Scenery and Serenity in Japan

Kinkakuji in Kyoto, Japan
Kinkakuji in Kyoto, Japan/Oyster

Right now is not the right time to travel to Japan, but someday soon, it just might be the perfect destination for anyone looking to stay inspired … and healthy. Plenty of Japanese customs are Dr. Fauci-approved even in normal times. With the future of handshaking in peril, Japan is way ahead of the game with a deeply ingrained culture of bowing rather than touching hands in greeting. In Japan, masks are a culturally acceptable health accessory. Taking shoes off inside is already standard, and is perfectly in line with hygiene recommendations.

While personal space is at a premium in big cities like Tokyo, heading to Japan’s countryside, islands, and mountains promises ample physical distance and natural beauty (forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, has been shown in some studies to improve mental health, after all). For a vacation that blends natural social distancing with exercise and nature, consider walking a long-distance path like the famed Nakasendo Way, which connects Kyoto to Tokyo. To see Japan’s spring cherry blossoms, skip the crowded festivals and instead head to a lesser-known spot like Okayama. In fall, check out Nikko for some of the world’s prettiest foliage, visible along the region’s scenic highways and hikes. — SmarterTravel

For some epic outdoor hiking opportunities, including the Nakasendo Path, check out our hut-to-hut hiking guide.

Get Lost in Australia’s Outback

Western Australia/Ricky Radka

Eager to rejoin the world but hesitant to abandon social distancing entirely? We think Dr. Fauci might be too. That’s why a post-pandemic Australia might be the ideal getaway. Ok, sure, flights to Australia are long, often expensive, and sometimes require a minimum of two to three connections. It’s not exactly the easiest place to get to, which is precisely why you ought to go

While 85% of Oz’s population is concentrated along the coasts, Central Australia’s Alice Springs offers plenty of wide-open spaces and just 25,000 inhabitants. A recent climbing ban at nearby Uluru means you’re likely to encounter fewer tourists (or at least the disrespectful kind). Still, if you’d prefer not to chance it, you can always take cover in the caterpillar landforms of the East MacDonnell Ranges, or hike the long and practically people-free Larapinta Trail.

Even more remote, in the northern reaches of the South Australian Outback lies the underground mining city of Coober Pedy, a must for both survivalists and gem enthusiasts. And of course, you can’t fly all this way and not visit Australia’s beautiful beaches. From the red rock cliffs of Riddel Beach all the way down to Perth’s Cottesloe Beach, you’ll find more room to lay your towel in Western Australia than back in crowded New South Wales or the Queensland coast. —

Find out how to save some bucks when it’s safe to visit Australia, by sticking to a budget in Sydney.

Finding Family Roots in Southern Italy and Sicily

Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy
Positano in the Amalfi Coast/Oyster

It’s no secret that we love Italy, and once this is all over, the country is going to need as much love as possible from everyone. Italy also happens to be the land of Dr. Fauci’s grandparents, who came to the United States from Naples and Sicily. Luckily for Dr. Fauci, southern Italy has been on our radar for a long time now. Rugged natural scenery, beautiful beaches, charming towns, and amazing regional cuisine? Count us in.

We think making a trip to Dr. Fauci’s homeland is a no-brainer for the man who’s been so busy saving as many lives as possible. And while Dr. Fauci may not necessarily be interested in a vacation — laying around on a beach and what not — southern Italy is flush with amazing experiences for the active and curious. From the region’s amazing local cuisine — original pizzas in Naples and Sicily’s iconic pastries — to the wine regions of Puglia and Calabria, eating and drinking well come easily here.  

And if that’s not enough, there’s more picture-worthy scenery here to explore than you can imagine. Historic towns like Siracusa in Sicily and Alberobello in Puglia are impossible to hate, while the Amalfi Coast to the south of Naples is easily one of the biggest bucket-list sights in all of Europe. —

Need some more Mediterranean inspiration? Check out the best times of year to visit Italy.

Embracing Contrasts in South Korea

Visiting a shrine in Seoul/Oyster

With everything at a standstill right now, it’s fun to dream about going somewhere with cultural energy and natural serenity to spare. The two are in perfect harmony in South Korea, where vibrant cities coexist alongside centuries-old palaces and peaceful gardens, national parks, seascapes, and countryside.

Saying hello is generally contactless (a slight bow of the head is appropriate for most circumstances), removing shoes in homes and restaurants is expected in order to maintain cleanliness, and wearing a face mask won’t garner any odd looks or jeers. In fact, you’ll be in good company — South Koreans embraced face masks years before the current pandemic; one of the reasons why the country flattened the curve so quickly was because the government distributed face masks early on. That kind of efficiency and science-backed thinking alone is reason to Dr. Fauci to pay tribute with a trip here.

Hiking and enjoying the beautiful outdoors are especially popular South Korean pastimes, so there are plenty of opportunities for fresh air and getting away from the world. That’s true even in Seoul, where residents regularly hike up mountains, stroll alongside streams, and exercise in parks. Traditional Korean cuisine is full of hearty comfort foods — stews, dumplings, noodles, and bibimbap — high on spice, flavor, richness, and texture. Another plus is that the Korean alphabet is phonetic and relatively easy to pick up on, so visitors can often recognize words on menus and street signs without knowing Korean; for many, this can make a trip to South Korea seem even more approachable. —

When it’s safe to travel to Seoul again, make sure you’re prepared with the right packing list.

Returning to Alaska on a Cruise

Alaska cruise/Celebrity Cruises

As the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Fauci may cringe at the idea of a week or two at sea on a cruise ship. And with the current news, a cruise may seem a bit strange to folks now — but cruising will be back, and likely safer than ever. We don’t think that Dr. Fauci should overlook the benefits of cruising, especially if it’s to revisit Alaska, where he went with his family when his daughters were much younger.

There are numerous Alaskan cruises to choose from, and we have no doubt that people will be hungry for jaw-dropping natural scenery when it’s safe to travel again. It’s also a perfect trip to spend much-needed quality time with family. After all the COVID-19 excitement, we think Dr. Fauci deserves to have all his whims catered to on a truly all-inclusive vacation. The view from the top deck lounge chairs is just what the doctor ordered. And in case Dr. Fauci really can’t let himself unwind, his expertise could come in handy in helping keep the cruise ship extra germ-free. — 

In case you’re in need of more Alaska inspiration, check out our favorite family-friendly bucket-list Alaskan destinations.

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