The effects of over tourism on popular destinations such as Barcelona, Venice, and Scotland’s Isle of Skye has arguably been the biggest story in travel this year. But many industry insiders predict that the backlash against the crowds mass tourism tends to bring will shape the future of travel for many years to come. Here’s a look at five of the top trends in travel experts suggest we can expect to see in 2018:
According to a global report published by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), adventure travel is one of the most popular, resilient, and sustainable forms of travel. It’s also one of the most beneficial to local economies, with an estimated 65.6% of the total trip cost remaining in the destinations visited.
Although there’s no official definition of what constitutes an adventure travel trip, the Adventure Travel Trade Association suggests that it must include at least two of these elements: cultural immersion, natural environment, and physical activity. But trips incorporating all three are considered optimal, such as trekking (physical) the Inca Trail (nature) to Machu Picchu, and interacting with local villagers (culture) along the way.
The great thing about adventure travel is that you can tailor it to suit your own interests, health, and level of athleticism. Activities such as birdwatching, canoeing/kayaking, hiking, and diving are considered “soft” adventures. Mountain climbing, spelunking, and long-distance trekking would be considered “hard” adventures.
Regardless of whether you’re dreaming of climbing to the summit of Mt. Everest or simply longing to photograph the famous Big 5 mammals on a wildlife safari in East Africa, adventure travel expeditions are a great way to keep the adrenaline pumping and the endorphins engaged… which we all know is the key to continued vitality!
Glamping (a.k.a. Glamorous Camping)
When we tell people we’re big proponents of this style of travel, their first question is inevitably, “What is Glamping?” Sometimes referred to as luxury camping, glamping is an increasingly popular travel trend aimed at travelers who want to spend time in the great outdoors, but without sacrificing all of the creature comforts they crave.
According to David Troya, the founder of Glamping Hub, there are three important elements in a glamping site: It should have a unique structure, allow direct access to the outdoors (as opposed to a lobby), and provide the type of comfort you’d expect from a hotel.
The types of glamping accommodations vary widely, from luxury safari tents in Africa and geodomes in Patagonia to yurts in Central Asia. Though they may be rustic in their appeal, many of these places have en suite bathrooms, hot water, and even electricity. The most luxurious resorts may even have kitchens, flat-screen TVs, pillow-top mattresses, jetted tubs, or heated slate floors.
What they all have in common is that they offer nature-loving travelers an opportunity to be out in the wild without having to carry and put up their own tents, sleep on the ground, or stumble to the bathroom in the dark.
Most of us travel because we love to experience new places and discover new things about ourselves and about the world around us. Immersive travel allows us a chance to dive deeper into a destination, exploring the culture, nature, and people of a place in a way that provides a much greater sense of understanding and connectivity.
Traditional travel usually involves dipping a toe into an unfamiliar destination. You get a small taste of what it has to offer, but are rarely forced to step outside your comfort zone. But immersive travel brings us into contact with unfamiliar sights, sounds, sensations, flavors, and challenges that are unlike anything we’ve experienced before. It gives us a chance to view the world and even ourselves from a perspective that may be very different from our own.
As mass tourism and overtourism become increasingly common buzzwords, more and more travelers are beginning to seek out these sorts of immersive experiences. Whether it is visiting local villages in the Peruvian Amazon, volunteering at a school for disadvantaged children in South Africa, or working with scientists on wildlife conservation projects, there are myriad possibilities for travelers who want a deeper, more enriching experience.
Best of all, there are numerous benefits for travelers and locals alike. You can learn a new language, support the local community, and help preserve local cultures and ecosystems. In the process, you also get a chance to have unique, exclusive experiences you’ll treasure forever.
Responsible Travel / Ecotourism
Ecotourism is ranked among the fastest-growing trends in the travel industry, and consistently outpaces the growth of traditional sun/sand/surf tourism. Originally defined by The International Ecotourism Society in 1990 as “Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people,” ecotourism is a form of travel that ensures benefits to both the ecology and the economy of a place.
The Center for Responsible Travel’s annual study found that nearly two-thirds of travelers surveyed by TripAdvisor often consider the environment in their travel choices. And with the United Nations making 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, awareness of (and interest in) more eco-friendly travel has never been higher.
Zegrahm Expeditions is proud to partner with The Nature Conservancy and support their mission to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. This partnership allows our travelers to learn more about The Conservancy’s work in over 69 countries, as well as impart what we can all do to help protect nature.
Forthcoming expeditions with Nature Conservancy experts include the Circumnavigation of Cuba (with Cuba program manager Ximena Escovar-Fadul), Australia's Kimberley (with James Fitzsimons, their Australian Director of Conservation), Best of the Great Barrier Reef (with Eddie Game, Lead Scientist of the Asia Pacific Region), and Hidden Gems of the Caribbean (with Eastern Caribbean Director Patricia Shako).
This has been another huge buzzword in 2017, and we believe transformational travel will emerge as an even more popular travel trend next year.
In many ways, the world has become an increasingly scary place in recent years. Political turmoil, cultural misunderstandings, spiritual crises, and global unrest have left many people feeling raw and vulnerable. The rise of social media and digital technology leave many people feeling disconnected on a deeper personal level.
Transformation travel, by its very nature, is designed to be a life-changing experience. It encourages us to travel with an open, mindful purpose. It offers challenges that keep us engaged on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level. It offers an opportunity to engage with others and with ourselves, providing a deeper sense of meaning to our experiences.
Whether it’s volunteering for the benefit of those less fortunate than ourselves, tracing your family lineage in a country you’ve never visited before, or getting an unexpected chance to meet the Dalai Lama, travel has the power to transform us if we open ourselves to the possibilities. And in the end, isn’t that what adventure is all about?
Bret Love is a journalist/editor with 23 years of print and online experience, whose clients have ranged from the Atlanta Journal Constitution and American Airlines to National Geographic and Yahoo Travel. Along with his wife, photographer/videographer Mary Gabbett, he is the co-founder of ecotourism/conservation website Green Global Travel and Green Travel Media.