The Future (of Travel) Is Now: Predicting This Year’s Hottest Travel TrendsBy Terry Ward
A new year means a new chapter to write in your book of travel memories. And while the rewards of travel are timeless, knowing the latest trends can help inform your vacation planning and inspire you to think about travel in different, fun ways.
Whether you travel to feel refreshed, see top entertainment, or try the latest and greatest of the food and drinks scene, read on for a few of the biggest trends driving vacation dreams this year. And as always, check for travel guidelines and closures before planning your trip.
Find Wellness in Body and Mind
From activities like forest bathing and wild swimming to rewilding yourself in a destination that speaks most to you, wellness and self-care travel are having a major moment.
The pandemic propelled the trend, with an increased focus on health and the importance of feeling good — both inside and out. If you can swing a big trip to an epic, beyond-gorgeous place to refocus yourself, it’s a worthy expense. But the fact is you can focus on your mental health and well-being wherever it is you decide to travel in the world, especially if you plan ahead.
It can be fun to find a theme for wellness-inspired wanderings, and there’s no shortage of those in the travel sphere right now. Keep reading for a few “you-centric” ideas to build a trip around.
With so many options for adventure, deciding where to go on your next trip can lead to analysis paralysis. So why not leave the decision-making to the stars?
Astrology tourism lets you tap your inner astrologer for spin-the-wheel-style travel ideation that links your destiny to your next destination — and ties it to activities, too, inspired by the personality characteristics of your astrological sign.
Let your star sign’s intrinsic traits help you narrow your search for spectacular tours and activities. Are you a luxury-loving Capricorn? Consider booking a glamorous trip to Singapore and add a private, personalized tour of the city to your itinerary. Or if you prefer excursions on the water, consider a luxury day trip to Tallinn, Estonia, from Helsinki via cruise ship, where you’ll have a superior cabin and be accompanied by a VIP guide.
Harmony-seeking Libras will enjoy a trip that helps them balance adventure and tranquility. Dublin offers opportunities to strike that balance, whether you prefer to indulge in its vibrant nightlife or take a scenic walking tour (or both). You can seek inner balance via acroyoga in Tenerife, Spain, or during a healing counseling session in Aruba — after all, the island’s nickname is One Happy Island, so it’s a great place to let the endorphins flow.
Micro-moments are also having a major moment in travel, with a trend toward celebrating the small things that make life beautiful, wherever you venture.
Acknowledging and showing gratitude for these glimmers (think of them as the polar opposite of triggers) in your life can serve as self-care for your mind, spirit and overall happiness. Glimmers can be whatever little moments give you that inner glow, a spark of instant joy, or a feeling of peace, comfort and ease in the world.
Look for them during quiet moments of celestial beauty in a dark sky destination. Head for well-known spots, like the Grand Canyon and Joshua Tree National Park, or more surprising ones, like Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park near Orlando.
You’ll find glimmers everywhere when you’re open to them, for example, in the sound of the waves splashing on a sailboat’s hull while sailing on a lake in Patagonia or while savoring the flavor explosion of pure cacao during a chocolate factory tour in the Dominican Republic. When you open your heart to travel glimmers, it’s easy to let them in.
People are taking better care of themselves — and not only during waking hours. Travelers are searching for ways to get truly restorative rest, both at home and on the road.
If a reset is what you’re after, you may benefit from choosing a hotel with thoughtful amenities that help you relax and enjoy a restorative night of sleep. Brands like Westin Hotels & Resorts are prioritizing ways to make sure a well-rested feeling is one of the best souvenirs you bring back from your trip. A unique pillow-top construction makes the Westin Heavenly Bed extra comfortable and supportive, and the brand’s Sleep Well Menu makes it easy to order nutritious and sleep-enhancing superfoods through in-room dining.
Other room amenities for a sound sleep include the brand’s Sleep Well Lavender Balm, infused with chamomile and other essential oils, that you can rub on your temples and wrists at bedtime to bring on the relaxing vibes.
Find Yourself Entertained
If you’ve come to be entertained, planning a trip around entertainment is a surefire way to make sure there’s never a dull moment.
For music lovers, planning a trip around a major concert or music festival can guarantee a good time. Film and TV buffs will enjoy “set-jetting” — seeing cinematic destinations in real life — which has become a driving force as travelers seek out the places they’ve only dreamed about from their sofas. From regular-season games to international sporting events, sports fans can find plenty of inspiration to travel and cheer on their favorite teams this year, too.
