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10 Hot 2018 Travel Trends

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En español | Going solo. It’s not only divorced, widowed or other single people who are taking trips without a partner. Experts say travelers seem more willing to go it alone when their loved ones don’t share their interests — whether it’s hiking or cruising or fly-fishing. For instance, Intrepid Travel, an Australia-based adventure travel company, has seen the number of single bookings for its small group trips grow by 40 percent in the past five years, and it's introducing a range of solos-only adventures for 2018.  

woman inspects bread at farmers market

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Foodie travel. Travelers are increasingly looking for trips either devoted entirely to exploring an area’s cuisine or to incorporating it (a hands-on cooking class in Paris, say, or shopping at farmers markets with a local chef in Santa Fe) into their vacation. The World Food Travel Association reports that the top reason travelers cite for their focus on food is an “interest in authentic experiences.” 

High-tech cruising. Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas — set to be the world’s largest cruise ship when it launches in April — is introducing an app that will, among other things, allow passengers to check in remotely and unlock their cabin doors. Carnival has just begun offering passengers on its Regal Princess a wearable “medallion” that keeps track of a passenger’s preferences and, through an accompanying app, offers activity reminders and onboard directions. 

Two teenage girls pet a dog in a hotel room.

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Pet-friendy hotels. More hotels are allowing travelers to bring their animals along, with some charging a $50 or $100 fee — but many charging nothing at all (such as Kimpton Hotels and Red Roof Inns). Luxury hotels are often the most welcoming, offering complimentary kitty or doggie treats, or throwing “yappy hours,” in which dogs and humans can enjoy refreshments together. 

Millennials’ influence. Hotels are evolving to attract this travel-loving generation. In the future we’ll see more hotels without a front desk (you check in from your smartphone), not to mention ones that offer digital amenities such as keyless room entry, in-room tablets and concierge apps; wellness activities and equipment (exercise balls and jump ropes in guest rooms, for instance); lobby bars with premium beers and spirits from local distilleries; and grab-and-go meals instead of room service.

Biking. It’s become a hugely popular vacation activity for all ages. Cities everywhere — from Fort Worth, Texas; to Portland, Maine — are adding bike-share programs (Portland’s debuts this spring) and are marking bike trails in and around their downtown areas. Boomers are definitely into it: The average age of travelers who sign on for organized multiday bike tours is 52, according to the nonprofit Adventure Cycling Association.

A church with red roof and surrounding village in Iceland.


New hot spots. A United Nations World Tourism Organization report lists Iceland, Nicaragua, Vietnam and Uruguay among the fastest-growing travel destinations. Others in the tourism biz are seeing increasing interest in Portugal and South Korea, the host of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The “bleisure” traveler. Bleisure is the clever name for when business travelers add on a day or more for fun and sightseeing when they travel for work. (Thirty-three percent of Gen Xers and 23 percent of boomers do so, according to the Global Business Travel Association.) They tend to spend a lot — oftentimes part of their trip is paid for by their employers — so tour companies and hotels are always looking for ways to cater to these travelers.

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