Experts Reveal the Top 2018 Travel Trends Gallery
January 3, 2018
Where will 2018 take you?
Experts Reveal the Top 2018 Travel Trends
If you’re anything like us, chances are one of your top New Year’s resolutions is to travel more. Here at The Daily Meal, we understand the joys and life-changing experiences that travel can bring you, in an effort to help you realize those dreams, we’ve written about this year’s must-visit destinations and the places that will give you the most bang for your buck in 2018. There’s more to travel, of course, than just the destinations, and among the top trends in travel, you’ll find the types of experiences that your fellow globetrotters will be gracing your Instagram feed with or the kinds of gadgets they’ll be buying.
We rounded up the very top trends you should keep an eye out for this year by seeking out the wisdom of known travel experts. These experts — which include our friends Australian television host and food journalist Reuben Mourad and travel writer and photojournalist Ron Stern — shared their vision for 2018, which includes not only destinations but specifically geared experiences, itineraries, and travel gear. If you’re looking to have a great year in travel, look no further, as these experts know exactly what this year’s top travel trends are going to be.
Airlines Will Try to Make Flight Fun
Travel writer Vicki Arkoff told us that multiple airlines will be putting forth a big effort to make flights more bearable — even fun — for their passengers this year. Recently, social media lit up over Southwest Airlines’ announcement that they will be having in-flight concerts featuring Warner Music Nashville musicians on select flights. “Taiwanese carrier EVA Airlines has increased its Sanrio fleet featuring Hello Kitty everything from brightly painted planes to flight attendant uniforms and adorbs bento box character meals,” Arkoff said. “And beleaguered United Airlines is making Herculean efforts to restore its reputation with theme flights such as last year’s hippie flights to San Francisco and its ‘70s-themed Hawaii sendoff for its last Boeing 747.”
Australia and New Zealand
At the top of Arkoff’s list of 2018’s hottest destinations is New Zealand, thanks to both a gorgeous landscape and the cultural experience. “It happens to be one of the most beautiful and geographically-diverse countries in the world, with natural attractions such as fern grottoes, glaciers, fjords, and sounds with seals and penguins, glow-worn caves, and geothermal lakes,” she told The Daily Meal. Vicki also cited the diversity of its cities, such as Auckland’s “casual sophistication,” Queenstown’s opportunities for extreme sports, and the island nation’s indigenous Maori culture. “Australia is being rediscovered for all the same reasons the world became obsessed with it in the 1980s, thanks to Crocodile Dundee fever,” she added, citing Tasmania, Sydney, and the Great Barrier Reef as must-see destinations in this part of the world.
Cruising for Food
Not just one, but two of our travel experts mentioned cruises, specifically food on cruises, when discussing 2018 travel trends. “Forget boring buffets,” Reuben Mourad told The Daily Meal. “Cruises are becoming a really popular vacation for the food traveler.” Mourad believes that cruise cuisine this year will be so good, it’ll make you want to take to the seas again, as more and more cruise lines offer gourmet food or specialty dining, collaborating with top chefs like Curtis Stone, who has launched Share, a restaurant on Princess Cruises. “You’ll forget you’re out in the middle of the ocean with top-notch dining, such as Stone’s wonderfully salty duck leg confit, or his absolutely delicious ricotta cavatelli,” Mourad said. Fellow globetrotter Ron Stern believes cruises are doing this to meet a demand from their customers who want something more out of their onboard dining experiences than just “sitting down for a meal,” citing multiple cruise line endeavors. “Oceana Cruises offers behind-the-scenes tours at local markets, hands-on cooking classes at their onboard culinary center, and excursions featuring edible discovery tours," Stern told The Daily Meal. “European Waterways, a luxury canal barging company, similarly provides off-the-boat forays for truffle hunting and visits to where they breed petit-gris for escargot.”
Drink your way through 2018 by drinking your way through America’s cities. Australia native Rueben Mourad told The Daily Meal about his first trip to a distillery a few months ago, when he visited Philadelphia Distilling. He saw how Bluecoat, the Philadelphia local gin, was made and turned into fantastic cocktails and served with food specifically meant to accompany it, giving him a much bigger appreciation for the experience, one he called “truly local.” “There are a plethora of distilleries all over the country, and most encourage visitors to come in and check them out, and try the local food and drink that’s inspired by their liquor,” Mourad said. This seems to be having quite a bit of success, as he assures us that drinks-based itineraries are becoming more common among travelers seeking some hyper-local exploration.
Thanks to climate change, there are many attractions around the world that are fading and in danger of disappearing forever. And as luck would have it, they tend to be some of the most breathtaking spots in the world. Take the Maldives, which you absolutely have to see before it sinks into the ocean, or Antarctica, which made our list of must-see travel spots for 2018. Tiffany Harrison, U.S. Marketing Manager at STA Travel, a student and youth travel agency, confirmed to Forbes.com that last-chance tourism has seen a boom as climate-conscious travelers rush to see places they may soon no longer have the chance to visit. “STA Travel has experienced a surge in popularity to off-the-beaten-path destinations like the Arctic, Columbia Ice Fields in Canada, parts of New Zealand, and other destinations affected by climate change, indicating that photos aren’t enough,” she said.
The Middle East
It may or may not surprise you to find that the Middle East is going to be one of 2018’s top travel regions, with Abu Dhabi, Egypt, and Jordan (and Morocco, depending on your definition of the Middle East) making our list of the top places you have to visit this year. With Palestine in the lead thanks to a 57.8 percent growth in international tourists, the Middle East is the fastest growing travel region in the world according to a recent World Tourism Organization Travel Barometer. New hotels and luxury resorts are popping up all over the region, particularly in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, which has plenty to offer the in way of diverse and much-loved cuisines as well as tons of fascinating political and religious history.
