In the October 2004 Issue: The New Grand Tour

In the late 16th century, long before there was an organized tourism industry, before mass-market leisure travel, before technology allowed us to change countries in hours not days, the Grand Tour was born. This type of journey, an extended trip undertaken by well-heeled young aristocrats, was generally made to such European cities as Paris, Venice, Florence, and especially Rome. For Italy, then as now, was a powerful intoxicant to the curious traveler. Grand Tourists often started their odyssey in London, embarking with a tutor, a guardian, perhaps a valet. They were expected to return home with mementos of their trip as well as a solid grounding in the masterpieces of art and architecture. In addition, they took something of a cultural immersion course in all things foreign—from language, history, and geography to food, clothes, customs, and politics.

By the late 1800s the Grand Tour had become something of a rite of passage, a finishing school for the European elite that lasted from several months to several years—a political, cultural, and artistic Baedeker of other lands. Its celebrants would revel in the past, and they would push the tour's scope beyond the world of Europe's grand landmarks to take in more distant sites—the Taj Mahal, the teeming bazaars of Istanbul, the storied Holy Land, and far, faraway Africa.

Flash forward to the present, and it is remarkable how the face of travel has been transformed. Today we travel as much to discover living cultures as to explore dead civilizations. And those European meccas that stirred the imagination in the Grand Tour's early days have now become so familiar, so accessible, that they are likely to spark the simple reaction: Been there, done that.

Travel, once a rarity for so many, has become an intrinsic fact of life—a right and an expectation. In a real sense, the Grand Tourists were the early precursors of the tribes of backpacking students who roam the globe on a lark and a shoestring. And those old Grand Tourists gave us all a philosophical road map to the world. Now we are no longer satisfied to simply visit a place—we want to experience it, steep ourselves in its cultural otherness, and dig beneath the surface in an effort to understand its inner workings. And with that has come a hunger for the next best place, for experiences beyond the ordinary, and for places that have escaped mass attention.

So to celebrate Traveler magazine's 20th anniversary, and to reflect how dramatically travel has changed since this magazine was born in 1984, we offer a Grand Tour for the 21st century—a trip around the world in 80 destinations. These are all places we believe will become travel hotspots in the next 20 years, in the Americas, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and the Pacific. They are destinations you can visit one by one or in a single around-the-world sweep.

Around-the-world tourism has been with us for a long time, though something of a curiosity, a venture often undertaken by thrill-seekers. But we think around-the-worlding will soon become more commonplace as people decide to take off longer chunks of time, as college grads delay their entry into the workforce, as retiring boomers embark on trips they once only talked about. True, most of us still dismiss the thought of such an adventure. We say we don't have the time. We say we don't have the money. But such a trip is actually within reach of most readers of Traveler. And it's not nearly as expensive as you might think. There are terrific resources to help you plan it. Amazing places to see. And great role models to inspire you. All in this issue. We hope our 20th birthday special convinces you that seeing more of the world need not be a dream. You can make it happen.