It’s a travel season like no other — but the world is still your oyster.
If 2020 was the year of the staycation and keeping your passport in a drawer, happily things are now shaping up differently, with travel-deprived wanderlusters embracing innovative ways of seeing a world beyond their four walls.
Foremost amongst them, a new phrase set that’s set to become familiar lingo: travel pod.
Essentially, members of your travel pod — be they family or friends — all share the same views on risk and personal responsibility around health and safety, be that mask wearing, social distancing, testing, and quarantining (or all four).
Everyone agrees on a set of rules to follow — not just during the trip, but also prior. For example, you minimize social interactions in the weeks leading up to departure, then during the trip itself, you stay together as a group, reducing the chances of coming into contact with other people.
So, when you’re on the brink of being pod-ready with trusted fellow adventurers, dust off your passport and get inspired — travel restrictions permitting, obviously. There’s certainly no shortage of beautiful destinations and experiences to reignite that travel flame.
Getaways that minimize travel complexity while maximizing freedom don’t come much more luxurious than a sailing adventure around Indonesia’s remote archipelagos aboard the stunning handcrafted phinisi yacht, Dunia Baru.
Chartering it exclusively for your travel pod means no interactions with other guests, while popular destinations include Raja Ampat, hundreds of jungle-covered islands known for some of the world’s best reefs and diversity of marine life.
Indonesian for “the new world” — which seems highly appropriate — Dunia Baru can accommodate seven couples, each with their own luxurious en-suite teak cabin. Experiences include PADI-certified scuba diving, jet-skiing, manta ray encounters and lazy lagoon afternoons for a feeling of isolation of a very different kind. Then when it comes to dining, a teppanyaki grill is the perfect indoor-outdoor space, as chef prepares feasts served al fresco.
New Zealand has managed to maintain a rare level of normality this past year, and a short excursion north from Auckland leads to a handful of luxury suites at Te Arai Lodge. An eco-friendly oasis perched on an elevated ridge, it sits within 20 acres of ancient forest and native bush. Panoramic views come as standard, while sustainability is a watchword both in the flora and fauna that surround you as well as their organic dining, often straight from the lodge garden.
The rolling hills of the Brynderwyn Ranges beckon keen hikers, and budding surfers in the pod can head out to the Mangawhai coast. Alternatively, you can just stay on site, lounging by the 20-meter heated pool and cedar hot tub, maybe quaffing some of the excellent local wines.
There are few destinations as rightly iconic as the stunning Italian jewel of Venice, one of the world’s most visited cities. And there’s arguably no better time to take in its legendary beauty than with your travel pod while visitor numbers are considerably down.
When it comes to where to stay with your nearest and dearest, one address continues to be mentioned above all others: Cipriani, a Belmond Hotel. It sits on Giudecca Island, giving guests unrivalled 270-degree views over the water toward St Mark’s Square, the Doge’s Palace and the city’s fabled skyline.
The ultimate travel pod accommodation in this celebrated luxury hotel — and one where you may spot regular guests like George Clooney — is Palazzo Vendramin. Linked to the main hotel by a flower-covered pathway, it offers completely private access, a private garden, and accommodation for up to 32 guests, making it the ideal spot for larger groups. Michelin-starred gastronomy only adds to the sense of decadence, romance, and escape.
A final recommendation takes us to Sanya on the southern end of China’s Hainan Island. Known as The Hawaii of China, Hainan Island combines indigenous local culture with endless beaches, exciting shopping, and a vibrant food scene.
For those wanting to slip into that sought-after feeling of luxurious well-being, The Sanya EDITION offers a 20,000-square-foot spa over two levels that connects you seamlessly with nature. The fresh sea air only adds to the sense of true escape as you overlook the coastline.
Villas boast private pools and tropical garden views, while you can book adjoining residences and dine together in the comfort of your pod. No escape is complete without wellness and pampering, so your outdoor pavilion is the perfect spot for private and personalized massages, with waves lapping gently in the distance.
There are countless memorable, rewarding, and safe travel experiences to be had that meet the criteria for even the most cautious of travelers. With a little planning, your pod could soon be embarking on your next big adventure — and well ahead of many others.