Matador Travel Awards

The best of the best in adventure travel.

One of the greatest strengths of Matador Network is the connection it maintains with travel professionals, industry leaders, and Matador Creators—our extended family of wandering expats and local experts all over the globe. In a year such as 2021 that connection has been vital as the travel industry continues to grow despite the ups and downs brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. As we head into 2022, we're highlighting the best of 2021 and all the exciting new adventures that await us in the new year—whether it's continuing our digital nomad lifestyle, planning excursions with the family, stocking up on the necessary gear, or venturing solo toward new enlightenment.

Get out your 2022 planners and explore tips, tricks, and underrated destinations with the 2022 Matador Network Travel Awards.

At Matador Network, we believe travel is a force for good, and we envision a world where travel is a transformative experience. A lot has changed over the past few years. Now more than ever, people are turning to the experts to help them navigate our world and gain access to the people, places, and cultures that make getting out there so fulfilling.

We assembled a panel of experts from various areas of the travel industry who share this belief along with Shannon Marcec, Matador Network’s editorial director, Tim Wenger, Matador Network’s outdoor and transactional content editor, and Morgane Croissant, Matador Network’s deputy editor and culture editor. Together, we created a list of destinations, brands, and movements that best embody our mission of making travel transformative in 2022.

Read more about the panel here.

The ocean has a certain calming effect. In fact, studies even point to the idea that being near a body of water leads to both better health and wellbeing. So perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the top wellness destinations our expert travel panel chose for 2022 all center around islands and coastlines.

Read more about our chosen wellness destinations for 2022 here.

There’s an abundance of options when it comes to outdoor outfitters. Making a decision on which company to buy from has a built in list of factors to consider: longevity of the clothes and equipment, checking if what’s available matches your interests, the ethos of the brand itself, and so on. So we turned to the tens of thousands of writers, photographers, and travel experts in Matador Network’s Creators Community to find the best of the best.

Adventure-fueled trips can be found around the world. Some destinations, however, do adventure different. That’s something that the tens of thousands of writers, photographers, and travelers in Matador Network’s Creators Community know very well. When polled, people in the Creators Community agreed on one of the most adventure-filled countries to receive the Matador Network Creators Choice Award for Top Adventure Destination in 2021. Discover which country was chosen here.

This year's influencer to watch is vocal about the needs to diversify travel writing and decolonize destinations that are affected by colonialism. Her love for the Caribbean goes beyond the beautiful beaches and extends to the people who live there and their culture. And as a traveler in her 50s, she touches on her experiences as a solo traveler, her natural-hair journey with her locs and going gray, and her love for running and fitness. You’ll find her in colorful workout gear training for 5Ks, 10Ks, and half-marathons. Learn more about why this influencer is making such a splash.

It’s one of the few airlines worldwide to earn a 5-star rating by Skytrax, and the Doha-based carrier has won six titles, including Airline of the Year 2021, Best Airline in the Middle East, World’s Best Business Class, World’s Best Business Class Seat, World’s Best Business Class Airline Lounge, Best Business Class Onboard Catering, and secured a COVID-19 Airline Excellence award. Read more about why this airline stands out among the rest.

Across the globe, governments and NGOs are partnering with tourism businesses to rewild spaces in both cities and remote areas, revitalize wildlife, and bring back tourism in a way that benefits local communities. African ParksTompkins Conservation, and The European Nature Trust are three organizations leading the way while making space for travelers to be a part of the solution. Read more on the importance of rewilding.

This destination is a multisensory, complex city defined just as much by its art galleries and museums as it is the beaches and open-air market. It’s an international cultural capital that, for the past couple of years, has been on the rise in terms of access and things for tourists to do to experience the city of more than a million. Which is why we chose it as our Emerging Destination for 2022.

The country is a conservation leader and inspiration not only on the African continent, but around the world. And the country’s approach to travelers is one big reason why this level of ecosystem protection is possible. Learn more about why this destination was chosen, and see which country is the runner up.

It hasn’t exactly been an even playing field this year when it comes to travel innovations. Sure, new drones have taken the travel videography world by storm, and apps like Wanderlog are making it easier than ever to plan your trip. But amid a traumatic pandemic, unprecedented travel restrictions, tanking tourism economies and closed borders that separated loved ones, one innovation stands high above the rest in the world of travel. Read more about why this invaluable innovation is so important to travel.

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