If you’re anything like us, when you’re not traveling, you’re thinking about traveling. There’s a lot of trips to start planning now, even while traveling to many countries is off-limits. Not being able to travel is pretty awful, but research shows that even just planning a trip can boost your mood and give you some energy.

With that in mind, some trips take a pretty long time to plan. Why not start with one of these bucket-list trips to start planning now, while you have the time? Then in 2021 or some time down the road, you’ll be all ready to jet off on an incredible adventure.

1. Studying abroad 

planning study abroad

Studying abroad takes a long time to plan, and not just because of the traveling. You’ll need to figure out which classes you can take abroad, how it’ll fit with your university degree schedule and plan in advance to apply to the programme you’re interested in. We recommend starting to plan your study abroad semester at least two semesters in advance of when you’re hoping to study abroad. 

Why you’ll need to plan ahead: 
  • Figure out your class schedule and which classes you’ll be able to take abroad.
  • You might need to get a student visa. 
  • You may have to adjust your financial aid. 
  • You’ll need to decide where to live—campus housing/flats/apartments or find other housing on your own if it’s not included in your program. 
  • Plan weekend trips to nearby destinations.
  • Save money and budget for a longer-term time abroad.

2. Road-tripping in New Zealand

new zealand

Not only is New Zealand far away, but it takes some time to plan your epic New Zealand adventure. If you’re planning on doing any overnight backpacking trips, you’ll usually need to get a permit, which are limited and fill up fast. Even if you’re not, you’ll want to look into campsites, car or van rentals and tons of other logistical details so that you can make sure to hit everything on your bucket list. Wherever you want to go in New Zealand, it’s one of the best trips to start planning now!

Why you’ll need to plan ahead: 
  • Decide if you’ll visit both islands or just one and plan your itinerary. With so many amazing places to see in New Zealand, this can be tricky to narrow down!
  • Choose between a car/camper van.
  • Decide between staying in a van/campsites vs. hostels/hotel/Airbnb/etc. Keep in mind that all kinds of accommodation in New Zealand can fill up fast, especially if you’re travelling there during the summer. 
  • You may need to get an international drivers license. 
  • Get permits for backpacking/camping, as required. 
  • The best time to book flights to New Zealand is 3-6 months in advance, so you’ll want to be planning your trip before that point so you’ll know when and where you want to go.

3. Backpacking around Europe 

trips to start planning now

Backpacking around Europe is one of the quintessential holidays for uni students and if you have a chance to go, you definitely should! Whether you’ve got just a few weeks and want to visit a few highlights or take off for several months to cram in as much as possible, these are great trips to start planning now. Any European trip is sure to be one that leaves you with amazing memories!

Why you’ll need to plan ahead: 
  • Planning your itinerary: which countries you want to visit, how long to stay in each place, and how you’ll get from place to place. If you’re staying for several weeks and/or trying to cram in a bunch of countries, planning this part will take longer than you think! 
  • Deciding whether to get an Eurail pass or buy train tickets one-off as you go. 
  • Making sure you have the appropriate travel documents needed for each country you’re visiting. 
  • If you’re traveling in the summer to Europe, things can be expensive if booked last-minute. It’s a good idea to plan ahead as much as possible. 

4. An African safari 

how to plan a safari

When planning a holiday that’s as big and logistically complicated as an African safari, we recommend you go with a group so you’ll have expert knowledge, safety and a well-crafted itinerary on your side. Safari tours can fill up and sell out quickly, you’ll want to book in advance to make sure you get the dates you want (and to take advantage of any early-bird discounts). Africa is a massive and diverse continent, with just as many different kinds of safaris, so it’ll take some research to find the one that’s right for you.

Why you’ll need to plan ahead: 
  • Decide where in Africa you want to go—Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Tanzania are all popular destinations for safaris. If there’s a particular animal you really want to see, research the best countries/destinations in Africa for seeing that animal. 
  • Choose your own adventure: G Adventures and Intrepid are two groups that have incredible and affordable safari experiences, but there lots of options to choose from.
  • You may need to get vaccines or take anti-malarial medications in advance, depending on where you’re going. 
  • You may need a visa for some countries in Africa (including Kenya and Tanzania). To be safe, you should apply for your visa several months in advance. 
  • Once you’ve got all the trip planning narrowed down and your tour booked, you’ll likely need some new gear—whether safari clothes, mosquito nets or something else—to add to your shopping list before you go.

5. The US

The US is an incredible place to explore, whether you’re staying in one general area or renting a campervan and planning a cross-country road trip. Since it’s such a long flight, you’ll probably want to find a time where you can go for at least 2-3 weeks. Once you’re there, time will fly by, as there’s a LOT to explore! 

Why you’ll need to plan ahead: 
  • Planning your itinerary will take some time! Los Angeles and New York are must-see cities, but they’re on opposite sides of the country. Not to mention that there’s a lot of amazing destinations in between!
  • Australian citizens don’t need a visa for travel to the US if you’re staying for less than 90 days, but you do need to apply online for an electronic visa waiver
  • Decide if you’ll rent a car or rely on other transportation options. If you do rent a car, you may need an international drivers license. 
  • The best time to buy flights to the US is typically 3-6 months in advance, so you’ll want to start looking early. If you can snag a sale, that’ll help a lot too. 

6. Backpacking through Southeast Asia

Whether you just want to go island-hopping in Thailand or travel all around Southeast Asia, it’s a popular backpacker destination for students. There’s so many incredible cheap destinations in Southeast Asia and fun things to do. The culture, scenery and food is all completely different from what you’ll find in Australia, so it’s a great place to immerse yourself in something new. 

Why you’ll need to plan ahead: 
  • Deciding your itinerary can take longer than you might think—there’s a lot of countries and destinations to choose from and tons to do! Depending on how long you have will obviously play a big factor in where you go.
  • You may need visas for some countries. 
  • You might need to get some vaccines in advance, depending on where you’re going. 
  • The in-country transportation can vary a lot from place to place. You’ll want to research what transportation options are available in the different places you’re going—will you be able to take trains or local public transport? Hire a driver? Take a taxi? Rent a motorbike? Some of these options may be more/less practical for you than others, so look into what options you’ll have. 
  • Besides inter-country transportation, getting between countries can be trickier than expected and takes some advance planning as well. 

7. Antarctica 

trips to start planning now

Yes, you really can visit Antarctica! Antarctica is truly one of the wildest places on earth: with no local currency, no standard airports and no regular tourist activities, if you want to get off the grid, this is the way to do it. The prices can be pretty steep, but it’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime adventure and there’s some pretty amazing scientific and exploration voyages you can take. Even if you can’t go for a few years, these are trips to start planning now.

The travel season takes place during summertime only, between November to March. Even though it’s summer, temperatures will still be only between -6ºC – 10ºC, so bundle up! Then get ready for whale watching, penguin sightings, kayaking, snowshoeing and more. 

Why you’ll need to plan ahead: 
  • You’ll need to go with a group and get a special permit for visiting.  G Adventures and Intrepid both offer incredible expeditions that are on the cheaper side. 
  • Trips fill up very quickly so you’ll need to book in advance. You’ll need to decide which kind of expedition you’re interested in (flying in or sailing in—we recommend sailing!)
  • Antarctica expeditions are pretty expensive—the cheaper two-week trips will typically cost about $5,000-$7,000, so you’ll need to start saving early. 

Already know where you want to go and have a few trips planned on your bucket list? Check out our cheap flights and see what kinds of deals you could get on your future trips.