Traveling is eye-opening, fun and breathtaking, but let's face it: It can be hard on the wallet. So while we'd love to jet off to the Maldives for a two-week stay at an expensive resort, or go on an around-the-world cruise, that's not always doable. For a minute though, we suspended disbelief to imagine where we'd travel if money was no object. Read on for our far-flung bucket list trips.
"Thanks to my lifelong love of Hello Kitty, onigiri (rice balls) and steam baths, Japan has remained at the top of my bucket list. But I can't bring myself to do a quickie jaunt through Tokyo to check it off. No. I'm determined to do it up properly, and for that, I'd need plenty of moolah. Tokyo would still be my starting point, where I'd hunt for the best bento boxes, search for J Beauty shops, and soak in the frenetic energy of Shibuya Crossing. But then I'd head to Kyoto to take in the temples and geisha culture there. (Tea ceremonies galore!) I'd get my feline fix by taking the kitty-themed Wakayama train to meet Nitama, the cat station manager, and maybe do a side trip to Bunny Island. And then I'd finish by seeing Okinawa, often called Japan's Hawaii. Until my NY Lotto numbers come up, I may have to settle for chipping off a portion of this trip. But I'm still keeping my fingers crossed with every scratcher." — Maria Teresa Hart, executive editor
Hotel pick: Hiiragiya, Kyoto
GALAPAGOS ISLANDS AND PERU
"Picture sea lions sleeping along the beach, a saltwater lagoon filled with flamingos and active volcanos with gorgeous views. All of these can be found in the Galapagos Islands, which were made famous by Charles Darwin's 'On the Origin of Species.' The Galapagos Islands combine my love of the outdoors and animals, being that it's home to numerous endemic species that aren't found anywhere else in the world, and that 97 percent of its land area is considered a national park. Being so close to Peru, I'd tack on a trip to the stunning and mysterious Machu Picchu. To get the most out of the destinations, I'd want to book a cruise with naturalists and specialists who can share their knowledge as we hike, snorkel, and explore. While luxury cruises like Stella Maris cost $165,000 for eight days, I could settle for the 16-day National Geographic Galapagos and Peru expedition cruise that costs roughly $14,000 (without airfare). Until then, I'll stick to watching 'Planet Earth.'" — Lara Grant, editor
Hotel pick: Finch Bay Eco Hotel, Puerto Ayora
"There are a million places I would go if money was no object, but my mind has been drawn to Chilean Patagonia for years now. The cost of getting there alone puts this getaway — involving multiple long and expensive flights, boat trips, car rides and gear for trekking — almost entirely out of my reach. My ideal trip would include a week or more trekking in Torres del Paine National Park, plus visits to Isla Magdalena and Cape Horn. If money really was no object, I'd pass through El Calafate in Argentina to glimpse the Perito Moreno Glacier as well as the Salar de Uyuni salt flat in Bolivia on my way home (with some time spent checking out La Paz as well)." — Kyle Valenta, Manager of Editorial Content Operations
Hotel pick: Design Suites Calafate
"Imagine French Polynesia and you'll likely see screensaver-worthy scenes — complete with white-sand beaches, spectacular aquamarine seas, overwater bungalows, and of course, many, many dollar signs. This far-flung archipelago in the South Pacific has a reputation for being costly — the price tag for reaching the region alone is enough to drain a bank account. And while I know there are ways to experience the destination on a budget, I'd want to do it up — A-list celeb style. My French Polynesia fantasy would include a visit to not just one, but several, islands, including Bora Bora, Moorea, Tahiti, Huahine, Raiatea, Rangiroa and Tetiaroa. I'd spend my days snorkeling, surfing, hiking around volcanos, and living my best life at a luxe villa. I'd stay at The Brando in Tahiti, but am torn between the Four Seasons and InterContinental Resort & Thalasso Spa in Bora Bora. But hey, maybe I'll crash at both — money is no object, after all." — Alisha Prakash, senior editor
Hotel pick: Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora
"Though getting to Norway is relatively affordable (thanks to budget airline carriers), the drop-dead gorgeous destination usually ranks in the top five for most expensive countries in the world. So, if money were no object, I'd definitely book a first-class ticket to Oslo and make my way north to hike and cruise around the fjords formed by ancient glacial activity. Geiranger fjord is protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, and even the pictures take my breath away. I guess I need to buy a lottery ticket and see it for myself." — Megan Wood, editor
Hotel Pick: Scandic Holmenkollen Park
"If money were no object (and vacation days unlimited), I'd make good on a travel fantasy I've been harboring since studying abroad in Melbourne. I'd fly into Perth, rent an RV and head north up the coast. The destination: Darwin, in the very far north of the country. The road trip is more than 2,000 miles through vast, dusty countryside, but would include stops along the way at crazy mountain ranges (I'm dying to see the Bungle Bungles), empty Indian Ocean beaches, waterfalls, hot springs, and even dinosaur tracks! The journey is a combo of all of my big fears in life — cars, isolation, sharks! — but that's part of why I want to do it. And this time, I'm coming back with lots of aboriginal textiles (and a year's supply of Tim Tams.)" — Anne Olivia Bauso, editor
Hotel pick: Mary River Wilderness Retreat & Caravan Park
At Oyster.com our special investigators visit, photograph, review and rate each hotel. We uncover the truth, before it's "uh-oh" time.
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