I spent my last two wedding anniversaries in my home state of Florida — here’s why I’m hopeful that will change next year

Jun 14, 2021

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My wife and I tied the knot on Saturday, May 31, 2008. And while we didn’t deliberately choose this date for future travel purposes, we kind of lucked into that fact: Our wedding anniversary always falls on (or shortly after) the long Memorial Day weekend, meaning one less day off work and the ability to visit many popular destinations before the summer tourist season really gets going.

And prior to the coronavirus pandemic, we maximized this to the fullest extent possible.

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Here’s a peek at just some of the incredible celebrations we’ve enjoyed over the last decade:

  • 2011: A week at the Hilton Moorea
  • 2012: A trip to Bali, including Cathay Pacific first-class flights and a stay at the Conrad Bali
  • 2013: An amazing vow renewal at the Hilton Labriz in the Seychelles (the featured image on this article)
  • 2015: A Michelin-starred dinner at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme (notably our first international trip with our then-six-month-old daughter)
  • 2019: An incredible trip to the Atacama Desert in northern Chile

So where did we spend our last two anniversaries?

In Pinellas County, Florida — Dunedin (2020) and Indian Rocks Beach (2021), to be exact.

Related: A perfect Florida getaway in Clearwater, Dunedin and St. Petersburg

Now, this is not meant to disparage that (or any) part of my home state. After all, the lack of international travel has given me a newfound appreciation for the area in which I live. That said, driving a few hours to celebrate another year of wedded bliss isn’t nearly as exotic as visiting another country.

And I’m hopeful our anniversary globe-trotting will be back on track in 2022.

For starters, we’ve seen incredible progress on the vaccine front here in the U.S. — with increased emphasis being placed on expanding access to vaccinations around the world. That’s not to say that every locale will have 100% of its population inoculated by next May, but the trends are pointing in the right direction.

In addition, I expect the actual travel experience to be much smoother in a year than it is today. Between testing requirements, rental car shortages and long waits at airports, there’s the potential for some significant hassles right now — especially when heading to (or returning from) overseas destinations.

But a lot can happen in a year (see: 2020). As the global economy continues to rebound and tourist dollars once again start flowing into cash-starved travel spots, I expect these procedures to become much simpler. There are a number of digital solutions already in use (or being tested) to streamline the verification of health information, and these will likely grow in acceptance and adoption across the world.

So … here’s our approach to planing our first post-pandemic international anniversary trip.

We’re considering the Galapagos Islands as one possible spot for our next anniversary trip. (Photo by guenterguni / Getty Images)

Choosing a destination

Southeast Asia is a spot we’d love to visit again, though we’d probably want to aim for a two-week trip to make the most of the significant travel time to get there. We’re also very interested in diving deeper into South America. Our trip to northern Chile (including a foray into the Bolivian salt flats) was incredible, so spots like the Galapagos and Colombia are high on our list.

However, a lot of this remains up in the air. As noted above, vaccination rates have been slower across much of the world, especially in developing countries. We may wind up with some false starts and ultimately change our plans if the pandemic isn’t under control in the spot we initially select.

And thankfully, that’s a lot easier now than it was in prior years.

Making flexible travel plans

Regardless of where we ultimately book, I’d say there’s a very high likelihood of needing to adjust our flight itinerary at least once. Thankfully, with most U.S. airlines no longer imposing change or cancellation fees on the vast majority of tickets, we should be able to accomplish that with minimal out-of-pocket costs. And that’s something to cheer about.

Related: I booked a flight I couldn’t take — and changed it with no penalty

Tapping into our accumulated points and miles

Finally, this will be a great opportunity to put some of our hard-earned points and miles to use. Over the course of the last year, we’ve seen a slew of temporary bonuses on a variety of travel credit cards, and I’ve jumped on as many of them as I could. I even added a new credit card to my wallet in May — in light of exciting new travel enhancements.

As a result, my account balances are quite high.

While most of these are in transferable programs, it’s nevertheless a bad idea to hoard points and miles, as they make for a terrible long-term investment. I’ll be excited to start working these balances down, though I’m hoping to really accomplish that in 2023 when my wife and I celebrate our 15th anniversary and our 40th birthdays. Bucket-list trip, here we come.

Bottom line

My family and I have been states-bound since November 2019, including our last two wedding anniversaries. However, we’re hoping that will change next year.

If you find yourself in a similar situation — ringing in another COVID anniversary or celebrating another pandemic birthday in a less-than-exciting fashion — don’t despair. There’s a lot to look forward to as the travel industry continues to bounce back. And before you know it, you’ll be able to take to the skies and visit a huge variety of destinations for any special occasion in your (or a loved one’s) life.

Featured photo by the author

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