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Top travel trends to watch for in 2020.

Guest Contributor January 02, 2020
Family sitting on pier by the sea.
What is travelling going to be like in the coming year? 2020 seems like it is going to be the year of contradictions. For example, fast travel – seeing as much as possible as quickly as possible - and slow travel - savouring the moment and the journey – are both on the rise. Similarly, people are using more and more technology in their travels, while more of us are looking to get away from tech altogether and completely unplug. 

Here are some of the emerging travel trends we're seeing for 2020.

Frequent shorter getaways.

This trend has been on the rise for several years now. Many people are taking more frequent, shorter mini-breaks closer to home rather than using up all of their vacation time in one or two big vacation trips a year. There are several factors contributing to this. For some, the pressures of work and family life make it hard to get away. Many Canadians don't even end up using all of their allotted annual vacation time.  

This year, the Thunberg effect also has some people trying to avoid air travel. The environmental impact of flying to far-off destinations is pushing the increase in exploring local destinations, taking road trips and the popularity of train travel. 

Those same environmental concerns are leading to a rising number of vegan and vegetarian hotels popping up around the world. 

While still too early in the development stages to be trending yet, a solution to the environmental impact of burning jet fuel is on the way. Numerous aviation firms are experimenting with electric aircraft. "Electric flying is becoming a reality, and we can now foresee a future that is not exclusively dependent on jet fuel," EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren told the BBC. Stay tuned.
Multi-ethnic family hiking outdoors in a national park.

Sustainable toiletries.

Like straws, grocery bags and other single-use plastics, those ever-present mini bottles of shampoo, conditioner and lotion are being phased out by many hotel chains. In order to reduce their reliance on plastic, your next hotel may have replaced the mini-toiletry bottles with refillable, wall-mounted dispensers. So, you'll be able to wash and condition your hair without contributing unnecessary plastic to a landfill somewhere.
White sink with a towel and soap dispenser in a hotel.

Train travel. 

The classics never grow old – in fact this one is more popular than ever. Those same concerns about taking time off and sustainability are driving more people to ride the rails. Plus, trains are just a great way to travel. You have fewer restrictions on what you can bring with you – you travel in comfort and style – and trains are amongst the most environmentally-friendly way to travel.

Luxury train travel is also a trend to watch. To experience the ultimate in travelling on the rails, check out the world's 10 greatest train rides

This also connects to the idea of slow travel. The hectic pace of everyday life has more of us looking to slow it down while on vacation. Enjoying the journey, and savouring the authentic experience of traveling itself – rather than racing to arrive somewhere quickly with a packed itinerary to get through – is a (slowly) growing trend.

However, the opposite is also true: Fast travel is speeding up in 2020.
Happy family of three looking out of a train.

Insta-trips and Flash tours. 

Since most of us are travelling with smartphones equipped with cameras and connected to social media, a growing trend is to select a beautiful or famous destination specifically to capture an image – or selfie - for social sharing.

This combined with the trend mentioned earlier, that people are taking shorter vacations, has led to the trend of flash tours. These are quick excursions – rather than full day-trips - that allow travellers to visit the must-see landmarks and monuments in order to capture the all-important image, without taking up too much precious vacation time.
Mother and daughter walking among lavender fields in the summer.

Multi-Generational / Skip-a-Generation travel. 

The demographic trends of an aging population, with people living longer, healthier, and more active lives, has led to the rise of multi-generational travel. Extended families are booking trips that include parents, children, and grandparents. 

The emerging trend for 2020 is the twist on this: the skip-a-generation travel. This is where retired grandparents want to share travel experiences with their grandkids – leaving the parents behind. Parents get a break from the kids – or the freedom for a romantic getaway of their own – while the older generation gets to spend quality time with their grandchildren. (Hint, hint, Mom and Dad.)
Grandfather and grandson hiking outdoors.

Tech (Or Not To Tech). 

Because more and more travelers are depending on apps while traveling to find the best places to eat, things to do, and directions for getting around their destination, as well as to communicate locally and keep in touch with home – ever-evolving technologies are continuing to impact the way we travel. 

While people have been using virtual reality to pre-visit destinations since the technology was first invented, more hotels and attractions are now offering 360-degree virtual reality tours of their facilities and rooms to attract visitors. 

Wearable devices, smart technologies, and translation apps are keeping people connected and in communication wherever they go. The Internet of Things is leading to the creation of smart hotel rooms allowing guests to personalize their experience on command. 

One of my favourites is tracking devices such as Tile that allow you to keep track of your luggage through GPS and Bluetooth. 

More and more travellers wouldn't think of leaving home now without bringing their own streaming stick such as Apple TV, Roku or the Amazon Fire Stick. This allows you to instantly connect a hotel television to your own TV shows, movies and music through all your streaming accounts just like you are at home.   

On the flip side, the inverse is also true: more people are seeing travel as an opportunity to unplug completely – so there is the opposite trend of people taking a holiday from tech while on vacation. Imagine a blissful week without social media, email or constant pings and updates. Time off, indeed.
Young couple taking a selfie in Times Square, New York City.

Popular destination predictions for 2020. 

Japan has been increasing in popularity as a travel destination in recent years. It is a fascinating spot for its culture, history and modern amenities. Not to mention the stunning landscapes, bustling cities and world-class food. Interest in Japan is going to spike in 2020, as Tokyo is set to host the Summer Olympics

There are always many reasons to visit Ireland, but 2020 is going to be an exceptional year for Galway in particular. The city has been named – along with Rijeka, Croatia – as the European Capital for Culture next year. The region will host thousands of events and collaborations with local, national, European and international artists and cultural organisations throughout the year. 

Croatia has been growing in popularity recently, with travellers visiting the historic Dubrovnik, and beautiful spots along the Adriatic Coast. This year, the port city of Rijeka, Croatia was also selected as the European Capital of Culture for 2020 along with Galway, and will be hosting cultural events and increased visitors all year long.

While questions of crime and security have raised concerns about travelling to some formerly popular Central American hot spots, Costa Rica remains one of the safest destinations in the region. Plus, it is one of the most environmentally conscious countries to visit. Nearly a quarter of Costa Rica is made up of national parks and wildlife preserves, and the vast majority of the country’s energy comes from renewable sources, making it a destination of choice for nature lovers and eco-tourists. 

The Netherlands are going to be a popular spot in 2020. Not only is Amsterdam on many a traveller's list of must-see cities, but you can hit the beach in The Hague, or explore Rembrandt's world in Leiden. This year the popular Eurovision song contest will be held in Rotterdam. The event draws participants from over 40 countries and music lovers from the world over for events, performances, and the grand finale happening in May. 

Those are some of our biggest predictions for 2020. We wish you safe travels throughout the year, and if you have a dream trip in mind, let the experts at CAA help you make it happen!  Call: 1-855-660-2295 or stop into your local CAA Store to see us.

Tourist walking in Akihabara, Tokyo, Japan.