Before we had even disembarked from our Cambodia-Vietnam cruise, we were plotting our next adventure. Some people might think this is jumping the gun a bit, but nothing eases the anguish of a vacation’s end like knowing that you’ve got another one coming up. I say it’s never too early to start planning for your next vacation. And actually, it’s never too late, either.
Planning ahead definitely has its advantages. You’ll have your pick of accommodations, activities, and flights. The weeks and days leading up to your departure will be less stressful because you’ve already gotten everything squared away. Plus, you’ll have months to look forward to it.
While I’m definitely a “plan ahead” type of person, I have managed to pull off some last-minute travel arrangements without undue angst. I once booked a trans-Atlantic flight about 12 hours in advance. Not all airlines will let you do this, by the way, because the airlines have to provide passenger manifests to Homeland Security 24 hours before departure. Buying a last-minute, long-haul plane ticket raises red flags. But I managed to find an airline that didn’t seem to care. When I arrived at the airport, I was sure that I was going to be squeezed into a middle seat at the back of the plane, my punishment for lack of prior planning. But instead, the counter agent asked me if I wanted an aisle bulkhead seat. Airplane jackpot! It was only much later that it dawned on me that I’d probably been seated next to the air marshal.
Notwithstanding the increased scrutiny from Big Brother, there are some merits to last-minute travel. Perhaps the #1 advantage is that you can check the weather before you choose your destination. I helped a friend book a weekend getaway this week (as in, for this weekend), and fortunately, we knew to avoid basically the entire East Coast (thanks, Hurricane Matthew). If we had planned this trip for her weeks ago, we probably would’ve chosen a destination that’s currently under an evacuation order.
The downside to Last Minute is that your options are more limited. Good hotels invariably fill up, particularly on weekends and around holidays. Flights are probably going to be more expensive. You have to be flexible with your goals and your budget to make this work. But it can work.
So, Non-Planners of the World, take heart: You don’t have to start planning months ahead of time to make travel a reality. Even “Big Ticket” trips to far-flung destinations can come together in just a few weeks. Whether you start planning a year in advance or a week or (heaven help you) a day, the most important thing is to GO.