There are just as many reasons to book a trip a year ahead of time as there are to leave on a whim. Making plans well in advance is actually advantageous for excursions where the appearance of spontaneity and romanticism may be appealing (such as a road trip across the United States, particularly if you hope to visit any National Parks along the route). Not only is diligence rewarded, but it is also necessary.
“When thinking about travel that should be booked a year in advance, there are a few factors at play—notably, availability, access, and complexity of itinerary and experiences.”Tom Marchant, the owner and co-founder of Black Tomato
We’ve compiled 10 vacations that are worthwhile of at least a year’s planning. Undoubtedly, each of these is epic in scope in its own unique manner, which is why they all require such advance planning, but under the broad heading of the once-in-a-lifetime journey, there is something for everyone.
When the cherry blossoms are in bloom, visit Japan
Don’t imagine that visiting Japan for five days will be enough time to see the country. Few tourists are able to resist staying for a few weeks, at the very least traveling from Tokyo to Osaka, as part of an itinerary that begs to be personalized with the assistance of a travel expert. The finest places to see the cherry blossoms are in rural areas of the country, while Kyoto and Tokyo also offer some excellent viewing locations. If you’re planning a trip in the spring, from late March to early April, to take in the blooming cherry blossoms, specialists are essential. Get in touch with a company in January of the year before to guarantee delivery to the greatest foliage by a qualified guide.
Kenyan wilderness safari
Witnessing Kenya’s wildlife is one of the most sought-after safari experiences, whether it be during the Great Migration, when millions of zebras, wildebeests, and other herd animals move from Tanzania’s Serengeti to the Masai Mara in Kenya, or even just by inviting a few close friends or family members. The Great Migration can be seen from the Masai Mara, although Alice Daunt of Daunt Travel warns that “there are literally eight beds at the best camps” and that there is a limited window of opportunity (usually August through September).
Though planning ahead is advantageous all year round. Check here for the top places to stay in the Maasai Mara National Reserve!
Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is a must-see
There’s no need to introduce Carnival. The colourful festival, which has variations all over the world, is an extravagant celebration that must be experienced to be believed. Rio hosts the biggest Carnaval of them all, so you’ll have to compete with other visitors for tickets to the renowned Sambodrome parade in February as well as the best lodging (the Fairmont Rio de Janeiro Copacabana will book up quickly due to its proximity to the beachside parties) and dining options.
The benefit? A week of street samba dance, colorful costumes, and live music that fills the city is essentially one big block party. If you work with a knowledgeable travel agent, you can volunteer to march next to performers who will be wearing elaborate costumes on the big night. By the way, if you wait too long to make reservations for carnival, New Year’s is just as much of a catch.
An Egyptian Nile river cruise
A visit to Egypt’s historic sites is the vacation of a lifetime for any history enthusiast. There are two ways to travel there: on foot or on a Nile river cruise, but we believe the greatest journey combines elements of both. Take the Viking Osiris as it glides along the Nile, stopping thoughtfully at Esna so you may explore the red stone temples of the same name, Aswan so you can see the High Dam and Temple of Philae, and Qena so you can see the impressive Temple of Dendera. Planning early is essential to securing your route and ship of interest a few years ago when Nile cruises were rapidly growing in popularity and local operators were finding it difficult to meet demand.
A visit to the Okavango Delta in Botswana
There are countless ways to go on safari in Africa, but visiting the Okavango Delta in Botswana stands out among the rest. Floodplains are not only home to threatened animals like white and black rhinoceroses, but the expansive marsh also presents a unique opportunity to go on a boat safari through a landscape that changes according to water levels. The ideal months to go are often May through September, but booking a space at the camp of your choice during that time frame obviously needs advance planning.
European Christmas markets
The finest airline deals frequently go to Europe, but just because you can book a cheap, last-minute trip there doesn’t mean you should depend on it for particular occasions. You need make travel arrangements a full calendar year in advance to secure comfortable lodging (not to mention reservations at festive destination restaurants) if you want to see Europe’s fantastic Christmas markets, which fill city squares with mulled wine and seasonal treats in December. what is good news? You don’t need to buy tickets in advance because there are numerous markets all around the world, from Prague to Berlin to Edinburgh.
Machu Picchu trek
There’s a reason why many tourists want to walk to Machu Picchu. The old Incan ruins, however, have been suffering from overtourism in recent years as a result of how popular it has become to visit the site, whether by hike or otherwise, thus the Peruvian government has set daily visitor limits. They have also restricted the number of hikers who can travel the famed Inca Trail, which can take anything from a few days to a week.
When you book ahead to travel during the dry season (approximately from April to October), you can also get one of the 400 tickets available daily to ascend Huayna Picchu’s famous peak, which offers spectacular views of the ruins to a select few. While there, tour the rest of the Sacred Valley to balance out your itinerary of the Seven Wonders of the World; there are a variety of underappreciated sites and delicious Andean food to be found there.
The ideal road trip through the United States’ national parks
A road trip to one or two national parks may appear to be a simple last-minute excursion. While pandemic-era entrance restrictions to places like Zion and Yellowstone have eased in recent months, access remains limited, particularly during busy summer months. It is critical to plan ahead of time.
Accommodations are limited, whether you’re looking for a campsite or a lodge, and most parks demand reservations in some form (whether for park entrance or famous sites like Cadillac Summit Road in Acadia). Conduct some research and establish a calendar alert for reservation cancellations. It’s worth mentioning that you can avoid reservations in some circumstances with the correct hired guide, but these guides are in high demand, so don’t expect to ring one up a few days before your trip.
An Antarctica cruise
Cruising to Antarctica, with its short season of December to January and limited number of itinerary alternatives, necessitates a minimum of twelve months of planning—part of the reason being that people normally do not want to make the journey around the holidays, which eat up half the season.
Expedition cruise specialist Ashton Palmer of Expedition Trips has been planning voyages to the region for over twenty years, says of the increasing demand that “people want to make up for lost time.” He adds that making your reservations a year in advance ensures you can get the cabin you want on the ship you want—no small consideration when you think about how much time you’ll be spending on the boat. There are also generally only a couple itineraries to choose from, Palmer notes—the straightforward two weeks to Antarctica proper and back, and the three-plus week excursions that touch the Falklands and South Georgia as well.
A trip on the Galápagos Islands
Travelers have a unique chance to witness endemic species that contributed to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution on the Ecuadorian Galápagos Islands. To prevent eradicating the 9,000 species that still call the archipelago home, visitor numbers are rigorously limited. Although traveling by land is also an option, taking an expedition cruise is the recommended method of travel.
Just keep in mind that there are restrictions on how many people can enter the national park itself, that there are laws governing how many ships may navigate its waterways annually, and that there are requests to further restrict the number of tourists. The seasick or other cruise averse can choose to travel the area by propeller plane instead, Sarah Casewit of Origin observes, obtaining direct access to Isabela Island.