I’ve never been partial to the 1,000 Places to See Before You Die books. I hope they’ve inspired people to travel, but the whole concept strikes me as grim, not to mention overwhelming. A thousand places? Even if I quit my job today (impossible) and started traveling nonstop (also impossible), I wouldn’t want to spend the rest of my days racing to cross destinations off a list.
But hear enough reports about how places are changing—aspen trees dying in Aspen, Colorado; critically endangered black rhinos murdered by poachers in southern Africa—and travel feels more urgent than ever. Throw political and cultural shifts into the mix—the opening of Cuba and Burma to American travelers—and suddenly it seems like the name should be 1,000 Places to See Before They Change (see, it’s not about you, it’s about the world).
In the July/August 2016 issue, we’re starting with 13 of those changing places in “Now You See It.” Greenland and Venice made the list, as did such unexpected destinations as America's Rust Belt and Jordan. Yes, the world is always evolving, but these are the places you should experience now. Or at least soon, before further cultural, political, or environmental changes upend the exceptional travel experiences they offer.
I’m a cockeyed optimist. I believe in travel. I believe that seeing these threatened places and connecting with the people there gives us a deeper sense of our place in the world. Travel affects how we live and the choices we make. Now’s the time to go and let yourself be transformed.