Outside editor-in-chief Christopher Keyes shares why it's more important than ever to dream big.
No one knows what the travel outlook will be next year, but that shouldn’t stop us from dreaming big. Our collective need to plan epic trips will never let up.
As I write this, it’s late August, the Delta variant is raging through the U.S., and here in New Mexico, another mask mandate has gone into effect, requiring everyone to once again cover their faces in public indoor spaces. Like most of you, I was vaccinated last spring, and afterward I enjoyed a summer in which the world reopened and seemed to return to a blissfully abnormal sense of normalcy. Now it feels like we’re back where we started. In fact, a colleague recently posed a question that gave me an immediate—and depressing—sense of déjà vu: Should we still go ahead with this issue’s annual Best Trips coverage, considering everything that’s happening in the country and around the world?
The first time we wrestled with that question, in March 2020, I recall several weeks of hand-wringing with senior editor Erin Riley and deputy editor Mary Turner, who have deftly handled Outside’s travel coverage during the pandemic.
This time, though, the right answer feels immediately clear: of course we should. It’s true that a resurgence of COVID-19 will force all of us to make difficult decisions about whether to travel in the months ahead. It’s also true that the pandemic hasn’t dulled Americans’ desire for adventure—if anything, the longing to explore the world again when it is safe has intensified.
We saw a glimpse of this pent-up demand over the summer, in the form of overflowing crowds at our national parks, record-breaking airline bookings, and twice as much travel-related search traffic on Google. Travel may be on pause again, but our collective need to plan epic trips will never let up.
That explains why we decided to move forward with this month’s idea-laden travel feature, “See You Out There.” It also explains why, despite the pandemic’s return, we’re excited to announce a new 2022 partnership with Modern Adventure, a company run by a savvy team of travel veterans who design unique itineraries around the globe. This issue we’ve joined forces to offer four classic, life-list trips—in Alaska, France, Chile, and Nepal—each inaugural departure accompanied by an Outside editor.
That’s good news for me: I’ll be heading to Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska with some of you next August for seven days of backpacking.
And it’s great news for Outside+ members, who get exclusive access to these trips and a $200 discount on booking (more details here). After all, no one knows what the travel outlook will be next year, but that shouldn’t stop us from dreaming big.
—Christopher Keyes, Editor-in-Chief