5 Epic Bucket-list Trips You Can Plan and Book Years in Advance

These once-in-a-lifetime trips require careful advance planning.

What are your long-term travel plans? For frequent travelers the world seems a bleak place at the moment. COVID-19 is not forever, yet it’s making it hard to plan anything. So why not extend your horizons and allow yourself to think about the epic trips you want to take some day? Then get planning!

Here are six incredible once-in-a-lifetime trips you can research, plan, and even book years in advance.

How to Plan a Cruise Around Antarctica

It’s the coldest, most hostile continent on the planet, and yet ice-covered Antarctica is an absolute must on any bucket list. It’s expensive. Really expensive. Yet exploring the “Great White Open” is not difficult thanks to a cruising industry that has made one- and two-week itineraries routine. Generally booked at least a year in advance, cruises usually begin in the world’s southernmost city, Ushuaia in Argentina. You then generally make stops at the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, South Shetlands, and the Antarctic Peninsula (the more you pay, the more places you visit and the longer the trip takes). At each stop you head out in a zodiac (an inflatable boat) to watch wildlife, reach land to snowshoe, or visit research stations, and even go polar diving.

The price is also determined by the luxuries on board the ship and the size of your cabin. This is not your average luxury cruise; expect scientific lectures and learning rather than buffets and bands. Choose an expedition vessel with a capacity of less than 250 passengers to limit the environmental impact.

How to Plan a Trip to Experience a Total Solar Eclipse

Did you witness nature’s greatest experience during the “Great American Eclipse” in 2017? Although the entire country saw the moon take a chunk out of the sun, only the 10 million or so clued-up Americans who drove into the “path of totality” stretching from Oregon to South Carolina witnessed the full experience.

What’s the fuss about? And when is the next eclipse? During the few minutes of totality the world goes cold and dark only for those under the moon’s narrow (about 70 miles wide) and fast-moving shadow. Most incredibly you’ll see the sun’s corona — its whispy, white, achingly beautiful outer atmosphere. You’ll get the shivers. You may even sob.

The phenomenon next happens in Chile and Argentina on Dec. 14, 2020, then again in Antarctica (just close to South Shetland) on Dec. 4, 2021. After that it’s the whale shark-watching paradise of Exmouth Peninsula and Ningaloo reef off Western Australia’s Coral Coast on April 20, 2023 before, once again, North America gets a turn. On April 8, 2024, a long, deep total solar eclipse unlike anything seen in North America for centuries will rip through Mexico (with Mazatlán being the prime spot), the U.S. (Texas to Maine — passing right over Niagara Falls) and Canada (Ontario to Newfoundland). Are you ready for the “Great North American Eclipse?” It’s time to choose a spot.

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