Once again, we’ve dusted off our crystal ball and looked into the next year of travel with the help of little data from your favorite travel companies and organizations, some word-of-mouth, and a whole lot of anecdotal knowledge. Here, 11 major travel trends that will hit 2020 faster than you can say “Iceland.”
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1. Dark Tourism
Yes, traveling for “darkness” in 2020 will *actually* be a thing, but maybe not how you imagine. That’s because travelers are seeking out travel options that focus on the history and stories centered around death, tragedy, destruction, crime and the other macabre. In fact, in a recent survey conducted by Kiwi.com, searches for destinations linked to a dark period or gloom increased 307 percent from the prior year. Think destinations like Chernobyl’s exclusion zone, which has seen a 429 percent increase in visitors since 2009, as well as Savannah, Georgia, the Mecca of ghost tours. The Tour Guy, an international guided tour operator, also offers tours of the Paris catacombs, as well as a VIP access to Rome’s underground burial grounds through the “Rome Catacombs Night Tour with Capuchin Crypts”—being one of the few companies in the world to offer that kind of PM access for the extra spook.
2. More Conscious, Slow Travel
Whether you subscribe to “flight shaming” or not, a hot topic in travel in 2020 and beyond will center on how people can travel more eco-friendly and reduce their CO2 emissions. Biking, walking or taking an e-Scooter are great options for short distances, but when it comes to traveling—say—across borders, how can you start to make any kind of impact? One way is to consider more conscious or slower ways of travel: For example, “CO2 emission on an average Eurail trip (Europe’s most efficient rail pass to 31 countries) is about three times less per person than traveling the same route by car—and four times less than traveling by plane,” a rep for the brand tells us. Travelers on Eurail can also activate an EcoPassenger tracker to see how they’re making a difference.
3. Trading Oceanfront Hotel Rooms for Oceanfront Airstreams
Airstreams are already dominating the travel scene—and for good reason. Often found in absolute wilderness and places with unparalleled natural beauty, staying in an airstream gives travelers the ability to feel off-grid in a nostalgic, camping-lite way. For 2020, Autocamp—one of the leaders in rental airstreams in the U.S. with locations in Yosemite, Sonoma and Santa Barbara—have announced a new location in Cape Cod, Massachusetts which means you’ll soon be able to stay in this unique, luxe accommodation type just steps from the water.
4. Trending Destination: Armenia
The Kardashian-Jenner fam wields a lot of influence when it comes to beauty, fashion, food and now travel, too. Case in point: Interest in the former Soviet Republic of Armenia grew after the Kardashian sisters visited in 2015 to raise awareness of the Armenian genocide and again just last month when Kim baptized her children there. The beaches at Lake Sevan, jaw-droppingly beautiful cathedrals, Eastern European charm and ample Brandy-tasting opportunities are reason enough to go, and tour operator Trafalgar is now offering a new trip there, coupled with one of Europe’s other hot destinations, Georgia.
5. Luxury Astro Tourism in Lapland, Finland
Chasing the Northern Lights is epic enough, but doing it basically at the North Pole in a posh igloo all to yourself (or with a certain special someone) is on a whole. other. level. Direct flights into Helsinki on Finnair with quick connections to Ivalo and Kittilä in the Far North mean U.S. tourism to Finland’s Lapland region has been steadily increasing (According to a regional tourism arm, Inari-Saariselkä Tourism Ltd., the Inari-Saariselkä tourism has grown roughly five times since the beginning of the decade). That means you can expect to see more of your friends and colleagues laying under the stars and northern lights gazing in the coming decade. Just make sure to pack some ski gear if you go.
6. Going (Actually—No, Really) Communication-Free on Vacay
According to a Booking.com survey, 68 percent of millennial women are looking to take a trip next year where they can temporarily disconnect from all forms of communication. That means no screen time whatsoever—incommunicado via text, Instagram, and even that daily screenshot you Tweet out from your Co—Star horoscope.
7. RV Rentals
You know that saying "What’s old is new again"? Well, it’s certainly true of this 2020 travel trend: The way your grandparents saw Yosemite, Bryce Canyon and all those other national parks—aka, by "recreational vehicle" or RV for short—is officially hip again. In fact, RVshare, the world’s first and largest peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace (basically, Airbnb for RVs), "analyzed third-party research and internal data to find that the interest in RV rentals has grown 650 percent since 2013," a rep tells us. Blame it on our wanderlust lifestyles, because it’s millennial renters who have attributed to that boom.
8. Capturing the Night Sky in a Way You’ve Never Imagined
Have you ever been to a destination late at night and felt like your cell phone cam just couldn’t do it justice? The Google Pixel 4 is made for the cosmos, thanks in part to its High Dynamic Range coupled with Night Sight, a mode that makes capturing everything from the Big Dipper to Aurora Borealis a possibility. And yes, it actually works.
9. Trending Destination: New Zealand
With travel to New Zealand up 7.8 percent in 2019 even before the announcements about new direct flights from the U.S. starting next year, the home to certain filming locations for Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings will continue to thrive in the new year. Those new nonstops will launch October 2020 on the East Coast from Newark to Auckland and on the West Coast from LAX to Christchurch—the first direct to New Zealand’s South Island. But the big story in NZ is that of wine tourism. With an explosion of new wineries opening in the last 30 years, tourists are coming in to try one of New Zealand’s favorite exports at over 670 wineries. They’re staying longer too—the average international wine tourist stays 3.5 days longer than other guests so they can sip and savor their way through the regions.
10. Trending Destination: Japan
The Japanese metropolis of Tokyo is probably already high on your travel bucket list anyway, but in summer 2020, the Summer Olympics will bring a new energy to town. Expedia’s 2020 Travel Trends Report analyzed flight demand and interest in Tokyo is already currently up 20 percent. Whether you make it there for the games or not, there’s one tourist attraction that seems to be high on every traveler’s list when they do arrive: According to the same report, bookings for that cray-cray, sensory overload-inducing Robot Restaurant Show in Shinjuku are up 220 percent.
Another region of Japan, Shizuoka, will be hosting a lot of the Olympic games’ cycling events, and you can get in on the festivities too by taking a cycling trip; it’s also a quality destination if you’re adventurous enough to consider doing the summit hike up to nearby Mt. Fuji.
11. Flash Tours
If you’re running low on time in a destination, “flash tours” are currently being dreamt up to make it all possible. The idea behind a flash tour is for people who don’t have time to waste, and sure, to get that quick social media pic with on an aggressive timeline. These 90-minute-or-less tours allow you to maximize your time in spots that might otherwise need half a day or more, like The Vatican or the Colosseum. Both abridged in nature and featuring skip-the-line-access, you should expect to see more and more flash tours in the coming year. The Tour Guy plans to offer them at The Louvre in Paris, as well as the Uffizi Gallery and Accademia Gallery in Florence, too.