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Photography and Travel in 2021

Posted by Jacob Hawthorne on

Have you had to delay your travel plans because of the COVID-19 pandemic and will travel be safe again in 2021?

The ability to travel safely again will depend upon the successful delivery of vaccination programs and a disciplined approach to physical distancing and the wearing of face masks.

That’s the brutal truth and, though I’m hopeful for a much brighter and carefree future, such as is suggested in this lovely image of a waterfall in Southern Iceland, I don’t think that’s the immediate reality that faces us.

COVID-19 Killed Travel

There’s no doubt about it, COVID-19 killed travel. Millions of people around the world have had to reschedule or cancel their travel plans during 2020.

Tourism is of massive importance to the economy of many countries. The economic effects resulting from such a prolonged downturn in tourism will take years to overcome.

Airlines have gone out of business, thousands of staff have lost their jobs and many, many people working in the tourism sector are suffering.

Given the drip down effect resulting from airline closures and this dramatic reduction in tourism all manner of businesses have suffered. Many have been driven out of business.

International Travel 2021  

We can expect that the international travel industry won’t fully recover from the adverse affects of the pandemic for several more years.

However, once it’s safe to do so, flight services will begin to ramp up, confidence amongst travelers will return and local businesses in the travel industry will be up and running again.

No doubt great deals will appear to entice folks to begin traveling again.

Good Governance And Travel Opportunities

It’s no understatement that 2020, the year COVID-19 reached us, has been a tough year. I’ve certainly experienced heightened levels of anxiety, particularly during the lockdown in Melbourne during the middle of 2020.

Thankfully, despite recent outbreaks in several Australian cities, we seem to be through the worst of it in this part of the world and I’m particularly thankful for the strong and empathetic leadership from Australian governments, both state and federal.

But while strong leadership has been a key factor in a mostly successful response to the pandemic, it should be noted that most Australians are doing the right thing and behaving responsibly and in a way that protects the health of others.

In Melbourne, where I reside, that meant strict adherence to local guidelines, particularly in relation to the following:

Mask wearing outside of your own home

Physical distancing

Prolonged washing of hands with warm, soapy water

Reducing community transmission of the virus by not traveling outside of a 5 km radius of one’s place of residence

Thankfully these rather draconian restrictions have been eased over recent times and life has moved closer to what it was prior to the pandemic reaching our shores.

Despite how difficult it’s been it’s times like this when I’m reminded just how lucky I am to be Australian.

It’s not the first time that our relatively isolated geography has protected us from invasion, of one sort or another.

Likewise, our relative affluence and moderate politics has ensured a generous and empathetic response from governments, both state and federal.

As a direct consequence of that response most folks have been able to survive what’s been such a terribly difficult year.

We’ve got a long way to go before we find our way back into the light, but I feel we’ve been reminded about the importance of empathy and the need to look after your neighbor, your family and yourself.

The philosophy, that very much underpins the purpose of this site, seems appropriate to mention.

Is It Safe To Book A Trip In 2021?

It seems to me that timing will be of critical importance when it comes to undertaking travel during 2021.

A strong interest in travel has begun to emerge over recent times. That’s wonderful news but, in my opinion, I think it’s best to take a careful and considered approach to thinking about any overseas travel during 2021. 

Whether we actually undertake travel, particularly international, will depend on how soon a vaccine becomes available and how quickly the number of COVID-19 cases declines.

Once again, timing is of critical importance.

Should I Plan A Trip For 2021?

It seems to me that if you book a trip too soon you might well get stuck if a new wave hits the area you’re visiting.

Having to wait through a long and, potentially, expensive period of quarantine could more than outweigh the cost savings in purchasing cheap flights or accommodation deals.

I won’t be traveling for at least the first half of 2021. I’ve secured a very interesting contract which will keep me in Melbourne during that time.

While I’m certainly dreaming of traveling again, it’s possible that I won’t undertake any international trips until next year.

Where Should I Vacation In 2021?

Given that there are so many wonderful travel destinations open to us I wouldn’t feel the need to rush back onto a plane for an overseas adventure too quickly.

My thinking is that domestic travel, particularly undertaken from your own car is an option well worth considering.

Not only will you be keeping yourself safe by staying away from planes and airport terminals, you’ll also be spending your money locally helping small businesses and the staff they employ in your own country.

And wherever you live that’s a good and decent thing to be doing. 

Are You Dreaming Of Travel?

I certainly miss not being able to travel.

Fortunately I’ve been able to adapt and I’m looking forward to a very positive and creative 2021.

What other choice is there?

It’s difficult at the moment to say how much travel, even local, I’II be able to undertake during 2021. But at least I’m in a position to start thinking and dreaming about travel again.

Over the last year I’ve dreamed about many different travel destinations and a variety of fun adventures I’d love to undertake.

Even though I far prefer warm, dry weather one of my best travel experiences involved hiking the snow covered trails over the top of Mount Huangshan during the middle of winter in China.

I’d very much love to re-visit Huangshan again.

Melbourne is a great city in which to live, though its winters are mostly cold and grey.

Actually I love rain and, as so much of Australia is dry, I'm usually thankful for it. But it's the short days and perpetual grey of a Melbourne winter that I find disheartening.

That’s not to say we don’t have lovely, clear blue sunny days here in winter. There’s just not enough of them for my liking.

