Preservation Magazine, Summer 2021

President's Note: The Return of Travel

One of the things that I have greatly missed over the past year has been travel. No, I don’t mean long lines at airports or delayed flights or the other aggravations of business travel; I was happy to leave those hassles behind. I mean historic travel: being able to experience landmarks and landscapes, art and architecture, and local customs and traditions—as well as the people who care for them, and care about them. For me, travel to experience historic destinations is the most rewarding type of travel.

Paul Edmondson, President & CEO

The shutdowns, closings, and social distancing we all have experienced during the pandemic have made this type of experiential travel almost impossible. But vaccinations are on the rise, life is starting to return to a sense of normalcy in this country, and a number of other countries are safely opening their doors to American visitors.

And just in time for the 50th anniversary of National Trust Tours!

In the spring of 1971, the National Trust launched a new year-round program designed to provide its members special travel opportunities to explore historic destinations, both abroad and within the United States. The first trip, English Houses & Gardens, was led by one of my predecessors, then-president James Biddle.

Today, with five decades of experience, National Trust Tours has become one of the country’s leading affinity travel programs. It explores the traditions and cultures of the world, with a special emphasis on the art, architecture, and cultural landscapes that so often define them. Through National Trust Tours, our members enjoy experiences unattainable on one’s own, often including behind-the-scenes visits to museums and restoration projects, access to significant private homes and collections, and conversations with local preservationists—accompanied by talented content experts and guides.

It’s been a long drought, but the offerings are plentiful. Please check them out at

And while you are at it, Historic Hotels of America is another longstanding travel program of the National Trust. Now in its 32nd year, it offers travelers the opportunity to stay in approximately 300 distinctive hotels across the United States that have faithfully maintained their authenticity, sense of place, and architectural integrity. Many of these hotels offer National Trust members discounted lodging fees, if booked through (use offer code NHP). And, of course, both National Trust Tours and Historic Hotels of America provide revenue that helps us further our programmatic work.

And finally, every issue of Preservation contains a special advertising section on historic destinations across the country, this one focused on historic downtowns. Historic downtowns are on the rebound after a hard year, and they are rolling out the red carpet for visitors who care about history. If you are reading this magazine, I know you care. Historic travel is back, so please show your support for our partners at these special destinations by getting back to it!

Paul Edmondson, National Trust President and CEO

Paul Edmondson was the president & CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation from 2018-2023.

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