Millennial-Focused Cruise Ships
As Generation Y comes of age and begins to travel more, travel companies are taking notice and targeting them specifically, particularly cruise companies. “Cruise lines are pulling out the stops for millennials with theme cruises, active itineraries, and ships designed specifically for 20-to-40-year-olds, such as U by Uniworld’s chic, black river boats,” Arkoff told The Daily Meal. She cites Carnival as the biggest gunner for this market, featuring affordable cruises ready to party thanks to fantastic nightclubs, and also mentions Royal Caribbean’s upcoming Symphony of the Seas, set to be the biggest cruise ship yet, full of all kinds activities such as a high-speed waterslide, zip-lining, and laser tag.
Cruise lines aren’t the only ones who know where the market is headed. “Hoteliers will step up efforts to attract the millennial market with young, spirited brands like Radisson RED and Hyatt Centric, which will double its hotels this year,” Arkoff told us. “Creative art hotels, like The Art Hotel in Denver, W South Beach, and 21c Museum Hotels — including the newest property in Nashville — banish boring by rotating world-class modern collections in lobbies, hallways, guest rooms, and even the elevators.”
America has a plethora of beautiful and expansive national parks. According to TravelPirates senior travel editor Jessica Bisesto, 2018 is going to be their time to shine. “With prices of gas decreasing, more people are willing to drive to see the stunning mountains, deserts, glaciers, and hiking trails offered by our national parks,” she told PopSugar. “Camping and hiking are popular activities for travelers from all walks of life, and entrance fees are affordable for families of all sizes.” They’re perfect for picnics, too.
Mourad also told us that, in his opinion, Europe’s hottest destination for 2018 is Portugal, which he deems a “quiet achiever over recent years.” Considering its capital, Lisbon, is one of the fastest-growing tourist spots in the world, he’s right on the money. “It’s got that wonderful mix of stunning coastline and pristine beaches, fascinating culture and history, as well as (most importantly) an insane food scene,” he said. He cites the amazing pastel de nata that you can find at one of the trendy food halls in Lisbon, fresh seafood on the coasts, and delicious variety of rice dishes and fruity wines as highlights of the Portuguese culinary landscape. Vicki Arkoff seems to agree. “Portugal satisfies tastes for comparable culinary adventures, fine wine, historic architecture, beautiful beaches, and even Europe’s best non-continental river cruise,” she said.
When Vicki Arkoff concurred with Reuben Mourad’s opinion on Portugal, she was actually making the point that the country’s rise as a tourist destination is part of a larger pattern in how international visitors are seeing Europe. “Travelers are rethinking Europe due to political unrest and terrorism in places like Barcelona and Turkey, and over-tourism in Venice, Paris, Santorini, and even Croatia,” she told The Daily Meal. She predicts that less popular destinations will finally be getting some spotlight as a result, citing smaller countries like Belarus, Cyprus, Moldova, and Malta, the capital of which made our list of this year’s must-visit destinations. Portugal, for one, is great for those “hungry for Iberian culture without Spanish tensions” whereas Scotland and Ireland, Arkoff believes, “offer more for less” with their festival seasons than the overpriced and tourist-laden London in the summer months.
Over the past few years, airlines have made many changes that have left their flyers feeling less than happy. Many are now charging for carry-on luggage in addition to the checked-in baggage and carry-on limits that have always plagued travelers. Ron Stern has a solution, however, that he feels is sure to take over this year: SCOTTeVEST. One of our must-try travel products for 2017, SCOTTeVest is a clothing line specifically meant for travelers, offering outerwear that features multiple interior and exterior pockets that can carry a surprising amount of things, from electronic devices to snacks to your travel documents and more. “The coats are stylish, well made, comfortable, and conceal just about everything you might need while walking on the Left Bank in Paris or taking a tour of a cheese factory in Amsterdam,” Stern said.
Solo Travel Won’t Be So Lonely
As solo travel has risen in popularity, Reuben Mourad finds that it’s, well, not so solo anymore. So if you’re the type of person who likes to have company, don’t dismiss solo travel entirely. Mourad told The Daily Meal that more and more companies have popped up specifically catering to the solo traveler, such as Busabout, which offers a variety of travel itineraries for you to choose from in which you can join people of a similar age for a trip that’s anywhere from a week to even a few months. These trips also include food, accommodation, travel by bus or boat, and a tour guide to accompany you. “It gives you the ability to do your own independent thing, meet new people, and be as adventurous as you want, without the stress and anxiety of traveling solo in a foreign country,” he said.
Take a step back in time this 2018 with a trip by train to your destination. Whereas in recent history, long-distance train travel was more of a high-end travel experience, Jessica Bisesto seems to think it will make a comeback this year with more affordability. “As more Americans learn how to optimize their vacation days, opportunities to travel at a slower pace become more common,” she told PopSugar. “Today, more and more options are available in many countries across many countries that allow tourists the chance to take in incredible views of different towns.”
Travel for Women
In addition to solo travel, solo travel for women in particular has become increasingly popular. Women are becoming more and more empowered every year, and 2018 is looking to be a year in which women are truly ready to take on anything. “Socially, we’re at a place where we’ve talked more openly about women’s issues than we ever have before,” Kelly Lewis, founder of the Women’s Travel Fest and Damesly.com, told Frommer’s. “That’s really empowering and takes away some of the fear that many women have about power.” Spend the weekend on a women-only vacation with REI Adventures or take other women-only tours being introduced by companies such as Austin Adventures or Exodus Travel. Ready to take on the world with these trends in 2018, but wondering how you can afford it? Check out our guide to the cheapest places to travel, month by month.