When I’m not on the road one thing that keeps me going during a Melbourne winter is the dream of travel. In fact, after laying my head down at night, I usually find myself heading off to the Land Of Nod with thoughts of travel on my mind.

There are two interesting possibilities open to someone like me who isn’t all that keen on a prolonged Melbourne winter.

Summer in the northern hemisphere is the perfect time of year for me to travel. It allows me to replace those short, cold and grey Melbourne days with the long, warm days of a European summer. And I don’t think it get’s any better than that.

The cultural and architectural wonders of Western and Central Europe continue to excite me and I’d love to re-visit Russia again.

Most of all the sublime beauty and grandeur of the nordic countries is what excites me most about my next European photography adventure.

The other option, which may be the best one during 2021, is a local adventure into the Australian Outback.

I love Central Australia, though I haven’t visited the region in a number of years. Likewise Kakadu National Park is always exciting and I’d dearly love to explore Western Australia.

The Australian winter is the best time to visit all three of these destinations.

Best Places To Travel In 2021

The most popular international destinations to visit during 2021 are likely to include the following:



Japan (Olympic Games)



Whether the number of tourists reaches the quantities these locations have experienced over recent years will have to be determined.

More than likely visitors will begin to return at a fairly low rate initially and ramp up from there.

The good news is that there are plenty of other destinations worth considering. Let’s explore a few of them now.

New Zealand 2021 Travel

I had booked a trip to New Zealand last year. The idea was to photograph the fall color on the South Island and visit Hobbiton on the North Island. I freely admit to being a Tolkien tragic.

Sadly, 2020 has been many things, but it most certainly wasn’t the year for overseas travel.

I’d rebooked the trip for 2021 and it’s highly likely that travel between New Zealand and Australia will recommence this year.

However, I may have to roll it over one more time before I make the trip. That’s not entirely due to COVID-19 concerns, but also because I’II be working on a photography contract until at least July.

It will be my fourth visit to New Zealand and I’m looking forward to a busy and productive time photographing all manner of beautiful landscapes.

Travel To The Faroe Islands

What I am most looking forward to is my next trip to the Faroe Islands and Iceland. For those of you who haven’t heard of the Faroe Islands here’s a few interesting facts. 

The Faroe Islands are located in the North Atlantic, halfway between Iceland and Norway

The Faroes have a population of about 52,000 people, one third of whom live in and around the capital city, Torshavn

The Faroes are compromised of eighteen separate islands, seventeen of which are inhabited

With nearly 700 miles of coastline, you are never more than three miles from the ocean

On average there is some form of precipitation (e.g., rain, hail, drizzle, or snow) 280 days a year

While the inuit have many words for snow the Faroese have ten different words for fog.

Actually I’d dearly love to spend several months in the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Norway during the European summer.

With so many other countries within reach I could always chase the sun for a week or so, if need be.

While I haven’t yet visited Norway I have traveled all the way around Iceland and it is a most beautiful country with an abundance of opportunities for the landscape photographer.

Likewise the Faroe Islands is a magical place for landscape photography and I can’t wait until my next visit.

Asia Beckons, But Maybe Not This Year

It’s been a while since I last traveled to Asia. I’m hoping to travel back to Asia during 2021, most likely during the December/January period.

It’s a great time to travel as it’s warm and dry at that time of year, with lower levels of humidity.

Vietnam is one of the few countries in Asia I’m yet to visit. I’m not quite sure why that’s the case and how it is that I’ve managed to avoid Vietnam for so long.

What I do know is that I’m now really interested in exploring as much of Vietnam as I can, from the hectic chaos of Ho Chi Minh to the old world charm of Hanoi.

I want to sail along the Mekong River and photograph some of the countries most beautiful beaches.

I’m also keen to return to Myanmar. My last trip there was back in 1999.

Myanmar remains a greatly under appreciated travel destination. However, from experience, I can tell you that the Burmese are a wonderful people, the country’s landscapes are beautiful and the Buddhist temples are magnificent.

South Korea and Japan are also on my mind. I’m particularly interested in Japan, both culturally and because of the countries outstanding natural beauty. 

I think it would be incredible to explore the contrast between Japan’s megacities and some of the country’s celebrated natural beauty.

It’s always great to finish a busy trip to Asia with a week in beautiful Ubud on the island of Bali. I’m really looking forward to my next trip to Bali. It’s such a restful place with sublime scenery and warm, friendly people.

Domestic Travel May Be Best

International travel may remain a difficult and uncertain prospect for some time during 2021. So, while great deals may begin to appear, it might be difficult to make your travel arrangements with any certainty.

I’d argue for caution and, at the very least, travel insurance that covers COVID-19 related delays and cancellation. Please do study and compare a range of travel insurance plans and understand their policies in relation to delays, cancellations and, dare I say, refunds.

Depending upon where you live and when you plan to undertake your next adventure domestic travel may be the safest and less stressful option.

Most of us are yet to discover many of the amazing sights in our own backyard. With that in mind one or more driving holidays, even in your own state or province, might be the best option for 2021.

Will It Be Safe To Travel In 2021

Ultimately your decision to travel should, first and foremost, be based around whether you consider it safe to do so. And that decision should, of course, be informed by expert medical advice.

At the end of the day whether you travel in 2021 or decide to wait a little longer is a decision for you. What’s important to me is that you do so safely and that you return from your next great adventure in good health.

My advice is not to rush your purchase and to make your decision with care and consideration given to the facts at hand.  

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