Always Packed: My Top 10 Bucket List for 2020 January 7, 2020

President's Cruise onboard the S.S. Bon Voyage

It’s true what they say. Travel planning is one of the most satisfying and pleasurable parts of the travel process. It’s when the dream takes shape as plans of where to go (and what to do, see, eat, sip, learn and possibly acquire) are conjured up in my imagination. And at each new year I take a moment to reflect on where I’ve been and even better, where in the world I intend to be.

Dune of Pilat

My travel wishes for 2019—the chance to explore more of the Europe I thought I knew so well—came true. Best of all, I got to experience these fascinating places: beautiful Bordeaux, charming Porto, and surprising Guernsey all for the first time. In addition, I made my annual trip to visit with my team and partners in Sydney, Singapore and Malaysia.

During the annual President’s Cruise aboard the reimagined S.S. Bon Voyage I took a sunrise hike to the otherworldly Dune of Pilat, Europe’s highest sand dune. I met with partners to prepare for the S.S. São Gabriel in lovely Porto. I joined TTC colleagues at Red Carnation’s The Duke of Richmond Hotel on the English Channel island of Guernsey. It was an incredible escape to a place I had dreamed about after reading the bestselling novel, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. (All those hours on planes give me time to catch up on my reading.) I also got to see some of the island’s 1,400 cows and beautiful beaches. On a more personal (and less far-flung) note, I also achieved one of my most important goals for 2019: getting my youngest daughter settled into her first year of college at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. It involved several treks to my hometown, including moving her in and visiting parents weekend, and, I am happy to report, resulted in a great first semester for someone I can’t stop thinking of as a toddler.


Ellen with Family

For 2020, I hope to travel to the rain forest of the Amazon to the deserts of Egypt and Jordan. I’ll return to favorite cities Venice and Budapest and discover places I’ve only dreamed about, including Prague, Vietnam and Cambodia. And I’ll follow personal passions to explore Down Under, go wine tasting in nearby Napa and chase the royal lifestyle in the English countryside and Scottish Highland.

Here then, my top ten list. Truly, my bucket runneth over…

1. Sydney – I have been to Sydney several times but always on business. That changes this February, when I plan a “bleisure” trip, extending a work trip to play tourist for a few days with my husband Jack. We plan to hike up the Sydney Bridge, meet the local Kangaroos and of course sample their famous wines. Thanks to AAT Kings’ easily consumed short breaks and day trips.




2. Jordan – The S.S. Sphinx sets sail in September and if she’s not sold out, I fully intend to join a voyage in the fall. While I’ve been to Egypt, Uniworld offers the option to experience Jordan and I am very excited to visit the Iraq Al Amir Women’s Cooperative, the organization funded by TreadRight that helps women gain and maintain their independence. This experience brings to life The Pledge I took along with my colleges and customers to Make Travel Matter.


3. Prague
– The capital of the Czech Republic has been on my bucket list for much too long, and 2020 is the year I finally visit the “City of a Hundred Spires”, when I host our annual President’s Cruise along the Danube. I plan to finally get there when I take advantage of Uniworld’s three-day Prague extension and finally experience the many cultural attractions, many of which survived the violence and destruction of 20th-century Europe. Main attractions include Prague Castle, Charles Bridge and the Old Town Square with the Prague astronomical clock. I can’t wait to explore!


4. Napa
– Apparently there is more to California than LA and the confines of the southern reaches of the state. After living here for three years, I intend to discover Northern California with my sister brand Trafalgar Tours. From sipping wine in the Napa valley to discovering the beauty of Yosemite, it will be special to wander and wonder so close to home. I love the idea that it will all be planned and curated for me.


Napa Vally

5. New Zealand
– This year, I purchased an electric car, added solar panels to my home and like Uniworld, banished plastic water bottles and focused on reducing single-use plastic. So you can see, my family and I are committed to environmental sustainability. In 2020, I will be turning to Inspiring Journeys’ and New Zealand to strengthen that dedication. New Zealand not only has a reputation as one of the most beautiful places on earth, but also for its own commitment to sustaining that environment. In discovering Inspired Journeys, which offers small-group, immersive journeys to remote locations there. I can’t wait to enjoy an authentic encounter with choice scenery, the freshest food, great wines and the nicest people. Preserving what is best for others to enjoy is a journey everyone needs to go on.


New Zealand

6. Great Britain
– I have read every book by English historical novelist Philippa Gregory, am utterly obsessed with television’s The Crown and yes, have watched every Royal wedding since Charles married Diana. So I am very excited to live out some of my royal fantasies this summer on Luxury Gold’s British Royal itinerary. The nine-day coach trip takes you beyond the usual London stops to explore inner Britain, visiting castles and countryside, through storied stops like Stonehenge, Bath and the Lake District.


7. Peru
– The Peruvian Amazon was on my bucket list long before it became Uniworld’s newest destination. I cannot wait to explore the rich culture and diversity of landscapes on this amazing 15-day adventure. Uniworld has enhanced the traditional Peruvian Amazon Experience by adding a pre-extension in Lima and post-extension to Machu Picchu. It’s an opportunity to experience the region and its natural beauty, while being pampered.

8. Stonehenge
– My passion for historical fiction is especially piqued when the story is intertwined with romance, a literary feat that author Diana Galbadon of Outlander fame does so well. Her series of novels kicks off when the heroine Claire Randall, a WWII combat nurse, wanders into a passage that transports her in time. The scene takes place at a fictional prehistoric stone circle, but it is certainly inspired by Stonehenge. Now, I’m bent on finding that time warp. To make it so, I plan to turn to our partner Evan Evans, which offers fantastic day tours that cover the Royals and historical fiction. If I don’t come back, look for me in the 18th century.



9. Vietnam and Cambodia
– These countries have called out me for a long time, and I know they would be equally intriguing to my family. In fact, I’m thinking of surprising them with a trip over Christmas 2020 on Uniworld’s new Mekong Jewel. Replacing the Mekong Navigator, it is an all-suite Super Ship, built with sustainable, eco-friendly materials, but comprising Uniworld’s usual luxurious appointments. It will be a treat to celebrate the end of the year and a chance to connect with my adult daughters and my husband, a child of the ‘60s who finds it ironic that Vietnam is now on his bucket list.


Ha Long Bay

10. Venice
– Even while I’ve visited it many times, Italy holds a permanent top place on my travel bucket list, with its richness of history and beauty. Now Uniworld provides another irresistible reason to go back, the launch of the new S.S. La Venezia in one of my favorite Italian cities: Venice. Our newest Super Ship will not disappoint. It will have more suites and more dining venues, as well as authentic luxurious finishes that bring the essence of Italy onboard. Another reason to say “si” to this incredible place of art, culture, food and life. Ciao, bello!


River Countess in Italy

I hope you enjoyed reading and are inspired to pack up and go on an incredible adventure in 2020!

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