We all like to think of ourselves as free spirits, booking with glorious last-minute abandon and able to act on the spur of the spontaneous moment (that's not just us, right?). Well, sorry for being the fun police on this one but when it comes to travel, the impromptu you is missing out. You see, as a general rule, the earlier you book the better your chances of securing the cheapest flights, the best accommodation and the finest guides. As luck would have it, we've come up with a selection of the destinations and experiences that you really need to be booking now for 2018. It's time to get the diaries out…
Namibia is a true original, from magnificent game in the Etosha National Park and Damaraland to the beautifully barren wilderness of the Skeleton Coast and the spectacular scenery of the Namib Desert. There is a relatively small number of quality safari camps and lodges so to make sure you get the chance to experience the very best that Namibia has to offer, be sure to book at least 9 months in advance.
From blue footed boobies to giant tortoises, and a plethora of marine life, encountering the wildlife above and below the waves of the Galapagos Archipelago is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Historic isolation means the animals have no fear of man so, unlike pretty much anywhere else on the planet, you can get up close and personal. The Galapagos is a year-round destination but the best luxury boats can book up quickly so to avoid disappointment it's worth booking a year in advance.
Tanzania and Kenya
Africa's great migration is one of nature's most spectacular shows with up to two million wildebeest, 400,000 Thomson's gazelle, 300,000 zebra and 12,000 eland moving in great swathes from the southern plains of Tanzania's Serengeti up to the Masai Mara in Kenya. Safari simply doesn't get any better than this. The migration has started two weeks early this year and now is the perfect time to be booking for 2018.
For such a small island, Borneo packs quite the holiday punch, from its incredibly biodiverse rainforest, home to orangutans, clouded leopards and pygmy elephants (among others), to its picture-perfect beaches and what is often described as every hiker's dream, Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in south east Asia. Borneo is a destination in its own right but also combines brilliantly with mainland Malaysia, where travellers can explore cosmopolitan Kuala Lumpur and the untouched beaches of the east coast.
As the second largest country on the planet (you could fit the UK inside it 41 times) it's unsurprising that Canada is a place of epic proportions and diversity, both physically and culturally. Its cities are stylish and enchanting (take a bow, Vancouver), while the landscape beyond is wild and beautiful, from the sparkling lakes and imposing peaks of the Canadian Rockies to the icy winter tundra of Churchill. Speaking of Churchill (without the icy tundra, though), July and August are the best months to see polar bears and beluga whales in this region, against a backdrop of colourful blooms and alpine scenery.
Botswana's starkly contrasting desert and delta makes for one of the quintessential safari experiences. The Okavango Delta is one of the planet's last great wildernesses and a place where people very much feel like guests in a land claimed by the wild. This is largely down to Botswana's decision to shun any semblance of mass tourism in favour of exclusivity and quality. As a result, you're unlikely to find anywhere in Africa where you feel closer to the game, all the while staying in some of the most luxurious safari lodges on the continent.
Indonesia is a year-round destination, but it's also one of the most popular so organisation is certainly the key to success when it comes to travelling here. It's a country that offers unparalleled experiences for those in search of variety; white sand beaches swathed by lush rainforest, volcanoes and mountains to satisfy the keenest of adventurers, incredible ancient sites and temples ripe for exploration and some of the best diving in the world in areas like Raja Ampat and Wakatobi.
It's tough to know where to start in Peru (that's where we come in) due to the sheer breadth of experiences on offer; trek the iconic turf of the Inca Trail or discover some of the lesser known (but no less impressive) Incan archaeological sites; relax with a pisco sour in a quiet colonial town or explore an explosion of Andean colour at a bustling village festival; hike through pristine rainforest to watch macaws preen their impressive plumage or enjoy a gastronomic tour through Lima's backstreet cevicherías. Peru simply has it all.