Spring has officially sprung, and it’s not too late for travelers to book last-minute trips to paradise. Plus, now that international travel restrictions have lessened across the globe — and airlines like Delta and United are eliminating mandatory on-board mask requirements for domestic and select international flights — there’s never been a better time to book your next vacation. Whether you’re interested in truffle-hunting in Tuscany or gallery-hopping in Texas, read on for the top six last-minute trips to book before the summer crowds take over. Happy travels!
Summer black truffles in Florence, Italy (Adobe Stock)
Tuscany & Beyond - It’s truffle-hunting season in the Italian countryside.
Italy is always a popular destination in the summertime, but why not consider a visit this spring? As Covid-19 testing restrictions have lessened significantly, there’s no better time to fit in a visit to the Italian countryside, than before the summer crowds swarm the ruins (and raise the prices) in the peak season of June through August. An added bonus? You will be able to partake in one of the most rewarding of all Italian pastimes: truffle-hunting, of course. The summer white truffle season begins mid-January and lasts through late April, while the summer black truffle season extends from May through September. Scavenge the hills of Florence for a delectable treat, and reward yourself with some local wine afterward. Cin cin!
Sunrise over red poppy fields in Texas (Adobe Stock)
Hill Country is Calling - Check out the Texas countryside in full bloom.
It’s a known fact that everything’s bigger in Texas, but were you aware that extended to the state’s flowers as well? Head to the Texas Hill Country this spring to witness the Lone Star State in full bloom, as red poppies inundate the open fields and rolling hills of this vast southwestern state. Nicknamed the ‘Red Poppy Capital of Texas’, the city of Georgetown is located just north of Austin and is famous for having the most beautiful flowers decorating the town square every spring. If you’re more into music than blossoms, head to the Kerrville Folk Festival at Quiet Valley Ranch, which kicks off on May 26, 2022. Regardless, this is the best season to visit, as the sweltering summer heat has yet to force all would-be cowboys indoors (and into air-conditioned environs). In short, there’s no better time of year to discover the Republic of Texas.
Tulip gardens in Holland (Adobe Stock)
Lots to discover in Lisse - Visit the most beautiful spring garden in the world.
In the infamous words of Meryl Streep (portraying Anna Wintour): Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking. Still, we’d be remiss to spotlight flower festivals stateside without including the most spectacular garden of all abroad. We’re talking, of course, about the world-famous Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, located in the municipality of Lisse, in the Netherlands. Though the gardens are only open until May 15th, travelers contemplating a visit later in the season shouldn’t be discouraged, as all across the country the flowers will be wondrously in-bloom. And, considering Holland is a place where tulips were once more valuable than gold, you can rest assured that the entire nation takes springtime very seriously. Whether you’re visiting The Hague or Amsterdam, Rotterdam or Scheveningen, you can’t go wrong with a last-minute trip this spring. After all, if it ain’t Dutch, it ain’t much.
4. New Zealand
Mount Cook in New Zealand (Adobe Stock)
North & South Island - The nation reopens to international travel on May 1, 2022.
New Zealand officially reopens to international travelers on May 1st, and there’s no better time to visit than now. Visitors should take advantage of direct flights via Air New Zealand from Houston and LAX and, coming in September, there will be a non-stop route from JFK to Auckland, as well. While New Zealand may seem like quite a way to travel for a last-minute trip, now is the time to capitalize on flight deals and score lowered costs on hotels and car rentals, as the country has been closed to tourists since the onset of the pandemic. Plus, spring is the perfect time to visit the land of the Kiwis, as the skies are blue, the hiking trails and restaurants are uncrowded, and the crisp weather (sunny days and chilly nights) is ideal for exploring the nation’s countryside that earned the nickname ‘the Real Middle Earth.’
Lake in summer in Lapland, Finland (Adobe Stock)
Discover the Arctic wonders of Lapland - Longer days end with Northern Lights (if you’re lucky)!
Our next selection is perfect for the adventurous traveler who’s always dreamed of exploring north of the Arctic Circle. Finland represents the largest portion of the Arctic region of Lapland and, though the Northern Lights are traditionally associated with the coldest months of winter, the best time to witness the Aurora Borealis is actually towards the beginning or at the end of the season. (So, April can very well be a lucky time for Lights-seeking travelers — after all, you can’t witness the lights if it’s snowing.) Additionally, the longer spring days result in more daylight hours — perfect for husky sledding and snowmobiling, as there’s still snow in Lapland through April. Finnish Lapland may be the home of Santa Clause, but it’s always the most wonderful time of the year all in the Finnish north — why not find out for yourself this spring?
Buddhist monastery with Mount Manaslu in Nepal (Adobe Stock)
Kathmandu & Beyond - Experience (Mountainous) Heaven on Earth.
If Nepal has topped your bucket list for years, there’s no better time to visit than this spring. As of now, international travelers are permitted to enter the country for mountaineering and trekking, and April to May is one of the peak seasons for the vertical pursuit. The weather remains dry, the days are longer, and the Himalayas are in bloom with rhododendrons flowering across the mountain valleys throughout the region. (The other peak season is fall, but who has that long to wait?) We suggest booking an adventure with the family-owned Crystal Mountain Treks or planning a trip with Mountain Travel Nepal, a high-end, personalized trekking company that partners with the historic jungle safari outfitter, Tiger Tops, where sightings of the elusive tiger have historically been strong in the springtime. Future tiger kings and tiger queens: Take note.