attachment for pets in the car. See rufusandcoco.com.au

STUFF IT: LET'S GO

Made by Oroton, the Anya Medium Basket ($399) in Umber/Natural is a modern take on a classic style that's a versatile holiday staple, going from beach, to lunch, to market. It's crafted from a combination of woven straw and leather and detailed with brass hardware and a foil emboss logo. It has a drawstring closure with leather cord and natural canvas lining with an internal zip pocket. See oroton.com

HEAVEN SCENT FOR A SUMMER BREAK

For caravanners or even staycationers, brighten up the atmosphere with the aroma of Christmas without the risk of spillage with this limited edition of Circa's Liquidless Diffuser Set ($39.95). Ideal for packing into the festive kit, the Australian-made set uses dry-diffusion Scent Stem technology to release the Christmas Limited Edition Raspberry & Rhubarb and best-selling Jasmine & Magnolia fragrance. See circahome.com.au

THESE SHOES WERE MADE FOR TRAVELLIN'

Give the guy on the go some smart kicks from Melbourne shoe brand, Rollie. The company specialises in shoes that are super lightweight. And its new NitroBounce midsole is full of hundreds of tiny air cells that create a springing effect under impact. The Men's Weekender ($249.95) has sport shoe styling and comes in some fun colourways. There are women's versions, as well. See rollienation.com

Contributors: Ben Groundwater, Julietta Jameson, Brian Johnston, Ute Junker, Michael Gebicki

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