Don’t have your summer travel plans nailed down yet? Not to worry: Below you’ll find several options that are best if you book them now, from a new safari camp in Africa to Edinburgh’s Festival Fringe. We’ve also got the scoop on some 2018 bucket-list trips—an Arctic cruise, the Australian Open—that you need to start planning now. Use our Trusted Travel Experts to be sure that you get the trip of a lifetime.
(If you prefer to know which destinations are ideal for traveling to in any given month, see our Where to Go When series, and don’t miss our comprehensive guide to the benefits of booking early.)
Buddhism in Mongolia
For: June and July
Trusted Travel Expert Jalsa Urubshurow is leading a trip through his homeland of Mongolia with famed Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman from June 25 to July 7. These two authorities on the region and its culture will make the temples and monasteries come alive, guide you through meditation sessions, and take you to the famous Flaming Cliffs of the Gobi Desert.
Why book in March? This spiritual trip is limited to ten travelers, so book now before space runs out.
A Summer Trip to Mexico
For: July and August
Summer is low season for a lot of Mexico—but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad time to be there. The highlands are surprisingly temperate during the summer, and it’s prime time for wildlife sightings along the coasts: whale sharks in the Riviera Maya and sea-turtle nesting on the Pacific. Plus, Mexico City empties out from July to mid-August, meaning fewer crowds and less traffic.
Why book in March? March is when summertime promotions and discounts are announced; jump on these deals right away, while the best rooms are still available. For example, the Four Seasons Mexico City slashes rates by 20% for trips in July and August.
A Walking Safari in Zimbabwe
For: June, August, September, October
John’s Camp, a new private camp with just three tents (one with a side room for kids) is about to open in Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most amazing wildlife reserves in all of Africa. Walking safaris are allowed in this park, which is famous for its immense populations of hippos, zebra, elephant, and Cape buffalo.
Why book in March? Book before May 15 and our Trusted Travel Expert can get you an additional 15% off the already-reasonable introductory rates. And the sooner you reserve, the better your chances that she can arrange for the legendary John Stevens (after whom the camp is named) to be your private guide.
Festival Season in Edinburgh
August is Festival Season in the Scottish capital, when a number of overlapping festivals (the Edinburgh Art Festival, Festival Fringe, Royal Military Tattoo, the International Book Festival, and many others) form the largest annual cultural gathering in the world.
Why book in March? Wait much longer and tickets to the Royal Military Tattoo—a celebration with military musical performances and fireworks displays—will be gone, as will hotel rooms anywhere near the events.
A Pottery Festival in China
For centuries, China’s imperial court used porcelain handcrafted in the workshops of Jingdezhen (a river town in the southern province of Jiangxi) to decorate their palaces. Today, the Jingdezhen International Pottery and Porcelain Festival runs throughout the month of October. Marvel at the work of artisans who use tools and methods passed down through the ages. In addition to their classic wares, you can also browse the work of boundary-breaking students from the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute, the only ceramics university in China.
Why book in March? This international festival draws pottery lovers from around the world. Book early to get the best hotels and highest-caliber guides.
Seeing Baby Penguins, Whales, and Seals in Patagonia
Starting in mid-September and peaking in November, one of the greatest concentrations of marine mammals in the world converges off the Peninsula Valdes, on the Atlantic coast of Patagonia: Southern right whales migrate here to mate and give birth, Magellanic penguins and elephant seals come to breed and deliver their young, and orcas may be sighted beaching to feed on baby sea lions.
Why book in March? The best vantage point for viewing this spectacle is one of the estancias on the coast that has private access to the very beaches that are overrun with wildlife. Since these estancias have only a few rooms each, you need to book far in advance to secure one.
The Australian Open
For: January 2018
The first Grand Slam tennis tournament of the year draws crowds to Melbourne every January, bringing a festive atmosphere, with matches broadcast on big screens throughout the city and concerts by internationally acclaimed bands. The warm summer days are also a lovely time to check out the city’s rooftop bars and the Queen Victoria Night Market (with global street food and roving entertainment), as well as the scenic Great Ocean Road a few hours away.
Why book in March? Five- and four-star hotels will soon be full, so reserve your room now; tickets for the tennis matches go on sale in August. Our Trusted Travel Expert can often arrange behind-the-scenes experiences at the tournament as well.
Small-Ship Cruising in the Sea of Cortez
For: February and March 2018
The azure waters around Baja California are a beacon of sun-drenched hope for winter-weary North Americans. Enjoy warm weather, beautiful sunsets, and opportunities to snorkel with gentle whale sharks and dolphin pods. In February and early March, you’ll avoid spring break crowds but still catch the Pacific-gray-whale migration through Baja’s lagoons.
Why book in March? The ideal expedition ships have just a handful of cabins, so departures during the best time for whale watching sell out early.
An Arctic Cruise
For: June to August 2018
Whether you’re a wildlife enthusiast enamored with the array of swooping Arctic seabirds, a photographer looking to capture glistening icescapes, or an avid kayaker dreaming of paddling pristine waters above the Arctic Circle, a small-ship expedition cruise to the Land of the Midnight Sun will give you a front-row seat to the breathtaking beauty and fragility of our rapidly changing planet.
Why book in March? Arctic summers are fleeting, and flights to ports such as Longyearbyen (where many Arctic cruises depart from) are limited. Book now to secure your spot before they’re all gone.