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Explore the Top 10 travel trends in 2024, and find resources to discover even more travel trends. Learn about astro-tourism, find the latest wellness travel offerings, and discover off-the-beaten-path destinations in this fun episode about what’s trending this year for travel. You may find yourself inspired by one of these travel trends!
Travel Trend #1: Avoid the more popular destinations
I’ve been seeing the term “overtourism” more lately than ever before. The Oxford dictionary defines overtourism as the phenomenon whereby certain places of interest are visited by excessive numbers of tourists, causing undesirable effects for the places visited.
Here’s an example of overtourism and its negative effects from a September 2023 EuroNews article: Japan’s Mount Fiji has seen its visitors more than double from 2012 to 2019. Tour buses bring a constant stream of foreign tourists to the base station, creating conflict with the mountain’s sacred status. Pollution has reached extreme levels and authorities are considering drastic measures, such as restricting access to the mountain via a new railway system. The swarms of international visitors raise concerns about human traffic jams on the pathways up Mount Fuji too. “Overtourism also entails numerous risks, including the safety of hikers,” explains Masatake Izumi, a Yamanashi prefecture official. “For example, if large numbers of people end up in a human traffic jam below the summit, there could be jostling and falls or falling rocks, which could lead to serious accidents. This is a very worrying possibility for us.”
Another area experiencing negative effects of overtourism is Venice, Italy. ResponsibleTravel.com writes: Some 20 million visitors flood in each year; on its busiest days, around 120,000 people visit this city which is home to just 55,000 permanent residents . Many of these tourists stick to the famous landmarks – the Rialto Bridge, St Mark’s Square – further concentrating numbers into a tiny footprint. This damages Venice’s fragile buildings, strains its infrastructure, inhibits local people from going about their business and, frankly, makes for a woeful visitor experience, too. Nobody benefits, not even the tourists.
This leads us into the next travel trend…
Travel Trend #2: Travel to off the beaten path destinations
This doesn’t necessarily feel like a new trend, but I think partly because of overtourism rising in overall awareness and also people seeking out different, more customized or unique experiences, places that are not as popular are being sought out.
Some people call this going to second cities, meaning people will go to popular cities near larger popular cities, with these “second cities” maybe not being as touristy, maybe having lower prices and having more local culture.
Travel planner Jennifer Greene wrote a recent article for Business Insider on 9 travel destinations to visit this year that are off the beaten path. Her recommendations include Bordeaux, France instead of Tuscany; Tanzania for African safaris instead of Kenya; Finland for a Nordic destination instead of Norway or Sweden; and in the US – the Badlands on the North Dakota side instead of South Dakota.
Travel Trend #3: Travel further than ever before.
It feels like we have finally done away with all travel restrictions in place from the COVID pandemic. Some people are looking at this as an opportunity to travel vast distances, to places that maybe weren’t so accessible in the last few years. And some are looking to travel in some atypical ways.
The overtourism of some exotic places is also pushing people to look at where else they can go for some wilderness adventures. Per Conde Naste Traveler: Wilderness camping is also pegging out fresh terrain in Kyrgyzstan, with yurt stays on the steppes trending for 2024, according to Wild Frontiers, as is Mongolia; while Albania, Mongolia, Pakistan and the Empty Quarter of Oman are all on the radar for an increasing number of travelers. And while the space-age pods of White Desert have already sold out for New Year’s Eve 2024 and 2025, latter-day frontiersfolk can take the path less traveled and explore the frozen continent’s southern coast (99 per cent of visitors go from South America to the northwest) with The Ultimate Travel Company’s new Ross Sea cruises, seeing the Ross Ice Shelf and Transantarctic Mountains.
CNN Travel reported on a new destination for cyclists: Launching in 2024, the Trans Dinarica Cycle Route will be the first and only bike route to link all eight countries of the Western Balkans. The 100-stage trail is designed for cyclists of all abilities and its 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles) is made up of quiet asphalt roads, forest trails and bike paths.Riders can enjoy Albania and Croatia’s spectacular coastlines, Kosovo’s national parks, Montenegro’s rugged mountains and lush woodland and sparkling rivers throughout Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Serbia.
