In BAZAAR’s new travel series, The Wanderlust, we tap the world’s top designers, artists, and cultural icons for all the details on the trips they’ve placed on their bucket lists during the last year of quarantine and social isolation.

When asked where she’d like to travel, jewelry designer Mercedes Salazar couldn’t choose just one destination. While spending time at home, her mind has been all over the world—from her home country of Colombia to Oaxaca, Mexico—and all the way to the islands of the Seychelles.

According to luxury trip planner and BAZAAR travel contributor Black Tomato, Oaxaca is a cultural oasis, pairing relaxed vibes and great beaches with historic archaeological sites. It’s also the birthplace of mezcal, and most travelers make a point of dipping into one (or multiple) mezcalerias while in town. It’s best to wait until fall to visit Oaxaca, as summers can be rainy. November through April is the prime time to visit, and while one should always stick to CDC recommended travel guidelines (mask up!), U.S. travelers can currently visit Mexico with no restrictions. Expert tip: Per Salazar’s dream vacation below, a Oaxaca visit pairs perfectly with a stop in Mexico City.

As for the Seychelles, or “the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean,” it’s all about the landscape. The islands are a natural paradise, with a sharp focus on conservation. June through October is the best time to visit to experience the best weather, whereas the winter months can be rainy. October is the best time to potentially capture shoulder season rates, while still retaining spectacular weather. Should you choose to travel now, the islands promise to be far less crowded given their popularity as a luxury travel destination. With that in mind, the country currently requires a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival, and the U.S. travel advisories have encouraged travelers to continue to wait before visiting given the rise of COVID-19 cases.

For now, it’s all about wanderlust. Ahead, Mercedes Salazar shares her dream itinerary of where she’ll travel soon—and later—as the world opens up again.

Where I’ll Go

I am an avid traveler, so I have so been looking forward to being able to travel the world again. I have three very special places on my post-lockdown bucket list; I have been to all of them before, but every time I visit, I discover new things about each destination that keep me coming back. My first dream destination would be Bahía Solano in Colombia; it’s a little ocean town were the Pacific Ocean meets the mountains.

But then, there’s Oaxaca. It’s my favorite city in Mexico and just as magical to me. The artisans always inspire me, the food makes me so happy, and its mystical land connects with my soul. Mexico is also the place where I studied jewelry design, so the country will always have a special place in my heart.

For a far-flung destination, I’ve been dreaming of going back to the North Island of the Seychelles. I traveled there before the pandemic hit in my role as a global explorer for The Luxury Collection, which inspired the housewares collection I recently launched. The bold colors and diverse wildlife on the islands are a designer’s dream! When it comes to deciding where to travel, what guides me is the energy provided by the ocean, the mountains, and the wildlife. I usually tend to travel to places that spark my imagination.

What I’ll Pack

Mercedes Salazar’s Packing List

A hat from my new collection, Le Bateleur. 

Whenever I am at any airport, I usually stock up on La Mer cream at duty-free!

I always bring a bunch of kaftans to wear with a pair of jeans or for the beach on top of a bathing suit.

I pick up all my favorite swimsuits from Love Stories. 

These are, by far, my favorite shoes for travel.

Naturally, I go nowhere without a statement earring.

My Itinerary

When choosing how and when to fly, I try to pick earlier flights so I can arrive to my destination and have an extra day. I usually travel with my kids—who are 22, 21, and 19. They’re my tribe, and being able to travel with them is a gift.

I’m planning to travel to Mexico for 12 days. I’ll spend half my trip in Mexico City and the other half in Oaxaca. I am also planning my next trip to the Seychelles; for this adventure, I’ll need more time for a longer vacation to really enjoy the nature and see all the friends I met when I was last there.

Where I’ll Stay

I love to stay in places where I feel I am surrounded by the natural elements of my surroundings. I also like for the hotels I stay in to feel authentic to the culture and location of the destination.

When I travel to Mexico, I will be staying in Las Alcobas, a Luxury Collection Hotel. In Oaxaca, I’ll spend some nights in Azul Oaxaca and others in El Diablo y La Sandia, a very easygoing place where I usually go with my friends; it’s also where I stay when I plan trips to Mexico around my design collaborations with local artisans.

For my Seychelles trip, I will be going back to stay at the Luxury Collection Hotel on the North Island. My last trip there inspired a housewares and tabletop collection featuring the motifs of the flora, fauna, and animals of the island. The hotel’s commitment to preserving the biodiversity of its surrounding areas translates to the design of its accommodations and the fantastic service experience at the property.

What I’ll Eat

This list could take a while …

In Mexico City, I cannot wait to enjoy a meal at Em by Lucho Martinez, Maximo Bistrot, Rosetta by chef Elena Reygadas, and Tetetlán in El Pedregal.

When I’m in town, I never miss enjoying a michelada with tamarindo on Sundays in La Lagunilla, the city’s famous antiques market. And after partying in La Roma, I always head to Ricos Caldos de Gallina Luis the next day. Their specialty is one of those homemade broths that’s filled with peas and rice, and can cure a hangover like no other remedy.

In Oaxaca, my first stop is Alfonsina. I go there for the mole—it’s a must. The next day, I have to eat at Boulenc for the chilaquiles and the amazing bread. No matter where I am eating in Oaxaca, I am always looking to try a different flavor of mezcal.

What I’ll Do

In Oaxaca, I have to be a bit of a tourist. Visiting the botanical gardens, El Jardin Botanico de Santo Domingo, is a must; the plants, flowers, and varieties never cease to inspire my designs. I’ll also be sure to stop by the city’s most famous church, Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán.

A visit to see El Árbol del Tule, the widest tree in the world, is a must for me. It’s a natural wonder that sits in the church grounds of Santa María del Tule. I’ll also visit the archaeological sites of Monte Albán and Mitla, which boast both historical sites and some of the area’s best textiles.

I love huipils in all shapes, forms, and colors; they’re the traditional Mexican tunics embroidered with the most gorgeous colors and prints. When I’m in Mexico, I always find the best antique huipils in Dona Guadalupe. I will also go buy candles from Casa Viviana in Teotitlán and black ceramic plates from Francisco Martinez in Atzompa.

Wherever I travel, you can always find me at the markets. I go there to eat, especially in Oaxaca, where I can taste all my favorite dishes and flavors. I do my best to save room for it all: chapulines, queso Oaxaca, memelas, tlayudas, tunas, and salsitas y tortillas.

In the Seychelles, the markets have beautiful silk and cotton multicolored fabrics. They are handmade and great quality. When I finally make it back, I will also be stocking up on spices and tea—they have so many delicious varieties there. I have a fascination with buying fabrics when I travel, which happen to be bulky and heavy. Going back from my travels is always a hassle. I always travel with an empty bag so I can come back with a full one!

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