Ah, sun, sea... and sustainability. There's no doubt our awareness of climate change and our sense of responsibility is having an increasing impact on the way we approach travel. Flight shame, anyone? But don't fret. From train travel and vegan hotels to reducing over-tourism, the hottest travel trends for 2020 enable you to do your bit. So, what are you waiting for? Dive in.
What: Too busy to vay-cay? Short on annual leave? Where we once settled for a stay-cation, it's now all about the micro-cation - AKA an action-packed trip of around four nights. More satisfying than a weekend break, less commitment that a whole week; it's the power nap of holidays.
Why: According to the 2019 Vacation Confidence Index released by travel insurance and assistance company Allianz Global Assistance, 57% of Americans did not take a leisure trip longer than four nights in the last year. The struggle is real.
How: Exodus Edits offer bitesize adventure holidays for people in their 30s and 40s at the click of a button, from cocktail making and cycling in Veneto to a digital detox in Portugal.
What: We're not suggesting you Eat Pray Love around the world like it's 2006, but transformative travel is definitely a buzzword once again. Less focused on the self and more on the lasting benefit on others, there's never been a better time to contribute something to the place you stay.
Why: “The quest for ‘Where next?’ has long been used as a way to deal with the twists and turns in life, be it respite from a stressful career, a means to deal with major life events, or as a landmark activity and life-stage celebration,” explains Kristie Goshow, chief marketing officer of Preferred Hotels. “Transformative travel is the pursuit of becoming better versions of ourselves and in doing so, our humanity is reinforced.”
How: A stay at Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi includes a hands-on experience of the Coralarium, an underwater art installation and coral regeneration project by British eco-artist Jason deCaires Taylor. Before you know it, you'll be, quite literally, planting your own coral.
What: If you've ever been tempted to forgo the local kennel and check your pooch into a posh pet hotel for some proper pampering when you go on holiday, you'll be pleased to hear plush pet-friendly hotels are becoming the norm. 'Cos why shouldn't you and Tinkerbell holiday together?
Why: booking.com found that 72% of pet owners worldwide consider animals members of the family, and 51% say they would enjoy their vacation more if they could bring their pet along.
How: The Kimpton boutique hotel chain welcomes all furry friends (no matter size or breed) by name, at no extra charge. Perks include treats at check-in, comfy pet beds and a pet-friendly wine reception. They had us at treats, TBH.
What: With vegan restaurants no longer the exception to the rule, it was only a matter of time before hotels caught up to speed. And not just with their culinary offerings, but in the replacing of animal products - think wool, silk and feather - in guest rooms.
Why: A 2019 survey by The Vegan Society predicted that 25% of Brits would be vegetarian or vegan by 2025. Bring on the hotel revolution!
How: If the UK's first vegan hotel is a sign of things to come, we're in safe hands. Saorsa 1875 is a stylish 11-room boutique hotel that opened in summer 2019 and is not only free from animal products in its bedding and toiletries, but powered entirely by green energy company Ecotricity.
What: If you've ever elbowed your way to a sunset selfie, then felt like a bit of a d*ck, then you'll be all over 'second city' travel AKA opting for a lesser known destination to reduce over-tourism.
Why: As many as 51% of travellers would swap their original destination if it would have a positive environmental or social impact (according to booking.com). "Destinations such as Guadalajara, Suzhou, Milwaukee, Porto and Belfast are likely to see an uptick in visitors in the New Year,” predicts Robert Van Ness, executive vice president of the Americas at Preferred Hotels.
How: Ditch Dubrovnik for its lesser-known cousin, one of Croatia's oldest towns, Šibenik, and home to the stylish D-Resort Šibenik. Think gleaming waters, hidden backstreets and some sleek AF statement interiors.
What: From ethical search engines to book hotels (Ecosia Travel uses profits to plant trees) to choosing Positive Luxury-approved brands (the Butterfly Mark indicates sustainability), there are countless ways to minimise your environmental footprint, but a whopping 48% of us (according to booking.com) plan to do that by taking the train.
Why: “It’s well known that trains are one of the most sustainable forms of transport for long-distance travels,” says Carlo Boselli, general manager at Eurail and Interrail. “According to our most recent survey, in 2019 the low carbon footprint of rail travel was relevant in the decision about the mode of transportation for a holiday for 71% of Interrailers, nearly 20% more than in 2017.”
How: The budget doesn’t stretch to fash pack favourite, Venice Simplon-Orient Express? No matter. Original Travel offer a range of scenic train routes from the Amalfi Coast to Canadian Rockies for glam, guilt-free globe-trotting.
What: Ibiza in spring, summer in Iceland, Mallorca in autumn; be savvy about when you travel and reap the rewards.
Why: “While it’s no secret that holidaying out of peak season helps travellers keep costs down and avoid tourist crowds," explains Lloyd Boutcher, director of Sunvil Latin America, "we’re starting to see people actively seek out trips in low season because of some of the secret benefits and more immersive experiences this can offer the visitor.”
How: Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay recently launched “My-Ibiza” for a more personalised, insider, experience – such as curated picnics and one-to-one diving expeditions - whatever the time of year.
What: Cruise ships, like the ones your gran used to go on, but a hell of a lot hipper; thanks to Tom Dixon interiors, tattoo parlours, all-inclusive Impossible burgers (plant-based, for the uninitiated) and CBD cocktails.
Why: Richard Branson's much-anticipated Virgin Voyages finally sets sail this year and we're expecting an erm, raft of cool copy-cat cruises.
How: U River Cruises are to millennials what Viking River Cruises are to our parents. Silent Disco, rooftop yoga and karaoke? All aboard.
Images | shutterstock, unsplash