The Biggest Travel Trends of 2019
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), 1.6 billion (!) people traveled last year. So you can imagine what the figures are going to look like for this year and beyond. With that in mind, we dusted off our crystal ball and looked into the future at 2019’s biggest travel trends, with the help of little data from your favorite travel companies and organizations, some word-of-mouth and a lot of anecdotal knowledge.
According to Kayak, you or your friends may be travel crushing on Bali right this second. The destination continues to surge with the Indonesian island seeing a 65 percent increase in searches in the past year. And for good reason: Its unparalleled beauty, beaches, mystical temples, great lodging options (which are a great value, too) and warm, friendly people are quickly making this the de rigueur travel destination of 2019.
Traveling with Connections
We’ve heard, read and even written a lot about solo travel in the last few years, and while it’s an undoubtedly great way to see the world, nothing amplifies or makes travel more rewarding than by experiencing it with a huge group—even if many are total strangers (at least at the start). Companies like Day 8—which runs the popular The Yacht Week and The Ski Week—set travelers off on an epic itinerary that highlights places you can't get to any other way. The trips have just the right balance of free time, exclusive party and event experiences, and other opportunities to make fulfilling life connections (read: new friends you’ll have for life) and memories.
The Catskills & Hudson Valley
An already trendy respite for starving artists, young professionals and well-heeled New Yorkers alike, the Catskills are about to have a major national moment thanks to The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. During the second season of the Emmy Award-winning series, Midge and her family members summer in the upstate New York mountains. Though the Steiner Resort may be fictional, the Catskills and Hudson Valley Region offer plenty of opportunities to surround yourself with nature and explore charming towns like Hudson, Beacon, Kingston, Saugerties, Woodstock and Rhinebeck—just to name a few. Look into staying at Scribner’s Lodge to replicate those Steiner vibes, or the intimate and luxe The Villa at Saugerties for a romantic couples’ getaway.
Places You’ve Truly Never Heard Of
According to Airbnb, which takes into account search on its site, bookings and people like us daydreaming at work and adding places on their wish lists, you’ll be hearing about and researching quite a few new places for the first time this year. Trending destinations and experiences include Kaikoura, New Zealand, a supreme place for whale watching; Puebla, Mexico, with its colonial architecture and enticing culinary scene; Outer Hebrides, a chain of islands off the coast of Scotland; and Xiamen, China, known for its beaches and a place cyclists will appreciate, thanks to its aboveground cycling skyway—the world’s largest.
Incentive Programs That Actually Pay Off
When it comes to getting you from point A to B, 2019 will be all about doing it with rewards programs that *actually* have some value in your everyday life. Case in point: Uber’s recently launched rewards program, with different tier levels that promise priority pickups at the airport (*praying hands emoji*), flexible cancellations, price stability on regularly traveled routes (despite the usual traffic or busy times of the day/year), free delivery on grub and “surprise upgrades” to fancier vehicles and top-rated drivers.
Hyatt and one of your favorite wellness destinations, Exhale, have also recently announced a partnership in the World of Hyatt loyalty program that’s upping the game. For those who travel or spa frequently—or both—you’ll now have the ability to earn and redeem points in the program for fitness classes and spa therapies, making it easier to take care of yourself whether you’re at home or on the road.
Skijoring (Or Skiing Behind a Horse or Dog!)
Heli-skiing is not the only adventurous way to hit the slopes—or get an epic winter sports Instagram pic this year. Available to guests at Triple Creek Ranch, a luxe Relais & Châteaux property outside Darby, Montana, if you’re already comfortable on a pair of skis, you can consider attaching them to a horse (or dog) and letting them pull you along the snow this season. Don’t worry—it’s generally done on a relatively flat surface, so it’s not like you’ll be running down a mountain attached to a horse or anything.
Glamping at Sea
Just when you thought glamping experiences couldn’t get any more creative, Celebrity Cruises just announced it’ll be offering the first-ever experience to glamp at sea aboard Celebrity Flora when she sets sail in the Galápagos Islands starting in May. According to the company, The Galapagos Glamping experience promises luxe cabana accommodations, campfire-inspired treats and star-studded views with a naturalist to help identify stars and constellations.
Car Sharing > Rental Cars
“Looking at the year ahead, we expect travelers to demand more spontaneous experiences and as a result, services that fit into their on-the-go plans,” Maven CMO Megan Stooke tells us. The on-demand car sharing company has vehicles in 17 cities in the U.S. and Canada and lets you reserve, unlock and even pre-heat or cool the car all from your smartphone. Yeah, it’s a pretty seamless experience that will make you question waiting in line and filling out that insane paperwork at the airport car rental counter ever again. Even better: “Car sharing not only enables spontaneous travel; it could also help fund it. Owners can list their car with Maven and earn money from each rental, helping them purchase an airline ticket and take their dream trip,” says Sooke.
Booking by Mood
A hotel’s cleanliness, stellar service, scrumptious dining options and—let’s face it—a really good pool and hot tub can instantly change your mood, but the brand new Angad Arts Hotel in St. Louis is taking that all to the next level by letting guests book their posh pad by the emotion of color. Choose a green room for rejuvenation; yellow for happiness; blue for tranquility; and red for, you guessed it, passion.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
“Haven't heard about Steamboat yet? You soon will,” says Yanni Poulakos, travel expert at Lola.com, a corporate travel booking platform founded by KAYAK’s co-founder, Paul English. “That Colorado has some of the best skiing in the west is nothing new, however, getting to places like Aspen typically requires heading to Denver first—unless you've got a G6 parked at Teterboro. In comes Steamboat with new nonstops from the right and left coasts just in time for New Year's,” he says.
Day Trips Across the Hudson for One of the NYC Area’s Best Spas
If you’re one of the more than 60 million people traveling to NYC each year, you’ll quickly learn how the daily grind of the big city can wear you down. Luckily, the secret on one of the region’s best spas is officially out—that secret being that it’s located across the river in New Jersey. Long known by locals of the cliff ide town of Edgewater, SoJo Spa is a fantasy land for those who love to relax. With a rooftop infinity pool that overlooks the Hudson River and Manhattan; dedicated charcoal, salt, red clay and infrared sauna rooms; an ice room; a foot massage path; silk, carbon and hinoki baths; and plenty of other hydrotherapy opportunities, you could (and should) easily spend a full day here. To make it even easier to get to, SoJo runs a complimentary daily shuttle with pickup from Midtown Manhattan every other hour.
Better Info on Flight Delays
Is there anything Google Assistant can’t do? Its latest recent release promises to predict flight delays even before an airline announces them, meaning you’ll be able to ask your favorite (sorry, Siri) AI virtual assistant things like “Hey Google, is my flight on time?” Or “Hey Google, what’s the status of the Delta Airlines flight my parents are on from Indianapolis to L.A?” According to Google, “The Assistant will also proactively notify you on your phone if a flight delay is predicted with 85 percent confidence.” We’ll take it.