Travel Trend #4: Conservation tourism
Sustainable travel and eco-tourism have been around for quite awhile. Ever do a search on Google flights, where it shows your flight’s CO2 emissions?
Conservation tourism goes a step further, it’s about helping animals and their natural habitats. Joe Sills (@joesills) gives these examples:
- At places like Burhan Wilderness Camps in Thakudwara, Nepal, travelers can volunteer with community wildlife patrol efforts on the outskirts of Bardia National Park—a former royal hunting ground that now serves as one of the last strongholds of the endangered Bengal tiger and greater one-horned rhinoceros. While getting boots-on-the-ground experience in preventing human/wildlife conflict with tigers, elephants, rhinos, and leopards in the jungle, their funding goes towards supporting rare, wildlife-focused jobs in the region.
- In places like the Okavango Delta in Botswana, groups like African Conservation Experiences are teaming up with researchers, guides, and private lodges to turn would-be safari-goers into paying members of research teams that help monitor wildlife movement patterns and interactions with humans.
If you missed Episode 113, go back and listen to my interview with Jackie Nourse, owner of JUMP Adventures. Jackie talks about some of their trips where they spend time rewilding certain areas, which means to restore the land to its natural uncultivated state.
Travel Trend #5: Astro-tourism
Astro tourism may be a new term to you, and no, it’s not about astro turf, but about astronomy. Astro tourism is about traveling with the goal to see astronomical phenomena in the skies above. This could include watching for comets, or witnessing the solar eclipse coming on April 8th. For great night sky viewing, it’s best to get away from any city lights. Some hotels and spas are creating spaces for guests to look up at the skies. Per the Conde Nast article, In the UK, Port Lympne has opened the Lookout Bubble, a glass dome allowing guests to sprawl out on king-sized beds and study the stars. Further east on the Arabian Gulf, Zulal Wellness Resort is surrounded by the expanse of the Qatari desert—the ultimate destination for pollution-free astromancy, with dedicated workshops and stargazing sessions for families and children looking to learn more about the cosmos.
If you’ve ever wanted to see the Northern Lights, this may be the best year to do it. According to the Guardian, The sun is predicted to reach the peak of its approximately 11-year activity cycle – known as “solar maximum” – between January and October 2024, bringing with it spectacular aurora displays both in lower polar regions and further south in Europe.
Travel Trend #6: Entertainment tourism
This is kind of a two trends in one overall travel trend. Choosing destinations for a connection to entertainment seems to be a major trend shaping up this year.
The first sub-trend of this is traveling for a concert or music festival. I must say that I’ve been ahead of this trend for awhile now, as one of the reasons I went to the Twin Cities in Minnesota last year was to see The Chicks in concert there at the Minnesota State Fair with my friend, Angie Robinson. But traveling for a concert was actually my first solo trip… it was 2000, and Barbra Streisand, one of my favorite all-time artists, announced what was to be at that time her final tour, the Timeless Live in Concert tour. I lived in Indianapolis at the time, and I was determined to go. My number one choice was to go to New York City, but tickets sold out so fast, so I went with my number two choice – Los Angeles. I was 24, and it was my first time traveling that far solo and my first time exploring LA. I learned so much on that trip and had a wonderful time, and Barbra was everything that I hoped she’d be live in concert.
Last year, concert tours like Beyonce’s Renaissance world tour and Taylor Swift’s Eras tour showed that people will travel, both domestically and internationally, to see their favorite performers. Expect that trend to continue this year.
The second sub-trend is to travel to the destination where your favorite TV show or movie was filmed. I’m honestly all about this trend. When I go to England one day, I will be touring the grounds where Downton Abbey was filmed. I will go on the tour to Richmond to see the Ted Lasso filming locations, And I will go on the Harry Potter studios tour. Other examples include Thailand to see where White Lotus was filmed, South Korea for Squid Game, Scotland for Outlander. I have been loving The Traitors show on Peacock, which is filmed in a Scottish castle and on the castle grounds, but unfortunately it is not open for the public to tour, at least not at this time.
