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10 Bucket List Trips To Plan a Year in Advance

Editor’s Note: We can’t travel right now. We need to stay home and healthy to protect others from the spread of COVID-19. But, travel will open up one day. There is good news about the worst being over in some countries, while measures have helped others, such as New Zealand almost totally eradicate the virus within its borders. A year from now, we may be in a completely different place- literally.

Dream Now, Plan Now. Explore Later.

Awe-inspiring travel to more remote or adventurous places all have one thing in common: they take time to plan. From specific flight schedules to reach them, to departure dates of expeditions, to learning about exactly where you want to be in the destination, for example:

  • Which safari camp in Botswana?
  • What time of year to see the Great Migration? When to see the Northern Lights?
  • How to go hiking in Patagonia?
  • When to experience the vineyard harvests in Sicily?

Bucket list trips require at least 12 months to plan and reserve. In short, you should be working with an experienced travel advisor to book your 2021 travel now.

Plan Your Bucket List Trips – Your Wanderlist

Right now, while we patiently wait at home until we’re able to travel again, there is no better time to daydream about our perfect getaways. The time is now to plan the bucket list trips we can’t wait to embark on … next year. In fact, these dream vacations actually need to be booked a year in advance; so for travel in 2021, you’ll need to start planning right now.

Extra Protection for Your Travel Investment – Use an Expert Travel Advisor

The great news, in this time of worldwide shutdown, is the distance the travel industry is going to ensure you get the travel that you want, without the worry of losing your investment. Here is where working with a travel pro can help. It is possible to book your next bucket list travel dream with the option to use your deposit on a future trip without a change penalty – you just have to know who is doing it and how to ensure that option. The best assurance of protecting your investment while still planning great travel is by using a travel advisor with the knowledge to be your greatest asset.

Now that you know when to plan for your travel dreams, and how to do that in the most investment-protective way, here are a few inspiring suggestions for you. If these inspire dreams of other places, definitely tell me – I love to get creative!

#1 The 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo

If you didn’t jump at the chance in 2020, the postponement of the Summer Olympics now gives you another shot! To witness the accomplishments of the athletes in person you do need to book WAY ahead to secure venue tickets, accommodations and best-priced airline fares. If the Olympics aren’t your thing, the Cherry Blossom festival in the spring or autumnal spectacular colors are other great reasons to explore Japan. You could extend your trip to explore other iconic cities in japan, such as Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima; you could travel more remotely to mountains and hot springs and stay in the traditional onsen for a truly immersive cultural experience. Japan is also filled with island and mountain national parks; you could spend some time off the beaten path in the north of the county – what better way to social distance than be away from tourist crowds?

#2 Galapagos Islands

This top travel destination for many.  Located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands are extremely remote, so you need to make reservations far in advance of when you want to travel, especially if you want to experience the islands on an intimate ship or yacht where you won’t be with the crowds. On a smaller vessel (perhaps with only your tribe of family or friends) you’d spend your days getting up close and personal with your own expert naturalist guide with sea lions, blue-footed boobies, and giant sea tortoises by

  • kayaking,
  • snorkeling,
  • paddleboarding and
  • diving

with the area’s fish, penguins and docile sharks in the year-round warm waters. 

#3 Explore the World Expo in Dubai

The next World Expo will be its first time in the Middle East! The site is already built – I toured it in March. Set to open on October 1, 2020, this has been postponed until October 2021, and will continue until March 31, 2022. If you know the level of excellence the UAE provides its visitors, you know this World Expo will be off the charts in experience. I love the overarching theme, too – all about innovation and sustainability! You will enjoy

  • daily concerts,
  • country venues for worldwide cultural exploration,
  • exhibits, and
  • fun for all ages.

What else to do in the UAE?

You can read more here. But, you can explore both Dubai and Abu Dhabi,

  • experience the famous Friday brunch scene,
  • shop (or just enjoy eye-popping displays) in the malls or souks – especially the gold souks! – and have an intimate cultural exchange.
  • Art is a big factor in the region, from galleries to the Louvre.
  • Or indulge your thrill-seeking side at fantastic theme parks.
  • You can explore the desert, ride a camel, see falconry.
  • For relaxation, there are beautiful beach getaways on natural white sand and crystal clear blues waters that will make you think you are in the Maldives.

I live part time in the region, so if you want to know more, just ask me. 

#4 Immerse in the U.S. National Parks

Bucket list travel can happen closer to home, but to have more of the feel of wide open spaces and experience fewer crowds, advance planning and a private guide is the way to go. After a spring and possibly summer of being stuck indoors sheltering in place and continued social distancing, finding wild outdoors to visit that is not going to be super crowded is going to feel even more important when you’re booking next year’s vacation. There will be no better time to visit bucket list options such as The Grand Canyon and Yellowstone national parks. America’s park system is a national treasure, but like all treasures, the jewels are highly sought after. Prime lodging options at America’s most popular parks need to be booked eight months in advance. There are a ton of great places to go that a lesser-known by the masses as well. Like the snowy peaks of North Cascades National Park in Washington, Glacier National Park in Montana for glaciers and crystal lakes, Lassen Volcanic National Park, California for geothermal activity. Enjoy forests and mountains on the East Coast as well in Maine, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. More information on National Parks can be discovered here.

