Like any industry, travel is subject to trends. In 2015, everyone was talking about Cuba, and Iceland has been a hot spot for the last few years. I am not a super trendy person, so most of the time, I don’t realize something is a trend until it’s already happening full swing. But this time, I attended the New York Times Travel Show (for the second year in a row) and got the trend predictions ahead of the curve. Here are the 2016 forecasted travel trends from the names in travel–the Frommers. From hot destinations to travel style trends, here’s what father-daughter team Arthur and Pauline predicted for 2016. If you’re anything like me, be warned–this list is going to inspire some serious wanderlust.
A Rise in Roadtrips
I live in a very car-unfriendly city, so I’m always surprised to see the price of gas when I go home to Maryland. If you’re unlike me and actually pay attention to things like the energy industry, you’ve probably realized that the price of gas has fallen way down in the last few months–like to almost pre-2005 levels. What does this mean for travel? Well, all those post-college roadtrips you never took are now a possibility. In fact, the Frommers predicted that the drop in oil prices will result in a rise in roadtrip-style vacations, particularly to America’s National Parks–which just so happen to be celebrating their 100th anniversary this year. So if you’ve been dying to make tracks out to Yellowstone or drive cross-country to visit every major league baseball stadium, this just might be the year to finally do it. Just be prepared for a ton of other travelers with the same idea.
River Cruises Are Increasing in Popularity…
I know, I know, the word “cruise” can be highly divisive. Some people live to cruise, others find them lame and pre-fab. My own personal feelings on cruises are mixed, as I’ve only been on one and during the four days I won $30 in the casino (win) but was also vomited on by an older seasick passenger (fellow-passenger fail). But the traditional idea of a cruise has gotten a shake up in the form of river cruising. No longer are cruise itineraries relegated to hopping around to various Caribbean islands. You can now take luxurious, adventurous, or glamorous river cruises through Europe, down the Mississippi, and along the Amazon. River cruises are a great way to hop around to larger cities (there are itineraries that can take you from Budapest to Vienna, for instance) without lugging your stuff around as you would with a traditional tour. And as river cruising grows more popular, there are ever more options, of both itineraries and companies, so you aren’t just stuck with a big-name monopoly–plenty of room to shop around and find the best bargain. As Pauline Frommer said, there are now too many beds on the rivers, so if you book far in advance, or very last minute, you’re likely to get a great deal.
…Which Means Traditional Tours Will Be Cheaper
As cruising gains in popularity, that means other more traditional types of tours (like the one I mentioned above where you lug your stuff around) aren’t seeing as many tourists as in past years. That means prices are very likely to start dropping. There’s basically a tour for everything and everyone (singles hikes to Machu Picchu, retirement kayaking tours, family tours through the Alps) so if there’s ever been something you wanted to do and thought it might be more fun with 20-25 strangers, 2016 could be the time to book.
This is a tough one to predict, but due to the plummeting cost of oil, it’s possible that airlines won’t raise their fares this year. Of course, airlines are corporations and can pretty much do whatever they want because people aren’t going to revert to ocean liners and train systems (much as I think we should consider that), so who knows? But because it’ll be cheaper this year than at any point in the past decade to fuel a plane, costs should stay about the same. On top of that, a few airlines have introduced “basic fares,” in order to compete with budget airlines like Spirit and Frontier. On the face of it, if you’re flexible, these fares could be a great way to get where you want to go. Just be sure to read the fine print–you can almost never choose your seat and it’s pretty much impossible to change the itinerary, even in an emergency. You’ll also want to double check policies on checked or carry-on luggage and rewards miles–it might not be worth the discount if you’re not racking up the miles for a LAX-JFK flight.
2016 Is The Time to Visit Canada
How do you know when “it’s a good time” to visit a particular place? There are a few ways to figure it out, but one factor is currency. The global markets are all over the place some times, but right now, the US Dollar is pretty strong. At time of writing, one dollar and one Euro were almost equal–or at least as close as I’ve seen in my lifetime–or at least in my lifetime since I started paying attention to how much things actually cost. What does that mean? If you go to France, that 15 Euro bottle of red will cost you a lot closer to $15 than $30 (which was my method of calculation while I was there–if you just double it, you won’t be unpleasantly surprised). The dollar is also super strong in Canada–at time of writing, one US dollar was worth about $1.45 Canadian. When your dollar stretches farther, it’s pretty good time to travel. So Montreal, Vancouver, Quebec–wherever you’ve been dying to go in Canada (there are places in Canada worth dying to go!) do it now.
A Few Random Tips to Round It Out
- Tuesday no more–Sunday is the new best day to books flights. Ideally about 57 days in advance for domestic flights and 171 for international
- Flights on Saturday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are typically the cheapest (bummer for the long-weekend crowd)
- When booking flights, try different options–it’s possible that booking two one-way tickets is cheaper than a round-trip
- After extensive research, Frommer’s has deemed Hotels Combined the best search site for hotel accommodations, followed by Trivago–Trivago lost the top spot because they sometimes emphasize their partner companies over others
- Read the fine print on rentals like Airbnb and Home Away–some rentals now charge sneaky fees that can drive your costs up
What do you think of these travel trends? Tell us in the comments where you’d like to go this year!