While vacations might not be taking place in the short term, there’s good news.
Psychologists and researchers have discovered that the planning and anticipation of a trip can be almost as rewarding as the trip itself.
A Cornell University study compared the happiness from anticipating an experience versus material goods. The anticipation from an experience – like a trip – left people substantially happier. A different study by the University of Surrey, found that people are happiest when a vacation is on the horizon.
So, while you might not be packing a suitcase, you can still plan a trip.
Whether there’s a specific Airbnb you want to visit, a bucket-list item you need to check off, or a hard-to-reach destination on your mind, there’s an abundance of vacations that require months of planning in advance.
Pull up a spreadsheet or grab a notebook and start planning one of these dream getaways for when tourism resumes.
An exploration of animal diversity in the Galápagos Islands.
A trip to the Galápagos Islands is perhaps the first vacation we immediately think of when it comes to planning.
The islands are sprinkled roughly 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador and visitors can navigate to them on either a boat or plane. Either way, it typically requires a stop in Ecuador first.
Additionally, the hardest decision to make is how you want to explore the islands. Some travellers will take lengthy cruises that stop at each island, while other visitors stay at hotels on the inhabited islands and take day trips from there. Both of those options have advantages and disadvantages, like cost, time, and access.
A trip to the islands can be expensive because it’s so remote, but planning ahead will give you time to save.
Since the islands are near the equator, temperatures are relatively mild all year round. According to the Galápagos Conservancy, visitors should pick their trip dates based on what they’re most interested in. For example, turtles nest during the spring, while the best diving time is from June through November.
Do your research. Understand what islands you want to visit, what experience you’re aiming to have, how much you want to spend, and what animals you want to visit.
A getaway to one of the most remote islands in the world: Easter Island.
Over 2,000 miles west of Chile, the small island is home to world-famous Moai statues and the mysteries of how they were formed.
Most people plan a visit to Easter Island as an addition to a trip to Chile or South America. That’s because it can be a challenge to get there and visitors typically stay for just a few days. Only one flight leaves from Santiago, Chile, to Easter Island every day, which makes the journey time-consuming and expensive.
Finally, it’s important to plan ahead because the island lacks strong cell service and Wi-Fi. It’s suggested to have your car, accommodations, tours, and everything else booked ahead of time.
However, many agree that visiting the remote island is worth it. Over 900 statues fill the 63-square-mile island.
A dreamy escape to Indonesia.
With over 17,000 islands, a trip to Indonesia can be anything you want it to be.
While the trip may not take a full year to plan, many of the popular Airbnbs and resorts are booked years in advance.
So if you envision an idyllic bamboo treehouse or hotel overlooking tea fields, plan ahead.
Additional planning time also gives you the chance to decide where you want to visit. Indonesia is huge, and it’s popular to visit its surrounding islands.
There are over 17,500 islands off the coast of Indonesia, so choose wisely. While Bali is at the top of most travellers’ lists, smaller islands, like Nusa Penida and Lombok, can also provide a dreamy getaway.
Finally, if you’re planning on staying for an extended period of time (more than 30 days), make sure you understand that country’s visa process. The country has different visas based on the length of your trip and your home country, so researching this beforehand is imperative.
A train getaway across Japan.
For Americans, Japan is on the other side of the world. So if you’re spending more than 13 hours on a plane, it’s worth it to visit a few of the country’s top destinations.
One of the hardest parts about planning a trip to Japan is deciding which season to visit. Spring is cherry blossom season, but fall provides beautiful foliage across the country.
A classic tour of Japan includes Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hakone, but depending on your interests as a traveller, you can easily branch out to other cities. It’s also recommended to invest in a Japan Rail Pass, which will give you unlimited train rides on your trip.
Since you’re planning in advance, it can also be helpful to practice a few Japanese phrases beforehand.
A cruise to Antarctica.
Many globetrotters have “visiting every continent” on their bucket list.
If that’s the case, Antarctica might be the hardest continent to accomplish, as it can be a challenge to get there.
If you’re interested in getting to the icy continent, a ship is one of the best options. Most people will travel to the continent via South America. However, if you’re not willing to take a two-day cruise, visitors can charter a two-hour flight.
Either way, only about 54,000 people visit the continent each year, so it’s important to book everything in advance since trips and cruises are limited.
A safari to the Great Migration.
Every year, 2 million animals travel from the Serengeti to Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve for what’s known at the Great Migration. Travellers from around the world flock to see the zebras, wildebeest, and gazelles as they migrate over 350 miles.
It’s the trip of a lifetime, partially because it requires a significant amount of planning.
The migration happens between June and October, but travel experts suggest planning your trip during August and September for the best experience.
Even if a traditional safari is what you dream of, it will still take more planning than a trip to Paris or Rome.
That’s because many African countries, like Namibia, Tanzania, and Kenya, require travellers to obtain a visa and vaccinations before arriving.
Beyond that, the areas you’re exploring are more remote. It could take a few flights, bus rides, and car rides to get to where you need to go. If the safari you want to book only accommodates a handful of guests, spots can fill up quickly.
According to Forbes, many properties won’t accept bookings from individuals but prefer to work with travel guides. It’s recommended that potential travellers do research on where they want to stay and what animals they hope to view.
So start booking your safari adventure now.