#5 Go to the End of the Earth in Antarctica – or as far south as you dare

Talk about getting really far away from people! The southernmost point on Earth features an otherworldly landscape of glaciers, snow, ice, and penguins. There is an abbreviated season to go to Antarctica, so you need tons of advanced planning and booking to secure one of the few coveted spots to do so. If crossing the Drake Passage on water isn’t your thing, there are ways to fly over. Small expedition yachts can provide comfort of health safety. If you don’t wish to go over to Antarctica but are interested in explorers of the past, you can trace Darwin’s steps from the southernmost point in Argentina (and the jumping-off point for Antarctica) and head by small expedition cruise up into Patagonia.

#6 Nepal and Bhutan

See the Himilayaas, experience the country with the “highest gross national happiness”. Set in remote mountains, you would leave the crowded entry point of Kathmandu for a journey of exploration of beautiful landscapes, small villages seemingly untouched by time, and monastic enclaves to explore your spiritual side. Just what is needed after the uncertain time we have been going through! Such a journey takes time to prepare, from flights to the accommodation and services that suit your style and comfort level. Expert guides are needed for anything you’d like to do, from exclusive access and private meetings or monk blessings, to village home visits, to adventurous activities.

While we are in the region…

#7 India

Beyond the Golden Triangle of the cities of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra, there is the stunning Udaipur and its lakes, and further tiger safaris in Rajasthan. You can glamp, be transported on a royal train, stay for a while on a houseboat- or enjoy some of the most extravagant hotels the world has to offer. You can have private meetings with royalty if you prefer, visit local women cooperatives that save families from poverty. Anything can be arranged in comfort and safety with expert private guides and drivers, and planning a year in advance will help you decide exactly what you want to experience.

#8 African Safari

Planning to go to Africa, even in the best of times, takes at least 12 months of advanced booking. It isn’t a place you can just pick up and go to if you want the best experience your investment of time and money can get you. This is because private concessions (the best animal viewing and community cultural immersion you can have) have limited amounts of visitors they allow at a time for maximum impact in experience for you and minimum impact of the environment for them. in terms of the impact you have on making the world a better place, there is almost no greater example or direct result to conservation, culture and community preservation than your investment in the right safari trip. Now it is just a matter of deciding where! Is it to see the Great Migration and maybe hike Mount Kilamagaro? Is it to a concession in South Africa with time in vibrant Cape Town, the sea coast and whales, and the Winelands? Is it to see fascinating adaptations of a wide diversity and huge numbers of animal life in the watery Okavango Delta in Botswana or the dessert-adapted lion or elephant in Namibia? You could combine several African countries in one trip; savannah exploration in Tanzania combined with gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda, for example. You could even opt for a beach stay to end your African trip! With so many possibilities, a year in advance to plan is necessary to learn what you’d like to discover and put all the puzzle pieces together.

#9 Hike an Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru

It is an adventure just to get to the Andes! The most iconic of Incan ruins is Machu Picchu, but there are so many that can be visited to paint a more complete picture of this fascinating and advanced civilization. There is no one “Inca Trail; instead there is a system of these ancient “highways” that connected all parts of the large kingdom. You could choose to hike non touristy paths and stay at backcountry beautiful lodges where you and you guides see no one but Andean people in remote dwelling and tiny villages. You’d visit their weaving cooperatives, be hosted to a lunch of local delicacies. You could stay at a wellness property in the Sacred Valley that supports local sustainability. And there is so much else to explore in Peru, with history still being uncovered layer by layer, that Machu Picchu may not be your ultimate memory of the trip! But, because of limited trail permits, site visitation daily limits and limited accommodations, 8 months to a year of prior booking is necessary.

#10 Hike or Ski the Dolomites in Italy

After staring at our own four walls for so long, clean mountain air, green valleys among soaring peaks is just what is needed. The Dolomites, in the southern Alps between Italy and Austria is a charming area that combines the best of both countries. Here you can expect great food with the highest concentration of Michelin stars in the world as well as exquisite local fare in the refugios, or mountain huts. Accommodations tend to concentrate around health and wellness, so you can expect to get your spa fix satisfied. And why not, since you will want to unwind after taking advantage of all the outdoor activities time in the mountains affords. Great accommodations and the best outdoor guides and activities can be arranged with 8 to 12 months of advanced planning.

There you have it: a short list of some of bucket list trips worldwide – and the reasons you not only should book in advance, but also use the services of a professional travel advisor, such as me, who is experienced in adventurous and experiential travel worldwide. You are going to want the benefit of partnerships to secure the best and most flexible booking terms in today’s reality of health and safety consciousness along with the uncertainty of what the future holds in virus mitigation and eradication. But, this, too shall pass. And the way to get back to your Wanderlist is the dream now, plan now, and explore later.

luxury travel advisor Theresa Jackson on one of her adventures journeys

At Enlightened Journeys Travel, we design handcrafted travel itineraries for your immersive journeys of a lifetime.

Keep exploring – Life’s an adventure!

I look forward to opening hidden doors in exclusive travel for you!
Theresa