Don’t worry, that itch you’re feeling isn’t COVID-19. It’s the travel bug
Someday we’ll all be able to travel again, and if you’re like me, you’ll probably want to get as far away from the confines of your home as humanly possible.
Of course, dropping down into the middle of Tokyo or Barcelona or Mexico City might not be on the travel agenda just yet. At least not until a true vaccine is ready.
So we’ll all need to continue practicing safe social distancing.
To help with that, here are some of the top social distance travel destinations to consider.
Now, these aren’t simply the cities and islands and destinations furthest from civilization. There are plenty of rocks out there that are far away. No, these are locations that you may want to visit that just happen to have few people around.
It might take a few extra plane rides (or boat rides or train rides) to get there, but if the one bug you do have is the travel bug and you want to keep it that way, here are some spots to consider.
1. Socotra Island
I’m someone who’s a sucker for things that are different. I like to visit destinations that offer sights and sounds I just can’t easily find. Socotra Island makes my list simply for its funky trees.
When an island has something called the dragon’s blood tree, you know it’s worth checking out.
The island is part of Yemen (240 miles away) and found in the Arabian Sea, although it is actually closer to the coast of Somalia (150 miles away). And while part of Yemen, it does have its own government.
Thanks to the uniqueness of the island, it was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 2008.
The island itself is home to 50,000 people, with Hadibu, the capital, home to nearly 9,000 of them.
If you are a religious individual the island also has some Christianity significance, as it is believed that “Doubting” Thomas the apostle was shipwrecked on the island.
It is possible to get to Socotra, although there is only about one flight per week that departs from the mainland of Yemen. You can also find occasional flights that leave from Cairo.
2. Pitcairn Islands
When your nearest neighbors are Pape’ete (French Polynesia) to the west and Hanga Roa (Easter Island) to the east you know you’re well off the grid.
This small group of four islands is part of the British Overseas Territory. And despite a total landmass of 47 kilometers, a total of 50 people call the islands home. In fact, there are so few people here the British government has attempted in the past to get people to move to the islands. You don’t even need to pay for land when moving to the island. You just file a land application and, once approved, it is yours for free.
This is the kind of destination you’ll want to visit if you want to take a break from all the Netflix and television you’ve watched during quarantine because you’re really not going to find any of that here.
Truthfully, you’ll come here to see the incredible mountain views over the breathtaking Atlantic Ocean. The plunging coastlines are much more pronounced than what you’ll find on Easter Island, so if giant stone heads don’t sound like your cup of tea, the Pitcairn Islands is the place for you.
Getting to the islands is a bit trickier. It doesn’t have an airport, so you’ll need to fly to Tahiti (I know, really pulling your leg with that one), then fly to Mangareva. From there you’ll take a 32-hour boat ride.
Don’t ask me to pronounce it, but this town in Greenland is both remote and beautiful.
If sun and sand and beaches aren’t your thing, perhaps this city along the eastern shoreline of Greenland is.
Iceland has been popping in popularity over the last few years, so maybe it’s time to shed some light on Greenland.
This is a fantastic location if you want to see the natural wildlife, which includes everything from polar bears to narwhals and walruses.
It is a town of just over 450 people, so there are friendly faces willing to help you out.
Much of the economy is based on hunting and fishing (depending on the season), so if you’re a vegetarian or vegan it might be a bit tricky for you.
You’ll also probably want to visit between March and September. Due to its location, it experiences a total of 0 hours of sunshine in December and a whopping 1 in January. However, June sees nearly 300 hours, and it snows or rains just three days on average during the month.
Getting here isn’t all that challenging, despite being the most remote town in Greenland. You’ll need to fly to the Nerlerit Inaat Airport and then hop onto a helicopter that flies the remaining 24 miles to Ittoqqortoormiit.
4. Tristan da Cunha
Here’s a fun exercise. Look up Tristan da Cunha on Google Maps, then zoom out. You’ll really get an idea of just how remote this island is.
Of course, what interests me is, when doing this, the “Inaccessible Island” that is West/South West of it. What makes it inaccessible? That word alone makes me want to check it out.
Tristan da Cunha is another one of the British Overseas Territories. Inaccessible Island (which is actually the island’s technical name), and Nightingale Island are both part of the collection of islands.
Nightingale Island is technically uninhabitable, but you can visit it as it is a fantastic destination for albatross bird watching. Inaccessible Island is also home to the Inaccessible Island rail, which is the smallest flightless bird in the world. And despite the name, you can technically visit it, although you need to book a guided tour of the island if you’re interested (while visiting, you might as well).
Tristan da Cunha is the kind of place you go to when you just want to say you’ve been to the most remote island in the world. There is an actual sign on the island that says this (it’s also a fun spot to mail out some postcards).
Of course, to get here you’ll need to hop on a seven-day sailboat from Cape Town and arrive during the 60 days for which the harbor is accessible. Just make sure you catch your return ride. Otherwise, you might be stuck here for a full year.
Also, FYI, if you’re an Edgar Allen Poe fan, the poet and author referred to the islands in “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket.”
5. Lake Baikal
When you think of Siberia you probably think of colder than death, and maybe James Bond discovering agent 003 in “A View To a Kill.”
Well, there’s much more to it than all that. Lake Baikal is located right along the southern Siberian border.
It is the largest freshwater lake by volume. Being from Michigan, my Great Lakes pride is a little hurt, but all the water found in the Great Lakes couldn’t fill Lake Baikal.
Baikal is also the deepest lake in the world as well. And, if you really want to get into it, it is technically the oldest lake in the world as well (with the body of water dating back possibly 30 million years). Although I wouldn’t suggest taking a deep dive to find dinosaur bones. Never know what’s still lurking in the deep.
Thanks to its remote location it is one of the clearest lakes in the world. It also has beautiful shorelines, amazing mountains, and rocky cliffs. Outside of the heat, it really has everything.
To get to the lake you can either fly to nearby Irkutsk or Ulan-Ude, take a bus, or, my personal favorite, take the Trans-Siberian railway and hop off at the station.
Enough islands, right? Well, Urumqi, China is about as far from an island as you’re going to get.
In fact, the city is over 1,500 miles from the closest coastline. This makes it the most landlocked city on the planet.
At one point in time, it was a major stop for the Silk Road, although as humanity doesn’t rely on this carved out roadway for trade any longer it isn’t as prominent as it once was.
This location doesn’t exactly fit the “social distancing” bill though. With a population of 3.5 million, it’s about as populated as Los Angeles. I just wanted to mention it because I think it’s a cool spot with serious history and it’s a town you don’t really hear about. Also, because of its location along the Silk Road, it is one of the most culturally diverse destinations in all of China.
So Where Are You Itching To Travel To?
So where do you want to travel and visit once you’re able to hit the open roads and airways? Will you social distance or get to the thick of it? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you!