Featured on travelife.ca, March 2017
When it comes to trip planning and travel, what are the most buzzed about topics that travellers are researching and what are destinations and tour operators offering to their customers? Here are a few travel trends that we’ll be seeing in the new year as they gain in popularity.
1. Experiential and adventure travel
“Experiential travel is the real buzz word right now,” says Mike Baginski, the publisher and managing editor of Baxter Travel Media, a provider of travel industry news and information in Canada. That means not simply sitting by the pool eating good food, he says.
Rather, travellers want “the experience,” whether it’s about exploring Mayan ruins, elephant trekking in Thailand, hiking in the Himalayas or choosing a homestay (accommodations in a local’s apartment or house). It’s generally about immersing yourself in the place you are visiting, by connecting more with the people, the culture and history of your surroundings.
Check it out: Neotropic Expeditions offers small-group experiential trips in Ecuador, Colombia and the Galapagos Islands.
2. Sustainable travel
The United Nations has designated 2017 as its Year of Sustainable Tourism. Sustainability can mean many things, says Baginski—from opting to reuse your towels at a hotel rather than having them washed each day, to—on the other end of the scale—contributing to local communities.
Check it out: Small-group adventure operator G Adventures is “one of the best [in terms of responsible travel],” says Baginski. G Adventures for Good, operated by Planeterra Foundation, is a charitable arm of the company whose projects provide support to women, at-risk youth and indigenous communities, while also giving travellers what they refer to as “immersive experiences” in different cultures.
3. Health and wellness
People’s desire to stay healthy is nothing new. But now business and leisure travellers are taking their exercise regimens and healthy lifestyle resolutions on the road—and hotels are helping to make this happen.
Hotels now offer everything from designated yoga channels in the rooms, to gear-lending programs, bike and running concierges, designated meditation rooms, healthier food choices in their restaurants (including for the kids’ meals—finally) and digital detox packages. Some even have dogs you can walk to help you calm down and get exercise. (Sounds like a ploy to get free dog care to me.)
Check it out: Some innovative leaders in the pack? EVEN wellness-focused hotels (there is one in Norwalk, CT and one in Rockville, MD and two in New York City), a brand of InterContinental Hotels Group, offer such features as natural eucalyptus fibre bedding, healthy food choices on their menus, fitness and yoga equipment in the rooms (like stability balls, yoga mats and foam rollers) and impressive athletic studios.
The Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver has a full-time “bike butler” who will loan guests BMW cruise bikes at no cost.
4. Travelling for less
Many of us are time challenged and proverbially short on cash. We want to escape, and have some adventures—without breaking the bank. Fortunately, Canadians are resourceful. Extending business trips with personal days and having our partners and families come to join us is just one way to economize, says Baginski. Opting for shorter stays—a four-day weekend instead of a full week, for example—is another.
And many of us, myself included, have discovered the benefits of a staycation. Whether it’s in part due to “the Trump effect” (a dropping interest in travel south of the border), or a way to save money, snagging a hotel room in your home city has its benefits. If you can leave the kids with their grandparents, a night away without going away can be a good way to rekindle some romance with your partner or get a good night’s sleep! If you’re with the kids, many urban hotels have great pools—and excellent kids’ meals.
Check it out: If you’re a Torontonian, an upscale staycation can be had at the Ritz-Carlton. With their Family Fun Package for Ritz Kids, options include in-room camping where they set up a tent and provide essentials like glow sticks and ghost story books.
5. Solo travel
Solo travel—whether imposed or by choice—is on the rise. To address the needs of the lone traveller, adventure tour companies often waive the single supplement, can match you up with another single traveller or operators may provide women-only tours, says Baginski. It’s a way to leave home alone but not end up that way on the road.
Check it out: Adventure tour company Exodus Travels has found that almost half of the people who book with them do so individually. Their 56 solo holidays include everything from a guided tour of southern Peru to biking in Cuba. Individuals going on their own generally join small groups made up of couples, other solo travellers and friends who have booked together.
6. Multi-generational travel
The trend toward multi-generational travel can mean travelling with three generations—grandparents, parents and kids— or simply grandparents taking their grandchildren away on trips on their own, says Baginski.
Check it out: Generations Riviera Maya through Karisma Hotels & Resorts, for example, is an upscale all-suite, “gourmet inclusive” resort specially designed for blended and extended families. It includes such luxuries as butlers, personal concierges and 24-hour room service.
Hawks Cay Resort in the Florida Keys is another option for multiple generations with excellent programs for both kids and teens, family rooms with bunk beds, activities like dolphin encounters right outside your door, paddleboarding, cooking demos and an award-winning spa.