In a world where spontaneity in travel is almost fetishised, meticulous planners tend to get a bad rep. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Regardless, in these unprecedented times of closed borders and travel restrictions, where last-minute flights and impromptu weekend breaks are strictly off the cards, we must all become long term planners until the world opens up again (which of course it will); and there are some very good reasons to embrace it. Here are some of the benefits of planning a trip a (very) long way in advance.
Extra legroom. An extra night’s stay. Heck, who wouldn’t want a hotel upgrade? And the more time you have before you go, the more money you can save for those “treat yo’self” moments.
Staunch budget traveller? You do you. Traversing the globe on a few bucks a day can be an enlightening, life-affirming, addictive experience – but it never hurts to add a bit of slack to the shoestring, so to speak, and planning in advance provides a chance to squirrel away more funds, which can be handy in emergencies.
With all this time on your hands you can also afford to shop around, wait for flash sales and – where it makes sense to do so – book well in advance. Paying for transport, accommodation and activities over the course of a few months helps spread the cost too.
Craft the perfect itinerary
Paid leave is precious. Travel is a privilege. If you want to squeeze every last drop out of your next adventure, you could consider preparing a spreadsheet. When time away is limited, plotting out your ideal itinerary, day-by-day, can help you make the most of it.
There are numerous benefits to taking the Excel approach. You can sense-check the pace at which you plan on moving between destinations, factoring in days for travelling from A to B; plan backup options for rainy days; and juggle things around where necessary.
Pro tip: You may find too many things to squeeze onto your itinerary. Bookmark them all on your chosen mapping app (the Lonely Planet Guides app is a good place to start) and if you find yourself at a loss on the road, open it up to see what’s nearby.
Book popular things to do
Ever stumbled across the dreamiest of digs on Instagram, immediately pinned all of your hopes and future happiness on staying there, only to find they’re booked out solidly for the foreseeable? We feel your pain.
Planning your travels well ahead not only gives you the widest choice of accommodation – including those quirky-cool home rentals – it also offers the best chance of snagging sell-out gig and theatre tickets, elusive restaurant reservations and a table for drinks in the trendiest spot in town.
The only way to harness this travel superpower is to know what you’re looking for, which means doing plenty of research early on.
Get to know the destination before you arrive
Some people prefer to know very little about their chosen destination before they go – and the logic is understood, to a degree. With the world increasingly at our fingertips, the joy of experiencing the unknown is almost unattainable.
Browsing Google Street View might not be your favourite way to pass the time pre-trip, but understanding the history, geography and culture of a place you’ll soon be immersed in is never a bad thing. Being aware of local customs, taboos and current affairs can only make you a more engaged, respectful and responsible traveller. So get reading in the run up to your departure!
Achieve packing perfection
Packing. Love it or hate it, it’s hard to get right. But for once, you have the gift of time. Take this opportunity to craft the ultimate capsule wardrobe; stock up on (or locate those pesky) adaptors, spare chargers and all the other paraphernalia you usually have to panic buy at the airport; and get your digital life in order – we are talking a suite of essential apps, curated playlists, movie downloads and a clean digital camera roll to fill with your prize-winning travel snaps. You might even like to practise packing and unpacking your luggage to optimise your on-the-road technique.
Enjoy the anticipation
The instant gratification of last-minute getaways can be thrilling. But slowing down and mindfully planning a future trip can help us appreciate the true value of travel, instilling a sense of gratitude and wellbeing. Practise patience, relish the anticipation, and research, research, research – while remembering to enjoy the here and now. Plus, with travel temporarily off the cards, it’s an interesting thing to do.
This article was first published on www.lonelyplanet.com.