Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends. ~ Maya Angelou
As the world grows smaller in size due to faster, affordable and more convenient transportation, the public’s appetite for travel experiences grows. Once considered the privilege of royalty and the wealthy, travel is now available for any budget. All you need to figure out is what is important to you, how you want to get there, the type of experience you would like to walk away with, and how much you want to spend. Hopefully, the journey and destination will be humbling while most memorable, even as it gives a broader perspective on the world.
Here’s my list of ten travel trends for the year 2016:
1. Play and stay in U.S. National Parks. The U.S. National Park Service will see an increase in attendance while introducing a new generation to the outdoors as they celebrate their 100th anniversary system-wide. Look for special savings associated with annual passes, senior passes, and special admittance days.
2. New bucket list destinations. As travelers mature in their choice of destinations by seeking new experiences, exotic as well as once forbidden destinations are now topping the list of international “bucket list” destinations. They include: Myanmar, Cuba, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Russia. (My personal favorite is Madagascar, an island teeming with some of the world’s greatest biodiversity but presenting with a difficult infrastructure).
3. River-cruising is hot! There is more demand for river-cruising with India as the hottest 2016 destination. People prefer to unpack only once and are looking for cultural experiences beyond their own backyard. To meet the demand, there is an influx of new boats that can only help make prices more competitive. In 2015 alone, over 40 new river boats were launched and added to inventory according to Cruise Critic. Leading river cruise companies include Viking, AmaWaterways, Avalon, Uniworld, Tauck, Vantage, Pandaw and American Queen Steamboat Company.
4. It’s all about the food. Food tourism is a destination draw. In the Global Report on Food Tourism by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the organization remarks how the growth of food tourism worldwide is an obvious fact. “It is one of the most dynamic segments within the tourism market.”
Whether the focus is Kosher, organic, ethnic, regional, natural foods, crop-to-table or fine dining, travelers more than ever are wanting to connect with their food: Where it’s from, how it’s grown, and how it’s prepared. What are the regional specialties and how do they reflect the culture?
Food connects a traveler to place by engaging all senses, giving intimate insights on culture and providing authentic experiences specific to the destination. Dan Peltier with Skift says: “Learning about a particular food, or even better a regional food culture is the big draw. Vacations and trips revolve around distinct foods and flavors, not restaurants.”
5. Have camera, will travel. Photo tours/expeditions/workshops are on the rise as baby boomers with discretionary income and time explore their creative side while seeking the road less traveled. Surprisingly, this trend is under the radar of most travel trend analysts and the market is huge. Plus, it’s a trend within a trend as many participants are solo. Outdoor Photography Magazine provides a list for many of these photography tours. (A word to the wise: Many trips fill up over a year in advance.)