The weird and wonderful travel trends for 2020
The “twenty-tens” have been quite the ride where travel is concerned. Between 2010 and 2019, Airbnb, rideshare apps and influencers cemented their places in the travel space. We started doing it for the ‘Gram, travelling slower, by ourselves and more of us got our passports stamped than ever before (there are now 1.4 billion people travelling at any given moment).
There was some good (carbon offsetting, active vacations, domestic getaways), some bad (Brooklynization, overtourism, the rise of the Instagram museum) and some downright ludicrous (selfie mortality).
As we look to the next decade, where will travel take us? Here are 17 weird and wonderful trends for 2020.
Pets on the payroll
The St. Regis Aspen has “hired” Kitty, a Bernese mountain dog as part of its crew. Kitty has over 45,000 Instagram followers and his very own fur butler to cater to his schedule. In Hokkaido, northern Japan, Ken-kun the dog manages “Dog’s Roasted Sweet Potato Stand”.
Good luck tracking down the address of your hotel when it moves every six months. 700,000 Heures lays claim to the world’s first itinerant hotel. The company sets up its steamer trunks (over 100 of them) in extravagant, exceptional locales twice a year.
Google’s Waymo car could be coming to pick you up sans driver. Be afraid, be very afraid.
Netflix’s Dark Tourist sparked conversation around a creepy trend that sees travellers visit earth’s most troubling corners – for fun. Macabre tourists are flocking to sites of atrocity, tragedy, catastrophe and suffering like prisons, nuclear disaster zones, war re-enactments and even serial killer tours.
2020 will leave convention behind where hotels are concerned. As travellers hunt for Insta-worthy unique experiences, hotels are popping up in the form of everything but hotels. Guests can check in at Old Mac Daddy, a luxury hillside trailer park and resort in South Africa. All over the world, there are treehouses, churches, Boeing 727s, lighthouses, capsules, igloos and caves you can now check in to for a good night’s sleep.
If all that’s getting in the way of you and your perfect holiday is clothes, go on a nakation. Naked yoga retreats, clothes-optional holidays and naked lifestyle blogs are officially a thing.
This trend is so out there, it’s outta space. Virgin Galactic will enable amateur cosmonauts (with deep pockets) to attain the secrets of the galaxy (all released seats have already been sold). Blue Origin (owned by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos) envisions a future with “millions of people living and working in space” and the Von Braun Rotating Space Station has lofty plans for a space hotel for up to 450 people. Who ate all the space cakes?
Surprise travel agencies are popping up to take away the stress of trip planning. Spontaneous travellers should bookmark Pack Up + Go who will take you anywhere in the US for 3 days. The catch is that your destination is a surprise. They take care of travel and accommodation arrangements and all you have to do is tell them your budget.
Whisked Away will whisk you even further (North America, Latin America and Europe) for longer (1-2 weeks). You get a snazzy personalized itinerary with booked activities, restaurant ideas and even helpful words and phrases. Sacrebleu!
Digital nomad services
Remote working isn’t going anywhere. As digital nomadism takes greater leaps toward becoming the norm, even more companies will pop up to cater to these location-independent companies and individuals. There are already work and travel programs (Hacker Paradise, Remote Year, WiFi Tribe), co-living facilities (Roam), bespoke communities (Digital Nomad Girls), coaches (Bucket list Bombshells), coworking spaces (WeWork), conferences (7in7) and even cruises (Coboat, Nomad cruise).
At select Starwood hotels, you can earn points and vouchers for declining housekeeping as part of their Make a Green Choice program. World of Hyatt members can also reap rewards (250 points) for each day of skipped housekeeping. Hyatt, along with Hilton and Marriott, has pledged to replace tiny shampoo bottles with larger ones that remain in rooms with the view to reduce plastic waste.
Just hanging poolside no longer cuts it. Modern travellers wish to see, do, learn from locals and take mental and cultural souvenirs back with them. Airbnb has launched Airbnb Experiences and Airbnb Adventures to cater to those who wish to do just that.
CBD cocktails, vinyl store, open-air gym, karaoke studio and a craft beer bar; this is not the cruise your grandparents went on. Virgin Voyages is bringing the cool to cruising on its epic maiden vessel, the ‘Scarlet Lady’. Expect the unexpected.
We land, collect our bags, go through immigration, get a ride from the airport, drop off our luggage at our hotel and then go off to explore – but do we really have to? BringIt, “the Uber of travel”, is hoping to eradicate the “drop off our luggage at our hotel” part.
The VIP personal luggage delivery service will collect up to two bags of luggage from the airport and take it to your hotel, home or just about anywhere within a 10-mile radius of the airport for a flat fee of $25. With luggage taken care of, travellers can get down to the business of enjoying their trips.
Digital detoxing is one of the biggest wellness trends for 2020. Escape from the modern world to a secular monastery-cum-design-hotel in Umbria for a “dialogue with the soul” or decamp to a Wyndham Grand resort where a reward system has been implemented for guests audacious enough to hand over their devices during check-in.
The Grand Velas Riviera Maya’s detox program includes a “detox concierge” who will help you “cleanse” your room of electronics (even the TV) and replaces them with loveable analogue items like board games. Participating guests are rewarded with spa treatments and tours.
Luxury train travel
Perhaps it’s timing, maybe it’s the fast-paced nature of our lifestyles or even the effect that flight shame (flygskam) had on train bragging (tagskryt). Either way luxury train travel is back. As Elle UK's editor Farah Storr put it: “if time is life’s biggest luxury, then travelling by luxury train is life’s greatest indulgence”. All aboard the Venice Simplon Orient Express or the Trans-Siberia Express.
For those who want the thrill, kudos and challenge of uncharted adventures - to the likes of the Lost City, the Darién Gap or the Wakhan Corridor - without the inconvenience, hassle or hard work, a Luxpedition is for you. Brown + Hudson, Black Tomato, Explora and Eleven Experience will help you elevate your expedition to a rarefied luxury experience.
Holidays are splendid, but their rejuvenating effects may be short-term. Retreats, on the other hand, are a considered way to dissolve into a location while addressing desired mind/ body/ soul/ skill/ anything concerns.
At Nava Haus retreats, you can strengthen your core and your core network in some of the world’s most beautiful places. Our retreats kick off with our signature social nights and we partner with experienced professionals from the worlds of fitness, yoga, wellness, dance and nutrition; each retreat is wholly unique.
Happy New Year and see you in 2020. Check out the full list of upcoming Nava Haus retreats here.