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Aerial view of a boat on crystal-clear azure water fringed by green trees

Ten dream trips to book now

Not all trips are created equal – some require a bit more planning and coordination. High Life asks a panel of seasoned globetrotters to share what’s at the top of their travel agendas, from multi-destination itineraries to once-in-a-lifetime experiences

01/09/2020Updated 27/04/2023

Opening image: The Maldives (Ahmed Yaaniu). Above: Jade Mountain, St Lucia


St Lucia

Says who? Travis Levius, travel writer

For many, the ‘Caribbean dream’ looks like a beach with palm trees and turquoise sea water lapping at one’s feet. My ultimate vision has all this and a hillside view of the Pitons, St Lucia’s iconic twin set of volcanic spires, carpeted in green foliage. The one St Lucian resort I envision my scenic fantasy fulfilled in is the legendary Jade Mountain, where each suite’s fourth wall is removed for unimpeded views of the Unesco-listed peaks. I’d much rather relish sunsets from here than with my toes in the sand.

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An idyllic cove in Marseille (Matthieu Da Cruz)


South of France

Says who? Katie Gatens, commissioning editor of News Review at The Sunday Times

A big trip doesn’t have to mean travelling to the other side of the world. I’m desperate to get to France for a few weeks to really explore the country in depth. I’d start in Provence’s lavender fields and drive south to the Côte d’Azur, stopping off for a wild night in Marseille, a vivid city I’ve only passed through before, before heading up to Toulouse and Bordeaux for the wine (of course). I’d eat the freshest seafood in La Rochelle and stroll through St Malo’s mediaeval streets. The best bit? Absolutely no jet lag.

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A buzzing Hong Kong street after dark (Airam Dato)


Hong Kong

Says who? Rob Crossan, travel writer

Hong Kong is, quite simply, one of the most exciting urban hubs on the planet. In this dense, tightly coiled insomniac of a city, just walking around the Kowloon or Wan Chai ’hoods at night is an adrenaline rush. My planning is mostly based on finding the greatest dim sum – current favourite Tim Ho Wan is the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant on earth. Three or four nights is usually enough for me before exhaustion sets in, but I’ll definitely be making time to sail to one of the outlying islands for a day trip – possibly to fly a kite on the old smugglers’ island of Tap Mun.

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The 17th-century Nyhavn waterfront in Copenhagen (Marten Bjork)



Says who? Hattie Sime, deputy travel editor of the Daily Mail

Most head to the Danish capital in summer, when tourists swim in the pristine canals and absurdly attractive locals in half tucked-in T-shirts cycle along the cobbled bridges, lined with coloured houses. But I’m desperate to visit in winter when hygge, the chic Danish take on cosiness, comes into its own. I would spend my days pruning in a floating hot tub, while my evenings would be spent snuggling up next to a fire pit with a blanket in one of the city’s trendy canal-front bars. Fairy lights non-negotiable.

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A secluded island in Ari Atoll, the Maldives (Getty Images)


The Maldives

Says who? Ben Groundwater, travel writer

My travel dream features all of the clichés: the white-sand beaches, the crystal-clear waters, the palm trees, the cocktails. I’m planning to head to the Maldives, an island nation I’ve never visited, for an epic water-borne adventure, sailing the high seas on a live-aboard charter vessel, flitting from island to island, beach to beach, dive site to dive site, fishing spot to fishing spot, paradise to… paradise. This seems the perfect time not only to check off a journey I’ve long been meaning to take, but to get away from the bustle of civilisation and enjoy some time in nature – which, to me, means the ocean. 

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The town of Varenna on Lake Como (Adobe Stock)



Says who? Harriet Cooper, travel writer

A hankering for la dolce vita means one thing: a driving tour around the Italian lakes, preferably in a vintage open-top car (a girl can dream). After a couple of days in Milan – my list includes the pink marble Duomo di Milano, Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II for the ultimate in window-shopping – we’ll slowly make our way to lakes Garda, Iseo, Como, Lugano and Maggiore (at the latter, the short trip to Isola Madre to see the famous white peacocks is a must). Our days will be punctuated with long, lazy lunches in pastel-hued villages, boat trips and swimming, marvelling at the photogenic palazzos that dot the shores, scoffing gelato in shady squares and sipping an aperitivo while watching the sun catch the water.

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Ginkaku-ji, a Zen temple by Kyoto’s eastern mountains (Adobe Stock)



Says who? Ianthe Butt, travel writer

Japan has got completely under my skin. I’ve visited twice before and its tucked-away temples, work-of-art gardens, astonishing arts and crafts (calligraphy, kintsugi and next-level ceramics) and diverse landscapes have left me itching to return. It’s never been a show up and wing it kind of destination. To get the most out of a visit it’s wise to map out a route and book your accommodation in advance – and next year will be no exception. I’ll book to stroll under bubblegum-pink canopies during the cherry blossom season and in the summer, there are festivals and fireworks to look forward to. In autumn I’d watch sumo wrestling in Tokyo before beating a path south to scuba dive in the crystal-clear waters of the subtropical Okinawa islands.

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Kayaking past Smith Rock on Crooked River, Oregon (Michael Foushee)


American road trip

Says who? Chris Leadbeater, travel writer and US specialist

In almost two decades, I’ve managed to make my way through, and to, 36 of the 50 states. But there’s always more to see, even in the more ‘obvious’ corners of the country. I’ve set off on the fabled west coast journey south from San Francisco towards Los Angeles a couple of times, but following the shoreline north remains a personal itch to be scratched. Mountainous, forested and far less populated, the upper parts of California are much more mysterious than the better-known areas and big metropolises ‘below’. And Oregon offers more of the glorious same, in its dense groves of redwoods and lonely beaches. Then there’s Washington state. With its cool bar scene, musical heritage and amused appreciation of the often rainy weather, Seattle has long been my favourite American city. The idea of it rising up on the horizon at the end of a week’s road trip will always appeal.

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Bulguksa Buddhist temple in Gyeongju, South Korea (Adobe Stock)


South Korea

Says who? Alicia Miller, assistant editor at The Sunday Times Travel Magazine

Between the trendy fried chicken and beer joints of Seoul, the atmospheric temples of Gyeongju and the sandy beaches of Busan, it’s hugely diverse and feels largely undiscovered by western tourists, especially compared to much of neighbouring Japan and China. I went in November, during the autumn leaf season and the electric reds and yellows were startlingly beautiful. Next time, I want to visit in spring – the cherry blossom is said to be magnificent. 

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The Long Room in the Old Library of Trinity College Dublin (Adobe Stock)



Says who? John Summerton, Creative Director of Sidetracked magazine

I tend to avoid big cities in favour of heading into the wilderness, but I’ll always jump at the opportunity to go to Dublin – one of my all-time favourite cities. There’s no question that you’ll enjoy the ‘craic’ (and many pints of Guinness) along the famous O’Connell and Grafton streets, but explore further afield to discover a fascinating and charming mediaeval city. If you can, then also head to Croke Park to experience a Gaelic football or hurling match. You won’t forget it any time soon.

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