These Travel Trends Will Be Huge in 2016
Travel and interior design are more alike than you might think. Like décor, our vacation preferences are also guided by trends. When leather Moroccan ottomans adorned every fashion-forward abode, we couldn't wait to book a ticket to Marrakesh, and when a celebrity steps out at a boutique hotel it can sell out in hours. So what trends are in store for 2016? We've researched industry shifts to give you a definitive edit of the hottest travel trends that could change your vacation plans this year. Consider it your 2016 trend forecast. Keep scrolling to find out what intrepid adventures are in store for the year ahead!
Destination detoxes are on the rise and, really, it's no surprise. In January, millions of Americans pledged to improve their health and well-being. In fact, the top New Year's resolutions of 2016 were to "live life to the fullest" and "lead a healthier lifestyle," so it's only natural our travel habits would take a healthier turn. This year, consider wellness retreats. From Amansala eco resort's Beach ’n’ Bliss Yoga Retreat in Tulum, Mexico, to Red Mountain Resort's boot camp–style Weekend Warrior Retreat in Utah, you'll leave your vacation looking and feeling better than ever.
Picture this: Row upon row of long-tail boats rafted together, each brimming with woven baskets full of fresh papaya, mango, and homemade noodle dishes. It's enough to make you want to base your next vacation on its street-food offerings, which is exactly what young travelers are starting to do. A new study of more than 31,000 people has found that travelers are starting to follow their taste buds: In fact, 98% said eating local cuisine was extremely important on vacation, and 37% avoid junk food while overseas, instead seeking out fresh regional dishes. Keen to follow suit? Our top street-food pick is Pai, a small village near Chang Mai in Thailand that boasts lip-smacking night markets—the handmade fried dumplings are a must.
Vacations are usually considered indulgent, but a rising number of travelers are trading their typical resort stay to help others. A Go Overseas study has found that "voluntourism" is still on the rise, with the Philippines, India, and Thailand ranking high on the list of destinations. From volunteering at an elephant sanctuary in Chang Mai to helping conserve sea turtles on the picturesque Eco Beach in Australia, volunteering abroad is a great way to put your spare time toward a worthwhile cause.
Bleisure travel, a blend of business and leisure, has been on the rise for the past year. Why? Because we're a country of hard workers. According to Fortune, Americans leave about 429 million paid vacation days unused every year. That's odd, considering science and most executives agree that taking a vacation boosts productivity. Enter bleisure travel. This year, we'll see more people blending the lines between business and leisure and extending their work trips to include some extra me time. Next time you have an interstate or international meeting, tack on a few extra days and venture outside big cities. The historic town of Bath is just a 90-minute train ride from London and boasts ancient Roman baths with naturally soothing hot spas.
Traditional sightseeing is losing its appeal as more travelers seek out immersive cultural events on vacation. We're becoming less motivated by classic bucket list items like seeing the Acropolis in Athens or Big Ben in London, and more excited by experiential trips, such as the Holi festival in India and Nepal, a Hindu spring festival known for its celebrations where crowds throw multicolored powder.
Local ride-sharing has transformed the way we commute each day, so it's only natural that travel would feel the same ripples of change. While Uber is still largely city-centric, a handful of international ride-sharing services have begun to sprout, offering travelers a way to carpool between towns or even across borders. One of the biggest providers, BlaBlaCar, is a popular option in Spain, Portugal and France, giving travelers a chance to chat with local drivers, breaking down the barriers between locals and tourists.
Looking for a unique vacation activity? You're not alone. This year, we'll see a rise in specialized tours catering to the adventure curious. Experts predict the demand in "adventure by day, comfort by night" will be big in 2016, with Northern Lights expeditions or Sahara Desert glamping tours taking center stage.
Despite what you might think, studies show millennials are less concerned with having an Internet connection and more interested in getting off the grid to unconventional destinations. Forbes found that our social media travel obsession appears to be a myth, with over half of young travelers admitting social media isn't a priority on vacation. Our pick for an unforgettable (but still Instagrammable) experience is Havana, Cuba. Commercial airlines have started operating direct flights from the United States to Havana, meaning you have a slim window of time to visit before the crowds arrive.
The way we plan and book vacations is quickly changing, with almost three quarters of travelers opting to organize a trip themselves, rather than via a travel agent. Last year, search data revealed that travel-related Google questions increased by a massive 50%, showing we're more willing than ever be hands-on organizing a vacation. In 2016, we'll see travel apps improve and offer a centralized way to research, book, and take a trip. Notable mentions go to Entrain, an app developed by researchers from the University of Michigan to suggest a tailored mid-flight routine to avoid jet lag, and Destinations on Google, which allows you to compare flights and hotels instantly, get a quote, and create an itinerary.
The classic European getaway is making a comeback—33% of millennials have a European hot spot at the top of their 2016 bucket list, with the United States and Australia tied in second place. Considering a European vacation? Sun seekers should add Dubrovnik and Makarska, Croatia, to their must-see lists, while nature lovers should research hiking options in Veliko Târnovo, Bulgaria, and the Julian Alps, Slovenia.
Sure, family vacations are nothing new, but this year, we'll see more intergenerational trips where grandparents, parents, children, and cousins will opt to vacation together. Elizabeth Blount McCormick of Uniglobe Travel Designers says big family trips are on the rise. "We’ve seen a 20% jump in the last year in requests for multigenerational vacations," she tells Frommers. Hotels are also following suit, offering joined suites and larger accommodation to rival Airbnb.
What's on your bucket list for 2016? Tell us in the comments below.