All you need to do is look at residencies at spots like The Sphere in Las Vegas and the global phenomenon that is Taylor Swift to understand that major moments are bringing people together again — and like never before — in the most glorious, communal way.
There’s camaraderie in experiencing a major show or festival with several thousand people who are just as thrilled to be there as you are. And while some super-charged, shared experiences might come to your hometown stadium or arena, they often serve as a built-in impetus to get out and enjoy a new-to-you corner of the globe.
Why not use your accumulated Marriott Bonvoy points to bid on incredible live experiences around the world? From concerts and comedy shows to orchestras and operas, if there’s a big-bang event on your bucket list, Marriott Bonvoy Moments can level up the experience in the most memorable way.
Dreamy TV series and film locations are guiding travelers from their couches to places they might never have thought to adventure to on their own as set-jetting becomes the new jet-setting for tuned-in types.
Venice hardly lacks drama. But it’s even more theatrical for fans of the seventh “Mission: Impossible” installment when they stay in the heart of the action. The Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Venice and the JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa are both fantastic options in the floating city.
Fans of “The White Lotus” might make for Maui, where the Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott, Maui is close to where much of the first and second seasons were filmed. And the series was also set in the Sicilian coastal enclave of Taormina, where you can tour locations on private walking photo tours.
When doing your research to set-jet, a quick search online makes it easy to see where your favorite show or movie was filmed. And planning a vacation with interesting tours and experiences around the destination couldn’t be easier with Marriott Bonvoy Moments.
Sports Teams and Major Tournaments
If you live for the game, you’re in good company. Whether you love baseball, basketball, football, soccer or something else, Marriott Bonvoy Moments has exciting experiences to choose from, offering endless inspiration to get on the road to support a favorite team or catch an epic sporting event with the crowd.
Perks like VIP access to football games, pre-parade float viewing at the Rose Bowl and VIP stadium experiences to cheer on Europe’s best soccer teams are just the start when it comes to the lengths you can take your fandom.
Savor the Good (Food and Wine) Life
Letting your taste buds inform your travels is nothing new. But now more than ever, truly immersing yourself in authentic culinary offerings is a trend that shows no sign of slowing.
Food and drink tours — from street food samplings and craft beverage deep dives to more gourmet affairs — are on the menu everywhere from Ithaca to Istanbul. You’ll find tours can get as specialized as you like, with plant-based and alcohol-free choices aplenty. Let your palate take the lead when seeking out the most exciting places to dive into your favorite fare.
Whether you’re craving a hazy IPA, a craft lager or something sour, compelling beer scenes await all over the world.
Pair a visit to Munich for Oktoberfest (or any other time of year) with a private tasting tour in the old town and a visit to the Oktoberfest Museum, or consider a gastronomic tour through Vatican City to taste more than 10 craft beers. See the sites of Portugal’s capital during a beer bike tour or to head to Iceland for a Ringroad of Beer tour to sample the best of the country’s innovative microbreweries in otherworldly landscapes.
Reading up on the local beer-drinking etiquette can make the experience all the more special, too.
Plant-Based Food Scenes
You might have already figured where to find the best vegetarian foods in your hometown. But there’s a real element of delight in discovering plant-based options in a city you perhaps never considered was full of them, like Dubai or Turin.
Visiting a local market in Jaipur, India, before learning to cook traditional Rajasthani dishes makes for an immersion into the culture you’d likely never get on your own.
Vegan and vegetarian street food tours through Mexico City leave the city’s more touristy districts behind to visit neighborhoods where locals line up at street food stalls and you can sample vegan tacos and tortas amid the flow of everyday life.
From hotel bars to cruise ship cocktail lounges, mocktails occupy prime menu real estate these days, answering a growing interest in alcohol-free and sober travel, particularly among millennials and Generation Z.
Sipping your way through a destination’s nonalcoholic beverage offerings can feel like a foodie tour of its own — case in point: tasting the flavors of Davidson plum (a rainforest fruit) in the Albert’s Lyrebird cocktail at the cocktail lounge in The Ritz-Carlton, Perth. And in Singapore, pass on a Singapore sling in favor of a tea-based cocktail made from artisan blends, like lychee oolong, at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore.
Sober travel doesn’t have to be all about mocktails, of course, and can come in the form of such diverse activities as a surf retreat in San Diego or a spiritual yoga meditation retreat high in the Nepalese Himalayas.
Now that you know all the trends to look out for this year, it’s up to you to chart your best course for adventure, learning and fun at the intersection of all that matters most to you.