For many places in the world, the one-year anniversary of coronavirus quarantines and lockdowns is approaching. And in others, that not-so-momentous occasion has already passed. Much has changed in the time since then. Especially considering how and when we plan our adventures. As we move farther into 2021, we get closer to the days when being in the air feels grounding again, and adventure is on the horizon. For now, we’ll use our time at home for new travel strategies, like planning a trip a year in advance.
Dreaming up a trip for 2022 (or beyond) can have a lot of advantages. First, being further away from the outbreak of the pandemic puts us closer to a world with fewer travel restrictions. Then there is the accessibility piece of it: with a longer timeline, some truly magical experiences begin to become available. From domestic destinations to international itineraries—when you plan a trip a year out, you have the time to create an inspired experience. Take some of these suggestions as an example:
Plan a domestic trip a year in advance
The beauty of traveling within the United States is that so much can be seen from sea to shining sea. Whether it is exploring a whole new world within the Magical Kingdom or immersing yourself among the towering silence of monolithic green mountains, some of the best trips in the country require you to plan a year in advance.
Disclaimer: Travel restrictions within the United States are a patchwork of county, state and federal guidelines. Regulations, potential quarantine periods and travel restrictions may exist at your destination. We recommend contacting your destination’s Secretary of State office and reviewing CDC guidelines before booking travel.
Whether it’s Walt Disney World in Orlando or Disneyland in Anaheim, one thing is certain: photos with Goofy will be taken. Planning a trip to Disney is one of the easier ideas on this list, however time should still be considered. Although the price of a FastPass+ for rides and attractions doesn’t vary with the date of your booking, prices for lodging just may. Your budget will appreciate the notice.
Exploring the epic vistas of Alaska’s wilderness requires patience and a proper timeline, but it is worth the planning. In particular, some of Alaska’s national parks, like Gates of the Arctic, have no roads and thus requires air transportation to enter. As a reward, visitors can bear witness to the Northern Lights in total seclusion.
Another popular way to visit Alaska is on an Arctic cruise, which offers travelers the chance to see whale pods, fishing grizzlies and other wildlife. Keep in mind that planning this trip a year in advance is the difference between a having window or an inside cabin.
Despite Americans’ renewed interest in exploring the most beautiful parts of their country, Hawaii has been an elusive destination for the traveling inclined since early 2020. Due to tight restrictions, Hawaii has been able to limit the spread of COVID-19 across the islands. While that has introduced roadblocks to current travel, it has primed Hawaii to be a tourist hotspot for a post-vaccine world in 2022. Booking this trip for future dates can help you lock in accommodations before availability becomes limited. Plus, you’ll have more time to figure out your island-hopping map.
Tip: Flights to Hawaii can get pricey. Set up an airfare alert on Skyscanner to get notified when prices drop for your itinerary.
4. Route 66
Route 66, or “America’s Main Street,” is a highway spanning from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California. As a major historical byway through the American Midwest, Route 66 holds a special place in the heart of the country’s road trip culture.
Why would a road trip require a year in advance to plan? Route 66 is technically decommissioned. However, with proper mapping, motorists are able to follow the path of the old track while exploring towns rich in restored Americana. Part of Route 66 has even become a bicycle road.
Read more: 7 adventure trips in the U.S. and abroad
Plan an international trip a year in advance
Domestic travel is a wonderful thing to have access to. Yet, the world is so much more rich than one culture. International travel is loved for the way it opens the perspective to new horizons. Imagining travel in 2022 and beyond evokes a mindset of discovery, where this past year had our collective conscious looking for escape. These worldwide destinations deserve a year worth of indulgent planning.
Disclaimer: International travel regulations still vary greatly by country, as do vaccination levels. Check out our interactive travel map for restrictions and current information on where travel is open.
If you are an outdoor-oriented traveler, then it’s likely that Iceland is on your list of ideal adventure spots. It was definitely on our pre-pandemic radar too—and we weren’t the only ones. Locals in Iceland have reported that the reduction in travel brought by 2020 was actually beneficial for the country to catch up with the demands of booming visitation.
Now, Iceland is taking a slower approach to tourism by encouraging fewer visitors to take longer expeditions that see more of the stunning country. Planning for this trip a year ahead of time can help support Iceland’s sustainability goals and ensure you make the most of your time in the country.
6. South Africa
With so much to see in South Africa, you could take several years to dream up a trip and still not cover it all. A stay in the “Golden Mile” coastal city of Durban puts wayfarers just minutes from the Indian Ocean. Down the coast, you can drive the magnificent Garden Route and end in Cape Town in South Africa’s southwest coast. Safari expeditions in Kruger National Park range from three to five days, although you might need a year to prepare your mind to sleep in lion territory.
Similar to South Africa, the fullness of culture, history and natural beauty of Japan calls for a trip that is well researched. And if this is your first time to Japan, planning a year in advance is almost a minimum. Sure, a train can take you from Tokyo to Osaka in a few hours’ time, but if you plan your whole stay in Japan with that speed you’ll miss details like the diversity of food in-between those two cities, or the deep historical lessons from varying areas. In 2020, Japan had a rapid and successful response to COVID-19, but planning for 2022 is a safe bet for stability’s sake.
Read more: The best of Costa Rica: A 7-day itinerary
A visit to Germany requires travelers to plan a year in advance thanks to the multiple busy seasons the country experiences. Prime time for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts spans from May to September, during which a well-mapped-out trip can take explorers through Bavarian villages or into the Alps. Another reason to plan your trip a year in advance? Oktoberfest 2021 is an uncertain bet, meaning 2022 may see the rebirth of a time-honored tradition. That, and Christmas markets. Hotels book up fast for these festivities, but you can still book flexible travel in case your plans change.
Read more: When can I travel to Europe again?
In the case of traveling to Australia, it might not be you who needs the time to plan, but the county that needs a year’s worth of planning to handle your visit. Currently, Australia isn’t expected to begin allowing visitors to return until late 2021. No matter! Consider this an opportunity to prep an itinerary that covers the Outback, the Barrier Reef and all the wine tastings in-between.
Read more: New travel rules for U.S. passport holders
Plan a trip a year in advance, today
2022 may look far away, but it’s clear from here that there is a lot of promise. Looking forward to what’s out there is a great way to plan meaningful, inspiring trips. After one year of quick getaways and staycations—and a new year that seems full of the same—digging into travel planning for a longer period of time can be the perfect way to reinvigorate your explorer’s mindset.
Discover where you can go now
Making plans to travel again? Find out where borders are open with our interactive global map, and sign up to receive email updates when your dream destinations begin to reopen.
The answer depends on your destination. Some locales may be requiring advanced booking due to exclusivity. Likely, those posh places would be harder to visit, maybe even taking time on a wait list. However, experiences like Disney resorts require advanced booking due to higher volumes, especially during peak times.
For one thing, travel booked for 2022 is one year further away from the outbreak of COVID-19. So in addition to traveling in a more post-pandemic world, planning a trip further out can help you lock in dream destinations at affordable rates and better access.
Think about the type of trip you’re taking: Is it a cruise? Will you be traveling in a large group? How complex or remote is the itinerary? Start by considering the demand and accessibility of your desired locale, and then go for things like budget, expedition guides and logistics.