Travel Trend #7: Sports tourism
In case you haven’t heard, there’s a very popular sports event happening this summer in Paris – the 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, from late July to early September. Paris is anticipating up to 3 million tourists during this time. Typically, when a city hosts the Olympics, it spurns major infrastructure improvements and renovations, and Paris is no different. A major clean-up of the Seine River is underway, because Paris intends to use the river for swimming events, the first time in a century that the river would have water quality suitable enough to be swimmable.
Also, the Tour de France starts in Italy for the first time, starting in Florence.
Travel Trend #8: Extending travel to cut costs and visit more destinations
I like a travel trend that saves money, and where I can see and experience more while reducing my overall travels to and from home.
This may apply more to people who are entrepreneurs or who can work remote for longer periods of time. The idea is that if you are taking a long flight to one destination, that you will combine, extend, or piggyback that trip with other destinations that are somewhat nearby, to avoid a second long round-trip flight. This also speaks to the eco-tourism trend because you’re reducing your overall carbon footprint by taking less long-distance flights, even if you may be driving more or even taking a smaller distance flight.
One example includes combining a trip to Paris to another European destination, like London or Amsterdam.
Next year, I plan to do this when I sail out of Seattle on our 7-night Me and the Magic group cruise to Alaska. I’ve never been to the Pacific Northwest, so I’m definitely going to take that opportunity to explore, before or after or both, Seattle, Portland, and other areas in that region.
Travel Trend #9: Escape the heat
When you think about summer the last few years, you probably know that there have been record-breaking temperatures in many areas around the world. 2023 was the hottest year on record. Because of that, one travel trend expected this year is for people to avoid typical vacation spots that see heat waves and instead to seek out a “coolcation” in the warmer months. Some of these “coolcation” destinations being booked include Iceland, Finland, Scotland, and Latvia, along with Scandinavia and the Baltics.
This makes me even more excited to experience the Pacific Northwest, western Canada, and Alaska in July 2025, because summer in Florida can get very hot, so I’ll be ready for a break with cooler temperatures.
Travel Trend #10: Wellness travel
There’s nothing new about traveling to a spa vacation. Who else read or watched “Nine Perfect Strangers” about the med spa getaway? Emily Hart (@emilyventures) on Instagram is a really fun follow for solo travelers, she visits a lot of national parks and shares gorgeous photography as well. Emily says this about wellness travel:
- Whether staying at a dedicated “Wellness Retreat” or a hotel in a bustling city, wellness as a key component of travel is what I’ve seen come to the forefront this year and will continue into 2024. Options for yoga classes, aromatherapy in the room, juice bars, saunas, and cold plunges are all additions that can make any stay into a retreat. Dedicated retreats like Wild Rice Retreat in Bayfield, Wisconsin, or CIVANA in Carefree, Arizona, are great options. But even more straightforward options are including wellness activities in their daily offerings.
Wellness travel seems to be going to an entirely new level these days. Jen Murphy wrote for Conde Naste Traveler: Since the pandemic, feeling good trumps looking good. “People have become aware of the critical importance of developing a more proactive, preventive approach to health on all levels,” says Karina Stewart, co-founder of Kamalaya, a wellness retreat in Koh Samui, Thailand. This means a new willingness to go beyond diet and exercise and embrace sci-fi-sounding bio-regenerative treatments such as ozone therapy and hyperbaric oxygen chambers, both on offer at Kamalaya’s new Longevity House.
Want even more travel trends?
Read the full Conde Nast article, The Biggest Travel Trends to Expect in 2024, December 30, 2023.
Read the full article from Business Insider by Jennifer Greene, “9 Underrated Travel Destinations that will be popular this year, according to a travel planner”.
Listen to the Me and the Magic podcast Episode 113, “Why You Need to Experience Small Group Adventure Travel” with Jackie Nourse to learn more about JUMP Adventures and rewilding trips.
Listen to the Me and the Magic podcast Episode 120, “Our 2025 Alaska Cruise on the Celebrity Edge” with Grace Korba from MEI-Travel and Mouse Fan Travel, to learn more about our Me and the Magic group cruise.
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